When you’re first learning to play the drums, it can be frustrating to play them as often as you want to, especially when you don’t have your own drum set.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t practice!
In fact, there are lots of ways to practice your drums without ever even touching an actual drum set. It may just surprise you that this can be accomplished with some creativity and determination.
From pillows to drum pads, many alternatives can help you learn basic drumming. We are here to tell you how to learn drums without a drum set.
If you really want to know how to learn drums without a drum set, the answer is – a practice pad. Although all other ways can be helpful, nothing can give you the real feeling like a drum pad.
They are cheaper than a drum set, less noisy and easier to carry around.
How to learn drums with a practice pad
We’ve rounded up a few tips for learning to play on a practice pad below, so you can start putting your best foot forward on the road to mastering the drums.
1. Get your hands on some good drum sticks.
Let’s start with the basics: you’ll need some good sticks, and it’s important that they’re not too heavy.
If they’re too light, they’ll be harder to control as you’re playing on your practice pad – and if they’re too heavy, they’ll be difficult to use in coordination with your footwork while playing on an actual drum kit.
2. Place the pad on the stand where the snare drum sits typically.
The pad should be at a similar height, with a similar angle, to what you would use for your snare drum.
3. Position yourself in front of your practice pad.
It’s important that you sit up straight when using your practice pad – both for ergonomic reasons and because good posture is an integral part of learning how to play this (or any!) instrument well.
Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor and that your knees are bent at a comfortable angle so you can easily move them.
3. Use all the same techniques you’d use on a real drum kit.
You can try out different grips and playing techniques and practice almost everything like on a real drum.
The first thing you’ll want to learn is the grip: hold your sticks loosely, and make sure they’re not too close together or too far apart.
Then, you can get started on practicing beats!
Advantages of a practice pad
A practice pad is basically just a drum head without the sides and other apparatus. It has a smooth surface that lets you practice your technique while keeping the volume very low.
You can find them in most places where percussion instruments are sold. As for how they work—well, they work just like a regular drum: you strike it with your sticks!
The difference is that since there’s no body of the drum, the sound won’t reverberate as loudly as it would on an actual drum set. This means that you can use a practice pad to practice your technique without waking up your neighbours (or annoying your roommates).
Practice pads are typically made of rubber—which might not seem very exciting at first glance, but this makes them extremely portable and easy to store.
Other ways to learn drums without a drum set
We will now tell you how to learn drums without a drum set or practice pad.
Yes, it’s possible!
Of course, the level of this kind of practice is not the same as with a drum set or a pad. However, you will be able to scratch the surface of learning drums.
Pots and pans
Although it sounds like a joke, you can actually practice drumming on kitchen utensils.
You can use pots and pans in your kitchen to set up a rudimentary drum kit while practicing basic rhythms. Just arrange your set from what you can find in the kitchen, and have fun with it!
You will be amazed at how good you can actually play with pots and pans. However, this practice will be noisy, and it’s not recommended if you have grumpy neighbours.
Practice your hands on a pillow
When you’re first learning the basics of drumming with your hands, practicing on a pillow or with pillows where your hands would normally rest on a snare drum can be helpful.
Plus, this is a good way to practice without making too much noise! However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Because a cushion is much softer than a drum head, it has significantly less rebound.
That is, it will not return the stick to you, forcing your muscles to do all of the hard listings. This can be difficult in the beginning, but you will quickly adapt.
Air drumming for practicing arm movement
For such a simple idea, air-drumming is surprisingly effective.
You can practice keeping your arms loose and moving them in the right rhythm while still getting used to actually hitting something. It will help you develop the arm’s muscle memory and coordination.
However, even with imaginative drums, your arm should go to and arrive at nearly the same location in the air as if there were a drum. Otherwise, your brain will not be able to internalize repetitive movement.
Humming or clapping for practicing timing
Practicing timing is one of the most important things to do when learning how to play any instrument – and it’s also one of the easiest things to practise without an instrument.
Just hum or clap along with whatever song you want to learn. It will help you take the muscle memory and coordination part out of the equation and focus only on timing.
Why Practice Without A Drum Kit?
If you’re a beginner drummer, you may not have access to a kit, or you might be looking for ways to practice without making too much noise.
Maybe you want to refine your movements while away from the kit, or maybe you want to work on some rudiments, but your neighbours are sleeping.
No matter what your situation is, there are many reasons why practicing without a drum kit can be beneficial. Here’s what you can learn when practicing drumming without a drum set:
Technique – Practicing without a drum kit allows you to focus purely on your hands by removing the distraction of all of the other elements involved in playing.
This can help you isolate and improve specific techniques that will make your overall skills better.
You can learn different grips and variations of playing styles and get used to it before applying it to a real drum.
Coordination – allowing you to move all four limbs in different directions at varying speeds and intensities without tying up your brain.
Drummers use both hands simultaneously, but this doesn’t always come naturally for beginning drummers.
To work on hand coordination, try playing basic quarter note beats first with one hand and then with the other. Then try out simple variations by adding eighth notes or changing the rhythm of your notes between your two hands.
Improves timing – allowing you to execute those moves at the appropriate time.
Learning to play along with a metronome helps improve timing and tempo.
When drumming on hand percussion, it’s easy to feel the pulse of the beat in your hands, which helps train your muscle memory for consistency in time-keeping.
Counting – the ability to count rhythms is essential for any drummer.
Whether playing with a small combo or a big band, it’s crucial to be able to count off songs and keep time.
Even if you’re using written music, you’ll want to be able to tell at a glance which measure you’re on.
While it may not be as much fun as playing on a drum set, practicing without drums can aid you in becoming better at the drums.
If you want to understand how to learn drums without a drum set, check out some alternatives to a drum kit and see what fits you the best.
Practice pad can be the best solution if you are serious about drumming. It’s cheaper than real drums, much less noisy, and easy to set up and carry around.
However, if you can’t afford a pad or just want to try out the drumming technique before getting more serious with it, you will find other ways to drum without a drum. Kitchen utensils, pillows and your hands could be all that you need to start drumming.
Although these alternatives are far from serious practice, they are great for improving coordination, timing, counting and technique.
The best aspect about learning drums without a drum set is that you can do it at any time, without disturbing your neighbours with loud sounds.
Get in the groove, dive deep into your practice, and don’t be afraid to really work on something specific until you’ve mastered it.