First let me start by answering the question of why you need a drum hero immediately:

  1. It motivates the heck out of you. I always try to get students to get into some type of music more heavily. After that they most often find one or more drum heroes. What this does is propel the learning experience forward. Motivation goes through the roof!
  2. You tend to listen more carefully to your drumming heroes than to others. This is important because you learn how to fine tune things. You develop your musical ears in detail so to speak.

Now we got that out of the way we can dig in a little deeper. Don't be scared, it's all gonna be okay.

Table of Contents

1. What is a drum hero

Any drummer could be your hero. It’s not about technical abilities, although it might be. In your case it may be more about musicality. You love the musical sensitivity of a player and his or her playing really touches you. But it can also be mainly about someone’s personality which is mostly what attracts us to a certain player at a young age.

We all develop a drumming personality which might differ greatly from the personality out from behind the kit and/or off the stage. We might feel more confident behind the drums or the instrument may really light a spark of our personality which in turn sets us on fire.

The most important thing is your drumming hero is your drum hero, not necessarily mine. And that’s the way it should be. Your drumming hero should match your personality and your musical taste and perhaps your taste in human beings.

2. How do you find your drumming hero

There's something really special about your hero. It can be a technical thing or a personal thing. A musical thing or a visual thing. Whatever it is, most often it feels as if your hero speaks so directly to you it's like they found you instead of the other way around.

You hear, see and feel things others can’t or won’t, so this creates a strong connection.

3. What if you can’t find your drum hero

Relax, it’s only detrimental to your drumming game if you lack in the following areas:

  1. Inspiration - Do you feel you have stories to share with the rest of the world or do you just feel you’re going through the motions?
  2. Motivation - Do you feel revd up about drumming and music in general?
  3. Direction - Is it clear to you where you want to take your drumming?
  4. Goals - And is it clear where you want to be, in say a year from now, drumming and music wise?

If you feel you are lacking any creativity it’s most likely due to not having the perspective your heroes have. If you feel this might be the case I’d strongly advise you to give my book/encyclopedia Level 1 a serious glance. This will show you exactly where your areas of development lie and what you can and should do to overcome any hurdles in rhythm, drumming and music.

4. Should you have one or more drum heroes

Ideally you would have a couple in every style of music. But first of all this takes years to develop. Second of all you might not like every style of music and drumming. That’s perfectly fine. As long as you have plenty of people to learn from there’s absolutely no problem.

I would say the advantage of having more than one drum hero is primarily that this will give you sufficient musical examples to create new targets. Sounds a bit businessy, but targets are always good to have. Wanting to be able to play a groove, fill, rudiment whatever is always a good solid motivation to practice hard.

Having just one drum hero might be extra cool if you have a very versatile one. Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave DiCenso immediately come to mind. These guys are capable of playing so many different genres completely credible they make for incredible role models on their own.

All in all I think it would be best to have at least a few drum heroes, but we all have to start somewhere, don't we?

5. Disadvantages of having a drum hero

Of course there are some disadvantages to this as well. You will become very susceptible to imitation. At first there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to mimic your hero. People around you will compliment you on your progress. Bandmates will love your new playing. Izall good!

It is, at least up to the point where you realize you’re starting to think like someone else when trying to create. Or you realize you’ve started to sound too much like someone else. And worst of all, this other person already exists and the world doesn’t need a half-assed rip off. How did that happen? Well, that’s what tunnel vision does to a person.

But don’t worry, this is the beginning of the new, definitive path. You’ve now entered the next phase.

6. Thinking for yourself instead of like your drum hero

The next phase is about getting out of the copycat mode and forming your own ideas. You now get the advantages of having the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation of another player, with which you can tell your own stories.

And pretty soon you won’t just have your drum heroes stuff to work with because this realization will steer you towards many new influences. Possibly even new drum heroes!

7. One hero leads to the next

This is one of my favorite aspects of admiration. Or should I say, the evolution of admiration. When we first start our journey our passion and taste steers us towards our very first drum hero. Odds are this choice will be based mostly on superficial merits.

If you are like me you may choose your first drum hero because of the visual presentation, the drum set configuration, or purely because of the music the band plays which the drummer is part of.

This is perfect when starting out. Since we don’t have any technical skills or musical experience when we start out we don’t have much to benefit from very deep technical and/or musical prowess.

Then as we progress as drummers our taste evolves with it, both technically and musically. This is a normal, very healthy evolution and serves the purpose of setting new goals and targets.

8. Abandoning our past heroes

Part of this evolution is redefining good and bad. You may even start to dislike your past drumming hero(es). This will only be temporary though. You simply need the space for new heroes to admire, examine and steal from.

After a while this will return to normal. You won’t worship these heroes like you used to, but you can see why you did. This in turn will lead to appreciation for and gratitude towards the people who inspired you in any way.

This should be an evolution which progresses along with your musical experience. And while this happens there may be a cool side effect happening.

9. Becoming a drum hero yourself

In the process of studying, emulating ideas, and finally forming your own, you may become an inspiration to others. You may take your drumming and music in a direction where you put something of value out there where others can benefit from it.

There are several ways you can do this

1. Play drums in a band - This should be the number one goal when you start playing drums in my opinion. Maybe goal number two, as the first object should be to be able to play your favorite song. When you start playing live gigs there going to be people who think they can do better, and they probably can because they’ve got more experience. But there are also people who are going to like what you do and how you do it. Regardless of what category the people are in, some will be inspired to play drums or start playing drums because they saw you.

Then as you progress there will be more serious bands and projects and you may very well become one of the musicians young player seek out for inspiration


2. Teach drums - This is a rather logical path to follow for many of us. Once you’ve been a student for many years you can pass on this acquired knowledge to others. Soon enough you will feel if this is something you want to do or if it’s just something you do because you can.

If it’s truly your thing you will motivate and inspire others. In return you’ll get motivated and inspired even more which creates a healthy cycle of energy. Before you know it people will start mentioning you as being a source of inspiration to them and you’ve become a (local) drum hero.

Word to the wise. If you’re going to do anything well it’s mainly because you feel passion for it. If you don’t feel passion, it’s probably not for you and you shouldn’t spend too much time pursuing it.

3. Drum videos - You can record yourself drumming and share these with others. You can start your own channel and start posting clips regularly. This may inspire others to start playing, practice more or harder, create their own channel etcetera. If you gain more popularity, slowly but steadily you will become a drum hero yourself.

4. Write and create lessons - You can also share your thoughts and ideas on drumming and music with the world in written form. You can write blogs or lessons and inspire others. And again, when you start to gain a following you will inspire and motivate more and more people and become a drum hero yourself.

5. Write music - You may also start writing songs with a band or on your own which serve as a soundtrack to people’s lives. This may not necessarily make you a drum hero, but spreading positivity makes you a hero in my book, and it started with drumming.

These aren’t quick fixes by any means. Getting to a stage where you truly inspire others takes many, many years of hard work. This hard work takes a lot of determination, which in turn comes from desire and will power. And to be able to access this on a regular basis we all need to be inspired and motivated by our (drum) heroes.

10. (Drum) heroes?

Why is this in parentheses? Because heroes come from all different places. Master pianist Hiromi has stated repeatedly that one of here main influences is basketball legend Michael Jordan.

I couldn’t agree more. Since watching one game with his legendary ‘Dream Team’ with the Chicago Bulls of the early nineties I have found his determination and will power to get the most out of every moment is second to none.

And you may find other greats to have an impact on your drumming as well. So from a purely motivational point of view we may benefit immensely from examining the greats in other areas. Think of music, other art forms, sports, philosophy, authors, motivational gurus, entrepreneurs, and yes, even politics. Ever heard of Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln?


So why do we need drum heroes? Simply put, to help us be and become the best version of ourselves possible. To put it in other words, our intrinsic motivation is the fuel, our drumming heroes can provide the necessary inspiration which serves as the spark which lights the fuel to create an everlasting source of energy.

Share your thoughts

Do you have a drum hero? Who is he or she and why? What do you look for in a drum hero? What difficult periods in your playing have they helped you with? So, basically share your thoughts and ideas about drum heroes :-)

About the Author

Bob Schillemans

Music and drumming have pretty much dominated my life for the last twenty five years. I enjoy every facet of it, and I intend to keep doing so for many more years to come.

Fan of music since 1981

Drummer since 1989

Teacher since 1993

Professional musician since 1996

Composer since 2002

Owner of Skillz Drum Academy since 2011

Author since 2014

Blogger since 2018