A question I am frequently asked is, “How long are drum lessons?”

Drum lessons are usually 30 or 60 minutes in length, with some teachers also offering 45-minute lessons.  Advanced students may choose to book lessons longer than an hour in length. The length of drum lessons will often depend upon factors such the age and level of the student.

Beginning Students

Beginning drummers will often require a shorter lesson length.  While they are first being introduced to drumming, there may not be enough material to fill the space of a longer session.  The teacher should delicately balance the amount of material that is presented and assigned at each lesson.  The goal is to give students just enough material as to not overwhelm them – yet not too little, which can lead to boredom.

Younger beginners often require 30-minute lessons.  Adult beginners can also benefit from half-hour lessons, but may choose to increase the lesson length to 45 minutes or more.  The adult student will generally have a longer attention span and can usually be assigned a bit more material than a young student.

Intermediate Students

Intermediate students have already been introduced to the fundamentals of drumming. They are in the process of honing their skills.  They are starting to concentrate on the more intricate details of technique, coordination, and other topics.  At this point, the lesson length can usually be increased to 45 min. for school-age students.  Adults may opt for 45- or 60-minute lessons.

Advanced Students

Advanced drummers will work on challenging material in lessons. They might be concentrating on advanced coordination patterns, learning different styles, or working on transcriptions.  Advanced students may require hour-long lessons. They may even book 90 minute or two-hour long lessons. The lesson frequency may change depending on a number of factors, as discussed in the following section.

How often will I have drum lessons?

Another questions that students ask when inquiring about lessons is, “How often will I have drum lessons?” Beginning and intermediate students will benefit from weekly lessons.  Students at these levels will be introduced to new concepts at each lesson. They will also review the previously-learned material, thereby reinforcing and solidifying the concepts. At this stage of development, it is important to have weekly lessons to maintain momentum.  Less frequent lessons will often result in stagnation, as much of the lesson may be devoted to reviewing older material and correcting any bad habits that may have been acquired between lessons.

Advanced students often take weekly lessons; however, some need more time between lessons to thoroughly practice the material.  In those cases, every-other-week or as-needed lessons may be considered.  Advanced students may drive longer distance to find a qualified instructor.  For that reason, some students book less frequent (yet longer) sessions.

How long will most people take drum lessons?

The time of study (months/years) depends upon a number of factors. Some drummers may study for a few years, progressing through the beginning and intermediate levels.  Other drummers may just study long enough to feel comfortable playing in their church band or other ensemble.

School band students may take lessons throughout their school years to be competitive in marching band, jazz band, and audition-only ensembles such as district, regional, and state bands. 

Some drummers will study for as long as they play the instrument.  In fact, many professional drummers still take lessons to sharpen their skills and stay on top of their game.

It is clear that the length of study is an individual choice, determined by the student’s specific situation, personal goals, etc.

See my article on this website “How Long Does It Take to Learn to Play Drums” for more information.

What will I learn in drum lessons?

When a student studies with a competent, reputable teacher, they will learn how to read rhythmic notation. They will also study hand technique and learn how to play rudiments such as drum rolls, flams, paradiddles, etc.  On drumset, they will develop coordination of all four limbs.  They will also learn styles such as rock, swing, and ethnic styles (such as mambo, bossa nova, samba, and reggae).

Some teachers will also focus on other aspects of percussion, such as pitched percussion. Students may have to learn to play instruments such as xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, concert bells, and timpani for their school band or community orchestra.  A teacher may incorporate those instruments in lessons. 

Are drum lessons online or in person?

Drum lessons have traditionally been in person.  This allows the teacher to see the student from a variety of angles and hear the student’s sound firsthand.  With technology progressing and evolving, online lessons have been more accessible. 

Online lessons are an excellent choice for drummers who do not have access to experienced teachers in their hometown. They also are a great option for students who do not have the means to get to lessons due to transportation issues.

In-person and online lessons both have their benefits.  As previously mentioned, in-person lessons allow the teacher to see and her the student up close.  In online lessons, the teacher has the benefit of seeing the student in their own equipment.

Choosing a Drum Teacher

It is important to choose a drum teacher carefully.  Most countries (including the United States) do not require any certifications for private instructors.  Therefore, students need to do some initial research.  A drum teacher should have both teaching and performing experience. The teacher should also have a musical background consisting of extensive study on the instrument.  Many instructors will have music degrees or musical studies at a school such as Drummers Collective. See my article on this website for an informative guide on choosing a drum teacher.

Do I need a drumset to start learning drums?

Most teachers do not require beginning students to have a drum set prior to starting lessons.  Many drummers will start by playing on a rubber practice pad at home.  This allows the student to practice hand technique and note-reading exercises.  They can also tap their feet on the floor to practice drumset-style coordination exercises.  When the student is ready, they can make the investment in a drum set. See my article on this website for creative ways to practice without a drum set.

Do I need more than one lesson per week?

I sometimes have students who want to schedule multiple lessons per week.  I explain to them that most of the work is done at home (practicing the lesson material between lessons). It is important to become familiar with the lesson material before adding new concepts.  The student should also practice the coordination exercises until they become ingrained in their muscle memory.

As previously mentioned, most beginning and intermediate drum students will benefit from weekly lessons.  This allows the student to reinforce the previously-learned material while being introduced to new material. 

Advanced students may need more time between lessons to thoroughly practice and learn the material before their next lesson.

Do I really need a teacher to learn how to play drums?

While someone can learn to play drums without a teacher, taking lessons will speed up the process (and avoid bad habits along the way). Drummers who learn by themselves often have “gaps” in their playing. A qualified, experienced instructor should have a curriculum, ensuring that students learn the fundamentals. Once the more challenging material is introduced, the student will already have a firm foundation to build upon.

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