A good drum set for beginners should be inexpensive, yet VERY good quality. I would recommend a Q series or V Series Mapex kit....You will never be able to find such a great set at such a great price! I have been playing Mapex drums now for 8 years...and I have never found a Mapex drum set with any problems...and I have played live on over 400 Mapex kits! The bearing edges are crucial and Mapex has wonderful attention to detail on every aspect of the drums especially the bearing edges!
How should I hold my drum sticks?
There are many correct ways to hold your sticks...not just one way. I hold my sticks matched grip (same grip in left and right) and use the first line of my index finger and my thumb as a fulcrum.
My grip has 3 important elements:
1) The fulcrum (pivot point).
2) The fingers pulling the stick into the palm of the hand.
3) The wrist moving up and down.
How do I become a great drummer?
The best way to be a great drummer is to play musical and always play for the song.
Always start the band off at the correct tempo for the song, and try to hold that tempo for the entire song...and play dynamically! Not always at only one volume level.....BE PASSIONATE !!!
How do I stay on tempo?
Stability is best mastered by playing everyday with a click track or metronome with headphones.
Speed should be increased slowly, but not until each idea is mastered at a slow tempo first.
How do I become a great drummer?
Never turn down gigs in the beginning...play in every situation possible.....what you need more than anything is experience playing with other live musicians !
How do I tune my drum set?
I put on the head evenly until they are semi-tight, then I push with my hands and stretch the heads. You will hear a crack sound, it's normal.Then I continue to tune evenly till i get a nice tone.I don't tune to a specific note. The drum dictates the best tone. The bottom head I tune slightly higher than the top. Different heads with different drums will vary.It is a lifelong art! Carlos Santana once told me, "Man! it takes a lifetime to find your sound!"
Don't be afraid to experiment and remember also something I learn, because a drum is tuned and sounding good in one room it might not sound the same in another room, so always adjust and play accordingly to the room.
Do you have any suggestions for playing with other musicians (guitar, bass, piano players)?
Making music is very much like regular conversation in all languages. There are themes, questions and answers, exchange of ideas, receptive listening and making sure you wait your turn to speak without interrupting, good etiquette and manners. So when I am going to play with other players I bring my vocabulary (rythms, tempos, grooves, technique, improvising solos) but I provide first a support to the musical theme and listen to what the musicians are playing and react accordingly. Sometimes I have the opportunity to say many things and sometimes there is not much to say, more listening than playing.
Musicians do not like drummers that interrupt conversations, do not like self-centered drummers that play to loud over others without consideration, specially when there is a singer involved.
Also it is important before playing music that the drummer communicates effectively what the Artists, leader, producer, etc. of the music or band wants to achieve as a goal. This helps set the direction and what drum set up to use. For example: Drummer-"What is your vision for the drummer in this band?Is there something specifically you would like to hear?" Producer: "I would like a very powerful Big beat and some solos like bombs! double bass drum, etc." I will defenitely bring my biggest drumset, maybe 24 or 22 inch bass drums, double pedal or double bass drums, many toms, and be ready to play strong and loud. If the producer says, "I need a sensitive quite but great groove, brushes mostly. Just the beat, no solos or many fills," then I bring a simple set-up with a few stands and two or three toms.
The key is to listen and comunicate effectively verbally and musically!!
How do I choose a good drum head?
When you buy the drumhead, before you put on drum, check the rim of the drumhead and make sure is even through out. Make sure also that where the connecting part of the rim with the glue meets, is not disconnected.A good drumhead you can strike with your thumb or finger and almost get a tone out of it. If it's to flappy without a tone, I choose another.
Do you have any tips on warming up for a performance?
There are many things drummers do for warm ups. Simple rudiments on a pad, Yoga, stretches. But warming up dose NOT mean tensing up! Whatever you choose to do, stay loose and relaxed. Do not waste your energy in the warm up! Save it for the performance!