A drum kit or drum set is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments set up to be played by a single player.

A standard modern drum kit (for a right-handed player), as used in popular music and taught in many music schools, contains:

  • A snare drum, mounted on a specialised stand, placed between the player's knees and played with drum sticks.
  • A bass drum, played by a pedal operated by the right foot.
  • A hi-hat stand and cymbals, operated by the left foot and played with the sticks, particularly but not only the right hand stick.
  • One or more 'tom-tom drums', played with the sticks.
  • One or more cymbals, played with the sticks, particularly but not only the right hand stick.

The drum kit is one of the most popular instruments in the world. It can take months or years of practice and dedication to master - there is more to the drums than just hitting something with a stick!


Whilst the origins of the drum go back to the pre-historic people of China, the watershed for the drum kit/set came in the 1950s/60s with the rise of Rock 'n' Roll. Ringo Star from the Beatles made playing the drums cool!

The drums today are found mainly in the jazz and pop music scenes across the world, here are a few examples where you can hear the durms in action...

Jools Holland - Let There be Drums
Big Band Drums

Jools Holland - Let There be Drums

Big Band Drums

FUN FACT: Drums were made initially from a hollow tree trunk, clay or metal and covered by skins of water animals

Get Started

Do your research for a drum set if you are interested in drumming before you spend the money on a set...

We recommend that you start with a practice pad when you first begin. This is simply a mounted piece of hard rubber which is ideal for practicing rhythmic patterns and stick technique at a significantly more affordable price than a whole student drum set.

Some practice pads do not accurately represent the feel of playing a drum kit and thus can damage you technique. We recommend the HQ Apprentice Practice Pad as it is designed specifically to feel like you are hitting the drums instead of a rubber mat without the price.
If you decide that you are ready to progress from the practice pad to a drum kit, it is advisable to start out with a cheap, new set or a used set until you finally decide if you are going to stick with it. The basic student set will usually come with a high hat, crash-ride cymbal, kick drum, snare drum, one or two rack tom-toms mounted on the kick drum, and a floor tom-tom although a three-piece set is adequate to start with (High hat, snare and kick drum) - you can always upgrade and add more pieces to your set later.

Essential Accessories

Even if you are not buying a drum kit/set initially, there are still a few things that you will need to get you started, to make the learning process easier...

Drum Sticks come is different sizes - 5A, 7A, 2B; As the number goes up the stick gets shorter and thinner, and the letter is the tip size, A being the standard size and B being a larger tip which produces a heavier sound.

Different sizes of sticks are available for different ages.'A' is a good stick weight for beginners. We recommend drum sticks made my Vic Firth:

Playing the drums is all about the development of rhythm and timing. It seems suitable therefore for a metronome to be an essential accessory to any beginner drum student.

This affordable Korg Metronome is a digital version meaning that it does not require winding up so will never lose time. It is very portable and the light on the top means that it is easy to see the beats if you can't hear them over the sound of your drumming. It also has a headphones port which is quite essential when playing the drums as it is hard to hear a metronome over the sound of the drum kit!

Beginner Books

Here are the best selling drum tutor books for beginners:

Absolute Beginners Drums is packed with information and tips to get you on the road to becoming a competent drummer. It builds your ability in a step by step process that gradually leads to you being able to play the short pieces towards the end of the book. This edition of the book comes complete with a CD with which you can play along with other drummers as well as other instruments.

The Art of the Drummer

The Art of the Drummer is a complete course for drumming, taking you through all the techniques and concepts that are needed in order to be a proficient player.

It covers a wide variety of techniques and styles, including, swing rock rhythms, hard rock rhythms, jazz rhythms, funk rhythms, Latin rhythms, accents, rim shots, time signatures, snare drum technique, brush technique, drum solos and a great deal more. If you work through this book with the demonstration CD, you will be able to vastly improve in the comfort of your own home.

Finding a Teacher

It is highly recommended when starting an instrument to employ a qualified teacher to make the learning process interesting and fun. Teachers can be found across the UK at schools, local music services and musicteachers.co.uk or if you live in our locality please do not hesitate to contact us for details of suitable teachers.

Music Centres - playing in orchestras & ensembles

Music centres are set up in many towns to give students an opportunity to meet like-minded people whilst putting their playing into practice. The centres often have a wide variety of ensembles which you can join if you wish. It provides great opportunities to perform in concert situations across the UK and even sometimes Europe. Here is a list of Music Centres/Services in the UK.

This resource was written by:

Sarah Hayward

Sarah Hayward Bmus (hons), MA

Sarah is a sprightly coloratura soprano and active violin and viola player who enjoys interacting with other musicians and teaching her students. Sarah is part of DS Music’s Education Outreach & Marketing Team and is passionate about the expansion and Educational Outreach of the company in order to help give everyone the opportunity to access music. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Music has the power to change people so help me use it to change the world!! :)

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