How do I fix bad drumming habits?

Author: Simon DasGupta.
August 18, 2022

In this article

It's easy to develop bad habits when learning the drums. We don't do it intentionally - they are quite innocently a result of not knowing any better. Beginner drummers often ask:

  • How do I hold drum sticks correctly?
  • Why am I breaking drum sticks?
  • How can I play drums faster?

10 bad drumming habits and how to fix them.

We have created a simple info-graphic that you can download free. You may also find our free eBook helpful, and you can get that at the foot of this page. In the meantime, here are the most common bad habits most beginner drummers inadvertently fall into.

1. Bad grip.

How we hold the sticks is essential to building drum set control. This is a somewhat subjective matter, but there are some basic guiding principles that you can follow.

Many beginner drummers hold their sticks too tight or loose or develop other bad habits that can lead to frustration and discomfort. Check out this free course preview for more information on how to fix this.

2. Bad posture.

Having good posture behind the drum set will help build better control and help keep your lower back and neck in good shape. Our hands and feet are more responsive when sitting straight on our lumbar spine.

Slouching can make your drumming sloppy and can also cause discomfort. Drumming should not be painful, and the free video referenced in point one offers guidance on developing good posture.

3. Speeding up or slowing down.

Timekeeping is our Number 1 priority! Be careful not to commit the cardinal sin of drumming: speeding up (rushing) or slowing down (dragging) while playing a groove.

There are many ways to improve your timekeeping, from practicing with a metronome to counting out loud when learning drum beats and fills. Just being aware of timekeeping's importance can help you focus on it. Our courses can help you with this.

4. Striving for speed too soon.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to develop speed and play fast grooves - it's a lot of fun! However, it is essential to understand that speed is a byproduct of control and depends on several key fundamentals.

If you don't follow these fundamentals, you can end up with untidy grooves, rushed fills, tired arms, and a lot of frustration. Our courses will help you develop the control you need to drum faster.

5. Breaking drum sticks.

With good drum sticks costing around $15 a pair, there are some good economic reasons for not breaking them regularly!

Most breakages occur from holding the stick too tight, hitting too hard, or not striking drums and cymbals at the correct angle. If you are regularly breaking sticks, you should examine your technique. The video referenced in point one will help.

6. Overplaying.

When playing along to songs, beware of overplaying. Ask yourself if the groove you are playing is appropriate to the music. Give the music space to breathe by not cramming it with notes.

Be tasteful with drum fills, and don't fall into the trap of playing for yourself, not the song. You'll hear this a lot in music: less is more. Listening to music can help you understand this.

7. Not paying attention to dynamics.

When we refer to dynamics, we talk about how hard or soft we play notes. This is a crucial area of musicality on the drum set.

We can play various strokes to help us achieve this, but awareness of a song's overall dynamics is a prerequisite. If the song is a subtle and relaxed ballad, we don't need to be hitting like we are playing for row Z at the Olympic Stadium.

Drum Ambition subscribers can check out Lesson 20 in Course 1 to learn about applying dynamic strokes to drumming.

8. Not counting.

Counting is essential to developing rhythm, timekeeping, and making beats easier to understand and play. Counting out loud is highly recommended, and the students who do this are always the ones that develop faster and have a better grasp of the fundamentals of drumming.

9. Ignoring the fundamentals.

Paying attention to the fundamentals of drumming will set you up for success. Understanding essential grip and bass drum technique, developing good posture, learning to read music, understanding sticking, developing good timekeeping, learning to count music, practicing with a metronome, and learning the rudiments and dynamic strokes - these are all essential foundational aspects of drumming that are learned and applied over time. Our courses cover all of these areas.

10. Not striking drums and cymbals musically and safely.

Remember to hold the drum sticks in a relaxed but controlled grip. This takes the pressure off the drum heads and cymbals when you hit them, allowing them to sing, and prolonging their life.

If you are pitting (denting) drum heads or cracking cymbals, this is a sign that you should be examining your technique. Remember to hit your crash cymbals with a glancing motion, as demonstrated in Course 1, Lesson 4 (2:25).

Allow the drum sticks to rebound off the drum heads, and don't bury the tips of the sticks into the drum heads.

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free guide, 10 bad drumming habits and how to fix them
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