Taking music classes at school, college or university is an excellent idea which you should consider if you have the opportunity to do it.
A massive benefit to studying music at school is that you will get a comprehensive education on music, you will be prepared to use a wide variety of instruments, and you’ll have a working knowledge of how they work. You will also have a better idea of how bands and music groups work together. This learning experience will be your fountain of knowledge which would give you a real head start into becoming a professional musician.
When you are still young and living at home with your family without a designated place to practice your instrument, taking up drums at school will be an excellent idea for a few reasons.
Even if you are sure that you want to play the drums or learn to play the drums, there is always power in knowledge. While the other instruments won’t replace your drum kits, they will allow you to open up to other musical styles and expand your musical knowledge and culture.
No designated place to practice your instrument. Photo Source: Unsplash
Somewhere there will be a famous quotation that says something like the following:
The drum is the most important, the most essential, part of any piece of music, of any band. It’s the drum, the rhythm, the pulse, that keeps music together.
Unfortunately, such a quotation doesn’t seem to exist, or, if it does, it doesn’t seem to be findable right now. However, it is entirely true: you can’t have music without rhythm, and the drum, really, is the home of rhythm.
All musicians have been in a band or ensemble in which, whilst they start playing a piece at x speed, they finish it by playing at y. Throughout the piece, whether due to incompetence or sheer enthusiasm, they are continually speeding up together, without anyone noticing that they are doing it. The problem here is that it generally sounds pretty bad.
The drummers role is to counteract this problem, and to guide the band like a human metronome from the start of a piece to its end. And this needn’t sound demeaning. Rather, this is precisely the most important role in the band.
Drummers deserve more respect.
Music lessons are normally not compulsory in schools and even if you have an interest in music you may not get onto the course. Some high schools let you do an optional course for a limited time per week. But if that isn’t an option in your school, it means that you will have to take an additional course outside of schools which could be difficult in your final years when you have exams coming up. Doing music courses works best if you have lots of free time and would prefer to have one to one teaching rather than learning in a group classroom environment. You can even find online drumming courses if you want to study at home.
If you are talented dedicated to your journey of being a musician, then you might want to go to a specialist music school. The benefit of going to a professional music school speaks for itself when you have an interest in music. Aside from your normal academic studies you also get access to every instrument under the sun and get to have a small peek into what it could be like to be a musician full time.
In the UK, there are lots of great options for music schools which can nurture your inner musician. But if you want to be a drummer, there are few better than the BIMM college. With 35 years of experience, this college started its life as Drumtech, a company that focused on teaching only the drums. They later added guitar, bass, keyboard, vocals, songwriting with sheet music, journalism, music production and music event management. This school primes you to be the finished product once you have graduated and as one of the most significant musical education schools in Europe they really know what they are doing.
Amazing drummers can grow out of attending an educational facility that specialises and nurtures the talent of a drummer. Providing opportunities for that talent to grow, so that you can break into the music industry and have a long and successful career holding your drumsticks. If drumming is your passion, then going to a specialist school is your launch-pad. Take your first step.
Expand your learning on your own schedule. Photo Source: Unsplash
While it is fun to be sitting at your drumkit day in and day out, you have to remember that the road to being one of the best drummers in the world is not about doing what you think you should be doing. Since you aren’t a world class drummer yet, you really need to open yourself up to becoming an expert in your field. Understanding how music works is the fundamental first step on your road to success.
While knowing the history of the drum as one of the percussion instruments is essential, it is more important to learn about all of the drums and know how to play each variety of drum not just on your drumset but also learn the bongo, the conga and the djembe. Ask your drum teacher what other drums you can try, learn to use hand drums, experiment with the drumhead and see how the sound changes. Play drums of different style together, change your drumsticks for your hands, learn the rhythm of your passion for the drum and use every creative concept that you can see in your drumming lessons to maximize your skill level and creativity.
To be able to do this you need to study on a course that encourages creative expression and new innovative concepts within the learning environment. Take lessons in every class you have time for and watch videos on the ones you can’t attend. To be a genius percussionist, you will know more than what is going on in your immediate environment. You will understand the drum patterns by listening to drum music from around the world, then you will find out how to play drums in the same way.
Almost all of the most famous drummers, Chad Smith, Jojo Mayer, Carmine Appice, Jared Falk, drumming lessons, Vic Firth, have received classical training in how to play the drum. Once they were just like you holding their drumsticks in their hand and unsure how to play the drums but with lots of practice and learning how to play. They went from beginner to famous drummer. The same is possible for you too if you have the passion for opening yourself to music.
You can be inspired, amazed, and surrounded by other like-minded people. Photo Source: Unsplash
If you are serious about your drum lessons, you might want to consider playing drums at a specialist music or drum school. With a three year (or four, if you are in Scotland) degree in drums under your belt – with specialist drum instruction – you will be set to take the professional music world by storm.
But one of the most common questions by those playing drums is, where is actually best to pursue specialist music training for higher education? And it’s an important one, because with so many good drum teachers out there, and with so many music institutions advertising their qualities and reputation, it’s pretty difficult to navigate the field.
So, which ones are the best? and which are the best specifically for learning drums? Most of the prestigious courses are going to do all of the eight things we mention above – so let’s talk about what sets the schools apart.
Firstly, you are going to have to ask yourself what sort of drums you want to play, what styles of music you are interested in, and what sort of music industry you want to engage with. So, if you want to play jazz drums, you’ll need to think which institutions excel in that field. If you want to play classical percussion – or orchestral percussion, or anything that falls beneath the definition ‘percussion instrument’ – then you’ll need to go elsewhere. Again, if you want the rock/pop/metal side of things, there’ll be places for that too.
Once you’ve narrowed that down, you should think about whether you want your course to include modules on music tech or musical production – as some courses will excel at this. Some drummers won’t want this at all.
So, what’s best for what?
One of the leading music schools in the country is the Royal Academy of Music, which is based in London. It’s also the oldest music school in the UK, being set up back in 1822.
Aside from its heritage in classical music, the Royal Academy is known for its incredible jazz department, which, led by Nick Smart, covers any musical instrument anyone might want to study. For those on the drum kit, you’ll be able to study for a Bachelor of Music or a BMus Jazz on your instrument.
Alongside the RAM, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama is up there with the best music schools in the country. Of course, like many of these institutions, it’s based in London, so you’ll have to get yourself to the capital if you want to take your rudiments, fills, and drum solos to the highest level.
This is your best bet for a comprehensive classical training, as musicians and composers such as Sir James Galway and Philip Dukes have trained there and have gone onto be known as some of the best performers in their instrument.
The course at GSMD is more for the timpani player or the general percussionist, rather than the snare drum or hi hat aficionado – just so that you are aware. But with some dedicated percussion ensembles and a chance to perform abroad, this course will give you a solid foundation in general musicianship as well as drum performance.
For those looking to play popular music – to become a session musician, for example, or to just get the best grounding in drum playing they can – the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, or BIMM, might be a great option.
With schools in many locations across the UK – and now Europe – you can pursue your studies of the paradiddle and groove and drum beats in Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Dublin, Berlin, and London. They are a pretty cool organisation, offering diplomas or Bachelor degrees, and you can link up your studies of those rhythmic beats with songwriting, production, and performance.
That’s not all the music schools there are – obviously. Yet, we don’t have space to cover them all. What we recommend is that you do a bit of research of your own and see what would be the best fit for you.
You could start by looking at the following schools:
You may also want to study music at a normal university – so as to combine your musical qualification with an academic degree. The universities of Bristol, Durham, Manchester, and Oxford and Cambridge are all places with fantastic reputations for their music degrees. Maybe take your electronic drum set with you though – because your flatmates might not appreciate the sound of a bass drum and cymbals throughout the year.
The next question becomes, how are you going to get into the music school of your choice? This is easily answered, but the task, if we are honest, is much less easily completed.
Let’s assume that you already did learn to play the drums: you have your drum rudiments down, and you are way past the beginner drum level.
What you will need to do is show the admissions people that this is true. And how do you do that? An audition, a process that sits as the backbone of the life of the modern drummer. Whilst this will be scary, you’ll need to comfy with this process.
Pick some performances that show your talent at its best – making sure that they reflect the breadth as well as the depth of your ability. If you have heavy metal drum grooves down, good. But, these schools are going to want to see a little more than that: pick a jazz drum solo or a bit of Latin percussion to complement that performance.
What else? There may well be some academic requirements too. So make sure that you do excellently in your music A Levels, and hone your general musicianship skills.
What would help any application to a specialist music school is to find a teacher that will guide you through the whole process. And if you want to learn to play drums at school, a private tutor could be a good complement for that too.
Regardless of what you want to do, finding an expert to give you proper drums lessons will take some of the stress of that application process: they’ll help you pick your performances and teach you the other things you need for your application. These days, people can even give you online lessons on how to play the drums.
The thing is that it’s really quite difficult to pick up an instrument on your own, and it is even harder to ensure that you keep progressing with the right technique. A teacher is really important – as they keep you motivated, they keep you on track, and they show you how to do things right.
But a private tutor can be even more helpful – as every lessons is geared around you, from the scheduling to the content, to the genres of music you’ll be studying.
Try it – Superprof has over three hundred drum tutors in the UK.
If you want to be a successful musician, you should know that lots of people have that same dream and you will need to find the way to not only stand out but to be exceptional at your craft. While many people want to be celebrated not many of them would be willing to work hard from the ground up to polish their talent. Ready to be a great drummer?