Take up drums at age 56?

I know this technically has nothing to do with high end audio but I know there are some drummers here that might be able to help me along here....or tell me to skip it altogether. And it does have to do with music.

I'm almost embarrassed to even post this. I'm 56. I have never played a musical instrument other than dabbling with a harmonica. I do not read music. I am certain that I'll never perform for anyone or play in a band.

But I've always wanted to play drums.

And now I have enough money to get a simple cheap used drum kit and I have a basement that is isolated enough to not bother the neighbors. (I actually have an acquaintance who refurbishes used drums who can probably hook me up).

So I have a couple of questions:

1) Can you teach yourself to play drums? Alone or with YouTube etc? Are actual lessons required? Can I skip the practice pad and start with a kit?

2) Is there any point? In other words, even if I were to learn to play are the drums the kind of instrument that you sit down and play for your own pleasure the way you would a guitar?

My realistic expectation is that I'd get a simple kit. Try to do something with it. Find that it is much harder to do than it looks, especially for a guy with two left feet. It sits in the basement for a while and then I sell it for a big loss but hopefully at least happy that I tried it.

Any other thoughts on the matter?

(If totally inappropriate for this site I have no problem removing the post.....especially if someone points me to a better site for the topic.)

@bdp24 is your man for this one!

When I played in a band , our drummer quite often left his kit set up in our practice room which was a sealed off part of my garage.

All I can say is that it was a lot harder than it looks or I imagined it could ever be!

I gave up and stuck to my bass and writing lyrics!
This is what I told people when I set up for karaoke night. Have fun !
A drum kit, you say.
Everything there is to know about drums is perfectly encapsulated by Dale and Brennan in Step Brothers.
I've never seen Step Brothers. I can only handle Will Ferrell in very small doses.

I can't get the "@" function to work to tag bdp24. But he is a professional drummer and I'm sure my drumming aspirations will sound silly to him. Although I'd be interested in what he has to say about just playing on his own for fun. But I have always felt there is a big difference in doing something professionally verses doing it _just_ for fun. I know when I get home from work doing what I do professionally.....I'm not particularly interested in doing it at home or on the weekend....

As far as having fun, I guess the only way to know is to try it. 
I certainly admire your courage to reach out for opinions. I have considered this more than a few times myself but decided to just listen instead. You could always rent a kit for a while to see how it goes. Best of luck!
n80 ...

Your question has everything to do with this site. Why? Because you’re a lover of music.

Back in the day, the great writer H.L.Mencken wrote an essay on the topic of how you can tell that a person is a true music lover.

Mencken said that when observing people at opening night at the opera, you would see all of the sophisticated women in their flowing evening gowns and their gentlemen escorts in their tails and top hats. They were not true music lovers, being there not for the opera, but only to be seen out in society and to rub elbows with other self-important elites.

According to Mencken, true music lovers always reveal themselves because they always try to make their own music. They may be atrocious at it, but they try anyway.

I’ve been playing the harmonica and chromonic harmonica since I was nine years old and still play atrociously. :-)

Buy the drums ...

yours is my story almost exactly!  I was the same age when I did it.  And I went overboard with buying additional cymbals, drums, accessories, etc.  I contacted the band instructors at a few local high schools and got the names of a few good drummers.  I ended up hiring a guy who aspired to becoming a professional drummer and he was at a point where he was so good that there were few teachers locally who could teach him anything new.  He was old enough to drive and so taught me at my home on my kit.  He taught me to read music and most importantly to start slowly.  I'm 64 now but relocated twice in the last 9 years.  I recently sold my acoustic kit because I am currently in an apartment.  I still drum along to music all played through my headphone.  I don't regret a day of it but you may find that it's a lot harder than you think.  And you must practice, practice, practice!  Good luck!

Failed to mention that I have an electronic kit now.  Not as visually impressive but still sounds great and is lots of fun.
I encourage you to give it a rip. Making your own music can be joyful--and a bit maddening. I play the guitar and have for 40 years now. I'm probably above average. I've paid all my meaningful bills doing something else I'm much better at than guitar. Never had a lesson. My son has played the drums for the past 10 years. He is 18 years old now...and an objectively decent kit drummer. He has had serious drum lessons for most of that time. He is much better on the drum kit now than I was on the guitar at his age. The point is invest in the lessons. IMO it is your best shot at staying on the journey and actually improving (which is funner than not improving) because someone can help you correct your "non-musical" tendencies--and we all have them.
Go get 'em.
Lessons are important but practice is the real key. You should devote 2 to 3 hours daily. YouTube is amazing. If you want to get really good with technique then rudiments are a must. There is no way around it and you need discipline - devote at least 1/2 hour to rudiments daily. Top level drummers all still do rudiments daily to warm up.

If you happen to have a School of Rock in your area then join the adult band after six months of practice. This is more important than all the above.... you got to get out and play with others......that is priority #1 otherwise you will lose interest.

Check this out, I am working on it currently and I can guarantee you that you can achieve this level in 3-5 years of hard work. Producing it credibly with all the nuance however may take a multitude of life times....


For me, the above and the New Orleans Second Line style are the kind of  “goals”, that I work towards or aspire to


But Rock has plenty of meat and potatoes to work with on that great and wonderful journey (which never ends because there is always more to learn)...check this out, the feel of this non-technical drummer is godly...the timing follows the lead guitar and believe me time is stretched and compressed by these experts of tension and release (possibly the best rhythm section in rock n roll of all time)


I played for more than 30 years, sometimes in a band, mostly for my own pleasure. Of course, unhesitatingly, if you want to play I encourage you to do so.

My only advice is to consider an electronic kit, and for one reason only, you can manage the volume. An acoustic kit can be loud, especially in a small space. And if you want to play along with music, that music has to be loud. I'm sure it took a toll on my hearing. 

I didn't switch to electronic until about 20 years in. No, its not the same as playing 'live' but as a drum hobbyist, it was no longer worth it to subject my ears to that sustained level of sound.

There is so much tutorial content on youtube that I would recommemd starting there instead of commiting to an instructor. If you get into it and dig it, then consider lessons, but shop around for an instructor you jive with.
FYI the tribute to Miles Davis is evident in the Pee Wee Ellis penned Cold Sweat song.

you can hear another tribute in this JB s tune


there is a language to music and like any other language it opens many doors and insights...once you can speak the language then you will “get it”....so the effort is mind expanding or true “mind power”


I say go for acoustic drums. There's nothing else that can provide the feel, the sound and the satisfaction of striking real heads whilst  hearing and feeling the resonances and vibrations of a drum kit.

If you start with an instructor, you will be learning the rudiments, proper form, and learning to read music. After a lesson you'll be given homework which will be reviewed by your instructor at your next lesson. I'm so glad I started with an instructor, but I was a teenager.
As suggested, watch and learn from YouTube videos. The best way for you to start is to have somebody show you the basics. Most music shops will have a drummer available that you can hire for some basic lessons.

Rudiments are so important and absolutely necessary even if you're not learning to read music. You should own a practice pad in addition to your kit. Spending time on the pad is necessary to learn proper sticking, fingering, and rudiments. 

To answer an earlier question, it's loads of fun playing along to recorded music using headphones or earbuds.

It sounds like you're really interested, so don't miss this opportunity. After years of not playing, a kid in my neighborhood bought a kit and let me jam on it. I was about 40 then and it was a blast from the past.

Sure @n80, why not?! You don’t say whether or not you want to eventually join a band, but being on stage in front of an audience, or even just in a practice room with other musicians and a singer or two, is a lot more fun that playing alone. While a guitarist and pianist can make music by his or herself, drumming is, in it’s most basic sense, accompaniment for tuned instruments and (usually) a singer. Bluegrass doesn’t even employ drums! In that music, one or more of the instruments accents the 2 and 4, providing the "backbeat" normally played by the drummer on his snare drum. Junior Brown insists his drummer play nothing but the 2/4 backbeat, and many of them lost their job for not doing as they were instructed ;-) .

To a lot of people, playing a drumset doesn’t look like something they could ever do. At first it’s kind of like simultaneously rubbing your belly and patting your head, but if one has the aptitude for rhythm, that will soon pass. One thing drummers work on is independence---each of the four limbs playing a "different thing" than the others. To develop their hands, drummers learn to play the rudiments leading with both left and right. Having a teacher can be helpful, as he can see what you are doing wrong, and steer you in the right direction. The following may be more than you asked for, but you might find it instructive:

When I was a kid, even Elementary Schools (grades Kindergarten through 6th Grade) had an orchestra, and learning to play an instrument was considered part of a basic education. I picked drums, and was taught the Thirteen Essential Rudiments and reading, then put on the snare drum in the orchestra (there was also a bass drum player and a percussionist, who played triangle, cymbals, etc.). At the graduation ceremony of my 6th Grade class, I had to do the flag ceremony---I was the Senior Patrol Leader in my Boy Scout Troop---then play in the orchestra dressed in my Boy Scout uniform!

On the first day of 7th Grade I met a kid named Pete who would soon become my best friend. He too played drums, and joined the Jr. High Orchestra. He already had a snare drum of his own, but I had decided to try my hand at guitar and was taking lessons. A new kid moved onto my block, and he had both an organ and a tape recorder. Pete and I got together with him and started playing music in his living room---organ, guitar, and snare drum.

During the 8th Grade year, Pete started adding pieces to his snare drum---a hi-hat stand and a pair hi-hat cymbals, a cymbal, and then a bass drum. By the middle of the school year he had added a mounted and floor tom---he now had a full kit. We walked home from school together, and I would watch and listen to him play along with records. It looked like fun, and as my fingers were getting really calloused from playing guitar, I started bugging Pete to let me take turns on his drums. He was right handed and I left, so I had to play right-footed and left-handed---just as Dennis Wilson did in The Beach Boys. Pete eventually relented, allowing me to switch the kit around for left-handed playing.

I immediately loved playing drums, and wanted a full set of my own. I guess my Dad thought it would keep me off the street, so one day came home with a set of used Ludwig drums and Zildjian cymbals (Pete was jealous---his drumset was Japanese [at that time not good] and cymbals student level). I started doing at home what I had done at Pete’s, playing along with records. About two months after I got the drumset, a mutual friend of ours (Pete and I) told us his older brother (19, and in college) and a friend of his were starting a group (that was happening all over the U.S., in response to the British Invasion), and were auditioning drummers. Pete and I both tried out, and much to Pete’ surprise (and chagrin), they chose me. In spite of that, we remained friends ;-). The friend with the older brother was the band’s bassist.

That group rehearsed a couple of months, working up a set of songs. Before we appeared even once in public, the two older guys (guitarist/singer and organist) were stolen away by a couple of guys at their college (Foothill Community, in Los Altos) who were forming a group. They were soon one of the best in the South Bay, the legendary Chocolate Watchband (seen in the Roger Corman teensploitation movie Riot On Sunset Strip). The Watchband stole their drummer from another local group, The Squyers, and they called me for the audition of drummers to take his place. I was again chosen, and for a year-and-a-half played with them all over the Valley (The Santa Clara), the same places Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were in their group Fritz. During that time, I learned the basics of how to play in a band.

Funny story: Years later (in the early 00’s), long after both Pete and I had relocated to Los Angeles and he had transformed his garage into a working recording studio (3M 16/24 track), he was hired to engineer and produce one song for a low-budget movie soundtrack. He threw me the gig, and one afternoon I put down my part. Pete happens to love Keith Moon, and kept trying to get me to play a Keith Moon-style part instead of the one I felt the song called for. He was quite insistent, and when I said that if I were to do so the part would walk all over the vocal (sung by one of the offspring of The Lennon Sisters ;-), Pete said, and I quote "Oh, I don’t care about that." Well, I wasn’t about to do it, and he finally gave up. After I left Pete put down his own drum part (his primary instrument was by this time electric bass, but he was still playing drums), and turned in the track with his take to the movie’s Music Supervisor. The track was rejected, so Pete submitted the take with my drumming, and it was accepted. Some things never change ;-) .

After joining The Hawks and spending some time making music with them, Band organist Garth Hudson asked bassist Rick Danko if he knew his scales (Garth obviously had figured out Rick didn’t). Rick put his nose to the grindstone and learned them, and years later said Garth’s advice to learn them was the best he ever received. The drum rudiments are equivalent to the bass scales; knowing them is not absolutely mandatory (Ringo doesn’t, and he’s done alright ;-), but if you wanted to be in Frank Zappa’s band it sure was. Not knowing them puts a limit on how far you can progress technically. Steve Gadd needed to know them to play in the Navy Band, and has provided him with the skills needed to pay the parts he has. And they are great parts! Very musical, using "flash" only when necessary. Some drummers play so as to display his or her chops, not out of the demands of the song.

Billy Swan and I both lived in Sherman Oaks in the 90’s-early 00’s, and became acquainted. He served as Kris Kristofferson’s band leader for many years, and recounted how in the late-60’s everyone was telling Kris he had to get a drummer in his band. So he tried one out, and the guy unfortunately played in the style popular at the time: trying to hit as many drums and cymbals as possible, as many times as possible, "over-playing" to an extreme. Kris didn’t hire him, and swore off drummers. The number one complaint against drummers is the tendency to over-play. Too bad Kris didn’t auditioned a musical player; Kenny Buttrey (Neil Young’s Harvest album) would have been perfect for him.

Learning how to physically play drums is one thing, learning WHAT to play quite another. Kids now have a lot of help in technical matters, but with learning musical "wisdom", you’re on your own!

@bdp24 Thanks for sharing!  Lots of really good advice and insight in your post.  I sincerely hope that the OP gives it a try.  It certainly gives one a better appreciation for the complexities of the instrument and good music in general.  It taught me to listen to the percussion in a song, what was played and sometimes more importantly, what was not played.  Hope that makes sense.

Can you start at 56?  Why not?  I mean, if you're just playing for your own enjoyment.  There is so much out on the web now that wasn't there when I was a kid, but I would suggest you start out with at least a few lessons from a local teacher.  The web stuff is great for people who already understand drums, but there is something special about having someone actually in the room with you when you start out - just to keep you from making some really bad mistakes.  Once you have an understanding of the basics, there are tons of instructional videos you can learn from. 
Also, don't listen to so called "drum gurus".  Listen to the people who played on the records.  They are the real thing.  However, a good teacher can point you in the right direction and give you the ability to understand what the people on the records were doing.  That's very important.  
Good luck and don't feel self conscious.  
Thanks for all the great replies guys. This really helps. @bdp24 I think probably my biggest hesitation would be that even if I learned to do it I don't have any way to play with other musicians. I don't even know anyone to play with. So while it sounds fun and interesting, it also seems very unlikely. Even getting proficient seems unlikely. So my immediate goal would be some level of basic proficiency and then playing along to music. Who knows where it might go from there.....but probably nowhere.

In regard to what I would like to do, admittedly one thinks of Peart, Moon, Bonham, etc and years ago that's where my fantasy was.

But now I'm actually more tuned into subtle playing. When I listen to music I often focus on drums and it is the subtle and perfectly timed transitions and quiet 'flourishes' that don't intrude into the music that impress me the most. Of course, that sort of thing is probably harder than the crashing solo type performances. My current leanings would be toward retro type R&B and even straight blues....deep blues actually.

I had only slightly entertained the idea of an electric kit. On the one hand an acoustic kit has much more appeal to me but have to admit that an electric kit would be far more practical. Does an electric kit require an amp?
No, the electronic kit has a control box that everything is plugged into but you will need headphones.  The control box is like a mini computer and you can change the sounds of any of the drums and cymbals, mine has "coaching" functions, loops of a wide variety of music, connections for external music (I use an iPad), plus an output if you want to hear yourself "live" and mine is connected to a mixer, amplifier and speakers for that purpose.  It's extremely versatile.  If you do buy an acoustic kit and plan to play in your basement then you should get some earplugs.  I'm almost certain I lost some hearing by not following that advice.  Lastly, you should go down to a music store such as Guitar Center and try out a few electronic kits before you get the acoustic kit.  Rock on!
Thanks @jc4659 . Good info.

Today at lunch I made the mistake of going by our local music store. It is not a chain store but is very large and well respected locally.

I went in to get a new harmonica. My previous two had non-functioning reeds.

I got the harmonica. Starting from scratch there. It has been years and even then I was hardly past "Mary Has a Little Lamb."

But right in the doorway was a used electric drum kit by a brand called Alesis, complete, for $450. It looks new. Know nothing about the brand but a cursory look on the web shows they have a wide range of kits, some in the $2500 dollar range. I don’t know what model this used kit was but assuming one of their lower end ones.

The tax man beat me up really bad this year so there is little cash in hand for something this silly. But, I am sorely tempted.

Edit: The model is the DM10. New about $800-1000. Gets widely mixed reviews.
You can find a nice used acoustic set (brand name) for $450
So its the harmonica vs the drum kit.

I’m biased, having learned to play half a dozen musical instruments and having decided long ago the most practical one to play by far is the harmonica. Inexpensive, portable, expressive, and entertaining, with just enough volume to enjoy without becoming a nuisance, and yet still uncommon enough you will never appear the cliche anyone holding a guitar instantly becomes. Its hard to think of a better instrument to be good at.

@lowrider57 : Correct. There is a brand new Tama set and a Ludwig for about that price. I'm sure they are low end as well but more than enough for a beginner. I'm guessing a better bass pedal and cymbals could improve that if needed over time.

But the sound volume is a big issue and would limit practice time etc whereas an electric kit would not. Trade offs both ways.

@millercarbon, agreed. I've always liked harmonica and my musical interests are heavily blues weighted. There are also amazing harmonica lessons on YouTube for free.

Of course, as inexpensive as harmonica is it does not have to be either or.

I'm going to mention the electric drum kit to my wife tonight. There are two realistic possibilities and one utterly unrealistic possibility. In order of probability: 1. Sour look and then reminding me of our recent tax bill. 2. Thoughtful look as she considers how quiet it would be compared to an acoustic set. 3. Enthusiastic look because she has a thing for drummers.
@n80 where are you located?  If near S.E. Wisconsin you are welcome to see my Roland V electronic kit.  

Don't worry about not playing with live musicians.  Put on a pair of headphones and play along with records.  They're better than anyone you're going to play with.  
My wife was understanding about it.  She's the one who surprised me with the e-kit (guessing so she didn't have to hear me play!). When I had the acoustic kit set up in the basement of our previous home, even with the windows closed she could hear me play 2 houses away!

Whenever I tell her I'm going to play she always says "just don't hurt yourself."
@jc4659 : Appreciate the offer but I'm way down in South Carolina.
@n80 Which ever direction you choose to go in, just remember to have fun and don't quit your day job!

Lastly, if you are OC about audio, you'll probably be that way about your drums.  Set up, different drum heads, tuning, different cymbals, different toms, different snares, sticks, etc. it gets costly.  My advice: Keep it simple!

Enjoy the ride (pun intended),
Fortunately I'm probably the least OC member on Audiogon.....in regard to audio anyway. Plenty OCD in other areas. But I prefer CDO.....so that the letters are in alphabetical order.............
@n80, like our hobby here, there are always upgrades and tweaks with drums; hardware, pedals, cymbals, heads.
And before you know it, you're ready to move up to the higher line of kit.

I hear that the cymbals on the lower end kits sound like trash can lids.

I think if I decide to go acoustic I will talk to the local guy who refurbishes kits. I think he could get me in the door for around $500 and probably with better gear than a new starter kit.

Here is the sort of thing that inspires me to want to play the drums. The Song is "Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes".

With a cursory listen it might sound like the drummer is playing a very simple repeating pattern but if you listen closely, especially during the instrumental section toward the very end of the song (but all throughout it as well) there are very subtle variations and nuances on the snare and also so fine, sometimes barely audible change ups and flourishes on the cymbals. (I’m sure I have all the terms wrong but you can get my drift.) I’ve linked to song below but not sure you will hear all the nuances in a low res version. This is a wonderful song to highlight a systems chops to, so listen to it even if you don’t give a rip about drums.


Anyway, that’s the sort of drumming that gets me going and makes me want to try it. But, sounds like he has 6 arms and three legs so........

Ian Thomas is the drummer. He is credited on Wikipedia but there are no links about him.

@n80, it’s good to hear you are more intent on playing in a, as you put it, subtle style. While you might be able to pull off Keith Moon-style drumming in a few years (he played using single-stroke only, no doubles; you’ll learn what that means when you study with a teacher), the same cannot be said of Peart and Bonham. Remember, they had been playing for many years before they did any recording, and the number of years it would take for you to be able to play on their level might exceed that of your remaining lifetime!

Let me back up, and give you some basics. All musical styles require, first and foremost, a drummer be able to keep steady time. That seems obvious and not hard to do, but try playing along with a click track! Ringo Starr was excellent in that regard, better than many more technically-advanced drummers. Good singers are very aware of time (phrasing is one of their most important jobs), and are very critical of any drummer who doesn’t have rock-solid time.

If it’s old R & B and Blues you want to play, the first thing you need to learn is to play the shuffle/swing feel, the basic feel of Blues, Jazz, and Traditional Country. Neil Peart embarrassed himself in the drumming community when it became obvious during the Buddy Rich Tribute Show that he lacked the ability to swing.

The "press roll" is used a lot in R & B and Blues, and being unable to play it will be a pretty big limitation and liability. To play a press roll you need to be able to play more than single strokes, so I would say you should start by studying with a teacher who can help you with the rudiments. You’ll be glad you did!

I recommend you study the recordings of Roger Hawkins; he played on all the Jerry Wexler-produced Atlantic Records recordings done at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama: Aretha, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, many others. He’s also on recordings with Etta James, Duane Allman, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, Leon Russell, hundreds more. He also worked with Traffic, at Steve Winwood’s request. Jim Keltner (another drummer you should listen intently to) said in an interview he wished he played more like Roger. Jerry Wexler proclaimed Hawkins "the best drummer in the world". His playing is pure brilliance!

In an interview, Steve Jordan (Keith Richard’s first-call drummer) said he considered The Band’s Levon Helm basically a Blues drummer. If you want to hear subtle playing at its finest, study the first and second Band albums. Drumming just doesn’t get any better than that! Those first two Band albums contain just about everything you need to know to be able to play drums really well.

Other drummers who will show you the way are Earl Palmer (impossible to imitate), Al Jackson Jr. (of Booker T & The MG’s), George Rains (Jimmie Vaughan’s drummer), Fred Below (Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Walter), and Sam Lay (Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield Blues Band).

More excellent insight from @bdp24!  Timing.  That is another benefit of my Roland kit.  It will test your timing and give you a score.  Some days I feel like I'm in good rhythm and get a score in the 90's while other days it still sounds good but my score is in the 70's.  I can hear the difference now but couldn't in the beginning.    
@n80, a very cool song to choose. The drummer is playing a nice accompaniment, but most importantly he is "in the groove" and keeping time as a rhythm section should.

Why not?  An electronic set will let you play quietly, patch your music into the module from an iPod, etc., and play along.

Electronic not as physically exciting as smacking an acoustic set hard, but you can develop a touch in playing as well as hear the lessons you might find on Youtube, etc.

Taught myself starting at 12, and it's been fun to do since the 60s.

Good luck!
Excellent references @bdp24 . Fortunately those are many of the people I like to listen to already (without knowing who the specific drummers were).

I think I am very sensitive to timing and rhythm when I listen to it. It seems very common for a lot of rock drummers to play too fast during shows. It rushes the guitarist and the singer and it drives me nuts.

But having a sensitive ear for timing is very different from having it myself. I'm also the type that if I'm going up stairs real fast and think about it....I'll trip.....so will probably be hopeless on drums.

Anyway, here is another example of more simple playing that I'd like to be able to do. This girl was playing drums for Big George Brock, a delta blues man now living in St. Louis. He is in poor health and had to be assisted to his chair but I liked the way the big girl on drums played. This was at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi earlier this month. It was cold and wet that morning.

Oh you bet...after many years playing the steering wheel and dash, I decided to get real...about 20 years ago my Favorite drummer was Will Kennedy (Yellowjackets)...mesmerizing beats and cool rhythms...so they come to Santa Cruz and I sit up at ringside to watch and listen specially to Will...after the show I went up to him, all thanks etc and ask him ‘is it ever too late to Start playing drums and how should I start?’...his response was so simple...’Buddy, go buy a set...don’t overthink it...just do it’...so later that week I went into a local shop and put together a very nice Sonar Jazz Kit...w/better than beginner hardware and cymbals ...metalflake Green, came home, set it up and started playing with ‘Kinda Blue’...keeping good time, brushes etc....that was before much instructional you tube etc...so I muddled along and found that it just took me away...still does...I could use a dedicated music space, though as I play guitar as well and sing in a band...room and space are my final frontier...don’t read a lick, don’t want to...just want to play...I say just do it...get you pal to dial you in...don’t  fear it...dig it...Life is short and I didn’t want to always wonder what it would be like...I know now...and love it...I’m 64 btw...next...about surfing....hmmmm???....good luck!
I, too, am a drummer, and the most fun I've had with the instrument in recent years (I'm 66, and a veteran of the gigging community) is using a decent electronic kit to play along with the thousand of available drumless songs that are available.  At 56, you probably don't want to start lugging drums to gigs, and probably aren't that worried about impressing your friends and getting chicks (I'm assuming), so sticking your head under some headphones and wailing with some songs you may or may not know is just great fun.  It also has the great advantage of having a volume control, so your not damaging the ears you need to enjoy your audio system.

Surprisingly few drummers are good dancers - so don’t worry about your tendency towards tripping.

I only know of Steve Ferrone, Buddy Rich and Steve Gadd who were all accomplished tap dancers. Dancing a bit (body movement) does help with making and keeping a locked in groove. Many will dance with the left foot and head.


I started playing drums at age 5 and I’m in my 60’s now. Just got rid of my set.  It’s a lot of fun to play. The most fun is playing in groups/bands in front of many people, an experience you will never forget. Do not, do not get an electronic kit. The drum sizes are completely different than the real thing and the feel is quite a bit different.
St first, all you need is a snare drum to learn the basics. At 5, I did this with an instructor for quite some time before it got boring. Then I progressed to a full kit. Pick a couple of drummers from your favorite artists and play along with a couple of cuts to work on your stick ability as well as the bass drum work. I used a set of headphones for drummers that worked really well while I played songs from my iPhone. There are many YouTube videos that can teach you the basics up to the most advanced.
if you want to save money, find a used set thru Craigslist along with a set of cymbals, hi hat, ride and crash. IMO, if you want to learn from the best, look up Mike Portnoy and watch some of his drumming with Dream Theater. That’s who I played too and he has great videos on how to learn different techniques. Btw, I am selling my headphones if interested.
You should absolutely do it!! Age should have no impact on your decision at all.
I play the drums, and I'm 65. I do it almost everyday, and it always gives me great joy, though there are indeed times of frustration when I'm trying to play something and can't quite get it. 

As for the question about skip the practice pad, go straight to the kit, why does it have to be either/or? My opinion is using both would help you get better sooner, and by getting better I mean enable you to play things you hear and function around the drum kit, and that would lead to more pleasure for you.

Playing along with records, cd's whatever is a good way to grow your playing, (and a lot of fun) but you do need to realize that you're not gonna just sit down at the kit and magically play anything you hear. You're gonna have to put in some time on developing your ability (building your "chops") so you are physically able to play the things you want. Doesn't mean you can't also slam away, it does feel awfully good. 

Go for it, there's a very good chance you'll see the opportunity to fall in love with drums, (as I did) and if you get that feeling, finding a teacher and taking lessons would be something you might want to do. It wouldn't be an onerous task, it would be a joyous pursuit.

Btw, you can teach yourself, and these days there are lots of ways to get the info you need online. I was self-taught before the computer age. I spent 5 or 6 years working at it and actually ended up playing in bands that were fairly successful, and had a great time doing it. I got to the point where I couldn't grow enough on my own, so then I found a teacher (several actually) and got very serious about it. I'm not trying to make this about me, just trying to show you there are a number of ways to do it. 

Good luck, I hope you take the plunge

I say go for it. I did a similar thing . . . took up guitar in my 50's. I started teaching myself with books, online lessons, etc. In my case focusing on playing songs was key to keeping me going. After a couple of years of this I found a kid fresh out of college to come to my house a couple of nights a week . . . this was a big, big help in getting me to the next level (especially music theory). 

After that, I began jamming with friends. There is nothing more fun, and more important to your continued development than actually playing songs with people.  Second in line is playing with backing tracks . . . there are many many options for backing tracks to play with.  I now have a Jam studio in my house and 5-8 guys come over once a week for a Jam. I have a keyboard and an Alesis electronic drum kit set up there because these are tough instruments to schlep over. The other instruments (guitars/horns) are easy to cary over (though I have bunches of extra guitars and amplifiers. I also want to learn to play them. None of us really aspire to play in public (though we have) . . . too much work. We just want to play for ourselves for the fun, and to improve.

The Alesis electronic kit sounds great . . . our drummer is an experienced drummer and very good.  That said, I would be inclined to learn on an acoustic kit if I had a choice. 
Why not, if that is something that you are interested in?  Grandma Moses took up painting at 78, so you have a 22 year head start on becoming a well recognized practitioner of your chosen field.  

I would guess that it is easier these days to be self taught, given the amount of stuff that can be found on the web.  But, if you try it out and become serious, I bet live lessons would be a great source of fun and inspiration.

I don't want to work, I want to bang on the drums all day!

56, you are a youngster!  Go get a set and play all day!

Happy Drumming!

Thanks for the encouragement guys. Will have to see if that used electric kit hangs around the music store a little longer. I've pretty much concluded that an acoustic set would be my preference and also the best bang for the buck but would also get used way less due to sound levels. So if that used electric kit is around in a few weeks I might get the nerve to go get it.

I've been practicing on the new harmonica and have found that it is something I can do. In other words, I'm not even playing my way through a song but I can do all the things required to. I can hit all the single notes. I can bend notes. I can string the notes together with decent timing. What this tells me is that with practice I should be able to play this thing. Can already do most of the opening section of Love Me Do. 
@bigkidz : That Rundgren song is always in my head.
Drummer for 43 years now and took private lessons for six years weekly in school with a very accomplished Jazz instructor/drummer. Never went professional but in high school played against Bill Stewart at State Jazz Band. If you have never heard of Bill Stewart, you should. Great drummer.

First I’d say start small and cheap and buy used. Start with a snare and start on your rudiments as suggested earlier. If you think you’re going to get descent without learning your basic rudiments you better join a punk band. If you find you’re liking it and putting in the time buy a kick drum and a hi hat only and work on your coordination skills. The snare drum that is cheap and great is a Ludwig Acrolite from the 80’s; 70’s is better for vintage resale but will cost you more and why pay the difference. Spend some time and learn how to tune a drum properly as there’s plenty of good YouTube videos. Might not be a bad idea to take a few lessons but come on, are you going to want to do that for long? No. But take a couple to learn your rudiments properly, work on your grip and hopefully she or he will give you great direction moving forward. My first instructor made me play snare for three years before starting on the kit, but you don’t have that kind of time, right?

Evntually add a floor tom and then a rack tom. You’re thinking, “What the hell you telling me? Assemble this kit one piece at a time and have a mix of shells that don’t match?” Yes, and it’s called a jelly bean kit so let’s work on our drum vocabulary next, because you need to start hanging out at drums shops and bars talking to drummers. Seriously, start small and cheap and build a jelly bean kit. I’d buy the cheapest drums over cheap cymbals. With decent heads and knowing how to tune a kit you can make cheap drums sound good, but there is no fixing crappy cymbals. So same principal to cymbals. Buy used and few, Bozzio.

Don’t buy a cheap digital kit. Buy an acoustic kit and there’s lots of ways to control the volume such as mesh heads, practice pads, lighter sticks or cool rods. Part of the fun of being a drummer is learning the hardware, how to tune, and learning about different drums, companies, different woods and construction techniques and etc. it’s a lot like being an audiophile but cooler and people will want to hang with you.

Wouldn’t hurt to learn how to read music a little and learn how to count and keep time. If you take it serious in a year you’ll still suck but will be on your way. No seriously in a year you’ll be surprised how far you’ve come from day one. You’re never to old to have fun... just do it. If in a year you just don’t get it, there’s always the electric bass.

Here’s one of my favorite drummers that proves it not the kit but the drummer.


Now everone wants to play the drums. Enjoy.
Get a teacher....you need to know the proper basic stuff
I mentioned Bill Stewart in my previous post. I never get tired of watching this.

Better to fail trying to succeed than regret not trying and die. I tried and failed at guitar and a wind instrument but at least I know I'm a failure.
@bdp24 Excellent posts.