Top 100 Drum Tips for Drummers

  • It’s RHYTHM not rythem. Come on guys, we need to know this stuff!  Let us help: The Reason HYearns Tonight is His Music.
  • Ergonomics The physical aspect of your drums (posture, how you hit) has a lot more to do with your playing than you think. When you are properly balanced, you have a center, and when you are centered you can move more freely and relaxed without any wasted motion.
  • Success is in the eye of the beholder. For some, success means playing on television and/or with a big artist. For others it is the simple attainment of wealth. Websters describes success as eminence, wealth, and desired outcome. We like to think of success as “the attainment of goals” but especially..”being happy”.
  • WipeOut: This version of “WIPEOUT” incorporates single, double, and triple Paradiddles. Repeat over and over until you build up your speed. This is a great exercise for hand to hand control.
    R l r r, L r l l, R l r l r l r r, L r l r l l, R l r l r r, L r l l (Capital letters are Accented notes)
  • Teaching drums is an excellent motivator. You’ll learn a lot and your students will constantly keep you challenged. When you’re able to articulate your point about a particular drums subject, it’s then that you truly understand it.

  • Hand Drummers, don’t forget to detune your drums slightly before packing up, especially in more humid conditions. This preserves the life of the heads and allows them maintain their elasticity.
  • Free Drum Lessons: Don’t miss our famous drum lessons database (being revamped). Click the links to hundreds of drum lessons.
  • When you change your drumheads, write the date in small numbers off to the side of each head. This will help you know how long it’s been since the last time it’s been changed. Remember that there is no specific period of time to gauge when you should
    replace your heads. It should depend on how they sound (feel), how hard you hit and how often you play.
  • Gaffers Tape: Ever hear musicians talk about “gaffers tape” and wonder what they’re referring to? Although it is similar to duct tape, gaffers tape leaves no residue and is a bit thicker and easier to tear. It’s also considerably more expensive.
  • The Library: Don’t forget your local library as a rich resource of information about drums, drumset, miscellaneous drum things and overall percussion. (CD’s, reference books, music history and more.)
  • Quote: “We have to do the best we can”. This is our sacred human responsibility.” – Albert Einstein – Keep your dreams alive!
  • Need a quick sizzle cymbal? Simply tape 4 or 5 pennies to the back of a 5″ strip of duct tape (about 1″ wide) and tape it to the bell of your ride. This will allow your cymbal to sizzle as if it had rivets in it.
  • Need to replace the wires (or plastic strips) that hold the snares on the bottom of your snare drum? Common household materials often used are picture frame wire, heavy string, plastic straws and strips of plastic cut from old drum heads.
  • Warming up before a gig is something many players overlook. Spend 20 to 30 minutes warming up with rudiments or related exercises. Practice with music for added inspiration. The music will get your creativity flowing. Warming up allows you to be loose on the drums and perform at the peak of your potential.
  • Draw a small 2″ circle in the middle of your practice pad and challenge yourself to play dead center. Your snare drum too!
  • Drum Set: It’s a bit of a misconception that you always need a drumset to work out licks or patterns. You can still have an effective practice by playing in the air and/or tapping on your legs. The main idea is to go through the motions so you form some amount of muscle memory.
  • For greater stick control, practice accenting the upbeats in paradiddles: Ex. r L r r, l R l l or r l r R, l r l L (capital letters are accented notes). Tap your foot on quarter notes to keep your place.
    More paradiddle exercises for drums here.
  • Singles and Doubles. The rudiments are simply made up of doubles and singles. Learn to play these as fast, cleanly, evenly, and correctly as possible. Do the same with doubles. They make up all the rest! Master this and you’ll find that everything else comes a lot easier when playing the drums.
  • Great Drums Alive! – Did you know that drums are even being used in fitness programs now? Check out the drums alive fitness programs in your area. Get fit and get in shape with drums!
  • Buying Tip: Want to save on shipping costs at Drum Bum?
    Consider ordering together with a friend or coworker.

  • You can make your own plastic cymbal sleeves by going to the hardware store and purchasing a foot of plastic tubing slightly larger than the shaft of where it will sit. Simply cut it in 1″ (or so) lengths, and you’re ready to rock!
  • Can’t crank down on that snare head any longer? It could mean that it’s stretched out and needs to be replaced. Heads stretch over a period a time, especially if they’re tuned tight and left that way for long periods of time. Eventually they’ll stretch so far that you are not able to tighten the lugs.
  • Use your band’s board tape to know what to practice and clean up. Sometimes you’ll be surprised to learn that the drum fill you’re so proud of in a particular tune, may in fact not be coming out right at all.
  • Monitor Mixes: Try to get a “medium” volume from your sound guy. You can then go down or up from there. Low volume mixes will help you play softer if necessary. Mixes that are too loud can not only be physically harmful to your ears but can sometimes cause confusion.
  • Have a “Don’t forget” list for packing up before you head out the door. This works!! Type it out on your PC (O.K., your Mac) and laminate it. You can keep this in your stick bag as well to make sure you have all your drum things before leaving for your gig.
  • Check your form: Often times existing problems stem from the most unsuspecting origins. Are you hitting straight up and down? Are you too far back on the stick? The stool? Are your drums angled properly?
  • Quote: The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.– Arnold H. Glasow
  • Song form: Have a thorough understanding of song form (ex: aaba or vs, vs, ch, vs) so that you can more easily navigate the tune and know where you are at all times.
  • Why read music? Besides the obvious, one of the best reasons for reading is the fact that you can teach yourself anything out of a book or a magazine without having to continually take drum lessons. 
  • Paiste is officially pronounced, “pie-stee”.
  • A trick for playing slightly behind the beat: With your dominate hand on the hi-hat and other on the snare, play a flam on your backbeats (2 and 4) so that the snare falls slightly behind your hi-hat hand. -It works!
  • A lick a day, keeps the doctor away: If you learned just one new drum lick a day, that’s 365 new licks a year! Think about it. This same example works for drum grooves or drumbeats in different styles.
  • Want to make practicing READING more fun? Invite a friend over for a “reading workout”. It’s not only fun but allows for some healthy competition.
  • Engrave your drums and cymbals. Many drummers have their equipment stolen in the course of their career. Your chances of retrieval are far greater if your drumsets are marked with identifying information. Most police departments have an engraver that you can borrow. Do it now so you don’t have any regrets!
  • Another great motivator is to have a workout partner for practicing SNARE DRUM solos. It’s great for your chops even if you’re not in a corps or drumline.
  • Did you know ..that in many Latin American countries, people clap the clave rhythm (2/3 or 3/2) to the music instead of 2 and 4, as we commonly do in the US?
  • Drugs are a dead end road! Practically every other biography on VH-1 is about a drug addicted rock star who either OD’d or is finally finding the light some 30 years later. Be smart and learn from those before you. They’d give anything to be in your place and do it all over again.
  • Quote: Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison
  • Think twice before cleaning those cymbals! Many of the old pros swear by that crusty old dirt that’s engraved in them. They claim that it, more often than not, gives them a real warm sound that adds character, and body.
  • Don’t underestimate showmanship! Many players snub this aspect of drumming. While it’s certainly not required, it does increase your overall marketability and the crowds eat it up. Remember Buddy Rich on the Muppet’s show? -Incredible!
  • Spelling: It’s Zildjian, not Zilgen, or Zilgen, or Ziljian, or Ziljin
  • Are your highs high and your lows low? Although most of us are aware of dynamics, we often don’t spend enough time practicing just that. We have a concept of what dynamics are but we don’t always pay enough attention to it or we don’t give it enough thought while we’re actually playing. Remember that dynamics are “extremely” important in the big picture.
  • Study a melodic instrument. This will give you a valuable understanding of harmony, chord structure and overall music theory. You’ll then be a greater asset to your band and can be more involved in song-arranging.
  • Quick tips for learning the Pataflafla.
  • Don’t quit your day job! Many musicians pride themselves in never having worked a day job. While our attempt is not to put them down, we would advise working a day job now and then to help instill and reinforce a work ethic. It teaches you how to work hard and reminds you what the rest of the world is doing.
  • Walk to the beat of a different drummer. Be your own player. Be an individual. Strive to develop your own distinct style on drums that will make you unique. Do something different. Have a niche. This could be from mastering one particular technique to standing on your head while you’re playing. Just be different in some way.
  • Keep the art of brushes alive! Jazz is America’s music. Brushes are an extension of this music and the legends have spent many years perfecting this art form Don’t be afraid of brushes. They offer countless opportunities to create and there are many masters that have paved the way for us to emulate and even take to a new level.
    Keep jazz drums alive. Keep brushes alive.
  • Shoot for the stars, and you might just hit the moon! You’ll usually go much farther in life if you keep your goals set high. Keep your dreams alive. Keep your goals set high.
  • Inventory your equipment: Log all of your drums and other instruments. Take pictures of them (all sides), and create a page for serial numbers. You’ll be glad you did this if they ever get stolen or lost in a fire.
  • Say it, then play it. The best way to learn a new rhythm is to say it out loud first. This allows the brain another method of comprehending it and has proven to be a very effective learning technique.Free Drum Lessons
  • Write it out. Transcribing a drum fill or groove (or song for that matter) is one of the best ways to thoroughly understand it.
  • Practice in front of a mirror and videotape yourself playing. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from this. Everything from that stupid look on your face to your snare drum that’s tilted at a 30 degree angle. You’ll also be able to examine your posture and the correctness (or not) of how you’re hitting the drums.
  • Drummers get a lot of flack. We get blamed for tempo fluctuations, etc. Many other musicians have never even practiced with a metronome, but they’ll often be the first to speak up about it. Take the time to talk to your bandmates about the importance of their contribution to timekeeping. (Don’t forget to be diplomatic.)
  • Famous Quotes: I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything. – John D. Rockefeller
  • Don’t snub the groove! And don’t put down players who make there living off of a strong backbeat. They are valuable commodities. Just ask the musicians who play with them. They have a feel that usually can’t be surpassed.
  • Chops.. it’s not a dirty word! Respect the time those musicians have devoted to their vocabulary. They’re often more creative players with much more to offer the world of music.
  • Shoot for practicing 20 minutes instead of 2 hours. This is a little self-applied psychological trick that really works! After 20 minutes, you usually feel propelled to practice much longer.
  • Do Something! – Want to change the world and make it a better place? Get involved: Remember the old saying: If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
  • Networking is equal to, if not more important than practicing. Remember; “out of sight, out of mind” Networking is advertising (or marketing). Ask any business about the importance of advertising. You are, in fact, a business. You are the product (service) and you need to be “sold” to others. If they don’t know how to find you, you will not get the gig.
  • Cheap Practice pad: Save yourself some money by taking an old mousepad and gluing it to a slab of wood. – Voila! You have a practice pad made from just a few accessories.
  • Spelling: It’s Syncopation (with an “o”), not Syncapation. Come on drummers, we need to know this stuff! 
  • Keep up with the times. Stay on top of new gear, players, songs, etc. Read the trade publications (DRUM!, Modern Drummer, Rhythm, Stick It, etc.), go to drum clinics/events and engage in conversation about drums with like-minded drummers.
  • Your Word: Know matter how much more money it pays, stand by your commitment to play the gig you had booked. Don’t take another gig just because it pays more. Protect your reputation. This will pay off in the long run… and it’s the “right” thing to do.
  • To better understand time signatures, visually think of dividing a pie into halves, quarters, eighths, etc. When it’s in quarters, imagine putting a cutout of a quarter note on each slice and then slice that piece in two. You will then need to use two eighth notes for each and soon this will provide a better understanding of rhythmic values. This is also a great teaching method.
  • For dried up duct tape residue on your drums, cymbals or stands, invest in a bottle of “Goo Gone”. This stuff is amazing ..and even smells good!
  • Repetitiveness is the key to learning half of what’s out there. Many drummers only go over a drum beat a few times and than expect to have it down. In most cases, it’s necessary to “overlearn” it to get to the point where you can utilize it without any extra thought.
  • Attend drum shows and conventions. There is a wealth of information there from product information and drum clinics to valuable educational seminars on drums. You’ll often even have a chance to meet many of your favorite players! One familiar show is the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC).
  • Use a large drum cover in your bass drum instead of a pillow. That way you’ll have it to cover your drums whenever necessary, and it will come out of a precut hole a lot better. It will also allow you more muffling flexibility than a pillow on the inside of the drum due to the fact it can be arranged to touch both heads.
  • Be the best drummer alive! Don’t tolerate mediocrity. Eat, sleep, and breathe drums! Let nothing stand in your way!
  • You’ll get farther in your drumming career if you set goals for yourself. 
  • If you want to catch a marlin, go where the marlin are. You won’t catch a marlin in a pond or a lake. This is a famous saying that gets you thinking about where you need to be to attain success. Think about it; if you want to play with a major artist, you should move to a big music town. Otherwise, you’re spinning your wheels.
  • Breathe freely when you play the drums. Otherwise you stifle the flow of oxygen and cause your body to work harder. This in turn will prevent you from being fully relaxed.
  • Practice your feet equally as aggressive as your hands. Think of your feet as if they were another set of hands. They need the same amount of attention. Apply the rudiments accordingly.
  • Some drummers practice for hours by themselves but don’t
    practice enough to actual music. Practicing with music teaches
    you taste, phrasing, dynamics, and how to properly interact with the bass player and other musicians in the band.
  • Playing your drums ought to be as comfortable as driving your car. If you have to reach too far in either direction, it will work against your overall balance and positioning.
  • Ward off disasters by oiling bolts and springs, replacing worn heads on your drums, and carrying extra gear for emergencies.
  • Deduct “everything”! It’s tax season and many of us are considered “self-employed”. We operate as a small business more or less and as a business, we have the full legal right to deduct expenses incurred as a result of our work. Hire a tax consultant to help sort through the latest tax laws. The small amount you have to pay for professional advice is well worth it in the long run. They can usually help you save a lot of money by sorting through and taking advantage of all the allowances available to you. (Don’t forget to save “all” your receipts.)
  • Weather: Careful with keeping your drums in extreme weather. Humidity, extreme hot, or cold can wear your drums down over time causing all sorts of problems from laminates wrinkling to shells going out of round.Drum Bum on Facebook
  • Your duct tape roll makes a great drink holder. Set it down to the right of your bass drum foot where it can’t be knocked over.
  • Don’t sleep too much. This is a terrible habit of musicians. We don’t mean to spoil the party, but too much sleep can waste a lot of time. Time is something that gets more and more precious as you get older and your responsibilities increase. Work hard and prosper!
  • Protect your reputation. Don’t burn any bridges. Settle arguments and debates as diplomatically as you can. This way they won’t come back to haunt you.
  • After a drum lesson, ensure retention by practicing as soon as you get home while the information is still fresh in your head.
  • Heavy Weather: In the summer, careful not to leave your drums in the hot car for too long. On a typical 90 degree day, temperatures on the inside of your vehicle can soar to 140 degrees or more!
  • Think deterrents. Keep your drums hidden and/or covered in your car or van. Take extra precaution at clubs. Make sure someone is always around when you’re not there. Don’t underestimate the thief. He’s just waiting for you to let your guard down.
  • It’s about time. Our primary responsibility as drummers (before anything else) is to lay down a nice, steady beat for the band.
  • Time Management – Here is a famous writing that will inspire you to manage your time more effectively. (You’ll then have more time to practice drums!) 
  • Keep an Emergency Tool Kit with you at all times. This should include things such as a screwdriver, extra drum lugs, cymbal sleeves, felts, tuning keys, etc.
  • Insurance: You should seriously consider insuring your drums. You’ll then be covered If they’re ever stolen or go up in a fire. Check into “Island Marine” policies or add-ons to your homeowners policy.
  • Spelling: It’s Vinnie COLAIUTA, not Coluita, or Coliuta, or Colauta.
  • Take care of your drums. We’re often surprised at the amount of drummers who spend thousands on top quality drums but never buy cases or covers for them. The drums inevitably end up getting scratched up and dented over a period of time. Even if you can’t afford cases, you owe it to yourself to take extra precautions to protect your drums with some sort of covers or blankets. This will help preserve them so they’ll hold their resell value.
  • Support female drummers. They’re paving their way in a male-dominated industry. They’ve worked very hard and deserve your respect.
  • Invite your drum teacher to come out to your gig and evaluate your playing. This will give you valuable insight into how effectively you’re applying everything you’ve learned. If they’re extremely busy, you can always offer to pay them for their time.
  • True story: A famous drummer once asked his famous bandleader how to develop perfect time. The bandleader said, “listen“.
  • Put your drumkey on a chain or rope and wear it around your neck. You’ll then always know where it is.
  • Have fun! We all started playing drums because it was fun (and/or to get girls:). Don’t lose sight of this and get jaded. Work hard and be serious about your craft but don’t forget to have fun!
  • Everything is hard...until you learn it. -Think!
  • The best way to know if you’ve truly grasped a concept is to teachit to someone.
  • Practice Hard! You’ll usually find that in searching for one thing, you’ll stumble across another great idea. Keep your thirst for drum knowledge alive. Practice hard.
  • A Prescription: Take all 40 rudiments and go through them all leading with your weak hand. Write down which ones you struggle with. The result will be your practicing “prescription”. This concept can be applied to other areas of drumming as well.
  • Snare wires: Don’t underestimate their importance as they’re the key to good snare drum response. Make sure they’re all there, straight and seated. If not, replace them.
  • Pro Drummers: Purchase business cards for yourself and hand them out to “everyone”. This not only gets your name in front of people but it reassures them of your professionalism. They’ll know you’re serious if you’ve taken the time to put a calling card together.
  • Use a can of compressed air (you know, like they use for computers) to get the dust out of those hard to reach places like in-between lugs and under foot pedals.
  • Need tips on buying a drumset?
  • Be competitive, but not back-stabbing. Normal competition is healthy and you should keep it alive. But it can quickly get out of hand if our heart isn’t in the right place. Our competitors are our brothers. Treat them with kindness and respect, ..then go out and kick their butts! 😉
  • Tips for teachers: Keep the time signature 2/4 instead of 4/4 while teaching students the very basics. It makes it less confusing for them and allows them to focus in more on the actual rhythm.
  • Put address, phone and directions in your wallet so you don’t forget them. There’s nothing worse than driving halfway to the gig only to realize that you don’t know where you’re going.
  • After a drum lesson, go home and practice right away while it’s still fresh in your head. Otherwise you tend to forget allot of what you learned.
  • The law of reciprocation. If you help others, it “will” come back to you. Try it and see! Do something very special for someone in your life. This could be anything from helping to teach a lower income child how to play drums (for free), to starting a child sponsorship with a reputable charity. There is a great feeling of self-worth and dignity that comes from these noble gestures and God mysteriously has a way of repaying you for each and every one.
  • Drumset players: Use a double tom case (where you put two toms in one case). You’ll have one less case to carry around.
  • Invest in a small portable handcart for your drums. This thing can save you a lot of time and trouble on those gigs where the set up location is far from your vehicle.
  • Be nice to your soundman/monitor engineer. They control your mix!
  • At soundchecks, don’t show off. Hit the drums one by one and play nice steady beats. Many times they just need a line level. Don’t play out unless they ask you to.
  • Famous people that play(ed) drums: Bob Crane (Hogans Heroes), Mel Torme, Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzie Gillespie, Johnny Carson, Tipper Gore, Dana Carvey (SNL).
  • Quote: “Tuning a 3 yr. old drumhead is like polishing a turd. Why bother, it’ll still be a piece of crap.” – Unknown
  • To Ponder: The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced. – Author Unknown
  • Are you keeping those drums in an outside shed or a damp basement? Keep in mind that your drums are made of wood and
    wood is affected by extreme temperatures and humidity. While short term storage may not harm them, long term storage in extreme temperatures is not advisable.
  • The Money Beat: Nashville studio drummer, Paul Leim often refers to the Money Beat. The money beat is 1 and 3 on the bass drum and 2 and 4 on the snare (“Billy Jean”). “If you want to make a good living playing the drums in America, make sure you can play this simple beat with good time and lot’s of groove!
  • Polyrhythms: There tends to be an ongoing debate over the actual definition of a polyrhythm. For the record, Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: “The simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in music”.
  • Time: While playing a song, concentrate on keeping a consistent tempo from one section to another. This is often where there is a slight time fluctuation in the music due to your drum fill leading into the next section.
  • Relaxation is the key to a superior performance on the drums!
  • Your local hardware store is a great place to find inexpensive DRUM PARTS. You can find cymbal washers, cymbal sleeves, bass drum springs and more for drumsets. 
  • Warm up before a gig the same way a gymnast stretches before a competition. You’ll be amazed at how much freer you are on the drums as a result.
  • Drum Tabs: Don’t miss our famous drum tab database. Click for links to literally hundreds of drum tabs.
  • Take the time to tune your drums before a gig. Many drummers tend to let this go but you would be surprised how out of tune they can become due to repetitive playing, weather changes, and the like. There is nothing more pleasing to the ear than a well-tuned drum and it will make your playing sound that much more professional
  • As an additional warm-up before a performance, listen to CD’s or tapes that inspire you. You will usually play better as a result of the motivation you feel from the music.DrumTips.com
  • Consider practicing drums in 15 minute increments. This will allow you to concentrate on many areas at once (ie. 15 minutes for reading, 15 minutes for rudiments, etc.) You can often accomplish a lot more this way.
  • Solo idea: Make melodies on your toms (like “Taps”). This has been done for years and makes a good solo that much more entertaining for your audience.
  • Rim Shot: You know that sound you get when you turn the drumstick upside down and play it across the snare drum? Well, some people call that a “cross stick” and some people call it a “rim click”. Whatever the case, it shouldn’t be mixed up with a “rimshot”, “stick click”, or “stick shot”. – Thoroughly confused? We thought so. 
  • Don’t forget to practice fast tempos. It’s not enough to know how to play drum beats at moderate tempos. Before you know it, someone will throw you a tune that’s blazingly fast. You must be prepared when the time comes!
  • Many drummers.. just need to work on the “transition” from one lick to another, in a solo. The objective should be continuity from idea to idea.
  • Odd Time: Careful not to put too much emphasis on beat “1” of every bar when you’re playing odd time signatures. Remember, you don’t do this in 4/4.
  • Double Bass pedal. One advantage to having a double pedal is you’ll always have a spare. 
  • Are there time problems in your band and your not sure why? Make sure the band has some of your hi-hat in their mix. This will help everyone lock in a little better.
  • Drum Rudiments: The speed of them is only as fast as your left hand (or right hand, if you’re a lefty) will allow. Practice your weak hand diligently. You’ll then notice all the rudiments becoming easier to play.
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