If you're starting out as a beginner or curious about the world of drumming, it is always advisable to learn from an expert. Even if you already know a little or just looking to master your drumming techniques, finding the right lessons to suit you is key.
It is important to review both the advantages and disadvantages of teaching yourself how to play versus being taught by a professional.
Finding the right advice, tips and recommendations can be an arduous process especially with the many modes of learning including private tutors, music teachers, and music schools.
Chicago is a diverse city where you can find a whole host of schools and learning centers. Drum lessons are therefore not hard to find.
Drum Classes in Chicago: A Bit of History
As you might know, the drum set is a fusion of ancient cultures from Europe, China, Africa, and Turkey.
In the United States, Jazz ancestors had the invention of joining different types of drum instruments during the 1890s, and in 1910 the kick drum was added giving one person autonomy over drum playing.
Then, from this foundation, there are the innumerable variants of sounds, rhythms, nuances, etc. that deliver unique tones, body, and volume to each piece of music. The toms, the hi-hat, the snare drum as well as specific drumsticks all enrich the drumkit. There are even some specific styles of music that use the double bass drum.
So before taking drum lessons, it is important to have in mind the style of drums that you wish to learn or, at least, where you would like to begin.
"If you want to find out how good you are and are able to face challenges, you have to introduce yourself in an environment where the competition is very strong, and you will understand that only the best drummers survive." - Jack DeJohnette.
Drum Studios in Chicago
There are many studio spaces available in Chicago where you can go to take classes. In fact, some of the best studios and music centers in the country are located in Chicago; you are sure to learn a lot and put your skills to the test with the most wanted and recognized teachers in the world of percussion. You will not only learn how to play drums but how to read drum notation, too.
Sam's Drum Studio is a music studio that offers a variety of services, from learning to play your favorite songs to learn how to read music. It also offers lessons on how to put together an ensemble or band with your friends and prepares you for exams and auditions. Sam's students range from ages 4 to adult in the categories of beginner to professional musicians. The studios are located in the Pilsen neighborhood right next to Lagunitas Brewery in Chicago city.
Ted Sirota Drum Studio is located in the West Ridge neighborhood at the northern end of the city of Chicago. Ted is a professional musician who started playing drums at 10 years old. He formed several bands throughout his career and played in a variety of places and with musicians of all kinds.
Again, Ted offers lessons to beginners of a young age to professional, adult drummers. If you want to expand your knowledge you can learn jazz drumming, Soca, Reggae, Afro-Cuban, rock drumming, and Brazilian, too.
Music Garage is a great place to rehearse and also has an instrument showroom. The lessons offer a variety of ways to learn to play the drums and to feel comfortable in the different spaces to cover all potential bases. Chris Dye has a unique philosophy when it comes to teaching, ranging from how to listen, study, learn to how to play with your skill level.
Aaron Memphis is in partnership with the Music Garage and has had an extraordinary career in the drumming world. The Studio is located four blocks from Union Park, in the middle of West Town and Near West Side. It offers classes for all ages and all levels.
Finally, there is the icon, Phil Brines' Drum Studio. Located one block from the Western Subway Station (pink line) in the heart of Chicago, near the National Museum of Mexican Art. It offers private classes at all levels, from apprentices to professionals of all ages, teaching transcription and orchestration at the same time. You can contact him directly from his website or Facebook.
Phil is a famous drummer that has ventured into the world of music since he was a child, developing his own method of learning through playing gigs. He has extremely positive reviews from both his students and his collaborators.
Music Schools in Chicago
In addition to particular, independent studio, one can find an infinity of music schools throughout the city of Chicago and its surroundings, that can also be a good place to start or improve your drum playing. Here is a selection:
Drum Chicago is located in Logan Square. Just four blocks from N Kedzie Blvd. You can easily access the 74 Fullerton bus and the blue CTA line (Logan Square stop). The school was founded in 2010 by Marshall Greenhouse and already has a recognized educational program in the music community.
This percussion school offers private drum and percussion classes for all ages and all levels, winter and summer drums camps for children, "Future of Rock" band instruction, school music workshops, and drum lessons for under fives.
Chicago Percussion Lessons is another great place to learn how to play percussion in all its styles and with a great variety of instruments, including conga, bongo, djembe, cajon, timbales, drums, marimbas, and electronic drum.
Drum classes are given according to the age and level of each student presenting classic and contemporary modalities with a range of possibilities as well as music theory. This drum school is located comfortably in the West Town neighborhood. Something else you can take advantage of this school is that you can make a reservation through their website for a 30-minute introductory class, totally free!
Upbeat Music School offers classes of the most commonly played instruments including drums. Learning at this school has many advantages: it has a solid record of accomplishment and recognition as one of the best schools in preparing students for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) exam. Conveniently located in the Chinatown/Bridgeport area of Chicago since 2000. It's also open Monday to Sunday!
Finally, there is the Old Town School of Folk Music, which teaches a wide variety of disciplines. Founded in 1957, it is one of the best-known and recognized centers of music education and cultural expressions recognized not only by the local community but also globally. It offers drum lessons in Chicago for kids, teens, and adults at all levels, with a wide range of rhythms. It has personal classes, groups, workshops, etc. and it is located one block from Welles Park and one block from Davis Theater Chicago.
Of course, there is also the possibility to learn to play the drums on your own, either with books or drum videos. There are plenty of sources out there to teach yourself effectively and it's all very accessible online. Depending on your desire and personality when it comes to learning, you can also take classes remotely even via your iPhone or Android device. The opportunities in learning have never been greater. If you're motivated, the sky's the limit!
Benefits of Playing Drums
Recent scientific studies specializing in neuroscience have confirmed that more areas of the human brain are activated when music is being created, accentuating our cognitive aptitudes. Here's a brief summary of the positive elements associated with drumming:
- It inspires discipline and perseverance, reinforcing the commitment to attend classes and practice.
- Drumming improves social qualities, increasing communication with your environment and empathy towards others.
- Playing the drums improves coordination: you can concentrate on a rhythm in one hand and drum patterns with the other. It is one of the best psychomotor exercises.
Other benefits include improved reflections (fast and precise movements with the hands and feet), improved creativity playing with different rhythms, and even improved fitness: both the upper and lower extremities are used as the whole body works simultaneously.
Drum Classes: Things to Consider
Ultimately, it's never too late to take drum classes. It can be a hobby, a type of therapy or just a way of life. On average, the cost of drum lessons in Chicago can range from $30 to 65$ per hour so it's just a matter of finding your style at a budget that suits you.
Superprof has numerous professionals ready to transfer their knowledge and provide drumming lessons that cater to your needs.
If you still have doubts, there is a lot more information about drumming online and in print but with a multitude of studios, classes, schools and tutors available, you are sure to find what you're looking for and the best learning experience.
So why not give it try? Who knows, within a few months, you could be a quarter note away from performing your first drum solo!