One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself or your children is the gift of music – by learning how to play an instrument, use your voice, or simply appreciate the artform. If you’ve always wanted to play the drums, you have more options than ever before.
Today, technology from companies like Roland, Alesis, and Yamaha have given us electronic drum kits so you can practice anywhere, and at anytime. The features that come with these kits give you a variety of drum sounds to work with, replicating everything from heavy metal drums to small jazz combo kits and everything in between.
Even the way we learn has been touched by technology. Savvy drummers can now find thousands of free online drum tutorials, inexpensive drum software programs, and DVDs from some of the best musicians in the world.
Many of these options offer a carefully developed curriculum, put together by highly qualified teachers who can help you streamline your learning. This new generation of learning tools has advanced far beyond those that came before. Roland, for example, recently released the first combination product, the drum tutorial DT-HD1, featuring a basic electronic drum kit teamed up with drum software designed to work hand-in-hand with the hardware.
While personalized, one-on-one instruction with a qualified teacher is always the best way to learn how to play an instrument, the advances in drum learning technology and hardware can provide fantastic results. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of software learning, and several software and DVD packages available for the practicing drum student.
The Advantages of Software Learning
Most drum software programs are downloadable. You can start immediately and the lessons are accessible at any time of day or night.
If you have more than one person in your home interested in learning, software or DVD learning can be shared.
Learning to play using drum software allows you to work at your own pace. It’s also possible to go back and rework concepts or review tricky material until you’ve mastered it.
The Best Drum Software and DVD Learning Materials
Drums can be a challenging instrument to learn, as they incorporate independent movement between the hands and feet. This requires focus, dedication, enthusiasm, patience, and persistence. Here are a few great drum software options and DVD learning sets to help you get started:
Roland HD-1 – $99
This drum software was designed to work hand-in-hand with Roland’s HD1 V-drums, but will work with any MIDI-enabled kit. A big hit with beginners, this program takes you from learning the basic fundamentals to being able to play a variety of styles.
If you’ve ever played the drums in “Rock Band” you’ll recognize the interface. It’s a fun, interactive way to learn! Moving on to the notation screen, you’ll learn how to play fills, beginning and endings of songs, and how to read drum notation. Visit Roland’s website to learn more and to access downloadable songs to add to your repertoire!
Learn and Master Drums – $249
This well-presented resource from professional educator, drummer, and percussionist Dann Sherrill features great production quality, and can help you earn a variety of styles, including rock, funk, blues, Latin, and jazz. The course covers the basics, like setting up your kit, up to advanced techniques like using brushes. The 12 DVDs contain 22 video lessons to help you learn visually and aurally. This is a complete course designed to take you from the beginner level all the way up!
It also includes 70 full-length tracks in a variety of styles, backing tracks (minus drums) to get you playing in a group context, and over 100 pages of printed material, helpful information for reference, and illustrated examples. The Learn and Master drum course also offers support and additional materials online to take your playing to the next level!
Rock Drumming System – $87.00
This program features four separate but complementary multimedia packs that take you from beginner to advanced. The “Beginner” pack and book starts you with the basics, including tuning and setting up your kit, theory, drum notation, and beginning technique. Each level then progresses, adding additional techniques as you go along.
Tons of great info and drum techniques are presented in this course, including half bar and single bar fills, two bar fills, cross sticking beats, 300+ patterns, and open and closed hi-hat patterns.
The program also includes over eight hours of video instruction, books for each level, and lots of bonus material.
Steve Gadd Master Series DVD – $29.95
This is a great DVD to check out. It’s not an instructional video, per se, but instead showcases this drum master diving into some interesting and challenging techniques. While it’s not really suitable for a beginner, this is definitely a DVD to add to your library after you’ve become proficient.
This is a recording of a master class filmed at The Manhattan School of Music, and it presents a question-and-answer format between Gadd and the audience. He touches on:
- Applying rudiments
- Warming up
- Using a click track
- Seat height
- Brush pattern
- Odd phrases
- Latin ideas
- Tips for studio performance
With each topic, Gadd performs various tracks to demonstrate the skills involved. It’s a really interesting DVD, and the format allows Gadd to touch on some unusual techniques.
Drum Software Learning Vs. One-on-One Instruction
All of these drum learning tools can stand alone, but working with a qualified private teacher can enhance their effectiveness. There are many subtle techniques, especially when beginning to play an instrument, that if learned under the careful eye of a qualified teacher will make working on your own more effective.
Software and DVDs certainly offer flexibility, but they also require a high level of self-discipline. A qualified teacher will know when to push you, when to lay back, and when to offer another perspective when learning difficult techniques. A qualified teacher and one-on-one instruction is often the difference between success and failure when learning to play an instrument. Remember, there are no short-cuts – the most important step is to just get started! Good luck, and have fun!
Photo by Rob DiCaterino