In the early days of learning the drums, anyone would be hesitant to make such a costly purchase, especially when one is not 100% sure of their interest. A decent drum set is an investment that even seasoned drummers hold off for a couple of years at least, before thinking of making that purchase. Sure, we could always sell it off to someone else, but would you take the risk? It could be months, years until someone finally takes it off your hands, all the while your drum set presides in a corner, neglected and gathering dust. And even then, you probably might not even be able to get all the money you spent back.
Instead of putting all that money into a drum set so soon, you can consider practising air drumming at home in between lessons! In fact, the vast majority of professional drummers started in this way too. Air drumming isn’t just limited to the beginners, even the pros use this method to train muscle memory, coordination and timing.
Developing muscle memory and coordination
Air drumming does not require any equipment (although it may be even more effective to use a pair of drumsticks) because the intention of this exercise is not to improve control, rebound or finger movements, but to exercise muscle memory and coordination. During this exercise, the goal is to focus on where each individual drum part is. Try to remember where the snare, hi-hat, ride, or crash is and always try to hit the same spot. When you’ve gone through the movements enough times, your brain will remember so that when you’re finally in front of a drum set again, the movements will come easier to you as compared to when you’ve not practised at all.
We also emphasise the importance of using actual drumsticks to practise air-drumming instead of using pencils or other objects to stimulate drumsticks because it helps you get used to the feel of them in your hands during practice. This preps you for when you’re playing on a real drum kit. Plus, when you eventually decide to take that leap to purchase a drum set, you would already have a part of the set!
Exercising strength and endurance
Let’s not forget that our feet are crucial when playing the drums too! Practice heel-down and heel-up techniques on the ground the same way as you’d air drum with your hands. And since solid ground doesn’t offer much rebound and requires more effort, it’s likely that when you’re back at the kit, you’ll be able to play much faster.
Pick a song, any song, and clap to the beat while humming or even singing at the same time. This is a fairly simple exercise that will help you keep time to the music. Once you’ve gotten very good at this, raise the bar by switching from clapping to a paradiddle on your thighs or a table while humming your favourite song. You can even use a metronome if you have one and refine the exercise even more.
The drum is one of those rare few musical instruments that you can practise without owning the actual instrument, and even if you had no musical background, drumming is a musicality that’s not too difficult to learn!
So what are you waiting for? It's time to start practising!