Many beginners are needlessly intimidated by the idea of reading music, but the truth is that reading rhythmic notation is not particularly difficult.
In fact, reading musical notation for drumming is actually easier than it is for melodic instruments. In drumming, the lines and spaces on the musical staff represent actual physical objects; the parts of the drum set. With other instruments, the same lines and spaces represent melodic tones like “A” “E” “D” etc.
BANG beginning students, once in the flow of learning to read music, are often excited by the many doors of learning that are opened by acquiring this knowledge. We have a substantial library of drum books at our studios covering pretty much every topic: technique, multi limbed independence, playing in different musical styles, reading (of course), soloing, transcriptions of the drumming of great drummers, and more. Without the ability to read music, this wealth of learning is unavailable to you. Why would you limit yourself?
Here is another way to look at the question of whether or not learning to read music is important: Imagine that you wanted to learn a new language that had a completely different alphabet from what you were used to; Japanese, for example.
Would it be reasonable for you to only learn how to speak Japanese without learning to read and write it? Would you debate the wisdom of learning to read and write Japanese with your instructor? No, of course not.
When you learn a new language it makes sense to learn to read and write it. What if you could speak English but you could not read or write it? You’d be illiterate. That is a huge handicap.
The same holds true with reading and writing rhythmic notation. Music is a language, so if you want to learn it, you will be much better off becoming musically literate. The learning process is much more efficient that way, and you open up a world of knowledge along the way.
To get started, go buy a copy of “Syncopation” by Ted Reed (image above), and get a good drum teacher.
At BANG, we insist that our students learn to read. But don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you think.