I’ve posted here promoting my book, program and philosophy. I’ve taken that one step forward and developed course curriculum (see above) and training aids. I’ve presented samples of practical instruction and I’ve shared other teaching techniques from other educators. One controversial issue I hear is that drum lessons are a waste of time, especially with kids.
This response usually comes from drummers who have played for years with no formal training. Many drummers play cover tunes in bar bands and learn songs by listening. I respect that. I also understand that rudiments and reading music are not mandatory to being a good drummer. My comments here are directly in response to the criticism I received in an email challenging my opinion on drum lessons, specifically for kids.
I will start with my own experiences. I started taking drum lessons at the age of 12. It was mandatory if my parents were to purchase me a drum set. They wanted me to prove that I was serious about learning the instrument. I started out on the drum pad and a year later I got my first kit. My passion for learning resulted in me participating in a number of in-school and out-of-school bands. This included garage bands, marching band, symphonic band, stage band, choir band, jazz and percussion ensemble. All along I took lessons to improve my playing.
In garage bands I listened to cover songs in order to learn them but my education helped me do that in a more efficient way. When we wrote original music my contributions to the song were based upon my skill set. I didn’t just arbitrarily make things up. I put thought into it. The lessons I took as a kid blossomed and I became a well-rounded drummer. No matter what the situation, I was better prepared for the performance. I played better. I sounded better. I was better.
Why would anyone not want to be better at what they do? Mike Dawson, managing editor of Modern Drummer magazine, editor of FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids and a life-long student of the drums summed up my feelings. He said, “I find zero validity in any argument that states that striving to understand more about what you’re saying, doing, or creating is a waste of time. Especially with kids. The more you know, the more you know.”
So to the individual who emailed me I say thank you for taking the time to contact me. That showed an effort on your part. I receive thousands of hits but I don’t receive a lot of email here. My response is this. I believe that kids are far better students than adults. I believe that the earlier you start teaching a child something, anything, the sooner they will pick it up and enjoy the benefits of their knowledge.
UPDATE: Here are some great sources: