Learning to play the drums is a truly brilliant hobby enjoyed by people worldwide. With big advances in electronic drums and sound reduction devices, they no longer have to be banished from the household or the scorn of the next-door neighbor.
With that said, buying drums is indeed a commitment in both money and space, and many aspiring drummers want to test the water before jumping in and making an investment. Similarly, parents often want to see some commitment to the instrument before purchasing it for their child. On the other hand, there are plenty of wannabe tub thumpers that, for a multitude of reasons, can't stretch to the real thing at this time but still want to learn. Is it even possible to learn the drums without a drum set in these situations? Is it still fun? Can you really learn an instrument if you don't own one? Are there any alternatives worth considering?
We have compiled a list of five frequently asked questions to help you decide if learning the drums without a set is the right option to get started.
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1. Can I learn effectively without a drum set?
Yes! From the age of eight, our Founder, Simon DasGupta, wanted to play the drums. Buying a drum set was not an option at the time for his family, but that didn't stop him from listening and learning. The early days of learning the drums are very much about understanding rhythm and building coordination. These are as much mental exercises as they are physical, as we are building the counting skills and muscle memory necessary to play basic drum beats. It's a fun process and a challenging one. If you have a pair of drum sticks, you can air-drum every exercise on Drum Ambition. Air drumming means that you are effectively playing an imaginary drum set. The concept may sound odd, but it absolutely works. At Simon's teaching studio in San Diego, he had many students who started this way and progressed very well. Most of them purchased a practice pad to help them build technique and committed to buying a drum set when the time was right for them.
Why not try air drumming for yourself? Check out our free lessons and play along. You'll soon see if it's a good fit for you.
2. What is a practice pad, and how do these work?
You'll see a practice pad in the image below. These are rubber pads that are normally fixed to a wood base. Practice pads are used to build technique and will act as the snare drum on your otherwise imaginary drum set.
Practice pads can vary in size from 6 inches to 14 inches in diameter. We recommend the larger types as they will sit in a snare drum stand, which is a separate purchase. While pads range from around $15-$50, snare drum stands can cost more. You only need to purchase the least expensive snare drum stand, as it just needs to hold a lightweight pad, not a drum. E-Bay can be a good place to shop for a snare drum stand under $25, as most general music stores and online stores carry more expensive models. Beware of the pads that come with accompanying stands. These often attach directly into the stand's base, sit too high, and are not as adjustable as a snare drum stand. If you are interested in starting on a practice pad, check out this article, where we dive a little deeper, and recommend some appropriate products.
3. It's better to practice on a real drum set, right?
As we have shown, it is possible to learn drums and develop early playing skills without owning a drum set. There is an inescapable reality that it's a lot more fun to have drums to practice on. Air drumming is great but does not make sound, and will most likely only satisfy your requirements for a few months. Long enough, though, to help you decide if you are ready to take your drumming experience to the next level! An actual drum set is definitely more inspiring, and you will find yourself practicing more, thus developing more quickly. If you are putting off a drum set purchase on the grounds of noise objections, then you should be sure to check out our features on sound control and electronic drums.
4. Should I rent a drum set from my local music store?
Some music stores offer a rental option, and it's always best to check their terms and prices. Unless the monthly rate is under $30, this is not the best value when you consider that you could buy a complete basic starter drum set package from around $350 upwards. The emphasis here is on the word basic but functional and better than not having a set at all.
5. Are there resources available to help me decide what and when to buy?
You will find many of the articles on this website useful. We have published numerous articles on everything from buying your first drum set, the differences between electronic and acoustic drums, to which sticks are best for beginners. You can see a full list of our blog topics here. If you have a drum teacher, he/she will also be able to point you in the right direction concerning suitable products and where to buy them. We always recommend visiting your local music retailer, and preferably, a specialist drum store. They can help you find out what's right for you. If that's not an option, there are plenty of great places to buy online, as long as you remember these tips.
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