Drums – Learning

It’s also fun to set the metronome to 4/4 (or something else if you really want a challenge) and play with your kick and snare to that meter but play odd tuplet patterns with your hi-hat or ride. Idk how useful it is unless you’re going to play prog or math rock but it is an interesting puzzle to decipher.


I dont play drums, but I spent some time over the last decade trying to figure out how to program and sound like a real drummer, or as close as I can get, using a VSTi drum app (mainly BFD, awful company tho).

I find this guy is waaaaaaaaay above my pay grade but he always gives me things to think about, and I hope some of it sinks into my programming/understanding of live drums by osmosis, and anyway, it feels relevant to this thread… :slight_smile:

EDIT: And if any drummers who stumble in here uses the KMI BopPad, I’d be interested in your experiences playing with it :slight_smile: BopPad | Keith McMillen Instruments


I started taking lessons with a really good drum teacher/classically-trained musician when i was around 15. Kept at it until i graduated high school, at which point i quit the lessons to focus on college, which in hindisight was a mistake, but i got far enough that i’m still pretty decent.

In my opinion, you can get very far with just a couple of rudiment books and then just learning, listening, and playing whatever songs you like. My fave books are:

To be honest, besides the infrequent practicing with those books, air drumming to anything and everything was probably pivotal for me, haha, still do it to this day, but the callouses are not there all the time anymore, so it can get painful if i get too into it :joy:
I do believe, though, that in-person lessons can be very valuable, since (as everything else) bad habits picked up in the beginning are very hard to get rid of later on. But with all the youtubes and tiktoks these days, and it being easier to record oneself, perhaps it’s not as obligatory as it used to be.

Old video, because why not:


Sonny Igoe taught me the lifetime exercise in the late 90s. It is a collection of the most important rudiments played one after the other to tempo. Great for stick control, technique, feel and timing.
Tommy Igoe teaches it. Google him.

I would be interested to hear more about this, as someone who has learned with matched grip, and wondered if I should get into learning traditional grip as well.

Some previous (less-than-complimentary) discussion about the BopPad in the MIDI That Goes Thwack thread…

… and the Erae Touch thread…



so, since i was always studying all percussion, i learned with matched grip and didn’t really think much about it until high school, when i got into rudimental drumming. even though i played tenors, traditional grip on snare looked so cool - so i started figuring out how to hold the stick that way and got a very ground level of proficiency on it, and stuck with matched without too much turmoil.

in college, i was the only matched grip player in a collection of trad-grip jazz majors - including my mentor. so i decided i wanted to switch, i knew there wasn’t anything “magic” about the grip (my own mentor’s words - “it’s just a grip”), but i felt like it was a cool part of the instrument’s history and i wanted to check it out.

it mostly went okay. i was diving into jazz as a whole in a new way, so maybe some of my issues with the grip were hidden inside my general unfamiliarity with the genre. i was also playing in a hardcore punk band at the time, and did WGI on drumset… basically, it felt right to play matched in those situations, and i started to notice how i had a short little adjustment period every time i’d go into a different playing situation. i started to feel like both grips were suffering because of it.

one practice session, i was working on a bob moses transcription in john riley’s beyond bop drumming, and was getting frustrated with the movement and a tempo ceiling. i decided, “what the hell. i’ll try it matched.” and was amazed to find i had lost next to nothing, chops-wise, and that i was pretty easily able to push the transcription to the desired tempo. i decided that day that i would switch back to matched grip for everything. this was towards the end of undergrad!

what i realized as i returned to some basics to re-acclimate myself to the grip is that i had accidentally created two sides of my playing, technique-wise. i was mostly practicing comping patterns and general jazz timekeeping things. long story slightly shorter, playing time felt really great with trad grip - but movement and everything else never felt right. that has nothing to do with the grip itself! it’s just how i studied it, and my own physical tendencies.

i was happily matched for a while, and in grad school many years later flirted with the idea of returning to traditional grip, since i felt like it was a more comfortable position for my left arm. i was dealing with some body pain, and trad seemed to be a quick fix. i played exclusively trad for a month before eventually returning to matched, since i realized that either way, my left hand needed fixing. i’m also still playing mallets and other percussion so matched is just the best idea for me, to keep things consistent across instruments.

SO! the moral of the story here is, if you’re interested in traditional grip, absolutely check it out! it’s a part of our instrument’s history, it looks cool… why not? not to mention, there are zero drummers (at least that i know of) who only play trad grip. everyone has to know matched, either way. so, check it out! see how it feels!

every now and then, i’ll just trad grip in the middle of improvising, often to do a little thing i stole from milford graves, where he uses his left elbow to manipulate the pitch of the snare while also being able to strike the snare with the left stick. i’ve had a lot of back and forth but for me, but matched has been the move. listen to your body and do what works for you!


Thanks for sharing that! I’ll definitely explore it and see if it takes me anywhere. I saw a video of Buddy Rich doing fast single rolls just with his left hand, using traditional grip of course. It seemed more plausible to achieve that with the grip he was using… I don’t know, I guess others could do it finger style with a matched grip. What he does bears little relation to anything I can do on a drum kit anyway! It’s interesting to me that different techniques might have different affordances, so I will keep it as an avenue to explore. Useful to hear your experiences though, I won’t get too hung up on trying to master it if it’s not inspiring me.

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You can check out Jojo Mayer too if you’ve never seen him, i wouldn’t mind reincarnating into his left hand.

I’ve fallen into some ig/tiktok hole of people doing a lot of push/pull and single-hand swipe rolls lately as well, so much good stuff out there (and there’s always the good old-fashioned rim rebound trick). Not helping me resist my long temptation to build a small e-kit.


there are certainly a few techniques that really require traditional grip, that’s one. dan weiss is another drummer who really makes the case for trad grip. he does pretty advanced things that need that hand position.

His technical DVDs are an amazing resource: “Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer.”

Curious what this is?


Ahh, sometimes called a gravity blast when played in a blastbeat, I think.


that’s correct - it’s also called the “freehand technique,” coined by johnny rabb. first place i ever heard of a “one handed roll”

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YouTube’s an amazing resource—Drumeo stands out, but there are a load of other accounts. I’ve had some breakthroughs with their breakdowns of John Bonham licks etc. that I’d never quite got my head around in the past. (e.g. I can finally count the :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: intro to Rock And Roll properly now.)

In terms of more old-school materials, the single thing I’ve had the most use out of is a now twenty-year-old two-page printout of 40 rudiments from the Percussive Arts Society. One of my teachers used to get frustrated with me for sounding too timid at the kit; after I spent a week working through those rudiments for several hours a day with heavy sticks on a Moongel pad, he cheered up a lot on that front. (RSI risk, though?) In a similar direction, George Stone’s Stick Control lives up to its reputation, and I’m looking forward to getting into Steve Gadd’s Gaddiments book once I’ve built my proficiency back up after an extended lapse.

For independence and coordination, Gary Chester’s The New Breed was absolutely revelatory for me. Rod Morgenstein’s Drum Set Warmups is also fantastic: many of the patterns are completely unmusical (at least, I have no idea how I’d use them) but brilliant for expanding your mobility around the kit in counterintuitive ways. It almost feels like a puzzle game. I find practicing with either of these books weirdly intoxicating for the sensation of my nervous system gradually rewiring itself.

There’s a bit in Dave Grohl’s autobiography about a foundational episode in his drumming education, in which a bassist friend forced him to play exactly the same simple thing repeatedly for half an hour straight. Some of the YouTube guys could use that.


Sorry for crashing this real drummers thread but I wonder if anyone has any advice for getting better at things like Nord drum. I have one that I love to play with but I’ve always felt I have not yet found a way to improve consistently… no roadmap of sorts. Most people I see playing it get a kick drum separate from the pads so I may do that sooner or later…


This may seem like a non-answer but the basics are all the same if you are using sticks. The rubber pads are a little bouncier than an acoustic drum but you can use most of the same stick technique, practice the same rudiments etc. I would recommend looking to drum set resources rather than pad specific stuff just because there is more of it.

Using a kick pedal with the Nord Drum doesn’t give you an extra sound so it’s mostly useful if you already have foot technique that you miss using.


When I started learning I worked my way through the Drumeo beginners course. I think it cost $7. That was an excellent intro. Great value too, obviously a loss leader, but I haven’t subscribed to their other stuff.

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Not much on this specific topic, so I’d just like to say, that as I was self teaching, when I saw hi-hat on the left (standard setup), it seemed obvious to me to play it with my left hand. Later some slightly more experienced friend wanted to convince me that it is not how you “supposed” to play the hi-hat. I didn’t believe them and I’m quite glad now, because open-handed playing is very useful (at least if you don’t stick to some closely defined style). :slight_smile:

Personally I’ve never used any YT educational material (later, a lot of inspirational material, probably with Steve Gadd becoming the strongest influence as for this medium), but used lots of opportunities for workshops with people whose work I enjoyed, often being the oldest participant as drums were the second/third, quite late instrument for me, but now the first to my heart by far.