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Ways to Teach the Drums

By Yann, published on 03/08/2018 Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > How to Teach The Drums

So, you’ve been beating out paradiddles on your Ludwig or Pearl drum set for a while now, and you’ve gotten pretty good at playing the drums.

You may have played at this year’s summer festival – provided it hasn’t been too hot to have one, and maybe you’ve even joined a drum corps or marching bandbut you want more!

You want more than just the occasional gig or to play seasonally. You want to parlay your passion for percussion into a full-time job, to imbue and infect others with a love of drumming.

In short: you want to teach the drums to as many people as possible!

And why not? Drumming offers substantial health benefits, not the least of which are lowering stress levels and boosting cognitive abilities!

Let Superprof show you the way to become the drum teacher you always wish you had: in music class, in private sessions, as an online teacher or hosting workshops.

How to Become a Drum Teacher

Who teaches these drummers how to play the drums? Who do you suppose the Drum Corps learns to play drums from? Source: Pixabay Credit: LoneWombatMedia

Without question, the only way to teach drums in a public or private school is to have graduated from music school yourself.

How long have you been fascinated by the drums? Since you were a small child maybe? Or, at least, since you were a teenager when the Mersey Beat became your every heartbeat?

Or have you always found jazz alluring?

Did you take your A-Levels in music theory and attend one of Britain’s renown music conservatories?

If you plan to do so or if you’ve just completed your course in percussion instruments, you are, or will be qualified to teach entire classrooms of students how to drum!

If, for some reason, the idea of formalising your music education did not appeal to you – maybe you were on the road, going from gig to gig, you still have the chance to become a drum teacher.

Teaching Drums at Band Camp

In case you didn’t know it, marching band is a very big thing in the UK. So big, in fact, that bands from around the world come here to compete!

Just one question, though…

How do all of these UK drummers that march learn the drums?

In the US, just about every high school and certainly every college has a marching band but such bands don’t feature so prominently in our schools, do they?

You may remedy that situation by working with the schools in your area to host a band camp or a drum camp!

The concept is simple: invite a group of students (with parents’ permission, of course!) to learn a few drum rudiments on a snare drum over a weekend or two.

You may also include tomtoms and a bass drum if there are students sturdy enough to carry one.

Should you have any students who seem particularly interested in playing the drums, a workshop might serve them well.

A drum workshop addresses specific aspects of drumming, such as how to paradiddle or play 16th note fills. You may decide to cover basic rudiments in your workshops or discuss drum notation.

Along the way, you may consider hosting a drum clinic in a music store. This will give you the chance to demonstrate your drumming technique and answer questions about drumming.

Another fun idea is to start a drum circle. If you have a djembe, a pair of bongos, a tambourine, castanets… any type of percussion instruments, you may invite people of all ages to play the drums!

However you get your name out there – don’t forget social media!, you must gain exposure as a drummer in order to find students for drum lessons.

You might form a drum circle to introduce people to drumming You may use percussion instruments of all types to form a drum circle! Source: Pixabay Credit: Contact857

How to Give Lessons Without Qualifications

Now that you have ways of promoting yourself as a drum instructor, you may consider other ways to teach the drums.

Have you thought of building a website?

These days, many artists, drummers included, find that maintaining a webpage complete with drum tutorials and a well-stocked video library gives them access to a slice of the population they might otherwise not connect with.

On your page, you might create a blog and host a forum where aspiring drummers can talk about aspects of drumming that don’t get talked about much.

By all means, invite feedback on your page content!

While it is true that a YouTube channel would serve the same general purpose of putting your instruction into cyberspace, you must know that that platform is replete with channels about drumming.

Yours might appear somewhere toward the bottom of the list: probably not the most desirable position for someone wishing to promote his/her particular brand of drumming!

On the other hand, compiling instructional videos on a site of your own will give your students convenient access to your teachings without having to sift through – or get distracted by videos from big names in drumming such as Jared Falk or Matt Gartska!

You may argue that your website could also get lost in the shuffle and you would be correct. That is why you must also promote your site.

Ask all of your social media contacts visit your page – which will increase its traffic rating, and let them tell all of their friends about you.

Surely you can see that word of mouth is still the very best form of advertising!

Once you have a following, you may offer drum lessons online.

Teaching the drums via webcam will permit you a much wider audience than you could have geographically.

You may teach an aspiring drummer in Leeds or Glasgow while remaining in the comfort of your own studio in London, or wherever you are based.

All you need to teach the drums online (besides a drum kit, that is!) is a quality camera – so that your students can see clearly what you’re showing them, and a good headset so that you can hear what they play.

What is the Cost of Drum Lessons

Many new teachers of drums wonder about online versus in-person teaching: will the quality of instruction be as good? How can one teach something as visceral as the drums through such an impersonal medium?

That is all up to you: how you conduct your classes, how you connect with your students and the bonds you forge with them, no matter how far they are.

Another question that crops up over and over again is: how much can an online teacher charge for drum lessons?

In part, the answer to that question lies in how much other drum teachers charge.

The going rate for drum lessons across the UK is £20 per hour of instruction, with prices shifting higher in larger cities.

The rate for online lessons is the same.

Naturally, if you’ve trained under Vic Firth or are best friends with Carmine Appice, you could charge a bit more, but not too much!

Equally important is to not undercharge.

People believe you get what you pay for, so if your lessons are incredibly inexpensive, prospective clients may believe that your worth as a drummer is questionable and your teaching skills amount to nothing.

Let us prove them all wrong!

You may find it easier to attract students if you don't go crazy during lessons! You can teach the drums to heavy metal lovers without necessarily being a headbanger yourself! Source: Pixabay Credit: Ryan McGuire

How to Teach Drums

You have so far determined, through various drum clinics and workshops, that there is a market for drum teachers, both in your area and online.

Further study revealed the going per-hour rate for drum teachers in your area and online; you’ve set your prices accordingly.

Now, before your first students trickle in, is the time to take stock of your teaching tools:

  • a drum set, either Standard or Fusion configuration

    • a junior drum set for your smaller-statured students

  • an assortment of drumsticks, brushes and mallets

  • a few practice pads

  • drum notation and sheet music

  • books about drumming

  • a metronome

You should have a draft curriculum set up: for beginners, intermediates and for advanced players – obviously, you won’t teach them all the same lessons!

You should have an appointment calendar, and it would be your choice to mount it prominently so that your clients can see what time slots you have available for lessons.

You should have a strict no-tardy rule: arriving late signals that perhaps your students don’t respect the craft or you as much as they should.

You should have in place a means of assessing your students and measuring their progress:

Does your student have a bit of experience handling sticks? Does s/he know what a rudiment is? Can s/he play quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes? Can s/he read music?

Does s/he hold the sticks wrong, even after being repeatedly told how to hold them correctly? What would you do in that case?

It is of course entirely up to you how you give drumming lessons: some teachers focus more on technique while others revel in the joy their students exhibit when beating the drums.

You should remember that it is a teacher’s foremost duty to ensure student success, even in drumming.

Fun it will be to witness your student’s first drum solo, and coach him/her from intermediate into advanced drumming… and perhaps into world fame!

That is way more than a teacher could hope for… 

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