I have been a drum set and percussion player for over fifteen years. Looking back over the past decade and a half, the process of becoming a drummer, the instruction from drum teachers, watching many seasoned artists perform, the countless hours spent practicing, has been remarkably enriching.
I have grown to love the drums. In fact, being a drummer has defined who I am. Learning music, through learning the drums, has instilled in me a love of all of the arts that has ultimately enhanced the quality of my life. Playing the drums is a joy that I love passing on to my students. Here, I would like to expound upon what I believe to be the important benefits of learning to play the drums.
In my estimation one of the main benefits any music student would receive from learning to play the drums is a heightened understanding of rhythm. As a young boy of eleven, the age I began taking drum lessons, learning the percussion instruments gave me an awareness of the rhythmical aspect of music that has, in turn, allowed me to appreciate all styles of music more fully. Rhythm is fundamental to music. Learning to play the drums, an instrument that functions specifically in the realm of rhythms, provides students with a foundational understanding of music that gives them a greater capacity to appreciate all aspects of music. No matter what instrument one learns to play, whether it be piano, flute, guitar, or even voice, the rhythmic element of music is always present. All musicians must have a solid understanding of rhythm. Learning to play the drums can, more than any other instrument, afford a student this knowledge of rhythm that is required for understanding music in general.
Another benefit in learning the drums is that percussion instruments have been greatly represented throughout the history of music. For students who, like myself, are very much in love with modern forms of popular music like rock and jazz but also desire a traditional classical understanding of music, the percussion instruments can serve as a cross-over between the two worlds. No instrument is more represented in modern forms of rock and jazz than the drums. Yet also, instruments like the snare drum, bass drum, crash cymbals and kettledrums are staples of the classical music from our western tradition. Learning the drums simply gives a student more opportunities to learn and play many styles of music. Drums and percussion can give students the chance to play all styles of modern music that they love yet also gain enrichment from exposure to classical genres.
A percussive foundation is present in virtually all styles of world music as well. Virtually all cultures in all times and places have, in some way, incorporated percussion into their music. Learning to play the drums can not only give a student a proper appreciation of the music from his or her own culture but can also serve as a gateway to learning and valuing the music of cultures from around the globe. The drum is an instrument that all cultures have in common.
Finally, and most importantly, students who learn to play the drums are having a lot of fun! Guaranteed! As a past time and activity, nothing is more enjoyable than playing the drums. Let’s face it, we all love watching the drummer in the band, right? Indeed, it looks fun and, as a drummer myself I assure you, playing them is more fun that it looks. Sitting down behind a drum kit and playing a beat that is fun to listen to and great for your friends to jam along with is an exhilarating and rewarding experience. It is not easy though; the drums can be deceivingly difficult to play. Much time, dedication and commitment to practice is required to play them well. This only adds to the sense of reward and accomplishment in learning the instrument. In my opinion the drums, more than any other instrument, has just the right balance of being fun to play yet also requiring practice and hard work to play well. It gives enough instant gratification to be enjoyable for the beginner student, yet can be challenging and difficult enough to keep even the most seasoned player engaged and interested in learning more. Learning to play the drums can enrich the lives of young and old alike.
As I mentioned earlier and could probably not mention enough, I LOVE PLAYING THE DRUMS. Learning to play the drums can be an exiting adventure, and adventure that can take a lifetime. The drums can be challenging yet even more rewarding. Learning music and being exposed to all styles and genres of music through learning the drums has been a great joy in my life and can enrich the lives of all who try to learn, I am sure of it.
- Guest contributor, Brad Elliot