Learning the drums

Learn to play the Drums? When it comes to choosing an instrument, drums have an almost rock star status for children, but drums have a sensible side as well.

What are Drums?

A drum is a musical instrument in the percussion family and includes everything from a simple childs drum, the snares seen in pipe bands, to full timpani; a vital part of orchestras.

In this article we will discuss the musical instrument that many budding young performers are considering…… the drum kit!

A drum kit (or drum set) is a collection of drums and cymbals. They usually include a bass drum, snare drum, percussion drums known as toms, and cymbals.

While individual drums have been used in the military for centuries, the drum kit as we know it today only began to develop in the first few years of the twentieth century.

Where do you learn the Drums?

There are several ways. The first way is self-taught. Give your child a basic set of drums, stereo, favourite CDs and then go to the other end of the house and put your ear muffs on! However, with this method, inevitably bad habits will occur, particularly with technique, which can be difficult to break.

Lessons are most helpful, and for the younger player essential, as they learn how to set up the kit and hold the sticks correctly, as well as techniques, patterns, and drumming styles. Most places around New Zealand have drum tutors available. Some are self-taught and have learnt through hundreds of hours of practice and playing. Others have had formal training and can teach your child how to read drum music.

Whichever path you choose for your child, some type of lessons for at least 6 – 12 months is strongly recommended.

What age can your child start learning the Drums?

There are a number of factors determining starting age, including finances and space (even a small beginner’s kit requires some room) and availability of a tutor. Drum teachers will consider a child aged from five to ten and a teenager is usually welcomed through the door. By this age they are physically mature enough to handle most types of drumming and they are full of enthusiasm.

However, don’t let age be a barrier. If your child is school aged, talk to a drum teacher and discuss your requirements. Some may suggest a short training period to gauge your child’s natural rhythm. They will discover quite quickly if your child has a natural aptitude for drumming or is more suited to another instrument.

Whatever your child’s age, rest assured that the drum tutor started the same way your child did and will be keen to encourage them.

Also, you’re never too old to learn drums. Many adults take up the instrument for the first time, fulfilling childhood ambitions or rekindle a musical passion from their younger years (just make sure you don’t hog your child’s drum kit!)

And remember – drums are just as easily learnt by females as males!

How do you progress over time?

Most instruments have formal methods of progression, including examinations and grades.

Within the context of your child learning to play a drum set, the general way to progress is practice. Good technique comes simply by playing the same beat or pattern over and over and over…..again!

Sometimes even getting their timing right requires your child to practice the basics constantly. Most will play along to a CD of their favourite music, bands or drummer (they will quickly choose a drumming mentor).

And that’s one of the keys to progressing. Practice is essential, but your child will also begin to be inspired by more experienced drummers, usually those they are listening to, which in turn generates enthusiasm and motivation. If this occurs, progression tends to take care of itself.

A word of warning: as most parents are well aware, drums……are loud! So no matter at what age your child ignites an interest, there’s going to be some volume somewhere in the house. Be prepared and encourage it. If they’re enthusiastic you’re going to hear that for a long time!

What equipment do you need to learn the Drums?

At a minimum your child will require a ‘four-piece’ kit, this includes:

  • a bass drum sitting on the floor and played with a pedal
  • a snare drum on a stand
  • one tom-tom mounted on top of the bass drum
  • a floor tom (on the floor!)
  • a hi-hat comprising two small cymbals played by means of a pedal

The set may also contain ‘ride’ and ‘crash’ cymbals.

Over time or as the student progresses, more equipment can be added, which would generally include additional bass-mounted and floor toms, and additional cymbals.

Your child will also need drum sticks; these vary in size (thickness) and weight. Your drum teacher or local music store will advise you on what’s best for your child, depending on age and ability.

How much does it cost to learn the Drums?

You can get your child set-up with a reasonable beginner’s set for around $600+. This includes drums, cymbals and stands, which is pretty good value. Mid range drum sets can vary from around $1200 to $2500+. From there the sky’s the limit, often around several thousand dollars.

If you’re buying your child’s first drum set, your local music store is your best bet for advice, accessories and to get ‘kitted up”.

How much time does it take to learn the Drums?

If a parent is asking “how long will it take to learn enough to play music well with a CD or in a band?”….it really depends upon their child’s age and ability. There’s no easy answer. However, with regular, daily practice, some basic rhythms should be clearly heard in a few weeks.

Naturally, the more you practice, the more you improve. It is not uncommon to see motivated student drummers “jamming” with guitar and keyboard players within six months to a year.

How long should your child practice each day? Well; that depends upon them – there’s no set duration on which is deemed the best. Their natural enthusiasm will drive their practice time and that will fluctuate depending upon energy levels.

Drumming is highly physical. The best suggestion is encourage your child to stick with it by practicing in short bursts. Sometimes, their practice session may include simply sitting and listening to various professional drummers and analysing their different styles or techniques. This is all part of developing their musical ear and should be encouraged as much as a physical practice.

Great Drum Websites

www.drumbum.com

This website has links to over 500 free online drum lessons. Great for learners and teachers alike.

 

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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