Knowledge is power, but only if you pass it on.
Is that a fact?
Established drummers, from the world-famous to the ones who gig locally, would contest that statement because it is their knowledge of drums and ability to play that permit them to do so.
You would be absolutely correct in saying that they are sharing their knowledge of drumming by making music for all to enjoy.
On the other hand, would any drummer would hoard technique and skill against an onslaught of drummer wannabes?
Quite the contrary!
The drumming community, and musicians in general, are quite happy to share their knowledge and experience: of playing, of technique; even of the frustration of trying to land a gig and the rigours of touring.
Are you such a one who would like to mentor the next generation of drummers? Can you see yourself imparting musical theory and practical knowledge?
Are you looking to become a drum teacher?
Let Superprof help you get started!
What Every Teacher Knows
Whether you teach the drums or any other instrument, and even if you teach academic subjects, there are a few qualities that every teacher must have:
the ability to plan (a lesson and an entire course)
a positive attitude
subject matter knowledge
That last is crucial when teaching people how to play the drums: imagine what you would learn from someone who has never so much as held a drumstick!
You must be patient because the very reason prospective students seek you out is for your ability to play the drums.
However, they might soon be on the lookout for another master should you not instruct them clearly and concisely, or if you are of the irascible sort.
You must remember that your students come to you for knowledge, not fantastic displays of ire!
You might wonder about that first bullet: the ability to plan.
Here, we would caution you against a common phenomenon of the expert or experienced teacher, called tunnel vision.
It refers to the propensity of some instructors to assume that pupils will grasp every intrinsic detail of a concept without being given any foundation or background knowledge of how the concept came to be.
As a drum teacher, you must plan your lessons in such a way that every student, from hyperactive child to golden ager finally fulfilling his/her drumming ambition, can absorb every aspect of drumming, never leaving your sessions without all of the whys being fully understood.
So much for the generic counsel on teaching; let us now talk specifically about teaching the drums!
Where You Might Teach
Do you have formal training as an orchestra percussionist? If so, you might want to teach at a conservatory or other music school.
To take a formal teaching position, you will most certainly need higher education; at least an undergraduate degree!
If you were to teach music in any type of school or any other concern, you probably wouldn’t have to worry too much about how to organise your knowledge of drumming into lessons because, most likely, you will have a curriculum to follow.
You will still have to plan each lesson, though!
Do you have years of experience on the road, either as a fill-in drummer or a member of a band? Are you a long-time studio musician?
You could take on students in your own home or teach them in theirs.
You might also set up workshops to share specific aspects of drumming or being a drummer, such as cleaning and maintaining a drum set or tuning drums.
Planning for such a seminar would be much easier than for ongoing lessons because you could safely assume that any attendees know a bit about the drums.
Unless you plan to teach Drumming 101, in which case you might cover only the ways of holding drumsticks and perhaps a few rudiments!
Planning such lessons would be easier also because such sessions focus on one topic exclusively, with all of the allotted time dedicated to its exploration.
Being a freelance teacher of drums will put heavy focus on your organisation skills.
Nobody will structure your curriculum for you and, because the lessons will (hopefully!) be ongoing, you will have to establish a progression of skills acquisition for each of your students.
That can only happen after laying a solid foundation in drumming technique for any beginners you may teach!
On the other hand, freelancing as a drum teacher will permit you to teach the drums as only you can, in the manner you always knew they should be taught.
What style of drums do you play: jazz? Rock? Orchestral or symphonic percussion? Hip-hop?
Whereas you may have to tone down your preferences and natural inclinations when teaching in a school or institution of higher learning, giving drum lessons on your own permits you to impart your own style of music in the manner which you see fit.
With freedom comes responsibility – Eleanor Roosevelt
Being free to teach the drums as you choose gives you the responsibility to do it well.
You are invested in your livelihood and your students’ success: there is no doubt you will meet and exceed that responsibility!
What You Need to Teach the Drums
Besides the qualities every teacher must embody, you will need some equipment to teach drumming on.
If you tutor pupils at their homes, you will have to rely on their having an at least adequate drum kit.
Still, you can bring a few drumming accessories with you, such as a full stick bag, drum notation, and, most indispensable, a metronome.
You may also want to bring a practice pad and a drum key.
One quality of a good teacher not previously mentioned is flexibility.
Imagine arriving at a new student’s home only to discover his kit so out of tune you don’t even want to use it to practise rudiments, let alone demonstrate a drum solo!
You were hoping to get an idea of where s/he is at as far as drum skills... but not on that drum set!
And that’s how a drum lesson becomes a lesson in tuning drums.
Envisioning that scenario proposes that it would be best if your pupils came to you.
It might be far more practical for you to teach students to play drums on a kit you know is tuned and properly maintained.
That being the case, you may have to have more than one drum set!
In fact, to accommodate the widest possible range of students, you should invest in a junior drum kit, lest you risk having to turn smaller-statured students away.
You should have a few pairs of headphones around, in child and adult sizes, so that neither your nor your students’ hearing should suffer during extended practice.
You may also want a few exercise balls and perhaps a grip strengthener or two, if only to promote the good habit of warming hands and arms up before beating out any paradiddle!
Teaching Drums Online
In the interest of full disclosure: your Superprof viewed countless drum instruction videos online.
Some were quite informative, such as the one that talked about the different ways to hold the sticks or the one that described how to master playing 16th note fills.
On the other end of the spectrum we found poorly-lit videos, some with the camera focused on the drummer rather than on the drums, and one unfortunate one that simply said: this is how you play a flam (plays a few strokes)... get it?
No, we didn’t get it!
If you wanted to make a series of drum instruction videos, you would need extra microphones to amplify your bass drum, and a couple more hanging over your kit so that your instruction, as well as your snare drum, can be heard.
You would probably also need someone to operate the camera while you deliver instruction.
In pursuing your dream of teaching beginner drum lessons, you may have already canvassed YouTube and, like we did, found untold numbers of channels full of drum videos.
By no means are we saying there is no room for your channel, but you might consider one to one teaching: coaching students from afar as they learn to play the drums.
Teaching anything via webcam demands a bit more finesse and skill than being in the same space as your pupil.
And, if you’re going to teach drum rudiments online, you will have to have a bit of specialised equipment!
A good webcam, for one, so that your pupil can see everything you demonstrate on your drum set in exquisite detail.
You will also need a good headset so that you can hear the tones your student taps out.
Perhaps the best part about teaching drums online is that your students can record their sessions: that way, they can play your instructions back whenever they need to refresh their memory on what you said.
One final suggestion: set up your own webpage.
Competing with the already-established (and quite popular) channels on YouTube risks your collection of videos being overlooked.
However, amassing your collection of instructional videos on a website of your own will give you an exclusive platform in which to display your talent and experience behind the drums.
You may include a blog and start a forum where your students can discuss aspects of drumming that are not covered in your class.
And having a site of your own will make it so much easier to schedule drum workshops and publish student testimonials!
Or, you could establish a profile with Superprof...
How much should you charge for drum lessons?