Are you thinking of starting to learn the drums but you don’t have a drum kit to practice on?
This is one of the biggest barriers to starting learning the drums that most people tell themselves is going to be a problem.
The good news is… There are plenty of ways to practice without a drum kit!
Here is an Elephant Drums guide to practising the drums without drums.
In this article we’re going to talk about methods for practice which are silent or near-silent, help develop your drumming skills, and require little or no equipment.
- Air drumming
- Use pillows and cushions
- Practice pad
- Pots, pans and cardboard boxes
- Body percussion
- Hire a drum studio
- Go electronic
Investing in a drum kit is a step to take when you have played the drums for a while and you’re confident that you are going to continue in the long term. Drum kits require space to set them up and you also need to have friendly neighbours (or live far enough away from them that they don’t mind the noise). In the early days of learning the drums you can get a long way before you need to take the step of investing in your own drum kit. Many drummers learn and practice drums for many years before they even think about getting their own set of drums.
Let’s take a look in more detail at many of the options for practising drumming.
Yes, that’s right! We said it… Air drumming. It is actually a very valid and worthwhile method for practice. It’s free and it’s silent. The more time you spend with drum sticks in your hands, the better. If this means you’re air drumming along to your favourite songs or thrashing out air rudiments, it is all better than not practising at all. So don’t overlook the power of the invisible drum!
Use pillows and cushions
Pillows are great, not only because they’re quiet, but they also provide very little rebound (pretty much none), which means you will need to work your hands twice as hard. When you work your hands on a soft surface and then move back to a normal drum surface with rebound you’ll find everything feels lighter, faster and more responsive.
Practice pads are designed to respond as much like a drum as possible and so provide a quiet means of playing sticking exercises and rudiments. All drum shops sell practice pads and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes – it’s worth trying out a few to see what suits you best. Don’t confuse practice pads for the “silencer pads” that people sometimes put on acoustic drums to reduce their volume. Some practice pads can be mounted on to a cymbal stand if you want a bit more flexibility with positioning.
Pots, pans and cardboard boxes
Get creative with your kitchen utensils and make yourself a drum kit! However, if you hit a pot or pan with a drum stick it will be very loud, so either tape the ends of some old drum sticks or tape a towel onto the pot. Cardboard boxes and other ‘junk’ can make great sounds too.
Experiment with drumming out rhythms on your own body. Not only does it help you practice, but you also (literally) feel the rhythm. Try some loose coins or a set of keys in one of your pockets for a more snare-like sound.
Beatboxing is the act of making percussive sounds with your mouth. You don’t need to be a vocal gymnast to try beatboxing, just remember one of our favourite sayings: “If You Can Say It, You Can Play It“. Verbalising rhythm is a very important part of internalising rhythm.
Hire a drum studio
When you just can’t resist it any longer and you have to get your hands on some real drums, contact your local rehearsal studio and ask about hiring a drum kit for a few hours. If you’re in London and you’re having lessons with Elephant Drums you can also take advantage of the huge array of studios we have negotiated special solo drummer rates with. This means you can get access to drum kits and studio space at a discounted rate. [Find out more – Drum Practice Studios in London]
Another step on from the ideas above is to get yourself an electronic drum kit. A couple of advantages of electronic drum kits over acoustic drums include the fact that you can play in headphones and keep the noise to a minimum but they also generally take up less space. Combined with improvements in the quality of sounds getting better all the time and the reduction in cost, access to a drum kit is getting more and more accessible to more people whatever their household circumstances.
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