Electronic drums are much more home-friendlier than acoustic ones. Not only do they allow for learning generic techniques; but with them, you can record your tracks, arrange, and mix music from scratch using your laptop. So, you got your drum set and good electronic drum headphones, but there is one thing left: mastership. How to learn to play electronic drums at home and not make the purchase a waste of money? Here are some instructions.
What About Acoustic Drums? Decide and Start
Buying an acoustic drum kit is a home-friendly decision. Many of them are more compact (even tabletop-sized), less expensive, and – arguably the selling point – less noisy. Their ability to connect to other digital devices (more on it later) also makes them a better tool for self-education.
Which set to buy? Some of them are similar in size and setup to “real” acoustic drums used in jazz or rock, and some are more similar to DJ controllers. Both are playable and good for learning as well as for actual playing. But the movements they require are completely different, and once you might feel uncomfortable at one while used to the other.
Which one to choose depends on whether you plan to switch to acoustic drums one day. If you do, you better buy a real-size e-drum set. If you see your future music as electronic, studio-made, or you play for meditation, a tabletop model will do as well.
Hearing Yourself Matters
Getting yourself good headphones is crucial for getting real-time feedback as you play. Electronic drums replay samples with certain parameters (velocity, position, etc.) rather than catch the acoustic sound. What is heard in the room does not interfere with the sound you produce; you hear it in the acoustic system or headphones connected. Headphones are a better option if you don’t want others in your house to be distracted or annoyed from hearing you play.
You Hear Everything You Have to Know on Your Radio
One of the best methods to catch various drum techniques by ear is listening to random music and trying to repeat beats and rudiments you hear. Turning on the radio (in your headphones if you please) and trying to repeat what the drummers play is a good way. It doesn’t have to be the real radio; Spotify or Tidal will do as well.
Of course, it’s more fun and challenging with rock, funk, or jazz. On the other hand, for a beginner, even reproducing simple pop beats made with drum machines will be a good lesson.
Learn Your Model
If your drums are made by a well-known manufacturer like Roland, Yamaha, or Alesis, it will come with a tutorial. Manufacturers also publish tons of videos on YouTube; often, they invite famous drummers to make such video lessons. But the most crucial thing as you begin is to learn the abilities of the instrument you’ve just unpacked. From holding the sticks to loading custom-made samples, the manual is well worth your time.
Nothing can replace a look from aside when you’re learning from your mistakes. But with digital audio technologies, you can first focus on playing and then on analyzing. The key is simple: record your sessions. With electronic drums, it’s simpler, because you can connect it to your computer, record the session, and then listen to the recording.
What software should you use for that? There are advanced free options that won’t empty your pockets or make you think about pirate sites. Here are some of those you might find useful:
- This free audio editor supports recording from external sources. Connect the audio output of your drum kit to the input of your computer and record the sound;
- Cakewalk by Bandlab. This epitome of an advanced MIDI sequencer, once commercial, has gone free. With this, you can record an audio file (like with Audacity) or record your session as a MIDI sequence. You need to connect your drum kit via USB and select it as the MIDI input device. After the session, you’ll have a MIDI file that shows the position, velocity, and length of every note you have played;
- This free DAW also allows for both audio and MIDI recording.
If you decide to produce music, both Cakewalk and LMMS can be your ultimate tool for creating, mixing, and mastering. So getting familiar with them will only do you good. Before that moment, they will help you analyze your manner, notice your mistakes and weaknesses, and work to correct them.
Drums Are Like Any Art
Like any art, drums require much time to master. You might think the 10,000 hours they talk about is too long. But if you want to achieve real mastery, it will be worth your hours. With electronic drums, finding time is easier, and you are less dependent on the teacher’s schedule and personality. Enjoy these possibilities and master playing with electronic drums!