Top 11 Benefits Of Learning & Playing Drums/Percussion


Drums and percussion instruments are the world's oldest and most widespread instruments. They are found in all cultures and nearly all genres of music. There are a surprising number of benefits associated with learning how to play the drums and practicing/playing regularly.

In this article, we'll focus mostly on the benefits to be gained from playing the drum kit, though these benefits also apply to other membranophones and cymbals. The tuned idiophone class of percussion instruments (marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone, etc.) share many benefits and have their own. However, we'll focus this article on the typical drum kit drums, auxiliary percussion elements and orchestra/marching band membranophones.

I hope to inspire you to commence or continue your musical journey to mastering the drums as you read this article. It doesn't matter if you've never played before or you're a professional, there is so much to gain from learning a musical instrument like the drums, and I've selected what I believe to be the top 11 best reasons.

The top 11 benefits of learning and playing drums and percussion are:

  1. Improves Coordination/Dexterity
  2. Improves Cardiovascular Health
  3. Improves Memory
  4. Introduces A New Language
  5. Improves Discipline & Concentration
  6. Builds Confidence
  7. Provides A Creative Outlet
  8. Enhances The Understanding Of Music
  9. Yields Translatable Skills For Other Instruments
  10. Building Relationships
  11. Therapeutic Benefits

In this article, we'll discuss each of the benefits listed above to understand better how learning and playing the drums can improve our lives.

Related My New Microphone articles:
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Top 11 Best Cymbal Brands In The World

Top 10 Best Drum Hardware Brands On The Market
Top 11 Best Drum Stick Brands On The Market

Top 11 Best Electronic Drum Brands On The Market


Learning & Playing Drums Improves Coordination/Dexterity

Though all instruments require coordination and dexterity, playing the drum kit is perhaps the most demanding. To master the drums, we must develop impeccable dexterity between all of our limbs. On top of that, we typically hold sticks, brushes or mallets in our hands, which we must become comfortable wielding.

In addition to synchronizing our arms and legs, it's also sometimes necessary to sight-read music, which involves an additional layer of coordination.

Hitting each drum or cymbal at the right time, in the right place (for tone and volume), and with the appropriate velocity takes serious dexterity. The development of such skills will inevitably crossover to other areas of life that demand the independence and cooperation of the limbs.

Though the drum kit is its own instrument, the dexterity and control learned will apply to other percussion instruments and beyond.


Learning & Playing Drums Improves Cardiovascular Health

Not only do drums require greater dexterity between the different parts of the body than other instruments, but they also require greater overall effort to play.

Even though the drummer is generally seated on a throne (while the other musicians are often standing), there is a definite effort that comes with playing the drums.

The active nature of the drums makes them one of the best instruments for physical exercise. The body movements are greater than with other instruments, which raise the heartbeat, train the cardiovascular system (source), burn calories (source) and even build lean muscle mass (source).

As anecdotal evidence, I can sit and practise guitar for an hour and feel the endorphins and elevated body temperature. When I sit down at the drum kit (though I'm by no means technically proficient), I'm drenched in sweat and can feel my heartbeat racing by the time I'm done (if I can even play for an hour).

Additionally, the concentration required for drumming burns even more calories as the brain is deeply engaged in the activity.


Learning & Playing Drums Improves Discipline & Concentration

Mastering or becoming competent at playing any musical instrument takes time, dedication and a willingness to improve. Developing a strict practice and playing routine requires the same. Put differently, learning and playing drums takes discipline and concentration.

These skills (discipline and concentration) can be learned and nurtured with intentional practice. From the mechanics to the in-depth theory, drums offer a fun way to learn music while strengthening discipline and concentration for other areas of our lives.

Learning the basics of drumming presents a fairly steep learning curve, which requires work to overcome. Mastering the instrument demands unwavering resolve to the craft.


Learning & Playing Drums Enhances The Understanding Of Music

As the original musical instruments, drums have a long lineage to draw upon. In modern times, drum kits are used in practically all genres of music, allowing drummers easy access to the study of the vast styles of the music art form. Once we learn the fundamentals of drumming, we can access the many different styles available to expand our musical learning.

Though drum kits won't directly enhance our knowledge of harmony and melody, the focus on rhythm is deeply beneficial for understanding one of the key components of music: time.

Developing the technical and theoretical skills of a proficient drummer unlocks a deeper understanding of music. We can then move on to different genres with the confidence of being able to learn the intricacies of the art. Furthermore, developing rhythm through drumming will help with other instruments as well, which we'll get to next.

A perhaps undervalued benefit of learning the drums is that drums are wonderfully colourful instruments. Indeed, a drum kit is a collection of instruments. Each drum, cymbal and percussion element within the kit has its own range of timbres and sonic character. Learning the drums automatically gives us the perspective of playing with a wide sonic palette, which comes in handy when producing music.


Learning & Playing Drums Yields Translatable Skills For Other Instruments

Though drums are perhaps the most focused on rhythm and timing, all instruments must lock into a tempo to be played effectively with others. Learning the drums develops a deeper connection to time, which, once internalized, will only benefit our endeavours in learning other musical instruments.

The tactile nature of drums is perhaps the most natural to us as humans. Understanding the differences in technique (striking position, striking velocity) translates to a deeper understanding of feel and expression when it comes to other instruments.

The comfort with sticks, brushes and mallets will also come in handy with other percussion instruments, notable for the tuned percussion options like marimba and vibraphone.


Learning & Playing Drums Improves Memory

Our brains are naturally plastic, meaning they can be trained and shaped to perform a certain way. By working our brains properly, we can effectively improve our memory (source). Learning and practicing musical instruments, including drums, stimulate the amygdala and hippocampus, which play a role in processing emotions and memories (source).

Consider all the factors of learning and playing drums that involve memory:

  • Memorizing songs (with rhythm and timbre/tone)
  • The physical layout of the kit
  • The physical process required to achieve certain sound (loudness, timbre)

While learning and playing the drums, we stimulate the hippocampus, which activates neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons. Neurogenesis is linked to improved learning and memory (source).


Learning & Playing Drums Introduces A New Language

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind” (source). The long history of drums dates back further than the Latin and Ancient Egyptian languages.

Beyond the sheet music and new terminology, the drums' integral role in music can be thought of as a key component to the language of music.

Music is used to enhance our language (think of music in television and movies, for example) and is itself intrinsically linguistic.

Furthermore, studies show that learning a musical instrument like the drums helps strengthen the same parts of the brain responsible for language processing (source). Learning drums not only introduces the language of music but also enhances our brain's ability to learn other languages.


Learning & Playing Drums Builds Confidence

The Meriam-Webster Dictionary defined self-confidence as the “confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities”.

Playing the drums gives us immediate auditory feedback. If the drum kit sounds the way we're trying to make it sound, we know we're doing something right! As we continuously improve our technical and creative prowess with the instrument, we become more assured in our abilities and build our confidence.

In addition to building confidence with the drum kit itself, learning how to play the drums can give us the confidence to learn other skills as well. Real confidence comes from knowing deep down that you can learn what you put your mind to, whether it's a musical endeavour or not.

I should also make a note that drums are obviously very loud. To play them to their fullest, we must be confident enough to be loud, which can have the effect of making us a bit more assertive and less quiet in social situations, too.

Furthermore, we can eventually get to a point in our drumming journey to play with and/or for other musicians and audiences. In doing so, playing the drums can help us overcome shyness and stage fright.

Developing the confidence to perform in front of friends, family, strangers and even virtually/online will pay dividends through many other areas of our lives.


Learning & Playing Drums Provides A Creative Outlet

If not merely a cathartic outlet to destress, drums provide a creative outlet for the artist. We're all creative in one way or another, though playing drums and making music is a fairly obvious form of creativity (source).

Learning to play the drums gives us a creative outlet to write our own music and also to perform the music of others through our own interpretation.

Regardless of whether we're doing anything original, each time we sit at the drums to play, we're creating sound and music that otherwise wouldn't have happened. In other words, we're being creative through the outlet of drumming.

Additionally, there are studies that suggest learning musical instruments like the drums creates connections between the two hemispheres of the brain. Learning drums can have the effect of enlarging the corpora callosa, the bundle of axons that effectively connects the brain's two hemispheres (source). We add additional ways of thinking (consciously and subconsciously) with new neural pathways, which surely improves our ability to create innovative and unique musical ideas.


Learning & Playing Drums Helps Build Relationships

Music brings people together from the jam spot to the classroom, the stage to the car audio system, and everywhere in between. I've personally built many relationships based on music, including many drummers.

Perhaps the first relationship you'll build when learning to play the drums is with a teacher (if you choose to go down that learning route). This is true of in-person lessons and one-on-one online lessons.

Once you've developed your skills and knowledge of the drums, you can become a teacher and build relationships with your students.

A few online resources for drum lessons that I recommend are FiverrPreply and Upwork.

Beyond the formality of student-teacher relationships, you'll be able to play with other musicians in bands and ensembles if you so choose. By playing the drums, you will get to meet and collaborate with other musicians, either professionally or just for fun.

Whether you start a band, join a marching band or orchestra, or simply jam for fun, becoming a skilled drummer will get you noticed by other musicians.

Finally, if you've developed the skill and confidence to play live, you'll certainly meet venue owners, music fans and other musicians. Music excels as a social art, and it makes it much easier to meet new people and develop deeper connections.


Learning & Playing Drums Has Therapeutic Benefits

Debra Shipman (Ph.D. RN) states, “Learning to play a musical instrument provides a peaceful retreat from the pressures of daily life. Therapeutic outcomes of playing music include better communication skills, improved emotional release and decreased anxiety and agitation. Musical training promotes cognitive function, mental health, and a connection to others.” (source)

Music is being studied thoroughly as a promising tool for therapy for the brain, lungs and heart (source). These health benefits are readily available with regular drumming practice. The American Music Therapy Association lists the following benefits of music therapy:

  • Promote Wellness
  • Manage Stress
  • Alleviate Pain
  • Express Feelings
  • Enhance Memory
  • Improve Communication
  • Promote Physical Rehabilitation

Learning & Playing Drums Bonus Benefit 1: Monetizing Your Skills

As the first “bonus benefit,” let's discuss money.

Once you've become a capable drummer, there are many different avenues to monetize your skills. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Performing original music live (clubs, dinner parties, churches, coffee shops and even busking)
  • Performing covers live
  • Record streaming royalties from original music
  • Teaching drumming lessons
  • Recording as a session drummer

There are plenty of other opportunities to monetize your drumming. Marketable skills (whether they're high-paying and/or capitalized on or not) are undoubtedly a benefit of learning and playing the drums.


Learning & Playing Drums Bonus Benefit 2: Opportunity To Learn Instrument Upkeep & Construction

Learning and playing drums isn't only about the technique, music theory and songs. It's also about the instruments themselves. Leaning the drums gives us a great opportunity to learn more generally about the physics of sound and percussion instruments.

Furthermore, learning the general upkeep of a drum kit teaches us about plenty of other topics, including:

  • How to disassemble and reassemble a drum kit
  • How to transport and store drum kits
  • How to reskin and tune drums
  • How to maintain (polish, lubricate, etc.) drum hardware
  • How different materials yield different timbre
  • How dampening works with vibrating objects
  • How to position microphones in and around a kit for sound reinforcement and recording

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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