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Teaching Kids to Play Drums

So that young person in your family got a drum set for Christmas, maybe like the one you see here.   They were so excited and surprised to get such a wonderful gift.  You helped them unpack and set up the drums.  They quickly picked up the drumsticks, sat down behind the set and started trying to hit everything at once, like Animal, the crazed drummer on Sesame Street.

They played the drums and cymbals for a while until they realized that there were foot pedals that would hit the bass drum and close the hi-hat cymbals.  They stopped playing with their hands and started playing with their feet.  They may have even tried to play hands and feet together.

The sound of the drums and cymbals was cool.  But when they played all the drums and cymbals at the same time it didn’t quite sound like the drum beat on their favorite iPod tune. Unfortunately, the excitement quickly wore off.  What should you do next to keep them interested in playing the drums?

Drum Lessons for Kids
Teaching a child (age 5-12) the technique of playing the drums (that is, how to hold the sticks and hit the drums) is very similar to teaching a teenager or older person to play.  When I first wrote this post, I started to put together a list of short cuts, kind of like a “quick start” guide to playing the drums.  But I found myself just repeating what I’ve already written in the other posts on this site.

So here’s my recommendation:  Follow the drum lessons in The Plan.  You can help by reading the lessons and interpreting them for your young drummer.  Here are some additional tips that will help make the lessons easier to learn:

  1. Make sure your youngster has fun playing the drums.  If you see them getting frustrated with a lesson, let them play the drums the best they can and then come back to the lesson later.
  2. Encourage them to practice every day.  It’s better to practice a short period of time every day than one long period of time once a week.
  3. Stay positive and encouraging.  It will take practice and repetition to learn the drums.  Both of you will need to be patient.  You may need to silently walk away after hearing their favorite song or drum beat for the 100th time J.
  4. Go through the lessons with them.  You can buy a second set of drumsticks and easily set up an imaginary drum set with a couple chairs.  Or you can play with your hands on the tops of your legs.  Either way, it will be super fun for the two of you to “jam” together.
  5. Leave them alone to experiment.   Once your child has learned the basics, they may want time to try things on their own, to hear the sound of the drums or just go crazy playing to their favorite song.
  6. Choose play-along songs that they like.  I think the best way to learn the drums is by learning to play songs.  Ask them what songs they like, if you haven’t already heard it many times J.  What songs make them dance or clap their hands or sing?  Hopefully, one of their favorites is the right speed for a beginner, like the tempo of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’.
  7. Teach them to play softly.  Over time, a young drummer will learn to control the volume that they play.  They don’t need to play loud all the time.
  8. Protect their hearing.  If they end up playing loud for long periods of time, protect their hearing by having them wear earplugs or earmuffs.  It’s better to get them to play softer and with more control but if they must play loud, get some ear protection.  Make sure to check with your pediatrician for recommendations on earplugs and earmuffs.

My last suggestion is to provide your young drummer with some inspiration by showing them others their age that are playing the drums.  Here’s a video showing drum phenom Igor Falecki (then 6 years old) with world famous drum teacher Dom Famularo:  Igor Falecki & Dom Famularo Musikmesse 2008

Next Steps
As your first step, I would recommend reviewing The Plan and starting your child with the first 3 drum lessons:

If you would like an easily printable copy of all the lessons in The Plan, sign up for our mailing list (on the right hand side of this page) and you will receive a free eBook “Learn Drums Now by Playing Songs.”

Good luck and let us know how your young drummer progresses by leaving comments below.




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