I'm a drummer living in a tiny New York City apartment. Here's how I fit 2 adults, 1 dog, and a drum kit in my 500-square-foot apartment.

Side-by-side photos show the author playing drums in a practice space with arrows pointing to her stuff (L) and where she hides drums stands in her apartment (R)
Insider's reporter is a drummer who lives in a tiny apartment in NYC.
Joey Hadden/Insider
  • Being a musician in NYC can be challenging, especially for a drummer living in a tiny apartment.
  • I play drums in a band while living in a 500-square-foot Brooklyn apartment. 
  • I save space as a drummer while living tiny with storage hacks and a much smaller kit.

I'm a drummer who has been playing shows in New York City since I moved here in 2019.

An arrow points to the author playing drums on stage
Insider's reporter plays drums at Our Wicked Lady in Brooklyn.
Joey Hadden/Insider

I've been drumming for as long as I can remember, and I started playing drums in rock bands when I moved to NYC in 2019.

I've played with various bands in venues from Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens, and I'm currently in a band called "Blanket Approval" that plays shows every couple of weeks. So I need access to drums pretty much every day to either practice or play a gig.

I also live in a 500-square-foot apartment with my partner and my dog, so making room to practice and store my drums can be challenging.

Four photos show the author's Brooklyn apartment
From top left to bottom right: Kitchen and living area, dog's bedroom, guest bedroom, main bedroom.
Joey Hadden/Insider

But I also live in a tiny Brooklyn apartment. According to my lease, it's technically a 1.5-bedroom, but it has two tiny rooms in addition to the main bedroom, kitchen, and living spaces. I use one of the tiny spaces as a guest room, and the other is my dog Miley's room. 

There isn't ample space for drumming, but I've made it work by downsizing and practicing elsewhere. 

Acoustic drum kits have a lot of parts, and they usually take up about 20 square feet of space, according to a blog by a drummer called Drumming Basics.

A labeled drum kit in a practice space
A drum kit in a practice space the author used to go to.
Joey Hadden/Insider

According to Drumming Basics, a blog started by a musician to share what she's learned about drumming, the average full-size acoustic drum kit takes up about 20 square feet of space.

Drum kits typically include a kick drum and pedal, a floor tom, one or two rack toms, a snare drum, three or four cymbals, stands for each cymbal, and the snare drum.

That's a lot of parts to worry about storing and lugging around.

The first way I save space as a drummer is by practicing in a shared rental space that already houses most of a drum set and costs $125 a month.

The author plays drums in a practice room
The author plays drums in a shared practice space.
Joey Hadden/Insider

My band practices in a space we rent with a handful of other bands. It has a shared kick drum, toms, and stands, which make up the bulk of a drum kit, so I don't have to worry about lugging these to practice.

I've practiced in six spaces since moving to NYC, and all of them included a shared drum kit where drummers only need to bring their own snare and cymbals. 

My band's portion of the rent is currently $125 a month, which I think is a steal considering NYC's skyrocketing rental prices.

I don't need to house the biggest acoustic drums in my apartment since every venue I've played provided a kick drum and toms.

Labeled drum kit on a stage
The author's drum set-up at Mercury Lounge.
Joey Hadden/Insider

When it comes to playing shows, different venues have different backlines, or musical gear that is provided.

I've played at about a dozen venues since moving to New York — from Our Wicked Lady's rooftop stage in Brooklyn to Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side — and every single one has provided a kick drum, toms, and a snare stand.

So I don't bother owning my own.

The only pieces of an acoustic kit I do need only take up 10 square feet of space in my apartment, and I use a small electric kit to practice at home.

The author's electric drum kit in her home
The author's acoustic kit at home.
Joey Hadden/Insider

I use my electric kit to practice at home because it's quieter and takes up less space than an acoustic kit. 

I keep the kit in the guest room because it fits perfectly between the wall and the bed along with my electric guitar and amp.

The electric kit takes up nine square feet.

I don't often need to amplify the sound, so I rarely plug the kit in. I keep the cords on a shelf beneath the kit to make the space look less cluttered.

cords and things under the drum kit
The author stores cords on a low shelf.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Because this isn't my main practice time with the band, I don't often feel the need to plug in my electric kit. Practicing on my unplugged kit helps me build muscle memory more than anything else. 

Keeping the cords hidden makes the space look much clearer. 

My acoustic drum parts — the snare drum, cymbals, kick pedal, and sticks — all fit in three storage bags under my bed.

labeled drum parts on a bed
The author's cymbals, snare, kick pedal, and sticks all fit under the bed.
Joey Hadden/Insider

I keep the parts of an acoustic drum kit I need for practice and playing NYC venues under my bed. That way, they don't take up any floor space in my apartment. 

Eventually, I want my own complete kit, but for now, my set-up is a better fit for my tiny NYC apartment.

Side by side photos of the author playing on stage
The author plays drums at Our Wicked Lady (L) and Arlene's Grocery (R).
Joey Hadden/Insider

Having an acoustic kit of my own would be a dream. It would give my band the freedom to put together shows outside of venues with backlines. Plus, I would know I had a reliable kit that fits my style for every show, rather than making it work with a different kit each night.

But for now, my downsized storage system works just fine in this apartment. 

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