· By Jan Branicki

How to Get Better at Finger Drumming? Top Tips & Techniques

Finger drumming is a highly impressive skill that demands countless hours of practice to create awe-inspiring beats for your audience. Becoming an expert in finger drumming necessitates a significant amount of hard work, time, effort, and dedication.

But don’t worry. Fortunately, there is a way to accelerate and polish your learning process. With the right training approach and some practical finger drumming tips and techniques, you can improve your skills at a much faster pace.

What is Finger Drumming?

Finger drumming is an up-and-coming music art form that involves the use of fingers to create beats and rhythms on a finger drum pad or a MIDI controller.

Instead of using traditional drumsticks, this type of drumming includes tapping out rhythms with fingertips, often incorporating a range of different techniques to create complex and intricate beats.

This music production process is widely used in a variety of music genres, including electronic dance music (EDM), hip-hop, and more. Over the years, it has become a popular way for musicians to create beats and do live performances.

Why Learn Finger Drumming?

Whether you are an amateur or a proficient musician, it is imperative that you acquire the technique of finger drumming. This particular skill is essential in broadening your musical abilities, as it allows you to experiment with diverse beats, rhythms, and styles that complement your standard music production process. 

Finger Drumming

Devoting time to practicing finger drumming can also benefit your timing and rhythm, which inevitably transpires in other aspects of your music production. Furthermore, mastering this skill can greatly amplify the impact of your live performances. It provides you with the ability to produce beats on the spur of the moment and improvise during a live performance. 

Opting for this form of music production can enhance your productivity by enabling you to create beats in a swift and efficient manner, resulting in a higher volume of music produced in a shorter amount of time.

How to Get Started with Finger Drumming?

Here is how you can get started with finger drumming as a beginner:

  1. Choose the right equipment, i.e., sample pad, groove box, and MIDI controllers.
  2. Start with practicing the basic drum rudiments.
  3. Use a metronome to improve your timing.
  4. Watch online video tutorials and practice what you learn.

Hardware and Software Required to Learn Finger Drumming

Here are the hardware and software that you need to get started with finger drumming:

MIDI Controller – Firstly, you'll need a MIDI controller. This could be a drum pad or a drum machine. You can also use a MIDI keyboard with drum pads and pressure-sensitive keys.

A DAW - Digital Audio Workstation - is a piece of software used for producing, editing, and recording music. A DAW may be used to record music and make beats.

Samples - You may utilize samples to construct your beats. Samples are pre-recorded sounds like drums, percussion, and bass.

Computer - To operate your DAW, plugins, and samples smoothly, you need a computer with sufficient processing power.

Finger Drumming Techniques & Tips

Here are some of the best ways to learn finger drumming you should know:

1. Use a Sampler Pad or Groovebox

When starting with finger drumming, you'll need a sampler pad, groove box, or MIDI controller. A cost-effective option is a MIDI controller with at least 16 sample pads, which triggers samples in a DAW.

By doing this, you can unleash your creativity and hone your skills with an endless range of sounds and samples without breaking the bank.

2. Prepare Your Drum Rack

You need to generate or discover sounds to utilize on your sample pads before you can begin finger drumming. Your drum rack consists of these sounds. At least 16 sounds that are assigned to the sample pads on your MIDI controller should be present in a drum rack.

To build a drum rack, you'll also need to add necessary sounds like closed and open hi-hats, snare, and kick sounds. You may also add more percussion sounds to your rack, such as cowbells, toms, and claves.

Learn Finger Drumming

3. Adjust the Pad Sensitivity

To adjust the feel for the dynamics on the pad, you can experiment with the velocity curves on your sampler. If you prefer a more dynamic sound with a lighter touch, increasing pad sensitivity can help you do that.

On the other hand, if you want a consistent volume with less variation, reducing pad sensitivity is the way to go. Most samplers have a settings menu where you can adjust velocity curves to match your playing style.

4. Configure your Drum Pad

When configuring your sampler pad, prioritize the kick, snare, and hi-hat samples towards the center and bottom of the drum pad. This makes these samples easy to access.

Place less important samples, like crashes and toms, towards the top for easier tapping while keeping your hands rooted at the bottom.

5. Use Loops and Quantization

When it comes to producing music with finger drumming, the advantage of using a DAW or groove box is worth mentioning. They provide the capability to loop and quantize your input to the grid.

This means that you can record a loop of the hi-hats and snares and then overdub your kicks, which is an excellent way to start creating beats.

6. Practice Groove and Drum Rudiments

When you're practicing, it's important to consider the overall sound of your drum grooves. The kicks, hi-hats, and snare drums should be played together to create a full drum sound.

As you get better, start incorporating other samples and fills to diversify your rhythms. A great way to expand your rhythmic knowledge is by learning basic drum rudiments with your hands, which can be incorporated into your finger drumming.

7. Perfect Your Hi-hats

For beginners, it can be difficult to play fast trap hi-hats, but there are ways to achieve this sound. One option is to use ratchet samples or the ratchet feature on your sampler, which plays a sample in rapid succession based on note subdivisions.

You can also use looped samples to trigger the hi-hat fill with just one tap. Don't be afraid to use these techniques, as many professional finger drummers do so to create their signature sound.

Best Way to Learn Finger Drumming

8. Work on Your Speed

Although speed is essential in some musical genres, it is not essential when you first begin finger drumming. Instead, concentrate on grasping fundamental ideas and practicing accurate time and accents.

As you grow proficient at this ability, you should slow up the tempo by 5–10 beats per minute from where you started.

Summing Up

Becoming proficient at finger drumming takes time, effort, and dedication. By regularly practicing, utilizing proper techniques, and experimenting with different styles and sounds, you can improve your skills and get better at this music production process in less time.

With patience, persistence, and the right training approach, you'll be amazed at how far you can progress when it comes to creating dynamic beats with finger drumming.