When I started to learn to play drums it was at a time when live music was all the rage with the pop scene. I was fortunate in that my father was the manager of a very popular dance hall situated in Tottenham North London with a resident group the "Dave Clark Five" and the "Johnny Howard Dance Band" .
I was introduced to the drummer in the dance band and he offered to give me lessons and boy was he good, a real musician who could not only play but also site read music. So not only did I get to see the "Dave Clark Five" play and rehearse their first big hits "Glad all Over" and "Bits & Pieces" but I got to learn to play drums in the classic traditional style from a great teacher. This helped me tremendously and taught me to understand the rudiments of music and to play in different styles , which enhanced my drumming experience.
How to hold the sticks -
Most modern drummers tend to hold the sticks in the matched grip with the palms turned down and the sticks held in the hands by the thumb and first fingers, but the traditional method is for the left hand to be held palm up with the stick laying across the palm underneath the thumb and between the 2nd & 3rd fingers. I believe this promotes far more control and dexterity from the wrist and allows greater versatility as you improve you skill.
Rudimentary Exercises -
When you start to play any instrument you need to play exercises that will increase the dexterity and suppleness of the wrists and fingers. The drums are no exception and I would recommend practising the following exercises.
Playing 4 beats to the bar alternate between left and right hand for 4 bars and then reverse to right and left hand like this
Each stroke should be of the same weight. Start of very slowly and gradually increase the speed.
The Paradiddle -
This a great exercise for strengthening the wrists and improving left and right hand co-ordination and needs a lot of practise to perfect, but is well worth the effort in the long term.
Again play 4 beats to the bar for 4 bars and then reverse as follows:-
Start very slowly and gradually increase the speed and then when you feel able try and double the speed to 8 beats to the bar.
Don't forget that the drums drive the rhythm and timing for the rest of the band and it is essential that a good drummer, apart from anything else, can keep perfect timing, just like a metronome.