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The Best Drum Books For Learning to Play Drums

By Sophia, published on 28/06/2018 Blog > Music > Drums > Drum books: Get Help Learn to Play Drums

Each and every one of us owe a heavy debt of gratitude to Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press.

His machine and the perfection thereof ushered in the Age of Enlightenment and, going further, made the possibility of learning available to everyone.

Yes, our topic is the best books for learning to drum… just bear along for a moment!

Surely, there might have been another means to permit the proliferation of information – the Chinese system of woodblock printing might have been the standard, for example.

Especially as it predates the Gutenberg press by about 1,200 years!

Nevertheless, the explosion of knowledge in the western hemisphere started with a German blacksmith whose formula for type pieces alloy proved so durable it is still used today.

As Gutenberg ushered in the Age of Enlightenment, so the Internet brought us the Information Age!

Are you looking for online resources to help you learn drums?

With such a wealth of books available, covering any topic imaginable, available to anyone who wants to learn anything…

Naturally, we just had to go on the hunt!

Now, Superprof delivers our best picks of books for learning the drums quickly and well.

For the Youngest Drum Players

This little guy is a bit too small for drum lessons, but give him a year... As a rule, babies love to bang on things and generally make noise! Source: Pixabay Credit: Thedanw

You might wonder what the ideal age is for signing your child up for drum lessons.

According to Andy Ziker, a drummer himself and now a teacher, as long as your child has the physical strength to wield drumsticks and the hand-eye coordination necessary to play, s/he could start drum lessons even before preschool!

To that end, he has written a book titled Drumset for Preschoolers.

In it, he opines that, while younger children do not have the academic skills necessary for learning how to play the drums by sight reading, they can certainly learn to play by ear.

Colours function as an additional teaching tool. By colour-coding the drums – the snare drum is red while the bass drum is orange, even toddlers can play basic drum patterns from similarly-coloured sheet music, and pick up on rudiments of drumming before they attend primary school.

You can order Andy Ziker’s informational book from Amazon, for around £20; slightly cheaper if you buy used.

The Best Drum Books for Absolute Beginners

While toddlers are, as a rule, quite happy banging on things and generally making a lot of noise, the average prospective drum player tends to be a bit older and actually able to read.

So, it should come as no surprise that there exists a bevvy of books for beginners at percussion.

We’d like to highlight two selections.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Drums

Within these pages, you will find everything you need to know about playing the drums, from holding the sticks correctly to using them for maximum percussion.

In fact, this book will take you from elemental knowledge of concerning drums: their history and purpose, evolution… all the way to selecting the drum kit that is right for you.

One oft-overlooked part of drum lessons is proper drum maintenance and tuning, which is covered in this all-inclusive instruction manual.

Being as it fundamentally concerns itself with playing drums, you will also learn all about syncopation, basic beats, backbeats and how to read drum music.

This book is suitable for beginners all the way to intermediate drummers, and for those who’ve not played for a while.

You can find it new on Amazon for £21.95 used copies available for as low as £0.01

A word on the author:

Michael Miller was born partially deaf and diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome at five years old. He was nevertheless possessed of an overwhelming desire to perform. His parents indulged his passion, taking him to live concerts at every opportunity.

Through multiple surgeries, dedication and hard work, he achieved sufficient recognition as a drummer to earn him a place in the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the U.S.

Getting feedback and instruction from other players is always a good idea Once you get a bit more advanced in your drumming, you may seek out other players to learn with Source: Pixabay Credit: Skeeze

Drumopedia: a Handbook for Beginning Drumset

This book may as well be called ‘Funopedia’ for all the joy beginner players get – both from the casual phraseology and from the tips and instruction they find between those covers.

Drumopedia has been named one of the 5 best beginner drum books by Take Lessons.com, America’s largest online marketplace for lessons.

This instructional manual is intended for absolute beginners of drumming. Once the learner masters fundamentals, s/he can move on to more difficult drumming exercises.

Laden with pictures, graphs and amusing anecdotes, this tome is nevertheless dedicated to ensuring continued learning, by suggesting further titles that build on the skills already mastered.

You could order this book from Amazon for £11.42.

A note about the author:

Dan Britt has enjoyed a successful career as a drummer and, thanks to his exquisite stick control, won prizes at one of the world’s top drum events.

You might catch a video of that performance on YouTube!

Today, thanks to his innovative teaching manual – as well as his prowess behind the drums, he is hailed in the music business as one of the most forward-thinking drummers and most sought-after teachers.

As You Progress in Your Lessons…

Hopefully, you have a dedication to learn the drums well and demonstrate it by practising every day.

Surely you are making the most of your lessons with your drum teacher and perhaps have even invested in a practice pad so that you can paradiddle at home without driving everyone crazy.

Still, you may wonder how long it takes to learn how to play the drums.

You should think of learning to play the drums in the same way as learning your mother tongue: a lifetime effort.

Imagine Phil Collins saying there are no new drum beats to be created!

Ponder that for a moment, while we uncover the next recommended book to add to your drumming library…

The Drummer’s Complete Vocabulary as taught by Alan Dawson

If you are looking to move beyond the basics in drumming, this volume is a must-have!

The first few chapters touch on fundamental beats and technique, but it moves fairly quickly into drum rudiments, expanding beyond the basic 40 to include hybrid rudiments, complete with commentary of their origins.

Why is this book written by Alan Dawson’s student? And who was Alan Dawson?

The latter question is easy to answer: he was one of the foremost names in jazz drumming who spent his last years teaching the next generation of drummers everything he knew.

His pupil – and the author of this book, John Ramsay is a drummer in his own right, having played with the likes of Winton Marsalis and James Moody. He is currently a percussion teacher at the aforementioned Berklee College of Music.

So influential were his mentor’s teachings that he felt compelled to compile them in Mr Dawson’s name, rather than attributing that wealth of drum instruction to himself.

That must have been a memorable instructor indeed!

You may find this book on Amazon for £18.87 new and £11.69 used.

A part of drum lessons should include playing with other musicians Contrary to most tutorials’ implication, drums seldom play alone Source: Pixabay Credit: Nadine_Em

Twice we’ve mentioned a fabled school of music. Now, here is its contribution to our list:

Berklee Practice Method: Drum Set

Remarkably, nearly every book that addresses learning how to play the drums seems to espouse the belief that percussion instruments are played in a vacuum.

This text, meant for the intermediate to advanced player, actually makes the case for drummers; specifically that they are meant to set the rhythm for all of the other musicians, be it a rock band or a big band!

A word on the author:

Ron Savage is an educator and master jazz drummer who, after years of playing in clubs and at festivals, compiled his wisdom and experience on the drums into an incomparable tutorial for the intermediate to advanced drummer.

You may catch his drum solos on YouTube!

His book is available on Amazon for around £20, with used copies selling for as low as £6.

Can you play drum fills? Have you ever played a drum solo?

If so, you must surely need a book meant for more advanced drum playing…

Books For the Accomplished Drummer

Once you’ve found your groove and can consistently hit the hi hat instead of the China cymbal, you may be interested in learning to play along to different styles of music, from swing to Latin percussion.

If that is indeed the case, The Drummer’s Bible: How to Play Every Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco is the book you’re looking for.

This volume’s highlights include:

  • notation
  • reading drum sheet music
  • an introduction to several drumming styles
  • aural examples provided by the complimentary CD

As with the other books, this one is available at Amazon, for £21.35 new or as low as £9.50 used.

You might also check out The Junior Drummer’s Bible by John Trotter, which sells for just over £20, should you have a youngster who wants to join you on the drums!

By no means is this list all-inclusive, but it is a great start and should fit in nicely with your drum lessons.

For more great selections, why not take a look at these timeless drum books?

Don’t they make you glad that Gutenberg met with such success?

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Andy Ziker
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Thank you for the mention!