Learning to play hand or stick drums can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Whether you are just starting out or an experienced player, there are many benefits to playing these instruments.
Getting in touch with Traditional culture, helping the development and total impact of oral knowledge in your community, and getting info and lessons on new instruments. From snare drums to Atabaques and Djembe, percussion instruments cover a huge
If you’re having doubts about how to play percussion drums or other percussive instruments, we advise you to find a good teacher.
A qualified percussion teacher can help you develop proper technique, build a strong foundation of rhythm and timing, and introduce you to different musical styles and genres. You can search for “percussion lessons near me” or try to find online teachers, such as the ones we offer at our site.
Look for a teacher who has experience teaching your instrument and who can work with your schedule and learning style.
We recommend searching for teachers from traditional culture, such as our Master Teacher from traditional communities, who have lifetime experience
1 -Learning percussion and drums: Listening is key to begin
Listening is the most crucial aspect of learning Percussion instruments techniques. Drumming is about being in sync with the music and rhythm.
Candomblé Percussion Master Adauto pointing the importance of Listening
The Drum makes vibrations, the waves we understand as music, and playing it is feeling and being part of it. Bass drums are on the low frequencies, and bells are on the high frequencies, and they make up percussive harmony.
Only by listening, can we be part of music from the inside out. No percussion lessons can teach you about learning, which is something you have to develop in order to learn percussion.
There are many who say that great percussionists have rhythm.
Better yet say that the great percussionists have a superb feeling, and know to listen to the rhythm.
The reason that in Brazil, African Diaspora in the Americas, and Africa people organize to play Poly-rhythms, and the different rhythms match seamlessly is that everyone is hearing one another.
Two can’t play together without listening to each other and being able to feel each other rhythms. Percussion is about teamwork!
This is why the most used studying aid for percussionists and drummers is something that you hear, the metronome, but more on this later.
2) Exercise – Percussion instruments are learned through practice
Percussion, especially hand drums playing is not only a musical technique but also a physical exercise. In the same way that Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian culture is both dance and martial arts
Percussion is both musical and physical.
The physical aspect of percussion must not be downplayed:
Percussion learning is about technique
This goes in two ways:
One is something we can cover in another article, stretching, strengthening your rotator cuffs and having body consciousness, and keeping good posture.
Rotator Cuff Strengthening Exercises Examples
The other is doing specific exercises that will enhance your ability to perform different motions and hand and note combinations.
Read up all the way, and you’ll get a sample of free percussion lessons with some beginner percussion exercises to kick-start your training!
Learning percussion takes time and dedication. Set aside regular practice time each week to work on your technique, timing, and musicality. Start with simple exercises and gradually increase the difficulty as you progress. Remember to practice slowly and focus on proper technique, rather than speed or volume.
These exercises can be considered one of the most technical parts of learning Percussion, and can be summed up as:
Strengthening your body so that it can be physically apt to perform within the rhythm.
Doing these exercises is a fundamental part of percussion, as you’ll be fit physically to perform the motions needed to be in sync with the song.
There is still a fundamental aspect of being in Sync with the song, that will connect with the listening aspect.
3)Your Next Best Friend: The Metronome
Ideally, you would be practicing together with a more experienced player who can keep a perfect rhythm, and tell you when you are speeding or lagging behind.
You can’t have both at will, but:
You can have any time, for free, one out of these two: The metronome
The metronome is the perfect Rhythm keeper
Listen, and you’ll know when you are keeping the rhythm, and when you’re out of sync
So how can you practice with the metronome?
The metronome is a challenging companion: You have to start counting with it, beat in sync with it, and listen to see if you’re deviating from the starting point.
If you type metronome in Google, it will have a built-in tool you can use. We recommend starting slow, beginning at 60 bpm.
The great thing about the metronome is that you’ll improve your listening and rhythm at the same time.
The best advice in this guide:
You can practice the exercises and the rhythm keeping all at the same time
4) Play-along! Tip: Have a friend or family accompany you on the bass drum
In fact, the Metronome works the same way as a song. You can in fact use them in place of one another:
You can play a rhythm from a song on the metronome at a slower velocity to properly understand the rhythm.
You can play the exercises with the song, so you can get a better idea of how the exercises can fit inside the music rhythm.
The vast majority of songs are recorded with metronomes used to align the tracks of the different instrumentists, so at a basic level, they’re tied.
Playing organically has different challenges, but this will help you prepare for them.
5) Be part of a group, or record yourself and play with your own tracks!
While a steady rhythm is an essential part of any music, independent of tradition, while playing with other players organically, the rhythm can vary. It may slow down, or go faster.
To help you with this the best ways are:
- Doing exercises with the metronome: Listen and catch the timing faster, and keep it steadier as you listen to your own variations
- The original and Traditional way: Playing with others who have basic listening and rhythm-keeping skills
- Recording yourself, and playing with your recording: You’ll need to use the metronome to start the first rhythm or recording so that your track can fit with the next rhythms you’ll add
As you develop your skills, start building your repertoire of songs and rhythms. Choose music that you enjoy playing and that challenges you to improve your technique and timing. You can also collaborate with other musicians and percussionists to create new music and explore different genres and styles.
You’re own your way to start learning percussion! How can you go further thought?
6) Listen, feel, and improvise:
Tinho ‘Pequeno’ First Timbalada Soloist – Heard on Songs such as Mulatê do Bundê, Sambaê, Meio da Maré
One of the aspects that make African and Afro-Diasporic Percussion unique is the improvisation techniques employed.
To improvise, first, listen to the master improvisers:
- Mamady Keita (Republic of Guinea)
- Giovanni Hidalgo (Cuba)
- Timbalada, especially early albums (Brazil, Bahia)
- Olodum live Performances, and early Cd`s (Brazil, Bahia)
- Naná Vasconcelos (Brazil, Pernambuco)
- Cara de Cobra and other Ivete Sangalo Percussionists (Brazil, Bahia)
Playing a rhythm is reading a language. Improvising is speaking that language.
There’s no universal improvisation technique because improvisation happens when you have a grasp of the language that each rhythm represents.
Improvisation is aided by the exercises or rudiments.
But the basis of improvisation and solo is understanding the rhythm and what are its expressions.
There are many rhythms, and like languages, many share common roots. You may see similarities in Brazilian, African, and Cuban Rhythms for example.
The semantics and the accents will be unique in different languages, and so with rhythms and any music category.
Samba in Salvador and in Rio will certainly sound different, you will need to start each learning process separately, as they represent different musical languages!
To know how to improvise within a culture, it is needed to understand the language of the rhythm within that culture.
The first tip remains the best: Listen, immerse yourself.
Looking for more content on Percussion? We offer drum lessons directly from Master teachers from Traditional Communities, see below!
Read our Samba Guide to discover The Origins and Unique History of Samba
Read about Brazilian Rhythms, the Full Guide