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Old 08-03-2006, 11:26 AM
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Difficulty of drums compared to other instruments

A lot of times, people will say that drums are easy or "you just hit things". And although this may be true I think a lot of people just don't know how much more complicated than that drumming really is.

Of course, playing the drums doesn't involve using air or musical notes, but it does involve all limbs and fingers and requires a lot of coordination, quickness, speed, and control.

So where do you think the drumset stacks up in the instrument difficulty ladder?

Here's what I think my difficulty ladder looks like from hardest to easiest.

Stringed Instruments
Brass Instruments
Woodwind Instruments
Drums and percussion
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Old 08-03-2006, 02:53 PM
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The only thing that I think is easier about drums than other insterments is going to be sheet music, for snare you just have a solid line.
on set you dont but still isnt all that hard to read if you have been doing it long enough.

But I thik it is just as hard as any other insterment in that you take a sax you have a lot of keys and have to blow into a certain way but once you have it it is just a matter of mastering it, for drums we have rudments to get down and then be able to play them perfect in music, but on that you have to work on speed plus control and that is somthing that a lot of other insterments dont have, and tha tis somthing that can take a life time to master.
I know some get it faster than others.

I think why a lot of people think drums is so easy is because there are a lot of joes out there that just pick up a set of sticks say that they are a drummer and can bang on some drums and you know what some of them get it right on the forst try and dont sound all that bad.
but when you put the real skills involved in drumming to those people they have a hard time.

I hope that this is making since to you all.
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Old 08-03-2006, 05:38 PM
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I think that the initial stages of the "drumming learning curve" are more forgiving than those of many other instruments. Beginner drummers do certainly have challenges to deal with, even when starting out with only a snare drum, including rhythmic concepts, reading music notation, and basic technique (how to hold the sticks, how to strike the drum, etc.) Consider, however, what other instruments like wind instruments, string instruments, even piano, have to deal with. In addition to what drummers are dealing with (listed above), add in the following:

- dealing with different and definite pitches (scales, arpeggios, etc.), both in terms of finding them on the instrument, and reading them on the page
- dealing with intonation - not just tuning the instruments, but dealing with intonation with every note you play
- learning fingerings - more complex than "left hand vs. right hand"
- on wind and brass instruments, developing an embouchure (pick up a trumpet and blow into the mouthpiece; without a decent embouchure, you won't get a sound, you'll just get a gust of air moving through the horn)

In contrast, the first steps in learning to play a drum are fairly intuitive - left hand vs. right hand, etc. This is especially true if one is taught matched grip.

Move to the drum set, and we add a significant new element: playing different things with different limbs. However, this is also a requirement on many other instruments, albeit in slightly different ways. Stringed instrument players have to coordinate both hands, often using contrasting techniques (fingering with the left hand vs. drawing a bow across the strings with the right hand, etc.); pianists, even at early stages, have to learn to play different things in each hand (chords in the left hand and melody in the right, or one melody in the left hand and another in the right, etc.)

Now, to get beyond the basic skill set for any instrument takes work. There's a big difference between being able to accomplish the minimum, versus doing something well. Many non-drummers may be able to sit down at a kit, play quarter notes on the hi-hat, 1 and 3 on the bass drum, and 2 and 4 on the snare, but the vast majority of them won't be able to make it groove the way Steve Gadd can (or Phil Rudd, or...you get the idea). You can probably show most people how to play the basic snare drum rhythm from Ravel's Bolero, but to be able to do it, with perfect control, throughout the entire piece, is far, far more difficult.

No instrument is "easy" to master, not in my experience at least. I suspect that the reason so many people think that drumming is "easy," or "easier than" other instruments, often lies in the fact that some of the very basic drumming skills are easily learned. What I've found is that, while there are always exceptions, the more a non-drummer knows about music, the less likely they are to dismiss drumming (or the playing of any instrument) as "easy." At least, that has been my experience.
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Old 08-03-2006, 07:00 PM
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A lot of my previous band mates would tell me that drumming is a lot easier than guitar/ bass, yet none of them ever learnt to hold a beat and I managed to surpass them on both instruments, self taught.
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Old 08-03-2006, 09:13 PM
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malletjazz really nailed it on the head. You couldn't have put it any better. I think a lot of people think drums are easy because it's easy for them to go behind a kit and start playing something. You can basically just watch and learn.

On the other hand, you can't just watch a saxophone player and learn everything he is doing - with his or her fingers, air, and ambochure.

And I agree that more advanced musicians don't take drums for granted. Drums and percussion are really the backbone of any musical song or piece.
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Old 08-04-2006, 12:42 AM
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Here Here!! We rule!!!
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Old 08-04-2006, 01:23 PM
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I don't find the drums easy at all. Aside from all the technique I struggle with, coordination and endurance are definite issues. But still, I never got beyond 3 basic chords on the guitar; I've already played drums in front of more people more times, than I ever played piano with 15 years worth of lessons; or singing which I did for 7 years; I'm overcoming the coordination (or relative lack of) problem way better than I did with dancing (what is affectionately remembered as "The Great Tap Dance Fiasco of 2001"). The drums are no less challenging than any of the above, but for some reason, I'm getting the hang of it, and loving it way more!
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Old 08-04-2006, 02:47 PM
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I think you're right Glynes.
Everything is difficult to do in some way. It's just that if you're passionate about it, it'll be more fun and enjoyable to overcome the struggles and get the hang of things.
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:17 PM
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Re: Difficulty of drums compared to other instruments

I think that both guitar and drums are fairly hard to learn and master. I dont think that one instrument is easier than the other. But i do agree that drums is the backbone of most music.
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Old 01-01-2008, 12:00 PM
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Re: Difficulty of drums compared to other instruments

Mallet Jazz definately nailed it!! I play a lot of instruments including Brass, Keyboards (including organ which uses both feet and hands, also), Bass, and guitar. Every instrument has unique challenges, and obsticles to overcome. It's fairly easy (at least for me anyways) to get through the basics on an instrument and play a simple accompaniment or melody that will sound decent (for example playing a simple straight 8th note rock beat on drums, or strumming a three chord song on guitar, etc.).

The thing that makes learning a new instrument fairly easy for me is having a good musical background developed from years of piano lessons. It's when you go beyond that entry level, and start to develop a style of your own that the real challenge begins. Every instrument can be taken to a level of virtuosity that takes time, practice, and hard work to develop. Some people are predisposed to a particular instrument because of physical attributes (long fingers for examble are very helpful for keyboard, or guitar, good teeth structure for brass and woodwind players, etc.). I wouldn't say that any instrument is easier or harder to learn than another, it's all dependent on how far you want to take it. I have a friend who is a folk musician, and he can do things with a penny whistle and a recorder that make me really envious of his ability.
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