“My music is best understood by children and animals.” - Igor Stravinsky
According to a study by Harvard and Boston’s Children’s Hospital, children who play musical instruments can develop a higher mental capacity than those who don’t.
Music, just like sport, is an integral part of thousands of children’s lives. However, sometimes parents are overenthusiastic when it comes to their children and music. Learning music needs to be an enjoyable activity.
Start Learning About Music at Home
Have you noticed that parents aren’t the same when it comes to music?
There are different musical tastes, some find music more important than others, and some barely listen to music at all.
Could this be down to the music they listened to at a young age?
My dad’s played drums for many years. As a young child, I was used to hearing the drums and his drum kit took pride of place in the cellar. Music has always been an important part of my life.
A child can develop the same music skills and tastes as their parents. If you want your child to have an interest in the drums, you don’t need to force them but rather give them the opportunity. They can start learning about music from a young age, start listening to certain styles such as jazz, rock, and different drumming styles.
Don’t hesitate to get them musical instruments, particularly percussion instruments like a tambourine, a triangle, maracas, cymbals, or even a xylophone. You could even get a smaller electronic drum kit for them.
Let your child explore the potential of different musical instruments. Make the most of each opportunity to sing, dance, mime, and play musical instruments.
There are games you can play with your child such as musical bingo, where they have to guess which instrument they can hear (electric guitar, flute, violin, saxophone, trumpet, etc.). You can include different musical genres.
Similarly, you can always help children to discover music with musical theatre such as Peter and the Wolf, etc. You can also take them along to a music shop to discover different instruments (ukulele, acoustic guitar, cello, harmonic, etc.) and listen to other musicians playing.
Don’t hesitate to take them to concerts for children in order to stimulate their curiosity. A music school may also be a good idea as they open their doors to children wanting to learn more about music.
Can a Child Get Demotivated if They Start Playing the Drums Too Soon?
Playing the drums demands a lot of time and a certain level of maturity. The child needs to be capable of concentrating for a long period of time in order to assimilate rhythms and techniques.
Even if learning drums is fun, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require discipline and a lot of work in order to achieve a good level, play in a band, or be able to improvise.
Thus, if a child isn’t ready, they’ll find practising difficult and get discouraged at the first sign of trouble. Additionally, a negative experience could put them off music years down the line. A bad experience can take root in the child’s memory and they may never want to learn the drums, or any other musical instrument, for that matter.
It’s recommended that you wait for the child to show interest in learning to play the drums rather than forcing them to play before they’ve shown any interest. The child needs to be aware that a musical instrument isn’t a toy, even if they can have a lot of fun playing.
Thus, it’s probably a good idea to introduce children under 7 to music rather than get them playing instruments.
When Can Children Start Playing the Drums?
Drum lessons for children don’t necessarily come with music theory lessons. Music theory tends to be more common for those learning to play the piano or the guitar, for example.
In fact, rhythm theory is different to music theory. You don’t need to learn to read sheet music like it is for the piano but rather know when and how to strike the different drums. However, that doesn’t mean that learning the drums is easy. You need to learn drum rudiments and familiarise yourself with rhythm. This requires a certain level of physical and intellectual maturity. Thus, we recommend that children don’t start playing the drums before the age of 7.
They can learn a bit before this. However, just like with the piano, they need to be able to move their arms and legs independently of one another. This independence is acquired around the age of 5. Of course, the ideal age also depends on the child’s size, maturity, and their level of concentration.
In fact, the size of the drums isn’t always ideal for some children. Thus, you’ll need to wait until your child’s big enough to reach the pedals and hit the cymbals.
At home, on the other hand, you could always buy them a special drum kit for children between 4 and 7 years old. You can always look for second-hand drum kits on sites like eBay.
Of course, there’s no one answer when it comes to the ideal age. The parents are in the best position to judge when their child’s ready. That said, a taster session with a drum tutor can also reveal whether the child’s ready to start learning to play the instrument or not.
Accompany Your Child as They Learn to Play the Drums
If your child is showing interest in music before the age of 7, they can still learn about music between the ages of 3 and 7.
There are group music classes for the very young. Music workshops for young children focus on the sensory experience of music: using instruments, keeping time, dancing, and singing.
Once your child starts learning to play the drums, you need to help them as they learn. The child needs a structure like they would with learning anything else. You need to set aside some time to practise playing the instrument.
You could start with 15 minutes a day after they’ve finished doing their homework or chores, given your timetable allows it.
You could even do this before they go to school. It’s important that it becomes routine so that playing drums is something they just do automatically. Make sure you’re flexible about it, though. Otherwise, your child will tire of drumming. Don’t force them and invite them instead to do exercise they know.
Set aside a day or two during the week to practise. For example, Sundays could be an opportunity for them to let their creativity run wild. Make a note of how much they’ve practised so that you keep an eye on their progress. You can use this to show them how much better they’re getting, too.
Nobody else should be in the room while your child is practising. Other people can distract the child and hinder their progress. The child needs to learn to play on their own. You don’t need to comment on their playing. You should have a room where they can play the drums whenever they want. You should cover the drums with a sheet when they’re not in use in order to protect them from dust.
When the child is young and first starts lessons, you should be there with them (without intervening). However, this isn’t always possible since some tutors prefer parents not to attend lessons or your timetable won’t allow it.
Read more about why children should play the drums.
That said, showing an interest in your child’s playing will help them to progress. You’ll also be there to help them when they encounter difficulties. Your child will need you to help them when they first start learning how to play the drums.
As they get better, you won’t be able to help them if you don’t play the drums. That said, your child will be pretty independent after a year or two of lessons.
If you're looking for private tutors, check out those on Superprof. You can search for tutors by both the subject they teach and where they are. If, for some reason, you can't find any drum tutors near you, don't forget that there are also tutors who can teach students over webcam with video conferencing software such as Skype.
Most tutors on the platform offer free tutoring for the first hour, allowing you to see whether they get along with your child or not and giving you the freedom to choose the right tutor for your little one. Take your time choosing the right tutor.