tuning a drum set

How Often Should You Tune Your Drums?

tuning a drum setKeeping your drums in tune is essential for your sound. Here, Seattle, WA drum teacher Mason L. shares his advice for how often you should be tuning a drum set…


One of the most defining characteristics of your sound as a drummer is the way your drums sound, so it’s important to keep your drums in tune. Tuning a drum set takes some practice to master, but it is a great skill to have whether you’re just starting to drum or you’re touring and performing professionally. Depending on what kind of music you play, how often you play, and how much your drums move, you may need to tune your drums more often or less often than you think.

What kind of music will you be playing?

All drummers know that a drum set sounds different in a punk band than it does in a jazz band or an indie rock band. Whatever genre you’re playing, listen to some similar music and listen to how the drums sound, if you’re not familiar. Drums sound unique in every style, and they should be tuned according to whatever style you’re playing.

Once you’ve listened to some music from the style you’ll be playing, or if you’re already familiar, analyze what you hear. Does the snare sound high or low, resonant or muted? Are the toms low and thumpy or higher and resonant? Does the bass drum have a pitch or not? Knowing the characteristics of the drum sound in the genre you’re playing and tuning your drums accordingly will help you fit in with new bands and will make you look knowledgeable and experienced.

If you’re thinking about tuning your drum set for the first time, do so as soon as possible. If your drums aren’t already in tune, tuning them will make your drums sound the best they possibly can. When the drums sound the way you want them to, you can remember how they should sound when you tune them again in the future.

How often do you play your drums?

The most likely reason drums go out of tune is because they’re played for a long amount of time. Drums don’t usually go out of tune if they’re not used, unless they sit abandoned somewhere for months. If you practice three times a week, it might be smart to pick a day every week or every other week to tune your drums. Professional touring musicians tune their drums often, at least twice a week, so the drums they play can sound their best for every performance. In the drum corps world, drummers sometimes play for 10 or more hours a day, and it’s not uncommon to tune a drum twice in the same day.

The frequency with which you tune your drums also depends on the style you’re playing and the way you want your drums to sound. It’s easier to maintain a lower, less resonant sound than a higher, resonant one. Some jazz drummers, who usually have higher, more resonant drums, obsess over the way their drums sound, tuning them with the same frequency that guitar players or other string players would. But a punk drummer may not ever tune his kit after he acquires it, because the thumpiness and lower pitches stay in tune easier.

Don’t forget to replace your drum heads every so often

You probably need to change a head when you can’t get the tone you want from the drum, when the head is broken, or when it’s riddled with stick indentations. Drum heads, especially bass drum heads, can be a little expensive, but a head change can make your drums sound their best and feel much better than an older head.

The tone and pitch of your drums define your sound as a drummer, so it is important to keep them in tune. To sound your best, analyze how often you play your drums, how often you move them, and what style you’ll be playing to figure out how often you should tune them. Sometimes drummers take tuning for granted, but tuning a drum set can be refreshing for your ears and rewarding as an amateur or professional drummer.


Mason L. teaches drums in Seattle, WA. He received his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from University of North Texas and has been teaching students since 2011. Learn more about Mason here!



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learning to drum

6 Surprising Benefits of Learning to Drum as an Adult

learning to drumCurious about drum lessons, but worried you’re too old to get started? As it turns out, there are several benefits that even older adults can glean from learning how to play. Learn more in this guest post by Edmond, OK drum teacher Tracy D...


If you are considering learning to drum as an adult, you may have a few questions, among which might be, “Will I be any good?”, “Am I too old?”, or “Is it too late?” Perhaps you’ve heard that one can only attain proficiency at an instrument if he or she learns as a child. If that’s the case, I have some good news! In fact, there are many benefits to be had in learning to drum — no matter what your age. Let’s take a closer look:

The physical aspect

The drum set is a very kinetic instrument, as it requires the use of your whole body. Regular, dedicated play helps improve your coordination, because you use your limbs in differing combinations to make music. It is also beneficial to your sense of balance, because you must be well-anchored to play with power and ease (which is especially true if you make vigorous use of both feet; I cannot recommend that highly enough). The integration of these factors creates a pretty good core workout, and you are building a skill as well. How cool is that?

The intellectual aspect

Did you know that your brain’s neuroplasticity stays intact throughout your whole life? This means that your mind, with active engagement, will continue to grow, learn, and retain new information. Numerous studies have shown that learning new skills helps keep your mind sharp as you age. Other studies have shown that musicians have increased volume in several areas of the brain. If you learn to read music, you also interpret and reproduce the notes that you see, which is a great integrative exercise for the mind and body. The potential for exploration is virtually infinite. As you work out and assimilate progressively advanced concepts, you will find that it becomes even easier to learn new material, which is gratifying indeed!

The spiritual and emotional aspects

One of the most important aspects of playing music is the sheer enjoyment! Playing is such an effective stress reliever, and the higher the level of facility you achieve, the more expression you can pour into your playing. It truly incorporates spirit, soul, and body, and there is nothing quite like it.

In addition, if you already play an instrument, learning to drum will solidify and strengthen your rhythmic sense — and you can bring your melodic knowledge to bear on the kit, as it lends itself quite beautifully. You will also gain a more informed enjoyment of your favorite music through the sharpening of your listening skills. There is also income potential, if you wish to gig or teach.

In sum, if you truly fall in love with this instrument, you will discover numerous treasures along this most rewarding journey, and you will reap tangible benefits all the while. It’s never too late to unearth your passion. I should know. I didn’t pick up a pair of sticks until I was almost 30, and I went on to get a music degree. Enjoy!


Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lesson in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums various bands for more than 13 years, and has also played intermittently with the OKC Community Orchestra for the past five years. Learn more about Tracy here! 



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How Much Are Drum Lessons for Kids?

3499296495_e6583904f0_b (1)Think you’ve got a burgeoning Tony Williams jamming over there in his bedroom? Playing the drums offers a lot more than the obvious fun factor. Learning how to play an instrument like the drums has many benefits, including increasing your child’s creativity, ability to focus, and coordination. If you’re thinking of booking lessons for your son or daughter but are concerned about costs, don’t let it get you down. Continue reading to learn the average cost of drum lessons for kids, and what factors can affect the price.

Average cost of drum lessons across the U.S.

Private lessons typically run in the $10-30 range for a half hour of instruction. However, experienced or uniquely qualified instructors may charge up to $50 or more.

What factors affect the cost of drum lessons?

  • Training: Instructors with advanced degrees or specialties may raise the cost of drum lessons. This added expertise, however, may help get children started out on the right foot.
  • Experience instructing children: Children learn differently than adults, sometimes requiring specialized teaching methods. Patience is a necessary requirement, particularly for young kids, since it’s much more difficult to keep their attention. Finding a teacher who is both experienced and successful at catering to kids is essential to helping your child achieve his or her musical goals.
  • Where the lesson is held: Lesson location affects the cost of drum lessons, whether they are held at your teacher’s home or studio, your home, or via an online video chat service. Lessons at home may be more convenient, but often cost more as instructors may charge for travel time and mileage. Traveling to the teacher is typically more affordable.
  • Lesson length: This is typically not an issue right off the bat, as beginning lessons are usually short – around 30 minutes – to better accommodate the shorter attention span of children. As lesson duration increases with your child’s skills, however, so will the price.
  • Location: Areas with a higher cost of living will have higher lesson prices than those in smaller, rural locations. If you live in a high-dollar area, consider live online lessons via video chat to save some dough – and take a mini-break from chauffeuring duties.
  • Your child’s proficiency: Beginner instruction often costs less than lessons catered to more experienced drummers. However, don’t neglect to find a teacher with additional experience once your child has achieved essential drumming skills.

Now that you know what to expect, get started by finding a great drumming instructor near you!

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How Much Are Drum Lessons? 4 Factors That Affect the Cost

How Much Do Drum Lessons Cost?When you want to start beginning drum lessons, you’ll find a variety of prices depending on a few factors. While the average price for a half hour lesson can range from $15 to $40, you might not be able to find a private drum lesson instructor at either end of the range. Some of the things that can contribute to how much you’ll end up paying for beginning drum lessons are where you’re receiving the lessons, what city you’re in, and the experience level of your teacher.

First Step: Where are the lessons?

You have a few choices for this one. The least expensive option is to travel to wherever your  drum teacher is. If he or she has a studio or rehearsal space, that might mean a bit of a commute for you every week. The flip side is that the space is already rented out, so your lessons are not going toward an unanticipated cost on the part of your instructor.

Another option is to book lessons with a teacher who can travel to you. While this can be a quite attractive idea if you are having trouble squeezing your beginning drum lessons into your schedule, it can add to the cost. Many teachers will charge for transportation time, or per the mile if they need to commute to a new location. Some instructors don’t give the option to travel away from their studio. Weighing the costs between the two is a great idea before pulling the trigger.

A third option is a decent compromise between the first two. You can take lessons via Skype or other video chat service. While this option can help you manage your time efficiently, the drawback is that you are not in the same room as your instructor during the lessons. If there is a particular technique or pattern that you need to learn, it can be much easier to pick up in person. For that reason, if you need to schedule video lessons, it’s best to still include one to two in-person lessons each month.

Second Step: Where are you located?

If you live in a bigger city or suburban area, chances are that the price for beginning drum lessons will be a little higher than the price for drum lessons in the rural countryside. The upside to the higher price is that you can find a lot more variety in your selection of drum teachers. If you want to focus on concert performance, rock drumming, or even a specialty percussion instrument, you have a better chance of finding what you need in a higher population area.

This isn’t to say that you cannot find a highly qualified instructor outside of a big city. But you have a better chance of finding multiple instructors that suit your needs, and one that can work with your schedule, if you are in a large city (or willing to travel to that city).

Last Step: How experienced is your teacher?

Beginning drum lessons teachers can vary in expertise, from ones still in music school to a professional percussionist with decades of experience. The more experienced the instructor, the higher the lessons price will likely be. As a beginning drummer, you won’t need to find a highly experienced teacher, but you will need an instructor who can teach you the basics of music at a pace that you can absorb.

If you are looking for beginning drum lessons, be sure to visit TakeLessons to search for qualified instructors in your area. Good luck with your studies!

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Should Drummers Focus On Just One Style or Genre?

What Style Should I Have As A Drummer?If you’re new to the drums, should you focus on drum music from one particular genre — or explore several different styles? Here, Decatur, GA teacher Paul S. shares his advice…


It’s a thrilling time to be a musician, let alone a drummer. 2015 will continue to reveal the trend of a brave new world, a world where one person can record a fantastic album alone in their bedroom and a viral musical sensation can blow up overnight. While capitalizing on Internet success may occasionally prove difficult (the music business is a BUSINESS, after all), the limitless creative possibility of our current musical atmosphere is something everyone can appreciate and be a part of.

Now, to answer the question, “Should drummers focus on one style or genre?” As with many things in music, the answer isn’t black and white. On one hand, knowing your stylistic strengths and weaknesses is extremely important. Agreeing to play congas in a smoking salsa band would not be wise if your only experience as a conguero was in your college jam band days: “Uh, dude? I think you turned your rumba clave into a son clave at some point when we were playing that E major chord for 20 minutes.” However, in fitting with today’s current musical trends, it seems foolish to limit oneself to playing only one genre. Let’s put this in a global context.

Percussion is one of the world’s oldest instruments, so logically, there is a lot of material to learn. In fact, there is so much history that one drummer could never scratch the surface of understanding every style of drumming that humans have produced. When I write “drumming” here, I mean much more than the drum kit. Here are a few examples of mind-boggling drum styles from around the world:

  • Zakir Hussain’s masterful control of the Indian tabla
  • Doudou N’Diaye Rose directs his Senegalese drum orchestra with his energetic sabar playing
  • Mestre Ombrinho plays berimbau, sings, and leads a group of musicians accompanying the Brazilian martial art capoeira

Are you getting the picture? If you or someone you know is a drummer with a big head, these videos are sure to put that ego in check. Being humble to the breadth of percussion is important. As musicians, we must realize that there is an infinite amount of knowledge for us to possess. It’s up to us as individuals to understand as many styles as we can perform respectfully and successfully.

With all of that being said, it’s wise to specialize! Know the styles of drum music that you love to play and that you play well. What moves you, and why does it move you? Travel deeply inside each groove you practice and perform, and don’t ever stop listening to a wide variety of music. Do you love jazz? Listen to every Max Roach, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa recording that you can find. If you play along with these masters every day, metaphorical wheels will start turning and you’ll find yourself with control you didn’t think you had. You’ll make mental and physical connections every time you pick up a pair or sticks, whether you’re playing by yourself or with others.

To summarize, let us return to the question, “Should drummers focus on one style or genre?” In my 20 years as a percussionist, I say yes AND no. That’s music for ya, folks!

Marietta music lessons with Paul S.Paul S. teaches drum, piano, music theory, in Decatur, GA. Paul’s specialties include classical, jazz, and popular music styles. Find out more about Paul here!



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How Long Does it Take to Learn Drums?

3425668810_e1331e1d4d_bHow long does it take to learn drums? Find out the reality in this guest post by Seattle, WA drum teacher Mason L...


Many of my new drum students ask me this question a few weeks into their lessons: “How long does it take to learn the drums?” The answer to that question depends on what you’re trying to get out of drumming. If you want to master a few songs and beats, it might take a couple months; if you want to be reliable and confident enough to be in a band, it might take a year or two. But the great drummers we all look up to, the ones who have great careers as drummers, see drumming as a lifelong journey of constant learning. There are so many drumming techniques and styles that even if you master rock drumming, or swing harder than Tony Williams, there is still so much to learn.

My students usually ask me this question with a concerned tone, as they’re struggling with a concept we’ve been working on. Just like anything else you learn to do, sometimes you can feel uninspired, or maybe you feel stuck. Everyone has this feeling at some point, whether you’re just beginning to learn drums, or you’ve been drumming for a long time. Over the years, I’ve noticed some things about the way I learn to drum, the way I practice, and the way I handle adversity.

Set Reasonable Goals

One big mistake that students make is that they bite off more than they can chew in the practice room. For example, my current long-term goal is to become a better jazz drummer, but my goal isn’t simply “learn how to jazz drum.” My current goal is to develop my right hand to play a swing ride cymbal pattern consistently and quickly; more precisely, I’m working on playing a swing ride cymbal pattern at half note = 140. Setting goals is one of the keys to being successful, but if you set your goals too broadly, you might frustrate yourself by trying to handle too much at once. If you set smaller goals, you’ll make progress faster than if you set larger goals, and you’ll notice yourself improving when you see that you’ve completed your goal.

Be Strategic About Your Practice

The strategy of your drum practice is just as important as the amount of time you practice. Before you sit down in the practice room, you should decide what you are going to work on, and how long you’re going to work on it. Maybe you have three different things to accomplish; plan out exactly what you’re going to do and how long you’ll be doing each of the three things. It’s possible to waste a lot of time finding materials, thinking of what to do, and just jamming. If you’re drumming without a recording, always practice with a metronome. And make sure to learn about the way you practice and find the amount of time you can focus and work. I work best in small amounts of time with short breaks in between; I can cram and practice for large chunks of time, but only rarely. Figure out what works best for you.

Give Yourself Time to Improve

Remember that it takes time to learn drums well. When you feel like you haven’t made a lot of progress recently, check your list of goals to see what you’ve accomplished. If you have the gear, you can record yourself with an audio recorder or a video camera. It’s a little strange to watch or listen to yourself at first, but reviewing recordings is one of the least forgiving, quickest ways to find your weak areas and improve them. When you need a break from working, go back to lessons you’ve already worked through or songs you can play and remember what it feels like to be comfortable behind your instrument. If you’re spending a good amount of time drumming, and you have good practice habits, you’re probably making progress.

Music takes a lifetime to master, but you don’t have to be a master to enjoy music. Beginners can enjoy playing music and listening to music just as much as the experts. With time and good practice habits, you can make progress quickly and efficiently. And, in the grand scheme of things, making progress feels just as good as playing drums.


Mason L. teaches drums in Seattle, WA. He received his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from University of North Texas and has been teaching students since 2011. Learn more about Mason here!



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4 Steps to Prepare for Drum Lessons in Your Home

2435809775_05a4461713_bExcited to learn the drums? If you’ve opted for in-home lessons, check out these pointers from teacher Lauren P. to make the most of your time…


If you are nervous about how to prepare for your first drum lesson, relax — your lack of experience makes you the perfect student. Remember that teachers get nervous as well. They don’t want you to be an expert who doesn’t need their help. They want you to be friendly, interested, and willing to listen to their advice.

When you sign up for lessons, you may notice that some teachers offer the option of in-home lessons. Follow these simple steps to prepare for your first drum lesson in your home.

1. Come prepared with questions and new material

Use your lack of experience and knowledge to your advantage. No teacher wants a student who knows everything already. Be upfront about your shortcomings and goals, and your teacher will be relieved to have such a great student. If you have an “assignment” you want to learn, show your teacher a song link or piece of sheet music you want to learn. If possible, email or text him or her ahead of time with your ideas. This may allow him or her to come prepared with some engaging and helpful materials. During your school, band, or independent practice, take note of any questions or challenges you face. Write them down so you remember to ask for tips during your lesson.

2. Ask for a homework assignment

The best preparation is proactive preparation. If you speak with your teacher before your first lesson, consider asking the following questions:

  • “Should I buy any specific book(s)?”
  • “Should I practice specific pages or techniques ahead of time?”
  • “Do I need a drum pad, snare drum, or drum set?”
  • “Do I need any specific accessories like a metronome or drum brush?”
  • “Are there websites or YouTube links I should use to preview any skills or techniques ahead of time?”

Write down any instructions, materials, tips, tricks, song links, and page numbers you will need for practicing purposes. Keep these written assignments with your drum and workbooks so you don’t waste valuable practice time looking for materials.

If your tutor suggests pages from a book, practice them and strive to move on to the next skill or difficulty level. By mastering or at least introducing yourself to the piece of music, you will learn at a much faster pace. Showing this extra commitment will encourage your teacher to expect more from you, push you further, and help you learn the drums in less time.

3. Make a daily schedule: commitment over quantity

Do not wait until 10 minutes before your first lesson to warm up. The best way to prepare for your first drum lesson is to practice 10 or 20 minutes every day instead of one hour the day before your first lesson. You should schedule this practice time into your day just like you would schedule an appointment or class. Scheduling means you do not waste time making excuses or thinking about when or how long you will practice. Instead you simply practice when it is time for practice!

If you already have some experience playing the drums, practicing every day builds muscle memory and eliminates the threat of forgetting a skill. If you are completely new to drumming, search for YouTube videos of basic drum techniques, or simply pay attention to drum beats when listening to music. Spending 10 minutes a day attempting to replicate what you heard or saw will definitely help you as you learn the drums.

4. Have materials ready

When taking drum lessons in your home, the last thing you want to do is waste time or money. Now that you are mentally prepared for your lesson, it is time to get physically prepared! Don’t waste your valuable lesson time finding sheet music, song links, or other materials. Keep your drum set and supplies organized and in their appropriate places to avoid any wasted time looking for what you need. If you bring materials back and forth from home to school, make a habit of putting your drum sticks and sheet music back where they belong the moment you get home.  When your drum teacher arrives, you should be ready to take a seat at your drum and get started immediately.

Good luck with your drum lessons! Don’t have a teacher yet? Search for a drum teacher in your area here!

LaurenPLauren played concert snare drum and the drum set for five years and acted as a private teacher for the snare drum and drum set for three years. Currently she tutors various subjects in New York, NY. Learn more about Lauren here!



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How to Find (and Purchase) a Quality Used Drum Kit

2620170206_8bdb56da66_o (2)Looking around at used drum kits? Buy with confidence with the following tips from Lancaster, OH drum teacher John S...


When you’ve decided that it’s time to buy a drum set, the most important considerations in my opinion are why the kit is being purchased, the kit configuration, and the condition of the drums. You’ll also want to think about the pros and cons of buying used vs. new gear. I’ll now explain these points in more detail. Please note that although this article’s focus is on used gear specifically, much of this advice can be applied to purchasing a new kit as well, if you decide to go that route.

Think About Why You’re Purchasing the Drum Kit

This is important because it will help you determine how much to spend, the kit size, and level of quality. For example, purchasing a general purpose starter kit for a young drummer can be different from buying a kit for a specific professional application. I would recommend four or five drums, a hi-hat, ride cymbal, and crash cymbal for a first drum set for a young or new student.

Consider the Kit Configuration

As far as drum dimensions, here is where I’d start: 14″ diameter snare drum between 5″ to 6.5″ deep; 20″ or 22″ diameter bass drum between 14″ to 16″ deep; 10″, 12″ & 14″ diameter tom toms which would be about 8″, 9″, and 11″ to 14″ deep, respectively. I’d recommend at least two toms and three at the most. If purchasing only two toms I’d recommend 12″ and 14″ diameter drums, which would be about 8″ deep on the small tom and 11″ to 14″ deep for the floor tom.

For cymbals, I’d recommend 13″ or 14″ diameter hi-hats (medium weight top cymbal and heavy weight bottom cymbal), 20″ diameter ride cymbal (medium or medium-heavy weight), and a 17″ or 18″ diameter crash (thin or medium-thin weight). I think these sizes and weights are the best for general purpose playing.

Another consideration when buying cymbals is the profile, or arch, of the cymbal. Look at the cymbal from the side and see how curved or flat it is. I generally prefer warmer lower pitched cymbals so I look for flatter profiles. Higher profiles (more arch) will produce higher pitches. The weight of a cymbal affects the pitch too. Thinner cymbals have lower pitches.

Look at the Drum Condition

As you search for quality used gear, make sure that everything is in good condition. I always take all of the drum heads off and inspect the drum shells to make sure they are not warped and to verify that the bearing edges (the area where the drumhead makes contact with the shell) are in good condition (smooth and even rather than dented or nicked, for example). Another thing to look for on the bearing edges of wood shells is ply separation. Minor ply separation is probably not going to be a serious problem and can most likely be fixed with wood glue and clamps.

I also make sure that nothing has been exposed to smoke, excessive sunlight (signs of fading on the finish, for example) or moisture. Check to ensure that the drums are free of excessive rust or corrosion (minor issues can usually be taken care of with some appropriate cleaners, such as chrome polish, and lubricants) and make sure tension rods (screws that hold drum heads and hoops in place) and drum hoops (fits around the drum head and attaches to the drums with the tension rods) aren’t bent or warped. I like to lay the hoops on a thick glass surface and make sure the hoops don’t wobble back and forth very much. If they do, it can be impossible to properly tune a kit with bad hoops.

Check cymbals to make sure they aren’t cracked. Interestingly, sometimes cracked cymbals can have really desirable and complex sound qualities that you might want on certain occasions. Generally, however, you should avoid cracked cymbals. Additionally, I always play all of the cymbals together (hi-hat, ride, crash, etc.) to make sure they all sound good with each other (pleasing and complementary pitches and tones that work well as a collection of sounds).

Personally, I don’t mind if used cymbals are a little dark and dirty, as long as it’s from normal use and age. If the grime is bothersome you can clean the cymbals by checking for cleaning products made by that specific cymbal company (use only Zildjian products for Zildjian cymbals, for example). Make sure to read all of the directions on the cleaning bottle. Finally, make sure your purchase is returnable in case you discover a problem after you’ve had a chance to thoroughly inspect, test, and play everything at home.

Some Pros and Cons of Used vs. New Gear

Finally, consider the pros and cons of buying new versus used drum kits.

Used Gear -Pros

  • Great quality at cheaper price.
  • Could buy vintage, collectible, or otherwise out-of-production gear. Note: for collectible gear make sure your purchase contains everything that was originally sold together (no missing pieces or later additions, for example, otherwise the collectible value won’t be as high).

Used Gear – Cons

  • Manufacturing standards may not be quite as good as today’s new gear.
  • Some repairs may be desired/necessary (possible ply separation on wood shells, corrosion to clean, damaged or missing parts, etc.).
  • Replacement parts may be hard to find if out-of-production.

New Gear – Pros

  • Today’s manufacturing standards are probably better due to technological advancements and computers (which may mean being able to buy lower-end gear today that sounds as good as middle of the road or even high-end gear in the past).
  • More cymbal sound options (sizes, weights, and lathing, for example), drum sound (more shell composition and bearing-edge options, for example), and finishing options now than in the past.

New Gear – Cons

  • May be price prohibitive to buy brand new high-end gear.

Final Thoughts

When buying used drum kits and cymbals, you might have to make a series of separate purchases. Even with used drum kits, be aware that cymbals, hardware, bags, or cases, for example, may not all be included in one purchase price. If you are also looking for a drum instructor I’d be happy to be of assistance. Have fun shopping!


John S. teaches drums and music recording in Lancaster, OH. He has been playing the drums for more than 30 years and has been teaching students since 2010. Learn more about John here!



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How to Measure the Success of Your Child’s Drum Lessons

8953372470_27d9eef2bd_kHow can you be sure your investment in your child’s drum lessons is worth it? Even if you don’t know specific drumming techniques, there are certain things you can do to check in. Read on as Santa Cruz, CA teacher Joe M. shares his pointers…


So, your child finally has his drum set! He’s practicing all the time and both of you are eager to start his lessons. Or perhaps he’s been taking lessons but you’re just not sure if they are paying off? If you’re familiar with these scenarios then you may be asking “How do I measure the success of my child’s drum lessons?” Below are three things to consider.


This seems pretty obvious, but how do you know your student is learning? It is the teacher’s responsibility to have a rock-solid approach for your child’s musical development. To make sure there is structure, you might consider asking your child’s teacher to supply an outline of current progress or accomplishments, such as learning specific drumming techniques, learning how to read drum music, or mastering a particular song.

The transparency of a progress report provides accountability for both the student and the teacher. Your child’s teacher should be held accountable to create and execute a well-thought-out lesson plan, ideally one that will motivate your child to learn and practice; it is the child’s job to learn and practice the plan.


Is your child walking away from the lesson energized and feeling good? Is he or she looking forward to learning more? Is it a fun experience?

Any studious undertaking requires attentiveness and discipline, but a good teacher will balance those efforts with lightheartedness. After all, this is music — it should be fun! Being a star student can be a bit much when trying to coordinate four limbs after a long day at school. A good drum teacher will balance that line of ensuring progress and growth, while staying light and positive.

Big Picture

Are lessons providing a positive influence for your child’s well-being? What are the intangibles in your child’s life when it comes to drum lessons? Are your child’s lessons worth it to you?

Fun and learning aside, these are the important question to ask. Any number of things could determine what makes it worth it for you and your child. Playing an instrument provides a litany of personal and developmental benefits, but any lesson won’t be as successful if the student is actually interested in another instrument, or not interested at all.

Undertaking a discipline or hobby is beneficial, especially if it’s done out of love. Use the above three pointers to check in on your child’s progress, and ultimately, make sure everyone (the student, the teacher, and you as a parent) has the same intent.


Joe M. teaches percussion and drums in Santa Cruz, CA. He received his Bachelor of Music from Humboldt State University, as well as his Master of Music from California State University of Long Beach. Learn more about Joe M. here!



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5 Common Challenges Faced By New Drum Students (And How to Overcome Them)

7000427720_ac40e5bc51_kEncountering tough challenges is just part of the process as you first learn to play the drums. But instead of getting frustrated or giving up, take action with these helpful pointers from teacher Lauren P...


Every new drum student faces these common challenges at some point. Use the below tips to overcome these challenges with minimal amount of frustration and time.

1. I can’t move quickly enough

The most common challenge new students face as they learn to play the drums is building speed and coordination. The more you practice, the faster your wrist and ankle movement will become and the more quickly you will be able to make transitions. You can build muscle mass and muscle memory anytime. Tap your feet or tap your pencils on any hard surface or the rubber soles of your shoes. You don’t need to overexert yourself by forcing a fast pace for extended periods of time. Instead, try short bursts of fast-paced playing along with a metronome. You will slowly but surely build speed and coordination. If it is the transition between drums and cymbals that is challenging you, practice one or two components and slowly build until you can coordinate all components at once.

2. I can’t read quickly enough

If your biggest challenge is keeping up with the pace of reading sheet music, you can overcome these mistakes by previewing and preparing music ahead of time. One quick fix is to highlight every other line of music. This prevents your eyes from losing their place as you skip from line to line. Another trick is to say the beats as words in your head instead of just counting. Even better, say the numbers or words aloud to stay on track. You can even write in these words above the notes. For example, write and say aloud: “par-a-did-dle”; “right-left-right-right”; “one-e-end-a-two-e-end-three-e-end-a-four-e-end”; etc. When you are still learning the rudimentary beats, write “R” and “L” above each portion of every note to signify your right and left hand. Highlighting and annotating your music ahead of time will help familiarize you with the music and prepare you for speed.

3. I’m not consistent in speed or volume

Many new drummers struggle with consistency in speed or volume. The best piece of technology a drummer can invest in to practice pace is a metronome. Buy a metronome or use one for free online. The metronome sets a pace for your playing and keeps you consistent. You can also record yourself or another performer playing so that you can practice the right volume and pace. By listening to yourself play, you can also become aware of how you fluctuate volume between your right and left hand or from the beginning to end of a segment. A band is nothing without a drummer to keep them on track. In terms of pace and volume, practice makes perfect to build muscle memory and overcome the consistency challenge.

4. I forget the lessons I learn

If you repeatedly forget a new lesson or skill immediately after your lesson, there are several easy ways to overcome this challenge. If you have a smartphone or tablet, record video or audio of yourself playing. You can even include your instructor’s advice or homework assignment to use as a reference for practice. If you do not have access to recording technology, take detailed notes of your assignments and any suggestions or potential misunderstandings that you want to remember later.

5. I can’t find time for practice

Even with a strong passion for learning to play the drums, the frustrations of independent practice can sap your enthusiasm to persevere. Overcome your challenges by making a conscious effort to keep your end goal in mind. This will keep you inspired and motivated to practice through your challenges. Set aside at least 10 minutes a day to practice. Sticking to your daily schedule is more effective than planning to practice “when you have time.” Commit to setting your alarm 10 minutes early or practicing the moment you get home. The best way to overcome any challenges as you learn to play the drums is to hold yourself accountable for practice.

Of course, working with a private drum teacher can be a big motivation for keeping up with your practice; plus, he or she will be able to guide you along at the right pace. Teachers are well-equipped to solve the common challenges of new drum students. Hire an expert teacher in your area and you’ll be well on your way to mastering your instrument!

LaurenPLauren played concert snare drum and the drum set for five years and acted as a private teacher for the snare drum and drum set for three years. Currently she tutors various subjects in New York, NY. Learn more about Lauren here!



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