It’s never too late to get back into drumming. Roland Australia’s V-Drums product specilist, Simon Ayton explains through his own story how you can start playing drums again.
“I used to play the drums but havn’t played for years and want to get back into it.” Is that you?
7 Steps to Getting Back Into and keep Drumming
Read some of the guides on choosing a kit
Setup your kit so you are comfortable playing
Play a little bit each day- 5 Minutes a day is better than 20 minutes once a week.
Jam along to your favourite songs- Try to play anything along to the music no matter how simple.
Connect and check-in with a teacher for tips and help if you’re stuck
Connect with other musicians and have a play together.
DON’T STOP DRUMMING!
Over the decade I’ve been with Roland and before that with students, I’ve heard the same story over and over at shows and when talking to customers in stores or on the phone. “I used to play the drums but havn’t played for years and want to get back into it.” Is that you?
Maybe like me, you remember how much fun you had as a kid playing on your kit?
Did you play along to the radio and imagine being on stage in your favourite band with the audience screaming like me? Do you miss the challenge and feeling of achievement in learning a difficult rhythm or fill?
Like you, I also stopped playing for a period but luckily I came to my senses and have been a happy drummer ever since albeit frustrated by always wanting to be better and to learn new things. That’s part of the attraction though. When. I’m on the kit, I’m in my happy place and feel unstoppable and you can get there again too.
Where it all began- What's your story?
I was attracted to drumming from as far back as I can remember. The way they looked, the power and noise and physicality of drumming. It was all I really wanted to do even as a small child along with being an F1 driver and a firetruck. You read that right, not a fireman, a firetrack but I digress.
As a kid of the 70’s, my super hero was Animal from the muppets. I remember taping the episode with Buddy Rich on a little tape deck shoved right up to the TV speaker and listening to their playing over and over trying to work out how they were doing those things with the sticks. I still have that tape!
It blew my mind that it was possible to get that good at somthing and it set me on a course I’m still on today to keep getting better in all aspects of life. It’s also taught me that it’s never too late to learn somthing, I just have to try.
Why the drumming stopped
Why did you stop? Going back to why I stopped, I think I had just hit a plateau where I didn’t feel I was progressing. My school work was also suffering too because of the hours I was spending practicing. Without an obvious drumming career path mapped out ahead, I seemed more important to work towards getting a ‘real job’.
Almost instantly, my playing routine went from before and after school every day to just the odd afternoon here and there and then just occasional weekends and then not at all.
Before long, my kit was packed up and in storage on the bunk above my bed which made me feel a deep sense of regret and loss. I mourned.
Then one day, the moment of truth came.
Looking up at my kit in the bunk above me, I started thinking about how much I used to just love playing that thing. With a sort of surge of excitement, the urge over came me to setup my kit and play and with that I skipped breakfast and pulled out all the bits of my old ‘Boston’ kit and began to reassemble it in it’s rightful place beside my bed.
As I was slipping the pedal under the kick drum, I noticed a big crack in the footplate that ground my enthusiasm to a halt. Had I reached the moment of truth? Fix it now or never play again. The choice was clear, the decison was made. It was time to start playing drums again.
Within the hour, I was on the bus heading into the city to find myself a new pedal. Take my money! The sense of pride I felt balancing my shiny new drum gear on the way home was huge. “That’s right everyone on the bus, I’m a drummer!”.
The Journey back to drumming
The weeks that followed were definitely difficult both mentally and physically. Whereas before I could play all day without a problem, now I could only play half a song before getting cramps and worn out. I couldn’t even keep up with one of my favourite practice songs by The Police, “Can’t Stand Losing You” and there was no way I was going to be able to ghost Stewart’s playing on that closing track “No Time”.
Within a few months, feeling more physically fit and mentally confident and with my hands newly calloused, I started asking around and found some guys to play with and we started having weekly jams. I was really happy and there was no turning back.
Maybe you miss the social connection with playing music with other people? There are many people in your exact sistuation desperate to play music again so you owe it to yourself to give it a go.
You will be able to get back up to speed!
As adults, we all have so many responsibilities including work, family and parenting. Life can often feel like an endless list of to-do tasks. The refreshing thing about returning to the drums as an adult is that you’re learning because you want to, not because someone told you to! This makes all the difference.
Choosing an electronic kit offers so many more oppertunities to play. With so many models available, this is often the first big hurdle to overcome.
See this guide for choosing a kit and start playing drums again!
It’s all about reestablishing your relationship with the instrument and sticks. Once you feel comfortable at the kit, things will progress quickly and you’ll find yourself remembering patterns and feels. Your motor memory will kick back in too and things you havn’t tried for years will start to reappear in your playing.
Drumming is great for your mental and physical health
Many studies have now shown how playing music is not only healthy for your body but also fantastic for your brain.
Drumming is such a total body experience and it makes a lasting impact on your brain. The health benefits are well known; It’s pretty difficult to be thinking negative thought when you’re busy playing with four limbs!
See this article on the health benefits of drumming.
The positive feeling you get from playing when you’re in the moment and your surroundings and problems melt away is often referred to as ‘flow’.
In this state of immersion, you actually feel elevated to another level with a deep sense of well being and joy.
Scientists have found that learning a musical instrument when you’re an adult helps to make the brain more efficient. This even extends to protecting against dementia as we get older. So it really doesn’t matter how old you are, drumming is somthing you can do to keep you in mental and physical shape.
Do you need a teacher?
Having some one-on-one time with a specialst who understands the learning challenges can be important and it’s easier than ever to go it alone the rest of the time too.
Many teachers now offer on-line, real-time lessons with sound and vision to glean whatever tips you need to make real progress.
If you are very self-motivated and feel that a lesson a week is too much, you can always arrange occasional check-up lessons. The teacher can help you with any stumbling blocks and keep you on track.
Software like Melodics for V-Drums allows you to interactively learn and judge your progress in a musical and engaging way.
See Melodics Here
As mentioned in the Melodics software, 5 minutes a day is better than 20 minutes on a Saturday as chipping away bit by bit is generally the best way to feel at home on the drums and back up to speed quickly..
Drum For Fun
Not everyone has the desire or time to commit their lives to drumming as a career. To become the next Bonham or Gadd takes years of constant playing with other great musos and lots of luck.
Having fun however takes little more effort than picking up the sticks and playing somthing for a few minutes each day. The more relaxed you become at the kit, the more you will enjoy your sessions and before you know it, you’ll have created a routine and your progress will skyrocket.
V-Drums now incorporate coaching metronomes and backing tracks so you can develop your inner clock and practice playing in a musical context.
You owe it you yourself to start playing drums again!
Once drumming is in your bones, the need to play never really goes away. Each day of not playing is another day of catch-up so don’t regret stopping but look forward to playing again. You’ll never look back.