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Am I Too Old To Learn Drums?

Samantha Landa  /  Sep 14, 2022

To put it simply: no, you aren’t too old to learn drums.

But if you need convincing, read on!

Many people start drumming later in life

You’ll see stories in drumming forums and online groups about how someone waited until their kids were grown before they bought their first drum set, or how they decided to finally pursue their drumming dreams in retirement.

One guy learned to play drums using Drumeo in his 50s and is now touring with a Queen tribute band. It’s absolutely possible.

Some people believe that the best age to learn a skill is in childhood, and this discourages them to even attempt it as an adult. In reality, neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to create new connections – continues into adulthood. Some skills may actually be easier for adults to learn than kids.

As someone with more years behind you, you’ll have much more experience listening to music and likely a better grasp on technical concepts – such as theory – compared to a 10-year-old. You probably have easier access to a community of musicians as well, which means more people to jam with and trade ideas/knowledge with.

Another benefit to learning drums at an older age is having more discipline and patience than you might’ve had when you were younger – a great point raised by Steve Smith (Vital Information, ex-Journey) who’s 68 years old at the time of writing.

Steve Smith shared his tips on learning drums later in life during a recent Q&A session.

As a lifelong student of the instrument, Steve says he’s still on an upwards trajectory. He may have slowed down a bit over the years and positions his cymbals lower so he doesn’t have as far to reach, but he “makes up for it with musicality and phrasing ideas and rhythmic inventiveness.” It’s less about speed and playing hard.

Steve has been adapting to the aging process and says while he might require “a little more maintenance now”, he always tries to keep daily practice going.

Many drummers are over 50

If you’re worried about how your body will handle the physicality of drumming at an older age, just look to these active pro drummers:

  • Todd Sucherman (Styx) – 53 years old
  • Gene Hoglan (Legendary metal drummer) – 54 years old
  • Dave Lombardo (Testament, Slayer) – 57 years old
  • Terri Lyne Carrington (Award-winning jazz prodigy and educator) – 57 years old
  • Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) – 59 years old
  • Larry Mullen Jr. (U2) – 60 years old
  • Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) – 60 years old
  • Danny Carey (Tool) – 61 years old
  • Dennis Chambers (Legendary funk/jazz fusion drummer) – 63 years old
  • Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Ringo Starr) – 63 years old
  • Sheila E (Prince) – 64 years old
  • Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards) – 65 years old
  • Simon Phillips (Judas Priest, Toto, The Who) – 65 years old
  • Jonathan Moffett (Michael Jackson, The Jacksons) – 67 years old
  • Steve Smith (Vital Information, Journey) – 68 years old
  • Stewart Copeland (The Police) – 70 years old
  • Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden) – 70 years old
  • Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa) – 71 years old
  • Ian Paice (Deep Purple) – 74 years old
  • Jim Keltner (Legendary session drummer) – 80 years old
  • Ringo Starr (The Beatles) – 82 years old
Dennis Chambers older drummers
Dennis Chambers is still drumming in his 60s.

These drummers are going strong at 50+ whether they’re touring, teaching, or enjoying casual playing at home.

“But they’ve been drumming most of their lives!” you might say.

One 2013 study found that there was no difference in timing ability between non-musicians and trained musicians who started after the age of 7. So while there may be benefits later in life for those who started at a very young age, many of the pro drummers listed above took up drums after age 7.

They just have years of experience behind them. You could, too!

Drumming is great for your health

Whether they’re pros or hobbyists, we always hear stories about people playing drums for 30, 40, and even 50+ years. Not only can drumming can keep your mind sharp and improve mental health, but drumming can keep your body in great shape too.

You don’t need to already be in peak physical condition to start playing the drums. We see pros of all shapes and sizes doing incredible things behind the kit. All that matters is that you’re willing to put in the effort.

Kinesiologist Nadia Azar has spent the last few years studying pro drummers and how much energy they expend during live gigs. She found that these drummers consistently had an elevated heartrate and burned anywhere from 500-1200 calories per show. The conclusion? Drummers are athletes.

Do you need to play drums at that level of pro-stage-show-calorie-burning? No. But if you want to, you can.

Is it too late to learn the drums?

Maybe you tried drumming a few times and it felt impossible to get the coordination down. Maybe you told yourself that the reason you weren’t catching on was because of your age.

In reality, drumming can have a bit of a learning curve when you’re starting, whether you’re 10 or 60 years old.

The key is wanting to do it enough to not give up. And when everything locks in for the first time, the feeling of accomplishment is worth it.

In this video, Todd Sucherman (Styx) was asked how to approach learning the drums in your 50s compared to how you might learn the drums in your teens or 20s.

Todd Sucherman talks about how you can learn drums at an older age.

Todd gets asked this question a lot. Think about why you want to learn the drums.

“You do it because you love it and because you get something out of it. It’s good for the soul.”

“There’s nothing you can’t learn as long as you slow it down enough and for a long time. You’re not going to master any concept in a day. As long as you give yourself patience and kindness, you’re going to do great.”

It’s never too late to start playing the drums. Period!


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