I would say my learning to play drums was more out of necessity than anything else...
My friends are all musicians (typical, I know) who all play in bands. One day a drummer went missing and they simply sat me down behind the drumset. And just like that, I was knighted ‘a drummer’. Well, sort of. Drumming was more difficult than I had imagined; the whole different limbs in different directions and different times can be quite frustrating. Regardless, I really fell in love with the instrument and had a serious urge to progress; actualize the rhythms I could hear in my head and feel in my newly shaken-up bones.
I decided to go the non-traditional route and not take drum lessons (note: great drum teachers who give great drum lessons are highly recommended. No shade.). So, my learning became two-fold. I relied on my bandmates to teach me rhythms, heavily resting on the advanced skills of our bassist. Playing music beside someone, going with the flow, if you will, felt easier for me than trying to do so alone. And, when I wasn’t playing with a band, I started listening to the drums in songs. This might sound simple, but trust me, it’s not. I had never quite heard music in this way, picking out the singularities of each instrument. After finding drumming in songs I liked that were on my skill level, I attempted to repeat it exactly.
The cool part was listening to all different types of music and picking up beats from a collection of music styles. And feeling accomplished when a song that felt totally impossible before, felt a bit more achievable.
I recommend all drummers take whatever road feels right for them when it comes to practicing. But for me listening to music, picking apart the drums, and recreating them (most times on a table and chairs or with several pillows) was an incredibly important, free, and non-monotonous way to boost my beginner to intermediate drumming skills.
So, while I pass on this knowledge, I’d also like to pass on a few of my favorite albums that can be listened and drummed to all the way through, they’re especially fantastic for beginner-intermediates. They’re from different genres and each have their own shine and shimmer to offer to anyone who’s willing to listen and play along.
1. D’Angelo- Black Magic
I like to call this sexy drumming. A bit of jazz, soul, funk minimalism that proves you don’t need to do a lot to make a really special sound.
2. The Troggs- From Nowhere / Wild Thing / Trogglodynomite
The dudes who brought you ‘wild thing’ made some seriously rad garage rock.
3. Beyonce- Lemonade
Full disclosure, I’m a HUGE Beyonce fan. This last album was much more instrumental and has some really fun, easy songs to play drums to (especially tracks 2 and 3).
4. The Vaselines- Sun of a Gun EP
The handbook of Lo-fi mastery: loud, simple, slightly neolithic drumming at it’s best.
5. Otis Redding (anything!)
Motown has it’s own soul style of drumming that’s a bit quick but not so difficult. And once you’ve got that pop pop pop boom pop pop it’s so much fun to play!
6. Amy Winehouse- Back to Black
Going along with the whole soul flow, this album has surprisingly do-able drums.
7. La Luz- Damp Face EP
Really sunny, modern surf rock with rolling, easy to follow rhythms. Love the idea of jamming with my Obilab drums to this on a summer day!
8. The Clash- Combat Rock
For me, this album reads like a ‘how to’ guide for playing punk music.
9. Black Sabbath- Black Sabbath
Let’s top off this list with something heavy. Knowing how to create big, booming, powerful sound while still utilizing a bit of minimalism is a very important skill and this is a great album to learn from!