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I first started drumming in Alameda, California, where I was stationed in the Coast Guard. I had been playing guitar for a while, but I wanted to learn drums, and I wasn’t sure if I should take lessons. It definitely helped me progress quickly.
Personal drum lessons are worth it because a teacher can see things from a different perspective and quickly correct your deficiencies.
You are going to work hard to become a great drummer like anyone else, but a teacher can help you get there faster.
How important is drumming to you? Most of us take it seriously because we are passionate about it. If it’s important to you, then drum lessons are a natural step in the right direction.
Even Pro Drummers Still Take Lessons
It’s good to remember that even pro drummers still take lessons at times. Neil Peart took lessons from the fabulous Freddie Gruber.
We can always learn from great teachers, no matter where we are starting our drum learning path. I know pro drummers in the Boston area now who still get lessons regularly. If you think you’re a pro and don’t need to learn much more, you probably don’t have enough humility or have some serious blind spots in your true drumming abilities.
Eric Moore describes how he has learned from other drummers over the years:
It’s also good to remember that no matter how good you are, there is another drummer who knows more or is better at something who can teach you to be better.
How Much Do Drum Lessons Typically Cost?
I live in the Boston area and the drum lessons I’ve investigated are at least 50 dollars an hour.
Drum Lessons – You Get What You Pay For
Sure, you could find some cheaper lessons, but that usually means you have a teacher who isn’t that well-regarded.
How I Found My Drum Teacher
I saw The Fringe play a jazz show at the Lilly Pad in Cambridge, MA, and I knew I wanted to learn from the drummer, Bob Gullotti. I walked up to him after the gig and asked if he provided lessons.
He told me there was an opening in his schedule, and I asked him how much it cost. He said, “80”. I was a little surprised at first because that seemed like a lot of money.
I soon discovered that he taught many of the great drummers who came out of Boston over the years, so I felt it was worth it. I’m still using many of his lessons and techniques during my practice times today.
For me, it was definitely worth it.
Even if I never make a lot of money as a professional musician, advanced lessons have enabled me to play with other high caliber musicians. They might not have been accessible if I didn’t have baseline knowledge and skill learned from my excellent teachers.
The more value a teacher provides, the more they can charge. Most expensive teachers have built up their reputations over the years of teaching and playing.
They have a constant demand for their time because they get so many referrals. No marketing is needed when you are truly an expert drummer!
Drum Lessons Don’t Matter if We Don’t Put in the Work
I am fortunate to have received excellent knowledge from individual drum teachers, but I have to remember that I’ve also worked hard at my craft.
Knowledge means nothing without action. Consistent practice, coupled with significant knowledge, produces excellent drummers.
There is a specific self-accountability built-in when you spend your own money on personal lessons.
Aren’t you more willing to do the lessons and practice if you’ve actually spent your own money on a teacher?
Since I don’t want my money to go to waste, I’m more willing to do the lessons assigned by the teacher.
Drum Lessons are More Important than New Gear
It’s really the same with any instrumentalist. You can buy costly gear and hope that it provides a shortcut to mastery. We all know that it is fool’s gold and doesn’t work.
I’ve seen some incredible drummers on crappy drum sets. Guess what? They sounded great!
Think of some of your favorite punk rock drummers and how they started dirt poor in their bands while transporting cheap gear to different venues while getting noticed.
I remember Kurt Cobain talking about the guitars he usually used. They were usually pawn shop guitars of very cheap value. He just wanted a guitar that felt good to him, and he used some of these cheap guitars to produce legendary songs.
Jack Black of the White Stripes also famously used very cheap guitars. He claimed he wanted guitars that he could “punch in the face” while playing.
I feel like buying excellent gear should be a personal reward I provide myself for progressing a certain degree in my skill level. I feel like I “deserve” a more expensive drumset if I’ve “earned” the right to play them through a lot of hard work and high-quality lessons.
That reasoning works for me.
Paying for Lessons is Better than Learning Alone
There is a myriad of references and knowledge on the internet that could keep you busy the rest of your life with free drum lessons. That doesn’t mean you will become a great drummer.
The advantage of having in-person lessons can be huge compared to traveling down the solo path towards mastery.
You can spend a lot of time following online videos, but do not really know what you’re doing or whether it is the best area for your focus. How would you know without any outside mentor?
Personal Drum Lessons Can Uncover Serious Flaws in Technique
Some of my most impactful turning points as a drummer is when a teacher pointed something out in my playing, which I didn’t notice for years. He saw something, which was outside my scope of awareness.
Pointing out a fatal flaw in one’s technique could save you years of sluggish improvement. It comes back to the 80/20 principle that states you get 80 percent of your results from only 20 percent of your actions or inputs.
Therefore, make sure you’re practicing on those few, 20 percent areas, which will impact your upward progress the most.
A teacher helps you stay on course and focusing on those few items of importance. I can seriously get diverted constantly with my drumming interests if I watch too many online videos of teachers, lessons, and pros.
If we keep chasing that rabbit down different holes, we don’t make substantial progress because we aren’t focusing on one thing long enough. It’s tough to stay focused on our own. Sometimes a coach is exactly what is needed to keep us on track. It’s a built-in accountability partner for our drumming path.
Drum lessons are only worth it if you follow up by applying the lessons. If you’re paying for expensive lessons, remember to use that knowledge with daily practice.
It only takes 20-30 minutes per day to improve steadily as a drummer if you are practicing the right things.
A teacher helps you quickly determine those correct items of focus.
Have drum lessons been worth it for you?