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People have asked me, “when is it too late to learn drums?”
It’s a matter of perspective. Are you going to die at 30 or 110? Now, if you know that approximately, then we have our answer.
In reality, it’s never too late to learn drums even if you’re going to die tomorrow.
Just enjoy the process and don’t worry about having lofty goals. We only live in the NOW so why not do something you enjoy right NOW. With this kind of attitude, we can’t lose while learning the drums or any other skill.
Can you clap your hands to a tune and get the basic beat? You’re already learning basic drumming.
Why Do You Want to Learn Drums?
In addition, why do you want to learn drums? Do you want to become a rock star and tour the world playing drums? Then it may be too late for you. This is especially true if you find it hard to travel in your older years.
On the other hand, do you want to learn drums because it’s fun?
Then it’s never too late. We should always be finding ways to have fun and enjoy life going into older age.
What is scratching that itch? Maybe you’ve always loved music and regret never learning an instrument?
Answer your Why.
Why I Learned to Play Drums
In my twenties, I played guitar, wrote songs, and sang them. A friend convinced me that I had a natural knack for drumming so I sat on a friend’s drum set one day and started playing with him on guitar. After one song, he said, ‘it feels great playing with you!’
I started focusing intensely on drums. I found a practice space and got a great teacher. I knew I had a certain knack for it so I wanted to learn from great teachers.
Drumming is a Way to Feel Connected with Others
Do you want to learn drums because you feel connected when playing with other musicians?
I know that’s the case for me. Did you know modern research is showing the majority of drug addiction can be solved when you introduce people into a connected environment of love and support? We have an evolutionary and spiritual desire to be connected with others.
Considering this, being a musician has huge benefits. You are speaking a musical language and sharing in the creation of a song when you are playing with others.
You can feed off the other musicians, communicate with them and support them musically. This is symbiotic and a spiritual experience sometimes. That has been my truth while playing drums with other musicians.
How Long to Learn the Drums?
It’s a never-ending process to learn drums. Instead of asking how long to learn the drums, you could ask, ‘what particular area am I struggling with in regards to my drumming?
You can never become a perfect drummer.
One of my teachers, Bob Gullotti, was practicing until he died. Bob was a legend in Boston music circles and well known around the world for his drumming.
Did you know Neil Peart was taking drum lessons after Rush got famous? Yes, he understood the journey is never-ending and can be enjoyed.
In just a few months, you could start playing drums with other musicians, but if you want to play at a pro-level, it could take many years.
It’s taken me a long time to learn specific things, such as:
- playing a good blues shuffle
- trading 4s in jazz with plenty of creativity
- playing in 3/4 time
- not dragging on time during tunes
- learn a song fast on the drums
Am I Too Old to Learn Drums?
No, you are not too old to learn the drums. I knew a woman in her 70s who started taking drum lessons from my first drum teacher on the West Coast. She loved it and understood it’s never too late to learn a skill or develop or become intrigued with a new practice.
Some older learners may have an advantage because they understand there isn’t unlimited time on this planet. Knowing this, a learner may become more efficient in their area of interest.
This is definitely true for me. I’m in my 40’s and I’m always devising ways of becoming more efficient while learning new skills.
In addition, while you grow into your drumming sunset years, you will probably become interested in new types of music and therefore want to learn new styles. For example, I didn’t like playing jazz with brushes until recently so now I’m trying to get better while playing with brushes.
What about Latin music? What if you become interested in Latin jazz or bossa nova after years as a rock drummer? Now, you have a new style of drumming to learn!
So you’re never too old to learn drums in a new style even if you’ve been playing since childhood.
Conclusion: It’s Never Too Late
When you consider all the factors I’ve mentioned, you know it’s never too late to drum.
Even if others think you’re already a great player, there is something you need to learn better.
There is some are of your drumming you can further develop.
This is a RESPECT you cultivate for your instrument. You’re following the footsteps of thousands of percussionists going back to tribal eras of people playing percussion around a campfire.
Drumming is meaningful art. It’s fundamental, elementary, and mysterious simultaneously.
Why wouldn’t anyone want to learn some kind of percussion and participate in the basic rhythm underlying life itself?
We can all clap our hands. We can all feel percussive vibration in our chest.
We can develop this into something more polished. We can place a self-made rhythm into a larger piece of music. This is great stuff. Sorry, I start getting excited sometimes when I’m fleshing out my reasons for drumming.
I hope some of these reasons jive with you and you realize in your heart that you could never be too old to learn drumming or any other instrument.
Tyler Marks is a drummer, writer, and coder in the Boston area. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of California. He has studied under several accomplished jazz drummers in Boston and the San Franciso Bay Area when he lived on the West Coast. He continues to be a rock and jazz enthusiast while mostly focusing on becoming a better jazz player.