Tag Archives: drum teachers

What To Expect – Drum Lessons

“What To Expect – The First 6 Months of Drum Lessons”

By Tom Cullen

Drum Lessons in Philly for Beginners

Drum Lessons for Beginners

So you’ve decided to take some drum lessons. You’re probably wondering what to expect – How often will I have to practice? How long until I begin to see results? The answer to those questions is, well . . . another question. What are your musical goals? All goals are met by a series of smaller goals, and you will have to decide how important progress is to you. Drums can be one of the most difficult instruments to master, but they can also be very easy and fun to play. Most drumming in the music we hear is comprised of just a few, very basic ideas. These basics can be learned within a 6 month period.

The First 6 months of Drum Lessons

The first thing you’ll learn is how to play rhythms between the right and left hand clearly. In order to do that, you will learn how to properly hold the drumsticks. How the drumsticks are held will effect a range of things from, speed, sound, comfort and even avoiding minor injuries (that’s right, you can hurt yourself!). To get a good feel for handling the sticks, you will need a consistent practice of 15-120 mins a day. Working on control of the sticks will also give you an introduction to reading music. Learning to read will begin to feed your imagination with a vocabulary of rhythms and stimulate creative ideas. Learning the language of rhythm helps us to understand and decipher the music we enjoy listening to.

After about 6 weeks, you will begin coordinating your feet with your hands. This is usually done by adding the bass drum, which is played by your foot using a pedal device. You’ll be doing 3 things at once. At this point you will also be learning the basic concepts of drumming, common in most of the music we hear.

The first concept is unison. Unison is when two parts of the drumset are played together at the same time. The next idea is “2 over 1”when one drum plays two notes and the other drum plays one. The final concept is the single stroke. The most common use of the single stroke is during a drum fill, but single strokes happen more often than we notice. They usually occur between a cymbal and snare drum or a cymbal and bass drum during the song’s “groove”.

Most drumming you hear is that simple! The trouble for most students is accepting that learning an instrument is a process (remember, all goals are met by a series of smaller goals?). If you make practice a part of your weekly routine, progress will be natural and easy to see and hear. If you follow your path consistently, and with the help from the right teacher, the first 6 months of drum lessons will allow you to play most of your favorite music.

Of course, after that, there is still much to learn. For example, though basketball is a simple sport consisting of 3 things (dribbling, passing and shooting), the best basketball players have perfected these techniques with strength, style and finesse. Perfection is a process, full of trial and error. Playing drums is a craft. Over time you will “sculpt” your own style and sound to where it becomes a direct extension of your musical ideas. Possessing the basic building blocks of drumming will allow you to pursue your own, original take on the instrument. Don’t forget – you get in what you put in.

“I would like students to understand that the learning process takes time. Practice as slowly as possible, because the slower you practice, the faster you learn.

-Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (The Guinness Book of World Records Most Recorded Drummer of All Time)

Drum Teachers at Philly Music Lessons

Meet one of our Tried-and True Drum Teachers, Tom Cullen

Tom Cullen - Drum Lessons in Philadelphia

Tom Cullen – Drum Lessons in Philadelphia

We have two drum teachers at Philly Music Lessons. Both Temple grads of the Boyer College of Music, these guys are experienced performers and teachers. Tom Cullen and Alex Maio have been with us since the beginning – since before we started interviewing teachers about their own experience and interests! Thus, we have some fresh new thoughts from them. Here is Tom Cullen’s interview:

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
My main goal as a musician is to be able to express myself without limitations. I’m on an endless path to be able to channel all the musical ideas in my head through my instrument. My other goal is to make others feel what I am feeling. I want my music to effect people emotionally and hopefully even make them want to move and dance.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?:
I remember when the Moeller Technique finally clicked for me. I was studying the technique for months with no real sign of it improving my playing. Until one night all the hard practice paid off. It happened on a gig. I placed my hands over the tom-tom drum to play a fill and the idea came out effortlessly. After that night playing fast and playing fluidly was never an issue. But I learned the biggest lesson of all that night. Consistent hard work really does pay off. It can be hard to see the path at first but with the support of a good teacher, it can be a fun a very rewarding journey.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
Several teachers have told me to ‘never stop learning’.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
The most challenging moments I’ve ever had learning an instrument were when I tried to teach myself. When studying with a teacher, there were always challenging moments. Trying to teach myself – there is no comparison.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I guess that would be when my band iNFiNiEN was ranked the ‘Top 5 Live Bands of 2013’ by The Buffalo News. The reason it was a big deal is because the other 4 bands were really famous. Such as The Flaming Lips and Jane’s Addiction. So to be held in the same regard as those bands was a big honor.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
My favorite thing about teaching is when a student works hard and meets their goals. It’s a very rewarding feeling being able to share my joy of drumming with someone else and have them benefit from the knowledge I’ve acquired.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
Be patient and be consistent. Listen to the opinions of others but also trust your intuition. And never compromise your integrity. And be sure to never confuse integrity for arrogance.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
I have always been involved with many musical projects ever since I was young. I like to surround myself with creative people, so I always happen to find myself in the mix. I’m busy doing shows and recordings with all kinds of artists all the time. Besides those projects, I have an original band called iNFiNiEN that I am very passionate about. I also recently began setting up a recording studio and learning how to be an engineer. I hope to record all 0f my own projects in the future.

Tom Cullen’s – Bio

I teach Drums and Piano. Music is my life. On any given day I am performing, teaching, recording, rehearsing or writing music. I began playing and studying drums at a young age and continued my music education all the way up to college. I have 2 music degrees from Bucks County Community College and Temple University. I’ve been teaching students of all ages for close to 10 years. Instead of a hard lined curriculum I approach each student individually and establish personal goals. I teach with an open mind, patience and care. Lessons are fun and informative. I am a versatile player with years of experience and knowledge. I can teach you any style or technique you wish to learn. Schedule a Lesson

 

More About our Drum Lessons in Fishtown & Philly at Large.

Spoken like a true musician, Tom brings up some very good points about hard work. To be a drummer at the level that Tom plays takes an incredible amount of practice and dedication. Drums have a lot to do with muscle memory, so even if you have a ton of natural rhythm, there is still plenty of room to dig further. Continuing to master techniques and patterns will enable you to play fast, fluidly, and creatively on the spot. While drums embody one of the most basic musical concepts (rhythm), they also have the potential to be incredibly intricate, complicated, and expressive (such as in Birdman, where the entire soundtrack was created by a single jazz drummer!!). Drums are a great instrument for beginners, but can also take you far into a world of endless rhythm patterns and musical applications (making beats, playing jazz, backing rock bands, making movie soundtracks, and more). We’ll have more from Tom about what to expect when taking drum lessons soon!