Is it worth learning to read music to play the drums? Will reading music notation make me a better drummer? Is it hard to learn to read music and what are the benefits? These are common questions that I am asked on a daily basis at my drum studio in San Diego. This brief article should be a helpful reference for both beginner drummers, and those with more experience.
My view on this has always been consistent. Learning to read music notation is a massive benefit to drummers of all levels, but for the beginner, it is a means of progressing more consistently, and strengthening the all important foundation.
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Let's break this down. Learning the drums is primarily about understanding rhythm, and learning the coordination it takes to play the beats and fills. Firstly, learning to read music notation teaches you how to count music, a massively important step in understanding how rhythm works. It's all centered around basic fractions, which if you follow simple structured steps, is perfectly understandable. Secondly, understanding the notation will help you understand which hand (or foot for that matter) plays which note. This is essential, because it facilitates control. So many things come from control on the drum set, such as musicality, dynamics, speed, and endurance - to name just a few. The more control you have, the better you play. The better you play, the more fun you have.
"There are other benefits too. Aside from giving you access to the universal language of all musicians, understanding notation opens the door to literally thousands of charts, sheet music exercises, educational books and concepts that can only enhance your drumming further, whatever your level."
Simon DasGupta - Founder, Drum Ambition.
Can you learn to play the drums without reading music? Sure. In fact, there are many self taught drummers that do quite nicely by themselves. But the reality is that they have achieved this through years of practicing and listening to music. If you want to get the best out of your drumming adventure in a more realistic timescale, then learning to read music will help you achieve this. Interestingly; when I help self taught drummers to reach the next level at my drum studio, they are always willing to learn the notation when they see the value of how it can truly improve their playing - even if it means going back to basics. There are other benefits too. Aside from giving you access to the universal language of all musicians, understanding notation opens the door to literally thousands of charts, sheet music exercises, educational books and concepts that can only enhance your drumming further, whatever your level.
I designed Drum Ambition for beginner drummers to learn to play the drums, by simplifying the early stages of playing in a comprehensive series of 10 minute video tutorials. All of the groove and drum fill lessons come with on-screen music notation and downloadable PDFs so that you can refer to the music notation while you learn. In addition, over 100 minutes of lesson time is dedicated to understanding the basics of music notation. The first notation lesson is free, so give it a try. Drummers of all levels can benefit from this, and you might be surprised at how easily understandable this information is, when presented in a structured, methodical format.
If you need any more convincing on the value of reading music, check out this article that we published in January 2016. This is one of the most popular articles on our Blog. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me: [email protected].