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The Optimal Age for Taking Drum Lessons

By Sophia, published on 28/06/2018 Blog > Music > Drums > What is the Best Age to Start Taking Drum Lessons?

Anyone who is familiar with music, who has ever been to a concert – save perhaps of the acoustic variety, is familiar with drums.

The drums’ purpose is to maintain the songs’ beat, underscore or emphasise tones and moods in classical pieces and, in marching bands, set the rhythm and pace.

Toddlers don’t care about all of those technical aspects. They just like to beat on things, preferably things that make noise: the louder, the better!

Does that mean you should set your dynamic, diapered Donati in front of a drum kit as soon as s/he can grasp the sticks?

Not so fast!

A bit of study and reasoning should take place before investing in snares, basses, cowbells and cymbals.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy your toddler a toy snare drum or a pair of toms, just for fun!

Clearly, it is time to have a chat with your tutor, to determine the optimal age for drum lessons that will stick – pun intended.

Why Learn the Drums?

Generally, when parents endeavour to find music classes for their young ones, they tend to gravitate toward the piano and guitar.

Children as young as three have been known to tinkle the ivories, while more than one pair 5-year-old hands have pressed and strummed guitar strings.

Drumming does not have the association with social refinement that those classical instruments have.

However, drums do have the satisfying quality of producing pleasing sounds with virtually no technique required on the player’s part.

Consider the young violin player, for example. Unless the fingering is right and the bow is drawn properly across the strings, the resulting sound is akin to a screeching catand not a happy one, either!

Producing such sounds might be dismaying to the potential prodigy, ultimately discouraging him/her from playing any musical instrument altogether.

By contrast, a drum can make a pleasing sound when hit, whether you hold the stick properly or not, or even if the drum is slightly out of tune. From there, it is just a matter of finding the beat and learning the patterns.

Of all of the musical instruments to play, only drums incorporate natural movement.

Sitting with a guitar in your lap and playing chords is a learned physical action that really only happens when you play the guitar or similar instruments.

By contrast, the movements involved in drumming could apply in other aspects of life and play: bouncing a ball and skipping rope, to name just two.

Even babies move their arms rhythmically, hands fisted, up and down!

Can you see this baby beating the drums? Toddlers naturally move their arms as though they were beating drums! Source: Pixabay Credit: Greyerbaby

You might argue that youngsters’ passions flare and flicker with startling regularity: all about playing chords one day and overlooking piano the next.

That is indeed true. However, we have to point out that there is tremendous technical learning involved in playing most instruments.

Learning to drum also presents technical aspects – hand-foot patterns, keeping time, agility: hitting the right drum in the right spot…

but nowhere near as many as, say teaching a piano player that the left-hand plays chords while the right plays melody and the feet dampen or shorten the sound!

If you are worried about your child learning drum technique, you can relax. Those aspects will come with practice, as s/he learns drum rudiments and experiments with stick grip.

In short: learning a musical instrument of any type is commendable, but of all the instruments you could encourage your child to learn, the drums are the most fundamental, natural and fun!

And who doesn’t like having fun?

Why Not Teach Drums to Under-Fives?

Most parents’ contention is that little ones simply do not fit behind a drum set.

Specifically, their little legs are too short to reach the bass drum’s pedals and their arms are not long enough to hit the hi hats.

Besides, they might lose their balance while reaching for the ride cymbal and fall off that narrow stool!

Apparently, and not illogically, it seems that parents of prospective drummers expect their preschoolers would practice on a full-sized percussion assembly.

Take heart, dear parents: there are child-sized drum sets!

Anyway, if your preschooler is going to start out on drums, s/he may only play to snare to start, only later graduating to a full set. Much later!

The essence of drumming is rhythm.

In that sense, all those games of patty-cakes/he played with you and clapping while singing happy birthday (or other songs) have laid the foundation for your youngster’s forays into learning drums.

Even your rocking him/her to sleep helped establish a natural rhythm s/he will respond to throughout life!

Furthermore, the book Drumset for Preschoolers avers that younger players are actually more enthusiastic and engaged and that older players tend to be more hesitant and more focused on technique – perhaps believing that playing music could not possibly be so easy.

We will discuss this book and others when we review the best books to learn to drum.

The main difference between lessons for the youngest drummers and those that are a bit older is time: the material must be presented in shorter bites so that the child’s attention does not wander.

Now that we’ve explained that young and older learners can all enjoy learning how to play the drums, let us give you a breakdown on what would most likely happen during lessons for players of all ages.

Young drummers needs hand-eye coordination and physical strength more than intellectual prowess Size and strength matter more than age when thinking about drum lessons for beginners. Source: Pixabay credit: Gnuyen Tuan Hung

The Youngest Drummers

We all know that age is just a number… right?

In that light, it would be absurd to say that a sturdily-built 4-year-old must wait a year or two before s/he can learn to play while delicately framed 6-year-olds are already partaking of drum instruction.

A prime consideration of when your child is ready to be taught: if s/he is sufficiently physically developed, start shopping for beginner drum lessons.

Is s/he strong enough to hold drumsticks aloft and bring them down with proper strength? Sufficiently coordinated to use them? Does s/he have proper control over arm movements?

Does s/he maintain good posture?

Your second consideration should be the amount of time s/he can focus on any one thing before getting distracted.

Your child’s attention span is vital to learning how to play the drums, and so is the teacher’s instruction methods.

As younger children’s academic skills are not yet developed, they, more so than the older student, will learn to play by ear.

That means that your prospective drum teacher must have more than one trick up their sleeve, and also plan the lesson into smaller segments in order to keep your child focused on learning.

You should not count on hour-long sessions if your child’s focus tends to wander. Perhaps starting out with 30 minutes and gradually increasing to 45 minutes would be best.

You might discover your child’s potential for drumming lessons by arming him with pencils and presenting an array of pots and pans to bang on.

Would you like to help your child learn to play drums ahead of any music lessons?

According to John S., a drummer and music instructor in the U.S., you may try lap drumming, clapping your hands and foot tapping – all excellent ways to teach basic rhythm.

Drum Lessons for School-Aged Children

Although there has long been a debate on whether childhood is the optimal time for language learning, there can be no doubt that children between the ages of 7 and 13 are especially adept at absorbing information.

There seems to be no end to the questions and curiosity that possess people at that time in their lives!

More than one music teacher will attest to that age bracket being the very best for lessons on playing drums.

Already conditioned to sit and maintain good posture, and with their physique more developed, anyone in that age group who wants to learn how to play the drums should be indulged.

For this age group, learning percussion instruments calls for:

  • good hand-eye coordination

  • understanding of rhythmic patterns

  • ability to detect drum patterns

  • a willingness to learn: drum notation, different styles of music, and so on…

If your child has all of these qualities and a strong independent spirit, you may just have a percussionist on your hands!

In preparation for your pre-teen’s first drum lesson, you may want to investigate what resources there are to help learn the drums.

Young and old can enjoy playing the drums! Drumming is good for your health; why not take drum lessons too? Source: Pixabay Credit: Contact857

What About You?

If your children can go all Matt Gartska on anything beatable, how about you demonstrate your chops in drumstick twirling?

Nothing says that drum play is reserved for those most apt to learn!

You too can get your groove on, practising alongside your progeny; hitting the hi hat while s/he beats out a paradiddle!

The final note: there is really no best age for learning the drums.

What matters the most is physical strength and coordination, an ear for drum beats and the will to learn the strokes.

You’ll see: with a bit of practice, anyone can play drums with as much enthusiasm as a toddler banging on pots with pencils!

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