Many of the great teachers will tell you that the snare drum or pad should be positioned at your navel or belly button. For smaller children, since their bodies are not yet evenly proportioned, some adjustments may need to be made. Your arms should be in an L-shape formation at 90 degrees and the sticks should lay comfortably on top of the drum or pad in an upside down V shape. If your sticks rest on the rim, the drum or pad needs to be lowered.
Oppositely if you find that you are leaning into the drum too much, the drum should be raised. The sound you make is only the end result of your stroke, so in order to ensure efficiency of movement, you must make sure that the snare drum or pad is conveniently placed in front of you. This applies to both a sitting and standing position. Those who use the traditional grip often tilt their snare drum or pad so that the left side is slightly higher than the right. This is done to accommodate the turning motion in the left hand. Setting up a full drum set (or pad set) properly is very important.
First, set your drum throne so that your legs are at a 90-degree angle. In other words, when you place your feet on the pedals (hi-hat on left, bass drum on right) your legs should not be outstretched in an obtuse angle. Next, position your snare drum as previously described.
Your 12" rack tom-tom should be placed about 11 inch above the snare drum and tilted slightly toward you. If you have a 13" rack tom-tom, it should be evenly placed to the right of the 12" drum and also tilted toward you: a kind of mirror image of the 12" tom. The floor tom should be about 2" lower than your snare drum and can be tilted slightly in your direction.
As you glide your arms in a clockwise motion around your kit, everything should feel accessible to you. Place your ride cymbal to your right and position it so that your right arm is extended about 150 to 160 degrees. The stick should easily touch the main body of the cymbal, usually where the company logo is painted and the cymbal tapers or curves downward. If the stick is touching the bell or cup of the cymbal, the cymbal needs to be pulled further away from you.
You will also want to tilt the cymbal toward you. If you don't put a rug under your drum set, you will slide around, and your playing will suffer. Make sure, however you set up your drums, that everything stays where you put it! The crash cymbal should be placed to your left but must be accessible to both hands. Like the ride, it, too, should be tilted but placed slightly higher than the ride cymbal so that you can strike the cymbal on the edge with the shaft of your stick. Certainly, you will see drummers experimenting with a wide variety of setups.
However, before you go tinkering with different setups, get comfortable with the basic setup. Also, for all you lefties out there, simply follow these guidelines in reverse or, as many left-handed drummers do, get used to the standard right-handed setup. There are advantages to setting up right-handed even if you're a left-handed person. Finally, since pad sets are designed to simulate the look and feel of real drums, everything stated here applies to that setup as well.
No matter if you are playing a Kids Drum Set or a full blown professional setup, Eric recommends practicing with Metronome and Drum Tabs. Eric is also an active member of Drum Solo Artist where he is answering drum related questions, and helping drummers with tips and advices.