One has to wonder: how many people learn to play the drums strictly for the purpose of becoming a teacher of drumming?
Did you pick up your first pair of drumsticks with the intent of developing a pedagogy that will make you the Mr. Holland of percussion?
Of all the reasons to play the drums – and there are many good ones!, the most likely reasons people learn how to beat a drum is to express themselves creatively and/or because someone they admire also plays.
There are plenty of admirable drummers out there to emulate, and that is a part of the problem.
The phrase It’s lonely at the top is apt: only so many drummers form the backbeat to big-name acts, and the percentage of drummers who land regular gigs is actually relatively small.
What happens to the rest of the drummers out there?
Common sense dictates that, rather than hold out of that big break that may or may not ever come no matter how good you are; rather than starve, one must find a way to earn a living.
Teaching is a time-honoured way to do so.
If you’re between gigs just now, why not ply your skill at drumming in a classroom, or by teaching the drums one to one?
Consider this your roadmap of sorts, one that will help you find a satisfying gig: awakening the passion you feel for drums in young (or not so young) learners.
Being a Drum Teacher in a School
If you are attending one of the 11 conservatoires or music schools of renown in the UK, or if you have graduated from one of said schools, then congratulations: you are already on your way to becoming a music teacher.
To teach in a public or private school in our country, at primary or secondary level, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in your chosen field.
To teach at university, you would need a Master’s degree or higher.
So, if you are still at the garage band stage, or even if you’ve played at local venues such as summer festivals, but have not yet formalised your knowledge of drums by earning a degree...
You are well ahead of the crowds: your audition will be stellar!
Yes, you must audition in order to gain entry to some of those schools.
You will also need A-levels but, as far as we know, there is no such exam for drumming.
Therefore, you may need to select music theory for one of your A-level topics.
And you should know more about percussion instruments: timpani for example, and xylophones, cowbells, a cajon, congas and bongos; gongs, and more about cymbals that don’t figure on a standard drum kit.
Depending on which school you select, you will spend three to four years in class, but you will also participate in concerts, ensembles... and may even be invited to perform around the community!
Perhaps the best part about formalising your music education is the networking and connections you’ll make.
As you launch yourself into the world of teaching the drums, your university classmates and instructors will be indispensable: to guide and advise you, to vent your frustrations to and to share your successes with.
After all is said and done, what type of drumming would you teach in secondary schools?
Marching band – if your prospective school doesn’t yet have one, you may start it!
orchestra and symphony
The choices are endless!
For the Drummer Who Has Not Attended Uni
Granted, not everyone anticipates treading the hallowed halls of academia, as engaging as those music courses sound.
If that is you, you may be pondering your prospects as a drummer who wants to teach others how great it is to play the drums.
They’re not as bad as you think!
You have several avenues to pursue that may provide you with a satisfying income as a teacher all while continuing to play drums yourself.
In fact, the more experience you gain as a drummer, the more credible you will be as a teacher!
Gaining exposure as a drummer is vital to your growing your business as a drum instructor.
It’s not enough to talk yourself up on drum forums and play the occasional club, you have to really get your name out there!
Hosting Drum Clinics
A drum clinic is a demonstration of drumming technique followed by a question and answer type discussion on select aspects of drumming.
They are usually hosted in music stores – both those that sell recorded music and those that sell instruments.
Ideally, you should host your clinic in a store that sells drums!
Setting up a drum clinic is not difficult: simply talk with such store managers about your desire to host a clinic. Agree on the date and the length of the class, post a flier in the window and get ready to teach!
Don’t forget to make use of your social media to promote your clinic: contact everyone on your list and ask them to pass word of your clinic on.
You never know who knows a fledgeling drummer; besides, word of mouth is the best form of advertising!
Similar to a clinic, a drum workshop places you in front of a group of students mad for drumming.
Unlike a clinic, a workshop addresses a specific aspect of drumming: how to change a drum head or tuning drums, how to play quarter-note, eighth-note and 16th note fills, or learning the first 10 drum rudiments.
Clinics tend to be standalone events but workshops can be ongoing.
The benefit to you, as a drum teacher, would be that you could establish an entire curriculum on teaching the drums and deliver it through a series of workshops!
For both clinics and workshops, you should consider several factors:
the age/size of the participants you hope to teach
whether you would teach beginners, intermediate or more advanced drummers
what style of music/type of drumming you may teach – African drumming, jazz drumming, rock drumming and so on.
if you teach African drumming, you should have a few djembe on hand, for example
As a rule, music store owners are a very generous lot, but they certainly wouldn’t want their kick drums being kicked by overly enthusiastic feet!
So, should you again call upon your local music store manager to permit a workshop, make sure to define what drums s/he will make available to your students.
Let us say you want to teach how to paradiddle: you might appeal for the use of a few snare drums and drumsticks for your students.
Or you might use practice pads!
The benefit of hosting such events in a music store is that you are building a symbiotic relationship with the store owner.
You may pay a small fee for renting the space; in return, the store gets a lot of traffic and publicity and, depending on how well you teach, possibly a few sales!
Gaining exposure in such a manner will open the door to establishing yourself as a private drum teacher.
You may also consider partnering with local music teachers and music stores to host a band camp.
Becoming a Private Drum Teacher
If you have a drum set at home just lying around, gathering dust because you’ve got a new kit that you gig with, you might put it to use by giving drum lessons in your home.
Contrary to teaching in a public school, you do not need any formal credentials to teach the drums as an independent teacher.
But you do need an idea of how to teach the drums, and some equipment to teach with!
Again, depending on the size and age of the students you anticipate teaching, you may need a junior drumset, but at the very least, you should have an assortment of sticks, brushes and mallets, drum notation and safety gear, such as headphones and grip exercisers.
And, obviously, a metronome!
The contacts you made hosting clinics and workshops may be your first students. To widen that net, you may hit social media to advertise your classes, and you may even establish a profile as a drum teacher on Superprof!
How would you feel about giving free drum lessons?
You might be surprised at the lure giving your first drum lesson for free is for prospective clients!
Many Superprof drum teachers offer their first hour of lessons at no charge so that they can assess their students’ potential and discuss teaching methodology.
Have you been thinking how convenient online tutoring jobs would be?
If you want to teach people how to play the drums, you need only 3 things: a passion for drumming and for teaching, a drumkit to teach on, and students.
Your talent at playing drums could easily parlay itself into a satisfying career teaching drums, provided you have solid teaching abilities, a well-rounded curriculum and a lot of patience.
Not every good drummer makes a good teacher, but if you’ve been longing to teach the drums, no doubt that is no concern for you.
More likely, once you open your door to that first student, the rest will come flooding in!
Talk about finding one’s groove...
Check out a guide to rates for drum classes.