Should drum "teachers" be made to show credentials?


Senior Member
Don't know how many times I hear, "my son is taking lessons from my neighbor. Really, who is this teacher? Read his resume?, know anyone who can vouche for him? etc. In my many years playing/some teaching, I realize that a lot of unemployed players are all of a sudden "taking new students?, which means they are now gainfully employed as "teachers"...Don't they have a certificate, or some kind of acknowledgement...anything?
I was hired by a store offering lessons many years ago, and the owner drafted a letter that introduced me and re assured folks I knew what I was doing up to a certain level....How do you feel about this drum instructor/teachers??


Silver Member

What's wrong with musicians wanting to make some money on the side? I've taught a few students before, in no way do I classify myself as a teacher, nor do I think I would pass any sort of certification or qualification test to be a teacher (no music degree for starters), but I'm teaching middle schoolers basic technique....what's the big deal?

Your neighbor teaching the kid drums isn't charging $50 an hour for serious lessons with serious private teachers. $15-25 at most. Parents and people know this. If little Susie sticks with it after a few years, parents are willing to fork actual money over and they'll go over to that seasoned pro. But there's no incentive for your average parent to go to an "accredited" teacher that will probably charge an arm and a leg.

And lastly, whose gonna enforce this? The music police?

drumming sort of person

Studying with someone that doesn't have their shit together can do way more harm than good. I only studied with drummers who I either saw performing live, or heard on record, and felt that I needed to pick their brain because their playing knocked me out.


Senior Member
There was a time when I would teach lessons on occasion on drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard. These were adult students who were beginners. It went well enough.

I guess if we're talking about kids taking lessons, I wouldn't worry about certification as much as chemistry, ability, and whether or not they're actually learning anything.

I've had some certified teachers, and the lessons went horribly. There were some teachers I clicked with, and some where I didn't. Their certification played no role in that.

When I taught lessons, I'd go to their home and have the lesson there. At one point, I did go to a music store that had an opening for a teacher. The situation seemed like a headache, and not because they required their teachers to have a music degree, but also because the lessons were in their rooms [which were horrible] and a portion of what you made as a teacher went toward the rental of the room.

I'd recommend that the parents sit in on a lesson, or at the very least ask their kid(s) if they're learning anything, or how they feel about the lessons. Certified or not, the right teacher can make a big difference.


Senior Member
As an adult, lessons and learning took on a completely different dynamic.

Sometimes it would be more formal, like paying to sit in Chad Wackerman's studio so that I can learn the finer details of The Murray Spivack Method.

Slightly less formal, of course, are drum clinics.

Sometimes it would be more informal, such as jamming at Nick Menza's house [RIP] and asking him to show me how to play something cool that he did on a record.

Then it can get really informal, like asking Freddie Gruber [RIP] questions over shots, or just listening in on conversations.

I'm taking guitar lessons right now. I don't know my guitar teacher's teaching credentials, but I know he can play really well. Also, based on a few lessons, I can tell that he's got a plan for teaching certain things that I want to learn. We have good chemistry, so I'm comfortable asking questions. And finally, I feel like I'm learning things, and it shows.

Results. That's what you want for your cash.

Matt Bo Eder

You're complaining about this when we've seen really crappy musicians make a living performing?

Entertainment can't really be policed in this way because if the student is getting something out of it, then the teacher is doing his job, regardless of his "resume".

Of course, there will be those "teachers" who teach and don't know when to recommend them to another teacher, but bad egos tend to cancel themselves out soon enough (hopefully).

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
There isn't a complete answer to this.

I have an education as a music teacher, probably a better teacher than most, but I didn't really learn that in school. It's through experience as well being humble enough to grown learn and believing the impossible was possible

As for these local heroes that teach on the side. Well, they are often popular with the kids as they are entertained by someone who's got a status locally. Are they really learning anything? No most of the time not at all. The true abilities of these people as teachers is as bad as it can possibley get, and yes, they do more harm than good not just because they don't really know anything, but because of the attitudes they instill.

In any case. Anyone can be a good teacher if they want to. You should of course know your stuff, but being a good player isn't enough. You don't actually need the chops anymore a long as you once had them and know how to pass them on.

You must know your stuff and you must know how to properly teach that to others hopefully in more than one way. The craft, the subject and skills we want never change, but how we achieve that must be flexible and the many ways to do exactly that is what a good teacher will spend as much time learning and experimenting with as the craft itself.

I'll be honest and say that I've met few who unsderstand this on the level I do, but that's simply about humility combined with width of experience. I continually challenge the quality of what I do all the time and have the ability to look objectively at my results.

Teaching kids and adults are very different things.

With the young ones it's up to you to lead every aspect and that's how it should be.

With adults, even if they have no experience it is a more back and forth. Sometimes it's similar. If they are beginners they may just want a little help in dealing with a specific musical situation they are in. Get the right basics down so they can feel more competent doing that. It's often more like an evening cooking class.

With private students I'm more flexible.

When I work in a bigger school it's important that many things are done similar with most for social reasons. There will be some students with challenges, some will learn slower than others, but there must be a common thread for it all to work togther and build an environment an inspire cooperation.

As for credentials as a teacher. It is a craft. I left the life as a performer to be a teacher. I know many great musicians that simply should not be allowed to do my job. It's simply a different job, a different skillset. Some of these musicians do woorkshops and they are of course experts at teaching themselves. That is however, apart from me certainly incorporating that way of working myself sometimes not the same thing at all. That's just one way of teaching and you must know them all.
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Senior Member
, I wouldn't worry about certification as much as chemistry, ability,.....
This says it all for me. I took lessons from a guy who had all the credentials and music school qualifications and could play amazingly well but simply wasn't a great teacher. I think I realised on lesson 2 that the chemistry wasn't there and that, as the customer, I wasn't going to get what I wanted out of my lessons. Took a couple more lessons just to be sure and then we politely parted company before I looked elsewhere.

I have been seeing my current teacher for around 3 years now and couldn't be happier. I never asked to see a resume but new I was on to a winner from the first lesson. In addition to being able to play like an absolute beast across a range of styles, he's a fantastic guy and we have had great chemistry from lesson 2 or 3. Drums are a hard beast to learn (for me at least) and the more 'fun' lessons are, the better. My teacher has just the right balance of making things fun, praise, criticism and when necessary he will drop in the "Zero Let-Up Whiplash Approach". He's also incredibly patient!

Some of it is quite intangible but, looking back at it, the credentials I would seek if I were to move away and look for a new teacher would be as follows:

Ability - Either within a given style of playing or across various genres for more general lessons.

Resources - Books, Courses, Charts - These give structure to a lesson and mean I can take things away for practice or buy a new and inspiring book rather than a hastily scribbled chart that I cannot decode when I hit the kit at home. I may not want to follow a specific curriculum but if a teacher has experience of Rockschool, Trinity or Drumsense and getting students through exams then it all counts to their credentials for me. As a young(ish) father, I really don't have time to study for exams but we are always dipping into Trinity and Drumsense exercises. However, sometimes we will open up a Stanton Moore book and get funky with the chatter notes.

Attitude & Chemistry - At my stage in life, I play for fun. Am I looking to improve? Yes of course, but if lessons are a PITA that I don't look forward to because I know I am going to be beasted then it sucks the fun out of learning. A teacher needs to be a cool dude who understands (or is willing to understand) what I am looking to acheive, my limitations in terms of practice time and what makes me tick. This ultimately leads to the most important element which is inspiration. I really define this as driving home from a lesson, walking through the front door and heading straight to the e-kit to further practice what I have just learned.

All of the above are more important to me than where a teacher graduated from, what letters they have after their name, who they have played with or what it says on their resume.


Senior Member
I think in many cases the best players are the worst teachers, because their skills are so ingrained that they no longer know how they do what they do and may not even remember how they learned. An adult beginner may find it really hard to learn from someone that started playing when they were 2 years old on pots and pans. In some ways it's better to learn something from someone who only recently mastered the skill themselves.



Gold Member
I have never taken drum lessons, but I did take guitar lessons when I was 15/16 from a family friend who was probably not the best teacher. But he could play like nobody I had ever seen at the time and understood what I wanted from the guitar so he tailored the lessons to that. If we had spent hours practicing scales or working on finger technique I might have gotten bored and quit. Instead we learned Metallica songs together and enjoyed playing the guitar. In the end taking lessons from the "wrong" person didn't hurt anything. There is no right way or wrong way to learn anything, it all depends upon the person. Most of the great musicians I have ever met are mostly self taught.


Platinum Member
...How do you feel about this drum instructor/teachers??
People can either impart knowledge in a way that I'm able to understand and digest, in a way that excites me, inspires me and drives me to strive to be better and improve. Or they can't. "Credentials" least in respect of being accepted by some wider recognised or established organisation doesn't make a pinch of difference to me.

Using an example closer to home, amongst my favourite teachers on this site are the two Todd's and Tony. Ultimately, I don't know their credentials. To be honest, I really couldn't give a shit. I know they speak on a level I can relate to. I know when they talk/write I sit up and listen and take notes. I know they can play. And I know they can teach......or at the very least, I know they can teach me.

Although I don't actually "know" them from Adam, I do know that what they bring to the table interests me greatly. Do I dismiss it out of hand because they might not happen to have the right piece of paper that says they're "qualified"......whatever the hell that means? Or do I just accept it for what it is and be thankful that there's something to learn.........or more importantly, someone willing to impart the knowledge to begin with........regardless of a piece of paper that says they have the correct credentials to do so?


Platinum Member
I was all of 10, maybe 11, when my folks gifted me with some money for my birthday for a few drum lessons. I put in an hour one evening with the teacher, arrived home to inform the parents that drum lessons were officially over, and that was that.

The teacher I had could have had all the credentials in the world, but the shame of it was, even at the age I was I could outplay him when it came to rudiments, so credentials mean not a thing. The proof is in the pudding.


Silver Member
I teach drum lessons at Guitar Center Studios I'm self-taught and I've got an unimpressive resume but I'm teaching mainly 6-12-year-old beginners.

If you're teaching a 6-year-old the basics like how to hold a drumstick and how to play a simple beat or a paradiddle it doesn't matter where you went to school or whether or not you played with Bon Jovi, all that matters is that you can keep the child interested in what you're showing them and that the information you give them is being put to use. With younger students a lot of the time they just want to make noise and don't have much of an attention span so you have to find silly/fun ways to get them to learn, it's about having patience and keeping them interested not having killer chops and whether or not you studied at Berklee or where ever with who ever.

When you get past the intermediate skill level and into more advanced drumming and into more specialized aspects I'd say that's when you should ask for the teacher's credentials.

If I wanted to get a new roof on my house I'd make sure whoever I went to was qualified, but if I need someone to watch my cat while I'm on vacation I'm not going to ask for their previous cat experience and where they studied cat sitting.


Senior Member
It is also a matter of standardization as well.

I was brought up learning piano at the age of 5. Piano is one of the most widely known instruments in the world and easiest to find a qualified teacher for because of wider standards of acceptance and credentials to be a teacher available. They have plethora of standards of education for it whether it be RCM or Czerny curriculum. While drumming has similar curriculum systems, difference in quality and education level of teachers available are vastly diverse and few and far between in terms of finding similar teaching methods, where as u may be able to run into 10 piano teachers in ur local area using the exact same set of curriculum even though theyre playing style may be slightly different from one another.

I guess what i am trying to say is that drum teachers are generally performers first, teachers second. A lot of piano instructors straight up decide to go the teaching route. To sum it up, i dont think its possible to standardize drum teachers to have credentials if they dont want to lol


Platinum Member
There's no certifying agency, and no credential issued for drum teachers, and no enforcing body to make anyone show anything, so the question of "should" is moot. It's really up to individual consumers and studios hiring teachers to figure out if a teacher is qualified to teach.


Platinum Member

Colaiuta took lessons from Bernard Purdie who had no academic credentials.

You either can or cannot teach.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
We sort of have to differentiate a bit.

If you go to a pro you are wiling o pay, you are motivated and you know the deal.

Much of what I do is teaching really young kids that hopefully will be fully self motivated 2-4 years down the line.


Senior Member
A lot of guys I,ve known over the years who considered themselves drum teachers were unaware of their own limitations. They had the basics down and played them over and over which would eventually get on my nerves when you see him play.Someone here said its those early lessons that can have a negative impact on the younger folks and I agree 100%.
I'm not saying drummers are incapable of becoming teachers, but at times its these same guys that get laid off from work and the first thing they do is pick up a paint brush or drive a cab.
Parents who pay good money for their childs lessons are not well informed on this subject. They can be fooled fairly easily, and I often see the results of that.


Platinum Member
With private instruction, the burden of vetting an instructor is completely on the buyer.

With taxpayer funded instruction, the vetting is done by the government. In the US, the instructor must be a teacher (college grad, teaching cert). In many instances you end up with a "teacher of music", instead of a "music teacher".

Under no circumstances should we ever want the government to regulate private instruction. We'll end up in a situation like they have now where people are threatened with jail for braiding hair without a cosmetology license. In other cases, qualified instructors cannot teach across state lines due to mismatched standards.

I agree that bad instructors do more harm than good, but that's just how the world works. If you want to protect yourself, have an attorney draw up a contract.

When I taught guitar, I was in my late teens / early 20's. I had not yet purchased a HS diploma. I taught beginners and paid attention only to the fundamentals of playing (chord shapes and changes, the three primary scales, and focused mainly on non-destructive technique). I did teach reading fundamentals, and used sheet music to communicate, but never in an purely academic sense. After 40 years, I still cannot sight-read guitar sheet music of moderate complexity. I checked in a decade ago and had slightly over a 50% success rate of students that stuck with the instrument in some capacity, two of which are now school music teachers. Not sure if I was good or lucky.

Someone's Dad

Senior Member
My boy is having drum lessons and guitar lessons. They couldn't be more different.

The drum lessons are formal, one-to-one, half hour sessions, all styles of music, working through the Trinity College music grade exams to give a clear idea of progress with an experienced teacher.

The guitar lessons are informal, much less focused on technique or theory, rock and pop, sometimes with two students to a tutor, 45 minutes of tuition followed by 15 minutes jamming with other students on drums, bass etc.

I pay about the same for both. My boy has different ambitions for each instrument. I'm happy with how they're both working out for him.

You can only really judge the quality of teaching by the student's enjoyment and their progress against their own goals. If it works, great. If not, then try something different.