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May 5, 2020

Practice Drumming Without Drums

Planning to take online drumming lessons, but don’t own a drum set? Or want to learn to drum before you buy a drum kit? Well, it’s a good and practical decision. But how to learn drums without a drum set?

Practice Drumming Without Drums

The good news is that there are multiple ways to practice drumming. The majority of the drum activities involves muscle memory and thus can be done without a kit.

You need to train your limb muscles to move in a certain way. For instance, you can tap your knees with hands or tap the floor with feet to practice synchronization needed while playing the drum.

Let’s take a look at various options with which you can practice drumming.

Why Should You Learn to Play the Drums Without a Drum Set?

Investing in a beginner drum kit makes sense only when you have played the drums for a while, and you have made your mind to peruse it for a long time.

Let’s understand how it is possible.

Two main things to aim for while practicing drumming are:

  • Muscle memory: It involves training all your limbs to move in a different direction, intensity, and speed.
  • Timing: It helps to carry out those movements at the right time.

So, you may have noticed that neither of the goals requires a drum set. Repeat the movement a couple of times, and your brain will store it. Your brain doesn’t care if you are hitting a drum or something else. It just stores that movement.

Non-drum practice can also help you enhance some skills that even fanciest of drum kits might not be able to do. Practicing in lower volume surface allows you to pick even a slight mistake and thus help you to monitor temp fluctuations critically.

Furthermore, major surfaces, except for drums, are not responsive, and thus the rebound won’t be pronounced. This will train you to play through the drums and strengthen muscle groups used for generating power while using a drum kit.

How To Practice Drumming Without Drums

Wondering how to learn drums without a drum set? Here are a few ways to practice drumming without drums.

Drum On Pillows

Cushions and pillows are great to practice drumming as they are quiet. They also provide less rebound and will require your hands to work twice as hard. If you work on a soft surface and then move to a drum surface, you feel it faster, lighter, and more responsive.

Take your pair of sticks and practice the rudiments on the pillow the way you would do on a drum kit. While doing so, drumsticks are important.

It may be difficult initially, but with practice, you would get used to it and improve in no time. Here’s you can watch some awesome exercises to play with pillows:

Practice Air Drumming

It’s a great technique to practice drumming. It is free, silent, and doesn’t require anything to practice.

Most percussionists would have tried air-drumming before starting to learn it in real. Air drumming is imagining how to play. You don’t even need the sticks. Air drumming helps in developing hand co-ordination and muscle memory. You have to imagine a kit and where your drum kit parts are situated and smash on them. Practicing playing on a cymbal is crucial. You have to ensure that your arms are arriving at the same point and time in the air, just like the way you would do on an actual cymbal.

If you fail to do so, there wouldn’t be any repetitive memory for your brain to remember. If you have a hard time imagining, you use a drawing of a drum kit while air drumming.

All in all, this technique is more helpful for developing muscle memory and not so much for training muscles or fingers. While you may do it for free with just the sticks, the Aereodrums kit is suggested. With advancing technology, virtual drumming has become popular. This is a device that attaches to your stick and recognizes the movements. You can also pair them to your iOS or Android devices to listen to your drumming.

Here’s an example:

Try Using APractice Pad

Practice pad is a surface that is designed to mimic the response of an actual snare drum. Similar to other practice methods, this technique also offers a quitter means of playing rudiments and sticking exercises.

Majority of the drum shops sell practice pads, and they are available in various sizes, shapes, and surface materials. You can try out and pick a practice pad that suits you the best.

However, don’t confuse practice pads with silencer pads. Silencer pad is placed on the real acoustic drums to lower their volume.

You can even mount some of the practice pads on a cymbal stand and improve the positioning and flexibility. We have made a buyer’s guide about the best drum practice pad to buy online.

Learn To Drum With Body Percussion

It may sound insane, but playing the drums in rhythms on your own body offers great practice. Body percussion doesn’t only help you practice but also allow you to feel the rhythm. For a more snare-like sound, you can try with a set of keys or some loose coins.

Practice Beatboxing

This is a technique of creating drum sounds with your mouth. You don’t even have to be a vocal expert to try this. You can memorize your favourite song, and a set a rhythm for it. Now, just verbalize the rhythm.

Hum or Clap

This exercise is not really to develop muscle memory, but it is for timing. This exercise is especially beneficial if you have trouble keeping a good timing. You can also sing or beatbox, but clap or hum is non-complex.

Drumming Legs and Feet

This is similar to air drumming but while using your lower body. The ground may not offer many rebounds, but with practice, you will get much better. This will also help to play faster while on real snare drums.

The best part is that you can practice both heels up and down technique with this. Moreover, if you have practiced both lower and upper body, it will give you an upper edge while playing on the actual drum kit.

Use Kitchen Utensils

You can use utensils, such as pots and pans, to make your drum set. But while doing so you may tape a towel on it or tape ends of your old drumsticks, or else it will be loud. Cardboard boxes or other such junk may also be useful to make great sounds. You can also play on an upside-down bucket.


Rudiments are a great way to expand your vocabulary. They help you to work on important things such as precision, articulation, and fluidity. While working on rudiments, don’t think much about speed. It will come gradually.

Practice without a metronome for fluidity. Later, you can add a metronome to improve your timing.

However, metronome shouldn’t be used as a tool to increase speed. If done, it will put stress on your body while forcing temp through it for which your body is not prepared. Speed will improve with proper mechanics and consistent practice.

Try Electronic Drums

Lastly, you can also go for an electronic drum kit. It has multiple advantages over real drums, such as minimum space occupancy, lower sound, and playing with your headphones on.

Do You Need A Drum Set To Learn Drums?

The simple answer to this question is NO. While learning or taking your initial lessons, it is better to practice playing the drum in the absence of the drum kit. Early days are more about building co-ordination and understanding the rhythm. Early on it is possible to practice drumming without drums.

Drumming involves as much mental activity as there is physical. It includes developing muscle memory and improving timing. You can air drum or try your sticks on a pillow. You can try various ways and learn to play the drums without a drum set.

How Can I Practice Drumming At Home?

You can use various things, such as pillows, utensils, and even your own body to practice drumming at home. Alternatively, you can also try clapping, air drumming, virtual drumming, or beatboxing to practice drumming.

Can Anyone Play The Drums?

Drumming, like any other art, can be learnt with the right amount of discipline. So, yes, with practice and passion, anyone can learn the skill of drumming and play the drums. Age is not important.

Do I Need A Drum Practice Pad?

No, drum practice pad is not mandatory to practice drumming. There are other options, such as air drumming, beatboxing, and playing on pillows.

Having said that, practice pad come in handy for many drummers while developing their technique. They are also helpful to practice rudiments and enhance stick rebound. However, they are less inspiring for learning drumbeats.

Final Thoughts On How To Learn Drumming Without Drums

While taking initial drumming lessons or trying to explore your passion for, doesn’t require drums. It includes muscle memory and timing, which can be learnt without actual snare drums.

You can use various techniques such as air drumming and virtual drumming or various tools such as pillows and practice pad to practice drumming without drums.

All in all, try the techniques mentioned above and go ahead with a few that work best for you. We hope this answers your question on “how to learn drums without a drum set?”.

Happy Practicing!

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