Drum 101

So you’re wanting to have some drum lessons but what should you expect and what do you need to get started?

Fist things first, its a good idea to invest in your own drum sticks. They don’t need to be the most expensive, and over time you will no doubt refine your choice as your playing develops; but brands such as: Promark, Vic Firth, Ahead and Vater all make reliable models to get you started.

With having some new sticks its a great habit to practise holding these and get used to the feel and response and developing your grip. The original, if not a bit old school, method was to practice on cushions to simulate drums. This isn’t a guaranteed system for success but in the very beginning provides a simple understanding of movement.

Another wise investment and coordinates with having real drum lessons, is to purchase some decent hearing protection. hearingprotection

With volume levels that can hurt and damage hearing, we fully endorse playing with some defenders. These can be provided at the beginning but of course it would be worth buying your own in time; after all, we all have different preferences!

So you have the sticks and some hearing protection, what next…?

Well, lessons! Now you have the basics to start. The only thing you need to consider is how much patience and determination you can summon.

A common problem with beginning the drum journey, is in fact that one word; “Journey”. There is never a time that any drummer at any level reaches the end of their learning. “I’ve never sat down and thought, – you know what, that’s it, I’m at the top of my game, and sat back and folded my arms!” – Mike Johnston Drum Clinic, March 2017.

The journey is a never ending process and like any other musical instrument, learning and development is a life long quest.

The beginning can be frustrating and hard work but that part soon passes and develops quickly into more technical skills. The great thing about lessons is that we can then look back at achievements, see what journey we have been on and map the future of our playing.

Yes, it can take some learners longer than others to accomplish various skills, there are ways to perhaps address such frustrations by adding a simple yet vital part of the drummers home practice – the Practice Pad.


The practice pad is an excellent way to hone skills and in particular to develop stick control and learning drum rudiments. With the technical introduction of rudiments, which are the cornerstone of any players arsenal, they are also a necessary component in advancing through the Rock School Grades and exams.


Time is a major investment, practising skills at home, learning new techniques in lessons all take a large part of any individuals learning trajectory. There is no short cut, applying time to learn efficiently will provide positive results and unlock achievements faster. Knowing what to or how to practice can be daunting, however, lessons can be the platform to stimulate and direct choices on your learning path.

Whether you want weekly, fortnightly or even monthly lessons, we can work at your pace, maintaining a full lesson diary that maps every students drumming evolution. Give yourself the space, time and patience to ensure your excitement on beginning to learn the drums meets your expectations.

Investing in your education should be fun but challenging. A new challenge usually encounters hard work but the end results can be amazing!

If you’re excited about learning, want to know more or would like to book some lessons; please use the contact from below! Lets go!! 🙂



Left hand, right hand, kick..

DSCN0605To be a great drummer is to have balance, time, groove and independence.

It goes without saying, whether you are new or a pretty established player, working on these core principles can be a statement of how far an individual can be judged, for most of us this is a state of constant learning.

But, that does not mean that we don’t possess the attributes to be a great drummer, after all, individuality and our own level of ability makes us who we are; the more interesting and different a drummer plays can often go a lot further.

So as standards, we probably unfairly compare ourselves to our heroes or influences. Personally, I like to think of music as a whole and not just an individual instrument. It’s a totally different experience when isolating the drum tracks to a favourite song! I absolutely do pay more attention to what the drums are doing, whats been played, what beats or fills are being used, but I am brought to a drummer by the song in general. Therein lies the problem!

Comparisons can have a limiting effect, especially on those who are new and aspiring. There are naturally a lot of variables in trying to play like our favourite drummer, anything from the drums used, the room it was recorded in, the producer doing the recording to the player themselves. To replicate isn’t impossible but you are you and not them. I still don’t really understand when I hear things like,  I want to be able to play just like Neil Peart, Dave Grohl, Mike Portnoy, Travis Barker, Lars Ulrich etc. Why? Although I have many influences and enjoy listening and getting inspiration from these drummers, I want to develop my own style and my own sound.

As a drum educator I believe in developing your sound, establishing what you need to get better and together we can learn from each other and make real progress. I believe in setting standards and achieving goals, but I am interested in musicality, natural playing and accompaniment.

There is a place for grading and taking performance and instrument exams. For those wishing to pursue a line of work in music, those wishing to go to college and study music or perhaps even just as a personal achievement, I am a big endorser for learning through Rock School or Trinity Guildhall. I have taken graded exams myself and am proud to have got to a level where I am but I don’t think I will ever stop learning.

Thinking of learning the drums can be a daunting prospect, like with anything new, there is a lot to think about and a lot to learn. For drums, developing muscle memory is a process than cannot be shortened. It takes time and patience to get comfortable with some techniques and to harness speed. As its often said but often overlooked, start SLOW!

Being balanced with both hands, having sound technique, pushing 3 way into 4 way coordination, developing independence and control  and having a strong sense of timing are at the heart of drumming.

Learning to play has to fit in with you and what YOU want to achieve. Whether this is unlocking how to play certain songs, for your own enjoyment, to understand how to use better technique, how to be more comfortable in your own ability, perhaps with your band, achieving grade 8 or just wanting to be a weekend hobbyist – there is no right or wrong.

Whatever your need, whatever your wish or direction playing the drums, Ghostnote Academy can provide bespoke lessons tailored to your specific goals.

So give it a try..pick up those sticks!! 🙂

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What is a Ghost note?

ghostnote_chartWhat Is a Ghost Note?

In Drumming terms, it’s quite simply a De-emphasized, often near silent beat. These notes are played very softly between the “main notes” (off the beat, on the sixteenth notes) most often on the Snare drum.

While Ghost Notes can be played on any drum or cymbal, by its definition as a subtle pattern to add more depth, it’s commonly used on the snare giving the groove or phrase more of a feel than a sound.

Playing Ghost notes can add flavour to a simple beat, throwing in some complexities to enhance the sound, it’s therefore necessary to make sure that the volume of a Ghost note is played much quieter than a regular note; hence the name Ghost Note.

They can be recognised on a chart as by having brackets ( ) around the note, as in the main image, sometimes also seen as a smaller note – half-size – in a bar. Practicing Ghost notes can be challenging, its important to remember that these are notes played in between notes but also simultaneously. For example, as a right-handed drummer, the left hand will play on beats 2 and 4 while the right hand counts 1&2&3&4&. The Ghost note can then be played with the left hand, more often, and in any combination as 16th notes – on the  “e” and “a”etc, or as desired. The left hand therefore plays both the loud accented notes as well as the unaccented notes (Ghost notes). To be able to play both loud and quiet notes with one hand takes some time to master, so starting slow and being patient is imperative.

They are very effective, can be very creative and can make your own grooves fuller. With control they can become so subtle, which would be the ultimate aim, that they are almost undetectable – they are the Ghosts in the middle of the drum beat.

So, with admiration of something so simple, yet something that adds such variety, it’s no coincidence that the humble Ghost Note is at the top of our list.

We love it so much that we named our Drum school after it!

Happy practicing 🙂