The propensity of every employer demanding degreed candidates for every job has little to do with deeper subject matter knowledge...
And everything to do with demonstrating an ability to commit to a course of action long-term!
You must agree that obtaining a four- or six-year degree is most certainly a commitment, especially considering you have to spend thousands of pounds to meet it!
The fallacy is that not everyone has the ability, means or opportunity to make such an investment of time and money into proving they can commit long-term.
Yet businesses the world over insist on a degree before even considering applicants for any position, sometimes even the most menial!
You, dear Drummer, have made and kept a commitment: to playing drums.
You may not have had the money, time or indeed the inclination to formalise your knowledge of drumming; that does not make you any less qualified to drum or to teach others how to play the drums.
Let Superprof show you how you can pass on your knowledge to the next generation of drummers; knowledge you gained in the school of hard knocks and have retained by sheer desire to be a qualified drummer.
The Basics of Teaching Drums
Of course, your ability to paradiddle and beat out 16th note fills is only one factor of your ability to teach people who want to learn the drums.
You must also have a measure of technical knowledge, such as being able to read drum notation and sheet music.
You should have good people skills and be an effective communicator.
For those times when your student asks why the hi-hats don’t sit higher/closer, and why the toms and snare are set at those angles.
You must be able to explain concepts of drumming in an age-appropriate manner
teaching a 9-year old drum rudiments is vastly different than instructing 19- or even 29-year olds!
You must have a good attitude and be a good motivator: no student will stick around too long if you yell at them and throw things!
All of those aspects of teaching relate to fundamental pedagogy; now let us address specific situations you may encounter.
If you intend to tutor school children how to play the drums in support of their formal music classes, you will have to be familiar with their curriculum.
You may also need to know if they are learning drumming for marching band, orchestra or a percussion ensemble.
In which case, your ability to read music – not just drum notation!, would come into play.
Such scenarios would call on your expanded knowledge of percussion instruments: xylophone, timpani, gongs... the proper way to handle mallets and choosing the right drumstick to create the desired sound.
If you want to be a teacher of merit, know your limits.
You may have covered songs by the world’s hottest bands, served as a studio drummer for some big-name acts and even gone on tour and enjoyed a measure of fame as a drummer.
None of that guarantees that you will be a drum teacher of merit for every student, at every level, be they beginner, intermediate or more advanced.
If you excel at one style of drumming exclusively, you may bill yourself as a specialist in that area and accept students who want to learn drumming for that type of music exclusively.
Being honest about your abilities; pointing prospective students to a teacher more apt to help them will... not put money in your pocket, but will earn you the esteem of the teaching community.
Who knows? Because of your integrity, other teachers may refer students to you, which will put money in your pocket!
What You Need to Get Started
Obviously, you cannot teach the drums without anything to drum upon or with.
Thus it would be a good idea to have at least one drum set; having more than one practice pad wouldn’t hurt either, and a metronome is essential!
You may add a spare snare drum or two to your inventory, if only for your beginner drummers to get the feel of beating an actual drum without feeling overwhelmed by your double bass drum kit!
Having an assortment of sticks, brushes and mallets would further provide your students with a well-rounded learning experience.
You could explain the difference in sound between a barrel-shaped drumstick head and an oval one, and let them try each type of stick out (provided you have the right size for them!)
Or you could let them feel how responsive nylon heads are in comparison to wooden ones...
You might consider the size of the students you wish to teach: perhaps their smaller stature would demand a junior drum kit.
And, because students come in all sizes, you must provide hearing protection for little ears and big ones.
Become the teacher who insists on safety first and always!
Have some grip exercisers and squeeze balls scattered around your teaching area. While your students listen to your instruction, encourage them to work their hands and arm muscles before they pick up a pair of drumsticks.
All too often, even professional drummers fail to warm up; a serious deficiency that could lead to injury over the long term.
Don’t let that happen to your students! Indoctrinate them early in the habit of warming up prior to playing.
Now that you’ve got all that figured out, you need someplace to conduct your lessons.
Where and How to Give Drum Lessons
If you are so lucky as to have a space in your home, maybe an actual studio or even just a room dedicated to the pursuit of drumming perfection, all is well.
You may stock it with books about drumming, hang posters of famous drummers; even partition it off so that you have a waiting room for your next student while your current student practices drum beats.
If you are not so lucky as to have all that spare room, talk to music stores in your area.
It is possible that they could rent a bit of space in their store; perhaps they even have booths set up specifically for drum teachers like you, who have no other place to conduct lessons.
Do you have children in school?
You might talk to their principal: perhaps s/he might permit you the use of a classroom after hours. You may even be granted access to their band room, already fully outfitted for teaching the drums!
You may offer your services as the school’s premier drum tutor, while you’re at it!
Are you a member of a church?
You might speak to the pastor or vicar about using a room in the church’s basement or teaching building on those afternoons and evenings there is no worship. The acoustics might be fantastic!
Lugging your kit here, there and everywhere might make you feel like you’re on tour again, so arranging for storage of your teaching materials where you conduct your lessons might be a good idea.
Failing that, you should have a vehicle capable of transporting everything you need to give lessons and, most importantly, you should arrive in plenty of time to set up and tune your kit before your first student arrives!
Establishing Yourself as a Drum Teacher
Outside of seeking a teaching position in formal education, anyone who can play the drums can bill themselves as a drum instructor.
However, unless you’re on par with Phil Collins in notoriety, you might encounter a bit of trouble attracting clients.
Getting your name out there, establishing a solid reputation as a knowledgeable drummer and finding students wanting to learn from you...
Have you thought about hosting drum clinics or workshops?
For one, an open class such as that will demonstrate the breadth of aspiring drummers you might work with individually.
Beyond that, hosting such a seminar would serve to prove your teaching skills, as well as the fact that you know how to play drums.
You may feature select aspects of drumming in your workshop, such as drum fills: what they are and how to play quarter note fills, eighth notes... all the way up to sixteenth notes.
Or you could teach the first 15 or 20 of the basic 40 rudiments.
What about tuning a drumset? Would you care to bet on how many beginners out there have no idea that drums need tuning?
What about an introduction to jazz drumming? Or metal? Or hip-hop?
Towards the end of the session, you should pass out business cards or fliers identifying you as a drum teacher.
You should have researched the cost of drum lessons in your area so that your brochure advertises competitive rates!
You might offer only beginner drum lessons – so you have no bad drumming habits to unteach, or promote your services to anyone who wants to learn to play!
Set your prices right.
If you are intent on teaching anyone who wants to learn to play the drums, marketing yourself is only the first step.
Giving drumming lessons will give you a heady sense of independence, one enjoyed by many who share your dedication to your music instrument.
Rest assured that plenty of avid drummers have proven, time and again, that it is entirely possible to provide drum instruction without a teaching certificate or any higher education.
Who knows? You may prove yourself adept even at giving online drum lessons or other online tutoring jobs!
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