Much as people would like to believe that everyone is purely altruistic, the reality of life is that we need money to eat, clothe ourselves... to live.
That being said, you might have considered melding your passion for playing the drums with your need to earn your living, but wonder about the finer details of establishing yourself as a drum teacher.
Specifically, how much you should charge and how much you stand to earn: teaching in a school, going independent; maybe even setting yourself up as an online drum tutor.
And how much is it going to cost you to become a drum teacher of any stripe?
Together let’s look at the logistics of establishing yourself as a percussion instructor of merit, all while avoiding the starving artist aspect of paying your dues as a teacher!
Teaching Drums in a School
Did you perhaps graduate from the Birmingham Conservatoire or the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester? Or maybe some other illustrious music school?
If so, you are one step ahead of any drummer who is self-taught – good as s/he may be!
To teach in any public school, university or music concern, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree – a criterion that costs thousands of pounds to earn.
Although that money should be considered an investment into your future earning potential, in speculating on said earnings, you must calculate them, at least in part, as a return on that investment.
Does the money you would earn as a school drum teacher balance against the money you spent earning your degree?
More to the point: will your earnings from teaching in a school be enough to provide you with a decent living?
A music teacher’s salary averages just over £28,000 per year; with slightly higher rates in larger cities.
Would you call that a living wage?
On the plus side, teaching percussion in a school of any type means you will most likely have your equipment provided to you, and your curriculum will already be outlined.
Also, you will earn a steady paycheck, which you may be able to negotiate up if you are particularly experienced!
One of the drawbacks to such formal teaching is that it effectively limits your and your students’ creative drive.
Come what may, you must follow the curriculum, and most likely will be held to a certain standard of teaching, proven through exams.
And, no matter what, once the bell rings, class is over and any joy of discovery or pleasure at playing is done for the day.
Even if you discover a particularly apt pupil or two, you mustn’t focus on his/her development exclusively; the entire class has the right to your attention – whether they are enthused by you and your teaching or not.
Which brings up another potential downside to classroom teaching of drums: do those kids all want to learn to play the drums or did they select your course thinking to have a laugh; an easy hour where not much gets done?
And, after all that, will you have to supplement your income by teaching at night and on weekends, too?
These are all aspects of teaching that Mr Holland had to contend with!
|Type of Facility||Pros||Cons||Potential Cost|
|Secondary School||Equipment available|
|Limitations on creativity|
Students perhaps not interested
|Minimum of a Bachelor's|
|Higher Education facility||Equipment available|
|Possible extra hours required|
|Minimum of a Master's, possibly a Doctorate|
|Music school||Equipment available|
Possibly established curriculum
Possible less creativity (more theory and technique)
|Minimum of a Bachelor's|
Teach Drumming Independently
Musicians are a breed apart. Not exactly non-conformists, nevertheless they do tend to operate outside of society’s structured norms.
To illustrate that point let’s think about concerts: they generally start at 8 PM or later – hardly a typical workday when compared to your average teacher or office worker!
In that light, it makes perfect sense for drummers who aspire to teach to pursue non-traditional means of earning their living through instruction, such as setting up classes and workshops on their own.
The benefits of this method of instruction are many!
For one, you get to set up your curriculum and accept students as you see fit. For example:
you may take on students as young as three, provided that they have the strength and coordination to play
you may use a variety of tools to teach, not just a drumset
a practice pad and electronic drum set come to mind!
You may teach at your home or studio, at clients’ homes; in a music store or in a rented space
You may host seminars, workshops and clinics on specific aspects of drumming
You may teach drum rudiments to beginners as well as any style of music to intermediate drummers
You may communicate features of drumming that are generally not taught in formal classes, such as warmup exercises and drum tuning.
Are you a jazz drummer, or more of a rock band type? Whatever your particular groove, you may communicate your own signature sound or brand of funk to your students.
What You Need to Become an Independent Drum Teacher
Naturally, establishing yourself as a drum teacher takes time, effort and a bit of money.
First, you would have to have a kit that you don’t mind subjecting to a bit of abuse. You may also want to invest in a junior drum set so that you can invite smaller-statured drummers to partake of your lessons.
And drumming accessories: extra sticks and brushes, extra practice pads, drum notation... a metronome: most definitely that last!
You may think about outfitting your studio with squeeze balls and grip exercisers so that you can indoctrinate your student early in the necessary practice of warming up before playing.
And you may want to decorate your teaching space, but that is not strictly necessary.
How much of this do you have? How much is it worth to prospective clients?
To set your schedule of fees, you may want to shop around: how much are other drum teachers in your area charging? What do they offer for the money?
How do your services stack up compared to theirs?
Across the country, the average price for one hour of drum lessons is £20, with some more experienced teachers in bigger cities charging up to £50.
How many students would you have to tutor to earn a living wage at that rate?
Another potential for earning is for you to go to your students’ homes, in which case you might add a few pounds to your fee for your travel expenses, depending on how far you have to go.
Teaching Drums Online
Quite a few drum teachers have made the leap into the digital realm by uploading instructional videos and hosting classes online.
Could you see yourself joining them?
Doing so offers several benefits, perhaps the main one being that no one but you will be beating on your beloved kit!
Besides that, your cost outlay for this venture would be fairly low: you would need a decent webcam – so that your students can see everything you’re doing, and a headset so that you can hear them play.
If your headgear comes with telescoping mike, all the better to deliver concise instruction!
The cost of an hour of drum instruction online is about the same as in person, averaging £20 per hour.
Naturally, you could charge more, depending on your level of education and experience – including any teaching experience you may have!
As long as you are considering taking the plunge into cyberspace, why not build and maintain a webpage?
You would have to consider the cost of your domain name, but that bit of cash outlay will pay for itself in no time!
Between student testimonials and general traffic – people who click on your site looking for a drum teacher, you may find your page to be your best lead generator in your student search!
You could also maintain a blog on your site: don’t you think your future students would like to read about your passion for drumming and any bands you jammed with?
Teach How to Play the Drums with Superprof
As a site dedicated to connecting students with teachers, a Superprof profile will afford you just about the same benefits as setting up a website, but without the cost.
You may be as prolific as you like: list your educational credentials and experience as a drummer, describe the elation you feel when you play drums and emphasise that you will transmit that passion to anyone who wants to learn to play drums.
You may choose to offer only beginner drum lessons, or offer drumming lessons to intermediate or even advanced jazz drumming if that is your thing!
Superprof gives you the option of giving online lessons or meeting with your students in person to paradiddle and play drum fills - or both!
Teaching drums online gives you the independence you would not have as a classroom teacher.
So does giving a drum lesson face to face, at yours or your students’.
As long as you provide them with a memorable learning experience and keep your students motivated, as long as you teach drum fundamentals and beyond, your remuneration could be what others call a decent living!
Can I still teach drums without qualifications?
Here is where to find your first online tutoring jobs.