Learning to play the drums is a lot of fun. From taking your first online drum lesson or sitting with a local teacher, to playing your first beats and researching the right equipment; there's a lot to keep you entertained and motivated. It's a great time, and the start of a wonderful journey. There are certain things that keep you on the right track in your early drumming adventure; a structured lesson plan, a good practice routine, feedback and guidance from your teacher - to name just a few. The early days of drumming are very conducive to quick progression, and you'll find yourself making great strides after a few weeks of regular lessons and home practice.

While the basics are quickly attainable, your progression is going to depend a lot on your home practice and time outside of your online drum lessons, or the teaching studio. Eventually, if you are like the majority of most drum students, you are going to meet some challenges along the way, and these can lead to natural plateaus in your progression.

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We all go through these moments, and with the right guidance and motivation, we come out the other side fighting fit and stronger from the experience. Expect challenges. Expect this instrument to push you. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you'd probably be off looking for a different challenge. So when staying the course becomes difficult, here are five things to ask yourself to keep you on the right track.

Are you having fun?

Whatever you do, don't lose the fun element. You most likely got into drums for a personal reason, but primarily, because you want to have fun. There will be times when the challenges seem to outweigh the fun factor - and this is where you need to find the right balance. For example, it is important to follow the lesson plans and practice goals you have set for yourself (more on that later), but it is equally important to just sit down and let loose - have fun, and play along to that favorite song. It really doesn't matter if you can't play the part exactly as it is on the recording - just relax, have fun, play, and make it your own. This can be one of the best learning experiences available to you, and is a lot of fun.

Are you practicing?

Some self-evaluation is needed here. If you are less motivated to sit behind the drums then when you started out, you might want to make an honest appraisal of your practice routine. Watching the online lessons or visiting a music teacher is only part of the equation. It is very important that you are spending time practicing the exercises you are focusing on. Remember, just ten minutes of focused practice per day can make massive differences over time. It might be a good idea to review your practice plan, to make sure you are using the tools available to you that can set you up for success. Remember, a practice diary is a great tool to write down what you are working on, including your goals and achievements. It's great to look back on things that used to challenge you, and celebrate your victories!

Are you following your lesson plan?

If you are working through the Drum Ambition videos, then we really do recommend that you watch them in order, and pay particular attention to the guidance given in the introduction sequence, and conclusion remarks. These generally advise you on where you should be before moving on to the next lesson. Remember, the majority of learning beginner drums is fine tuning basic exercises. Whatever you do, don't skip the foundation. It is the basis for everything you do, and most people that have issues later on normally find it is due to a lack of practice on important basics. You don't have to be looking at something new every day - fine tuning the basics is paramount. The same goes for when you are working with a teacher. It's just too tempting to open a book at page 20 because it looks like more fun. Page 1-19 however, will contain essential steps that if you miss, will definitely hinder you down the line.

Is your teacher a good fit for you?

Remember that you get the opportunity to decide if your teacher is a good fit for you. At Drum Ambition, our goal is to get you playing along to your favorite music as quickly as possible, by focusing on drum beats, drum fills and musicality. If this is your goal, then discuss it with your drum teacher. I personally had a teacher that made me practice on a pad for weeks before I was allowed to sit behind a drum set. While I saw the long-term benefit in this, my short-term goal was to play along to music and have fun, and so I found this largely unfulfilling. After discussing it with my teacher, we changed course and focused on beats and fills, and then later revisited the more technical side. This gave me the opportunity to realize my short term goals, and I was subsequently more open and ready for the more advanced techniques that would set me up well for the longer term. If your teacher is not making the process fun and paying attention to your goals, then discuss it with him/her. It might be that a different teacher may be a better fit, but give them the time and opportunity to address any issues.

Are your expectations realistic?

It's very important to manage your expectations when learning any musical instrument. Learning the drums will become your own personal roller coaster - there will be minor victories, natural plateaus, awkward little barriers, major achievements - but if you approach it the right way, you will have a lot of fun and experience a great feeling of achievement and satisfaction. Don't put pressure on yourself, and abandon any preconceptions of perfection and mastery. It is way more important to have fun, follow a structured plan, and gently ascend the ladder at a comfortable pace. If you approach it this way, you will set yourself up for success, get through the natural barriers, and achieve your goals.

Do you have any comments, personal stories or questions that relate to the above? Email me at [email protected].

Simon DasGupta.

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