While you may be familiar with playing the air guitar (playing an imaginary guitar in the air), you may not have heard that musicians and fans alike also play air drums.
What are air drums? Air drums are also an imaginary instrument, but the player is using a drum kit instead. A standard drum kit has three different tom drums, a snare drum, a bass drum controlled by a foot pedal, a hi-hat (also controlled by a foot pedal), and two cymbals. Air drums, when imagined and played, can include all or some of these components.
Why Do People Play Air Drums?
There are many reasons why you would want to play an imaginary set of drums. One is because you have roommates, and you don’t want to disturb them, but you still want to get in a sweet practice jam session.
Maybe you’re traveling, and you can’t take your drum kit with you, and you need to keep your rhythmic skills lightning sharp.
It’s also possible that people who practice playing air drums cannot yet afford a physical drum set and are doing what they can to hone their craft metaphysically while they save up for a physical set.
Does Air Drumming Help You Become a Better Drummer?
In several notable situations, drummers have learned their sets without practicing on a physical drum set. The two most significant factors in playing drums well are rhythm and muscle memory. If you’ve got a long flight ahead of you, you’re waiting at the DMV, or you’re a passenger on a road trip, you don’t have to sit and do nothing with your time.
You can use your extra time waiting to practice your craft. The first step to becoming an effective air drummer is to take the time to learn each piece of your drum set. If you want to practice air drums away from your set, but you only need to practice on a few pieces, not the whole set, you also need to be able to visualize only those you need, still in the right imaginary spacing.
How to Play Air Drums
It's best to have a place to sit, as when you’re at your drum set, you will be sitting down. Of course, you can play the snare and cymbals standing up, so if those are all you need for your imaginary jam sesh, then you can stand up for that.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to practice, you can start with a visual representation of your different drums on pieces of paper to help you remember where they are in imaginary space. Once you get comfortable enough with their “positions,” you won’t need the paper representation anymore.
The key to playing air drums is to be intimately familiar with the sounds of your drum kit. It’s not an effective practice if you “hit” the air and you don’t know what the “drum” you’re striking sounds like in real life. You can’t practice a set that way.
So key points when learning how to air drum: know the anatomy of a drum set inside and out, including the different pieces of it and how they sound; have a good idea of where they are in relation to your body when you’re sitting and holding drumsticks, and have fun!
When you air drum, it’s your choice whether to use actual drumsticks and “hit” your imaginary drums or to use air drumsticks as well simply. If you’re in a larger, more private space, using real drumsticks may help you, especially if you’re first learning how to air drum. As for public spaces (offices, planes, cars, etc.), perhaps stick to imaginary equipment altogether.
What Are Air Drums? Final Thoughts (& Do I Need Anything Else?)
You should be all set with your imagination, but if you want to practice sets of songs while you’re getting more comfortable with air drums, you can always listen to music with headphones.
Over-the-ear headphones will really put you in the zone, and you can hear the drum line and “play” along with it. Earbuds inserted into the ears work as well. Noise-canceling headphones with a Bluetooth option are the best for practicing playing along with existing songs while air drumming.
Whether you’re an old hi-hat to air drumming or a brand-new musician, we hope you found this article helpful. You can check out more about headphones, drums, and all things music at MusicIndustryHowTo.com. Good luck on your musical journey, and remember that air drumming is all about visualization and muscle memory.