You idolise John Bonham and you’re rather rhythmic yourself, so it should be easy to learn to play drums.

The kicker is that you need to know how to play well. While practise can make perfect, if you don’t know where to start, you may never get beyond that initial phase of awkwardly banging against the batter head of your drum.

How Do I Start to Learn Drums?

There are multiple ways for beginners to learn to play a musical instrument.

You can learn to play the drums by yourself using online video tutorials or with easy-to-follow beginner workbooks.

However, the disadvantage of learning the drums without the assistance of a skilled teacher will be that you won’t receive any support or be able to benefit from their expertise.

drumsticks and drum
With the right guidance you'll be banging out a drum solo in no time. ⎢Source: Unsplash

This means that you won’t know whether you are on the right track when you practise. If there’s someone helping you learn with one-on-one encouragement, you are more likely to combat a problem before it becomes a practised bad habit.

How You Can Benefit From Having Someone Help You Learn Drums

When an expert teaches you how to play drums, you know that there is someone committed to helping you improve your drumming skills. You will receive ongoing support and consistent feedback on your progress, while benefiting from your music teacher’s expert advice and guidance.

If you train with a musician, they will also be able to answer any questions you might have about how to hit the hi-hat, retain your rhythm on your rides, or bang the bass drum to the beat.

Once you’ve decided whether you are going to take private music lessons or attend group classes, you then need to decide whether you want to take lessons through a drum school or whether you will pick up those drumsticks with the help of a private tutor.

The Benefits of Learning at a Drum School

The following incentives offered by schools, colleges, and other institutions dedicated to music may convince you to sign up:

Instruments at Your Disposal 

Most musically-focused institutions have kits available for students to use, not only during classes, but sometimes also available to borrow or rent for practise at home. This inventory of instruments could be helpful if you are waiting to buy your own drum kit or if you’re still deciding which percussion instrument you want to focus on.

If you’re torn between the Djembe, the Conga, and the double bass drum, attending a music school allows you to try them all!

Private Practise Rooms 

It goes without saying that drums are loud. If you live in a high-density area and your neighbour grumbles every time you sneeze, being able to practise at an external venue like drum school might help avoid future complaints. The dedicated venue at a school also helps with focus; as you are less likely to be faced with outside distractions.

You Connect With Other Melodious-Minded Musicians

Four drummers on beach
Find like-minded people to practise drumming with. ⎢Source: Unsplash

You’ll be surrounded by others who are dedicating time and energy to learning an instrument. At music school, you can meet other novice drummers with whom you could have a jam session or commiserate with when you’re struggling to get all those drum beats on time.

You Get Exposure

Your first audience could be watching your performance in a recital organised by the school. These events are a great place to show off your new skills and have fun with your classmates at the same time.

The Advantages of Having a Drumming Tutor

While attending a school has its perks, having a private tutor teach you the right drumming techniques has additional advantages. The cost of a specialised drum school aside, private lessons are convenient for several reasons, as set out below.

Private Drum Lessons Are Flexible

Private lessons are available where you want and when you want. You are free to decide when you want to schedule a lesson with your tutor, with the flexibility to structure your music lessons around your life, rather than organising your life around drumming.

Drum Lessons at Home Save Time

Having private lessons at home means that you don’t need to spend time on tedious activities such as travelling to class, unloading your drum set, setting up, travelling back home, and unloading your kit.

If your tutor meets you at home, there is no set-up required. It’s convenient, time-saving, and there’s no risk of your drums getting damaged in transit.

You Can Take Drum Lessons Online

Learning online offers the benefits of flexibility and time-convenience, generally with the added perk of coming at a lower cost than face-to-face lessons.

However, online lessons do have the disadvantage of lacking personal presence; meaning the tutor can’t walk around you and see your kit from every angle, which makes it more challenging for them to see what you are doing and where your techniques may need improving.

drummer playing drums
You can't go wrong under the guidance of an experienced drummer. ⎢Source: Unsplash

That said, lessons online are better than no lessons at all and you will still improve your skill levels and get valuable feedback from a teacher dedicated to your musical development!

You Can Enjoy One-On-One Coaching

If you attend a music or drum school, you will end up in a class with several other students. This results in your teacher’s time becoming divided; you might not get enough attention to master a particular skill before moving on to learning other techniques.

Having a private tutor means that you are the primary focus; you have the sole attention of your instructor. If you start practising bad habits, your tutor will be able to pick up on them, and eradicate them before they become ingrained behaviours.

Your Drumming Skills Are the Focus

Some classes are run by teachers who focus on getting through as many drumming methods as possible, but not giving enough attention to each one. A private tutor is dedicated to helping you master techniques; giving you a well-rounded drumming education with no gaps in your learning.

You Are More Motivated

Learning a new instrument is difficult. It takes time, energy, and practise. You can paradiddle all day long and still struggle with the technique. This can result in feelings of hopelessness and demotivation.

Private tutors are experienced in providing encouragement and motivation, meaning you can trust that they won’t let you stay in a rut for long if you are feeling uninspired.

drummers playing hand drums
Which percussion instrument are you most drawn to? ⎢Source: Unsplash

If you are interested in private drum lessons, you could learn a thing or two from a South African drum tutor!

The Cost of Drum Lessons in South Africa

There are a variety of musical schools and institutes focused on teaching drumming in South Africa.

Some offer lessons to people of all ages, without restrictions on the range of experience. Others cater only to younger children, or students with some drumming experience.

Drum schoolCost of drum lessonNotes
School of Rock, Cape Town
Between R750 and R2 000 per month.Prices exclude Vat.
Legacy School of Music
From R2 087 per term.Offers free open day to meet the teachers and see the classes.
Djembe 4 All, Cape Town
Lessons from R200 per hour.Drum lessons focused on the Djembe drum.
Lessons from R375 per 45-minute lesson.
Lessons are offered online or at home, depending on location.

As is evident, the price range of drum lessons is varied. What you can expect to pay for lessons from a drum school is dependent on the type of drumming you want to learn, your location, and whether you want to pay for one lesson at a time or if you are happy to commit to a bulk package.

So you need to have an idea upfront of whether it’s the kettledrum, snare drum, or another percussion instrument entirely you want to play.

How Much Is It to Get a Degree in Drumming?

If you are serious about drumming professionally, it might be worthwhile putting in the time to get a diploma in music. Some institutions offer certificates in music which can take 1 – 2 years of studying, but a specialised degree will generally take between 3 – 4 years to complete.

Completing a diploma in drumming has the advantage of providing a functional education in both drumming techniques and a broad foundation in musical theory. This means you’ll experience a range of genres in your drum lessons, as well as gain an idea of how all musical elements work together to create harmonious melodies.

If you are a beginner looking to pick up a new instrument or an intermediate drummer hoping to improve your skills, signing up for a diploma in music might not be the best starting point.

Although you will learn much more in a shorter amount of time, doing a bachelor’s degree in music is a full-time engagement, requiring commitment, motivation and extensive practise.

Tuition for a Bachelor of Music can start from around R13 000 per year.

How Much Do Private Drum Lessons Usually Cost?

Prices for drum lessons depend on several factors, such as where you are based, how much time you can dedicate to practise, and whether you want online or face-to-face lessons.

two wooden drumsticks
Don't hesitate, pick up those drumsticks today. ⎢Source: Unsplash

For example, if you are looking for a Superprof drum tutor near you, you could expect to pay the following for a one hour lesson:

  • Cape Town – R150-200/hour
  • Grahamstown – R250/hour
  • Polokwane – R250/hour
  • Johannesburg – R200/hour

How Much Experience Do I Need to Take Drum Lessons?

You do not need to have extensive knowledge – or any knowledge at all – of drumming theory to learn to play drums.

If you have never picked up a set of drumsticks but are itching to learn the solo in the Phil Collins classic In the Air Tonight, you don’t need to fret. The best time to start is now.

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A South African in France who loves to travel and discover new cultures, is passionate about photography, and who is happiest near the ocean.