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How to start playing percussion instruments: 4 things you MUST have

“I want to start studying percussions! Well, the instruments to play are A LOT… But, am I supposed to buy all of them?!” The answer is: obviously no. Indeed in this video I’ll explain that to start playing percussions you only need 4 things:

– a snare drum or a practice pad
– a pair of drumsticks
– a metronome
– a measure of goodwill

The last point is clearly the most important.



10 inch Remo Practice Pad with Stand

Vic Firth 5a

Vic Firth SD1

Vic Firth 2b

Digital Metronome Clip Seiko DM50

Mobile Metronome (for Android)

Tempo (for Apple)



Let’s go on with order. So, why do we give so much importance to the snare drum? For two reasons:

  • For a traditional reason: till the last century approximately it didn’t exist a solo or educational literature but the one wrote for the snare drum. So, if you wanted to approach to the world of percussion instruments the study of the snare drum was a necessary step.
  • A logical reason: in other words the technical approach and the main tecniques that you learn on the snare drum can be transferred to any other percussion instrument, included drum set, timpani, keyboard percussions and some ethnic percussions.

Having said that why is a pad enough? Because a pad is a rubber surface that reproduces the rebound of the drumstick as on a real snare drum and for this reason it represents a good way to replace it. Moreover it’s a useful instrument for all the people who don’t have enough money or space (i.e. “your neighbors don’t like drummers”) to buy a drum set. While buying a pad or a snare drum ensure that they are sold with their specific support (usually a tripod) adjustable in height. The importance of this factor will be clearer as soon as you watch the next lesson about posture.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been using the same practice pad everyday since I started playing the drumset: the 10 inch Remo Practice Pad and it’s perfect.

How much time do you have to dedicate to the snare drum only in the starting phase? The answer is simple: not more than the necessary. This because today all the other instruments belonging to the big percussion family have a starting educational collection which is sufficient to start with. So if you start using your time to study all the other percussion instruments too, it would be the best thing.



Let’s consider now the second part of the video: the choice of your drumsticks.
During my whole career a 10% of the money I spent was paid to buy billion drumsticks but to start studying the snare drum you only need a pair. If you already have a drum set or you think you are going to buy one you should buy from the beginning two pairs of drumsticks.

One pair should be for example Vic Firth 5A for a general use. With general use I mean that you can use them also when you play the drum set: this use, indeed, damages your drumsticks which can splinter themselves if you use them for a quite long time. Notice that splinter, damage and wreck your drumsticks while playing the drum set is an INEVITABLE thing and it doesn’t depend on the quality of the executor’s gesture.

A thicker and heavier pair for the exclusive study (in this way you don’t damage them) on the snare drum / pad. A thicker pair of drumsticks means a more substantial and rich sound on your instrument, not necessarily a loud sound. For this use I buy Vic Firth SD1 which are specifically created for the orchestra and rudimental playing; but other drumsticks as Vic Firth 2B can be fine.



Third part, the metronome. The metronome is a device that every student of music hates and it’s created to keep time. Push that magic button sometimes and you’ll have great advantages for your artistic career. Trust me.

Just one piece of advice: try not to use mechanical metronomes because they usually aren’t perfectly precise. They are just nice decorative objects. You should rather buy a digital metronome like the one you see on the video: cheap, easy to use and efficient. Alternatively you can download one of the tens apps you find (free or not) for your mobile device. I personally use “Mobile Metronome” for my Android smartphone and “Tempo” for my Ipad.



And finally the last point: a measure of good will, also known as MOTIVATION. Percussions are undoubtedly beautiful but the study of percussions, as the study of any other musical instrument, requests time, devotion and commitment. I usually say, in a figurative way (but not so figurative): blood and sweat. This doesn’t mean that you don’t or you won’t have fun while studying percussion instruments, but fun is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.

By the way the biggest benefit of the study of a musical instrument, in general, is exactly this: put into practice discipline, commitment and time management by DOING something. It’s for this reason that the instrumental practice, and not only the musical education in general, should be present in every order of school.



Well, that said enjoy the video and as soon as you finish it run to the nearest musical instruments shop and buy a pad, a pair of drumsticks and a metronome. Otherwise if you want to order them on the web, I added at the beginning of this post some affiliate links.

As regards the measure of goodwill unfortunately it doesn’t exist any specific shop to buy it but don’t worry: you can create your motivation and it can grow with the time. What will otherwise become of teachers like me?

If you have any doubt you can ask me all the questions you want and write them in the comments. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter and to my youtube channel, so you will be updated on the next videos. In the next one I’ll talk about “posture”. Bye!


Question: do you agree with me that you just need a practice pad to start playing the percussions or do you think that it is necessary to buy, for example, a drum set and a keyboard percussion? Leave a comment!