#1 - Let Yourself Be Bad At This For A While

Aug 06, 2022
Dondi Frenkel playing the drums with White Tie Rock Ensemble

 After years of teaching weekly drum lessons to adults and children, one thing I see over and over is that people expect to be good at something right away. 

That’s just not realistic. 

When you first try drumming, you are attempting something that is naturally awkward and unfamiliar. 

You have to give your body and brain a chance to figure things out. 

I tell most of my younger students - Think of video games… were you good at those right away?  

Did you understand the controls and mechanics of “Call of Duty” as soon as you picked it up?  

I remember watching my son throw fits about getting beat in Fortnite. I would tell him to relax and just continue to get better. 

He was comparing his progress to others who have been working at it for months and months. 

Someone a lot smarter than me once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  

I have never heard anything more true in my life!  

You lose all the joy from learning and celebrating small victories when you are constantly comparing yourself to where you THINK you should be at this point in your training. 

Just be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey… I promise you, YOU WILL GET THERE!


Learning the drums is all about coordination

Learning the drums is a battle fought on two different fronts - mental and physical.  

Mental - Understanding what is supposed to be played to create a sound at a specific time.  “Ok, I need to hit the hi-hat with my right hand in time with the count. I also need to hit the snare drum with my left hand on  the ‘2’ count.”

Physical - Actually getting your body to correctly perform the movements you are telling it to - at exactly the right time. 

The two usually don’t get along at first and constantly fight one another. 

THIS IS NORMAL and is to be expected!  

In my opinion, understanding what you are TRYING to do (mental) is the most important thing. 

The physical coordination will come with practice, but you need to be able to recognize the correct pattern when you do (or don’t) play it correctly. 


The Magic Key to Progress

There is a magic key that unlocks this struggle:  SLOW REPETITION. 

Doing a motion or pattern as slowly as possible, yet correctly, will slowly train your mind and body to play it correctly. 

The key here is to go as slow as you need to in order to play the pattern correctly…even if it is at a snail’s pace…that’s ok!  

Just know before you start that It’s going to take some time. 

In reality, most people won’t go slowly enough to really let their brain and body absorb it and get it down. 

Often, they will get it right slowly once or twice and then take off trying to do it fast again. 

When they can’t play it right consistently, they get frustrated and usually stop (hopefully temporarily). 

Sometimes, you may even need to focus on using one limb at a time and build it that way. Then bring in the next piece. Etc. 


Focus on small victories

When you do have a breakthrough, It is so important to realize and “take in” the moment when you make any kind of progress on the drums. 

One thing I love to tell my students when I see progress is, “Hey!  10 minutes ago you couldn’t even play that - now look at you!”

Another encouraging thing about gaining the coordination to play challenging parts on the drums is that once you figure it out and get it down pretty well, typically it will stay with you and you don’t struggle to play it later. 

Much like learning to ride a bike, as people love to say… your body just remembers how to do it. 


Have realistic expectations

Also realize that no two people are alike and will progress and grow at different levels.  

I’ve seen some be able to play a basic beat as soon as I demonstrate it and sometimes it can take 30 minutes for another to be able to get just the right arm to play the correct part.

Which ever of those camps you may fall into, IT’S TOTALLY OK and normal! 

I know that it can be frustrating, but have patience with yourself, trust the process and above all - stop comparing yourself to others!  

Do your best to keep it fun and if you need to, step away for a day or so.  

It’s really ok.  

The most important thing about learning the drums is to keep it fun.  

Playing along with your favorite songs is a great way to keep the fun going!


I think it’s awesome that you are trying to learn and I believe in you!  

You WILL get there - enjoy the ride!



If you’re ready to get serious about learning the drums, download my FREE 14-page “Quick Start Booster Pack” PDF!  

It is a small, hand-picked selection of material to get you started learning the drums!

Enjoy it and talk to you soon!

Download FREE "Quick Start Booster Pack" PDF

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