Learning to play the drums: DIY or get a teacher?

You’ve got your drum kit and you’ve just realised that playing the drums is not as easy as it looks; so what do you do?
You can either find a drum teacher or have a go at teaching yourself, so which option should you choose?

Why choose The DIY method?

If you search on the Internet you will find a wide choice of teach yourself books and DVDs as well as websites and YouTube videos that will show you how to play.

Books and DVDs can cost a lot less than a drum lesson and many online lessons are free, also you can work on them at your own pace, this is great for busy people who can’t always make a regular time for drum lessons.

This makes self teaching look like a very good way to go but in reality it can, in the long term, be a very costly decision, both financially and physically.

At this point some people may be wondering why I’ve stated that teaching yourself can be costly to both your finances and your physical well being and I will get on to answering that in due course.

The biggest problem with programmes that allow you to teach yourself is that in order for them to work you have to have some prior understanding of music and be able to understand from text and pictures the physical mechanics needed to play the drums correctly.

This is where having lessons with a good, experienced teacher is vitally important.

A book, DVD or Internet lesson can’t look at what you’re doing and correct any problems that you have with posture, technique or musical knowledge and understanding.

It is important that you get all three of these right from the beginning of your playing a they are the key to a players development and longevity.
Posture and technique go hand in hand in ensuring a drummer is able to remain problem free for the whole of his career.
A small problem in your posture or technique can lead to long term problems with your back, shoulders, hips and the muscles throughout your body. These are easily sorted out by a good teacher before they become the norm, however, once you get your posture and technique established it can be more difficult to correct because you have to change your bodies muscle memory map at the same time as retraining it to use a new system.

A good teacher will also show you how to read drum notation correctly so that you can follow any drum chart and play any pattern. It is at this point that the many different drum kit tuition books become a usable tool that any drummer can learn from.

I have a pupil who is learning to play the bongoes, he has a lesson every 6-8 weeks. In his first lessons we worked on getting his technique correct and now when he contacts me for a lesson it’s usually because he doesn’t understand what the notation he is looking at means. We go over the rhythm patterns and how they fit with rhythm he has learnt previously and he is then able to go away and continue to work from a teach yourself to play book.

This is how it should be when you learn the drums as well, if you choose the right teacher they will bring your technique, skills, knowledge and understanding of reading and playing drum notation to the point where you can go away from your lessons and make progress on your own leaving your teacher free to correct errors and teach you new skills.

Whether you choose to find a teacher or to learn from a book I hope you enjoy your time playing.

If you agree,or disagree, with anything said in this post please leave a comment.

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2 thoughts on “Learning to play the drums: DIY or get a teacher?

  1. Reblogged this on RhythmInside and commented:
    I think it’s important to add that many of the skills and techniques I use in my playing and teaching have been learnt from books and listening to / watching other drummers.
    However, it would not have been possible for me to do this if I hadn’t had lessons from some excellent percussion and drum kit teachers who have all contributed to my style and technique which I constantly evolving.

  2. I had this dilemma when I got my drum kit, as I saw heaps of stuff on the internet saying FREE drum lessons, I took a couple but it just wouldn’t feel right, and most had nothing about notation just how to do basic drum patterns, its then I thought, unless my name is Mike Portnoy or Neil Peart, then I need a tutor, also it reminds me of the film Karate Kid, when Mr Miyagi saw Daniel trying to learn Karate from a book, yeah you can punch and kick, but you don’t get that “feeling” from a book, only an instructor can say “Ok I see what your doing, you need to correct this”. So for me a drum instructor is a MUST, id have never developed my drumming to the level I am at without instruction, its money well spent.

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