Ever find yourself tapping your foot in synch with the rhythm of a song? Are the drum solos in rock bands and traditional music your favourite part? Are you burning to know what a paradiddle is, how to play a flam and whether triplets have anything to do with pregnancy?

Who’re you gonna call about ghost notes? Should you give polyrhythm a cracker?

It sounds like you’re in the grip of drum fever - and in need of answers. The best way to get them is to take drums lessons with a qualified teacher. But how can you find someone to teach you drum rudiments?

Important Things to Consider When Choosing a Drum Teacher

If you want to learn to play the drums, you can, of course, watch a DVD of your favourite drummer and try and imitate him, watch YouTube videos and read drum books. But a YouTube video can’t correct your mistakes, a DVD can’t show you exactly how to do a drum roll nor can a book suggest drum fills for the piece you are playing.

Beginner drummer lessons start anytime.
It's never too early to start learning the drums. Photo credit: acyo on Visualhunt.com

You need a drum teacher. But no two drum teachers are alike. So before you hit Google, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • What type of music do you want to play? (This affects the type of drum.)
  • What type of drum do you want to play? (This affects the type of music.)
  • Do you already play a musical instrument such as a violin, cello, saxophone or even ukelele? If so, you already have an idea of rhythm and pitch and you’re already familiar with a form of music notation. Your instructor will need to know that.
  • How do you learn best? Do you need someone nagging you constantly to practice or someone who only pricks you when you’re making mistakes?
  • Do you want home lessons or enjoy the advantages of a music school?

Find out everything you need to know before taking drum lessons...

What kind of music do you want to play?

The styles of music you want to play will influence the choice of drum. Since not everyone plays every kind of drum, it is an important factor when choosing your drum instructor. Hand drums in ethnic music are not played like a jazz drum kit.

  • Folk music usually focuses on hand drumming or frame drums such as the bodhran, or military snares.
  • African drum music can involve hand or stick drumming - Djembe drums, for example, are hand drums while West African talking drums use a stick. African rhythms are very popular.
  • Conga and bongo drums are used in Afro-Cuban music and modern Latin music.
  • Orchestral drumming can involve kettle drums, bass drums or cymbals.
  • Jazz or blues or funk use a version of a drum kit.
  • Rock and heavy metal also use a drum set with a snare drum, tom-toms, kick drum and assorted cymbals.
  • Big Band uses yet another version of the drum set.
  • Marching bands have different types of drums, from tenor drums to bass drums to snare drums or cymbals.
Play timpani in an orchestra.
A jazz drummer won't be able to teach you the orchestral timpani - so choose your drum teacher well. Photo credit: Snipergirl on Visual hunt

So when learning to play the drums, you will need a teacher who is versed in the right type of drum and music style.

Finding a Music Teacher You can Work With

Though personal sympathy is important for any student-teacher relationship, it can be argued that this is particularly important in the arts.

Much of drumming is not just knowledge and skill but feeling. A good drum teacher will know how to bring out the best in you and bring your drumming to the next level.

But how do you know if you will click?

You can’t until you actually meet your instructor. The best is to call first - sometimes the vibes over the phone can tell you if you are going to get along. Many musicians offer free drum lessons - usually the first hour - which is the best way to try out a new teacher.

You may also want to know about the cost of drum lessons...

Beginner drum lessons should start with the basics:

  • The different types of drum if you are working with a drum kit
  • How the drums are set up, what the different parts are
  • How to hold your drumsticks or tap the pedal; how to hold your hand for hand drumming
  • A first drum rudiment to get you hooked

You should also take advantage of the first class to ask the teacher about how they structure their lessons. Are they more theory-oriented? Do they demonstrate drum beats in a way that you can follow at your skill level? Will you be learning drum notation or drum tabs? Will you be getting drum songs to practice with, or just exercises? Will you have to buy your own drums, drumsticks and metronome or do they have drum equipment you can borrow until you are certain your future lies with percussion instruments?

All these questions will help you decide if this drum teacher is the one for you.

Music Schools vs. Private Drum Teachers for Beginner Drum Lessons

Of course, it’s not just the person of the teacher, it’s the support he or she can offer as well. To learn how to play the drums, you have two basic options:

  1. A drum school or music school
  2. A private drum tutor

Advantages and disadvantages of a music school

Music schools generally offer two types of lessons:

  • Group lessons, usually at the beginner level
  • Private lessons at the school with one of the school teachers

Here are some of the advantages of taking drum instruction at a school:

  • A music school will often have several drum teachers on staff. So if for some reason your drum lessons are cancelled for several weeks - holidays, illness or family emergency - you might be able to continue your course with another teacher.
  • A music school often has their own drum kits. So if you are still unsure if you want to commit to drumming lessons, you can work on the school set until you get your own. Or if your hi-hat stand or ride cymbal is damaged, you can borrow one from the school for practice until you replace your own.
  • Another plus for beginners and intermediate-level students is the availability of practice rooms. Playing drums is a loud passion that the neighbours don’t always appreciate. Having practice rooms you can use will help your motivation and decrease your guilt.
  • Schools often give recitals, so you can practise performing in front of an audience.

The cons are the fact that the teachers there will have to schedule around a lot of students as well as the guitar teacher and violin lessons all needing the instruction and practice rooms. Depending on their structure, music schools might have specific hours set aside for you that you can’t really deviate from. They lack flexibility and teachers might be forced to adhere to a certain teaching plan.

Meet like-minded people in group drum lessons.
Group drum lessons bring you and other drum afficionados together. Photo credit: thelearningcurvedotca on VisualHunt

If you are taking group drum classes there will be the added inconvenience that the teacher will not be able to focus entirely on you, though being with other musicians passionate about percussion has its own advantages.

Of course, if you want a degree in drumming you will have to attend a college of music and complete the course to get your bachelor of music.

Private tutoring

The advantage of a private tutor is one-on-one instruction. Your tutor can tailor it to your needs and skill. He or she will be there to motivate you every step of the way and will be able to adapt to your schedule and availability. This means that if your work week is different every time, you won’t be tied down to a single time slot. And if you have to cancel, you can make up the lesson another time.

There are two ways drum lessons with private tutors can be set up: you go to their house or they come to yours.

If you are just starting out, chances are you will be going to their house and using their drum kit; though if you are learning a portable percussion instrument such as the bodhran or bongos, they might bring them with them along for your first music lessons. Once you have graduated to an intermediate or advanced level, they will probably come to your house so you can use your own drums.

Find out what type of equipment you need for playing the drums...

Drum tutoring is more personal.
One-to-one drum lessons will let you progress faster. Photo credit: vanja b. on Visualhunt.com

Where Can You Find a Drum Teacher Near You?

Googling local music schools is easy, but how can you find a private drum instructor for drum lessons near me?

One solution, of course, is Superprof. Here on the site, we have a wide selection of percussion instructors in various types of drums. Some even offer online lessons via webcam if you should happen to live in a drum-free zone. Many offer the first lesson for free.

On Superprof, you can read the instructor's full profile, including his studies and experience, before contacting him or her. You’ll know if they are straight out of school or have worked as a percussionist in an orchestra or band. Testimonials will tell you what other students think of that teacher and help you make your choice.

The level of experience will, of course, affect the price of the drum lesson.

Other portals for finding drum teachers are:

  • Drumteachers
  • Drummingteacher

Another possibility is to go over to a local music college and look at their corkboard or put up a flyer yourself advertising for a teacher.

While music students don’t have a lot of experience, they have the advantage of still studying themselves, so they have a better understanding of the learning process and the frustration inherent in it. They might be better motivated to teach you drum fills and the rudiments of tuning your instruments than someone who has been doing it for over twenty years.

Now learn all you need to know before taking drum lessons...

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