Son starting lessons - Help

chuckles

Junior Member
My son just turned 8. He has been asking to take drum lessons for about a year, but I was worried it was just a phase (we had been burned a bit by his older brother and the guitar). Their interest, like many others I'm sure, was sparked by Rock Band/Guitar Hero. I am fully aware that Rock Band is in no way a substitute for learning an instrument, so please don't berate me for that. We love it as a family activity and as a tool for making my kids aware of older music and for learning how instruments interact in a song I think it is a tremendous thing. They listen to drum/bass/guitar parts now, and have become critical listeners. I love it.

But back to my dilemma. My youngest (8) wants to take drum lessons and my oldest (10) wants to revisit guitar lessons. I'm all for that, but I'm not interested in the nagging to practice. So what I've done as a "test/incentive" for them is create a practice schedule. Every day they practice they get some points. The first day they get 1 point. If they practice 2 days in a row, they get 2 points for that second day. 3 days in a row, they get 3 points on that 3rd day...up to a maximum of 5 points per day. If they skip a day they return back to 1 point the next day they practice and they have to work themselves back up to 5 points. As "practice" my oldest is working through a beginners blues guitar DVD...which at this point basically means playing some chords over and over. My youngest has to play Rock Band. yes, I know. I'm the only father in the world forcing his son to play video games :). But at his age, I figure it is tremendous practice for purposes of coordination and independence. Plus he's learning something about rhythms. His ability to hit the syncopated parts has increased tremendously in the last month. When they have amassed 200 points (should take about a month and a half), I will sign them up for lessons. After that, I will continue the point system as incentive to practice daily. They will get money (something like $25/200pts) for new gear with those points (basically a supplement to their allowance).

So my two questions:

1) Good idea on the plan above? My worry with the young drummer is that I'm doing some harm with him by drilling in any bad habits he might have. For example, I keep telling him to use a lighter touch, and to use his wrist more rather than hinging at the elbow...to let the stick bounce. he's getting better, but it's not great. (he gets about 95-99 on medium difficulty).

2) What set to buy him when he's ready for lessons? I know, you will all say buy used. Remember, I know NOTHING about drums. I have some local contacts (my brother is in a band) that could help, but I'm in a relatively small town and it's 2.5 hours from nearest metro area (Seattle). That's a long way to drive to save a few bucks on a beginners set..and I'd have to haul a buddy over or be in danger of buying some warped POS. Plus, my kid is 8. Being able to pick out a finish, and buying a new set all has some value. So what is a good set to start with? I will need everything. I have done a bunch of research, but still trying to decide. it's very hard not to creep up into the Catalina Birch, or Meridian Birch range when you read reviews/forums. Donn Bennett in Seattle has the Meridian Birch on sale http://bennettdrums.com/sites/default/files/WINTER SALE_WEBSITE.htm, but not sure on final price. But what would you get your 8 year old? if he doesn't stick with it, I figure either I'll take it up (I love banging away too :) ) or the resale on a good kit will be much higher than a throw-away starter kids set....

HELP PLEASE!!! I'm a compulsive researcher....Gretsch Catalina, Tama Imperialstar, Taye Rock Pro, Ludwig Pinnacle, Pearl Escort, Pacific, Mapex, Yamaha Stage Custom ?!?!?!

Mike
 

KBadd

Silver Member
Mike,

Remember he's 8. I like the points system because they have to provide the practice schedule themselves. Do not spend too much coin on this kid yet. Remember, Buddy Rich could have smoked all of us on this forum using buckets and trash can lids. If your son is a prodigy or if he's really interested and proves it by practicing regularly THEN go spend, but not too much. ($300.00)

My bass players son who is 16 can really rock hard and is good.......he plays on a real piece o crap kit. I convinced papa to spring and get him a new Mapex kit and he won't spend over $1000.00. Wait til sonny proves SOMETHING to you THEN you can make a better decision.

My 2 cents.

KBadd
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
You might be thinking about everything but the most important thing - finding a good teacher. He probably will only build bad habits by only playing Rock Band with no guidance. He will not learn to read either.

In the United States, private music instructors are not certified by the state or any other department, so there are many qualified instructors as well as people who (in my opinion) do more harm than good. I will give you some things to look for in a drum teacher.

* The student should learn to read music. While this may seem obvious, there are many instructors who teach by ear. Within the first two months, the student should be able to play the basic note values (quarters, eights, 16th notes) as well as have a working knowledge of many musical terms (dynamics, repeats, musical symbols, etc.)

* The student should be taught a correct technique that works with the body. This is extremely important to avoid injuries such as carpal tunnel and tendinitis. It also allows for execution of musical ideas.

* The student should be taught various musical styles. Many teachers only teach rock beats. The student should be able to play rock, jazz, Latin, Broadway, etc... This will help if he need to play in a school musical, jazz band, or other ensembles.

While there are other things to look for, this will get him off to a good start. All of my students that auditioned for district band this year (both high school and middle school) placed in the top percentile. If he finds someone who teaches the above techniques, he should be able to excel as well.

The set can wait - sign him up for lessons first.

Please feel free to respond if you have any questions.

Jeff
 

chuckles

Junior Member
Thanks for the quick replies guys.

I have already contacted a teacher to check on availability. You can check out his web page here:
http://wenatcheedrums.musicteachershelper.com/about-lessons

My brother briefly took lessons from him and recommended him.

I worry that just sending him to a lesson and expecting him to practice 30 minutes a day on a practice pad will kill his interest in a hurry. While you and I may recognize the importance of the fundamentals, he wants to be a rock drummer. So a little of both is necessary at this stage, IMO.

So if I stick with $300, am I going to regret that in 6 months? I would ask his teacher, but he's affiliated with a music store, so I'm sure he's somewhat obligated to funnel me there (and they are FULL price, and then some).

Thanks again.

Mike
 

gwaco

Senior Member
you can't go wrong with anything that jeff post . kinda from the horses mouth thing .
i have a daughter thats 12 and i will say the best thing i did was get her to a good teacher. find one that he feels comfortable . watch how he interacts with the teacher , you'll know when you have the right one just by your sons complete undivided attention towards the teacher .
as far as what to do about a set , i'm a complete sucker ! i like to build things anyways so she started off better than most . but i will suggest this , since he likes the video games how about getting him something like a beatnik analyzer , or equivalent . these have many features that may make him feel like hes playing a video game of sorts but as a parent you'll know otherwise !
 

KBadd

Silver Member
Get him a practice pad kit.......wait on the real thing.....he's 8. He will either like doing it or turn off.

Regarding teachers....oh yes I forgot my 2 cents on that. I took private lessons for several years. Technique, stick control, Ted Reed's book, Louis Bellson's book. My former teacher was Gene Okamoto, now a product manager for Pearl for many years.

KBadd
 

gwaco

Senior Member
Thanks for the quick replies guys.

I have already contacted a teacher to check on availability. You can check out his web page here:
http://wenatcheedrums.musicteachershelper.com/about-lessons

My brother briefly took lessons from him and recommended him.

I worry that just sending him to a lesson and expecting him to practice 30 minutes a day on a practice pad will kill his interest in a hurry. While you and I may recognize the importance of the fundamentals, he wants to be a rock drummer. So a little of both is necessary at this stage, IMO.

So if I stick with $300, am I going to regret that in 6 months? I would ask his teacher, but he's affiliated with a music store, so I'm sure he's somewhat obligated to funnel me there (and they are FULL price, and then some).

Thanks again.

Mike
mike, you will have to be on him to practice. my daughter has to practice atleast 5 days a week for hour . theres somedays she does'nt want to but i push her to and i know very quickly whether she just wants to be lazy or really is not in the mood to practice. if its the second then i will cut her slack but usually once shes gets on the horse shes good to go . none of its written in stone but i try my best to be consistant with her .
a good teacher should be able to give you an idea after a few lessons as to whether your son is truely interested in learning or not .
 

ddocimo

Junior Member
Pearl Forum

HELP PLEASE!!! I'm a compulsive researcher....
Gretsch Catalina, Tama Imperialstar, Taye Rock Pro, Ludwig Pinnacle, Pearl Escort, Pacific, Mapex, Yamaha Stage Custom ?!?!?!

Mike
 

Drums101

Senior Member
Please I would suggest not having the kid play drums yet. Wait till he matures a little more at age say 10. Keep him on Rock Band or something.
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
Thanks for the quick replies guys.

I have already contacted a teacher to check on availability. You can check out his web page here:
http://wenatcheedrums.musicteachershelper.com/about-lessons

My brother briefly took lessons from him and recommended him.

I worry that just sending him to a lesson and expecting him to practice 30 minutes a day on a practice pad will kill his interest in a hurry. While you and I may recognize the importance of the fundamentals, he wants to be a rock drummer. So a little of both is necessary at this stage, IMO.

So if I stick with $300, am I going to regret that in 6 months? I would ask his teacher, but he's affiliated with a music store, so I'm sure he's somewhat obligated to funnel me there (and they are FULL price, and then some).

Thanks again.

Mike
I am more in the area of cheap gear is worthless the moment it walks out the door of the store. You might as well buy used gear in my opinion. You will get a higher quality kit that may not need to be replaced so quickly and at the same time may hold it's value a bit more. It will definitely hold value if you go the vintage route with a classic American brand for the shells especially.

If you are going to buy new, I would look in the hardware side of things.
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
Please I would suggest not having the kid play drums yet. Wait till he matures a little more at age say 10. Keep him on Rock Band or something.
I have a number of students that prove the above opinion wrong. Start him now.

Jeff
 

brianbags

Member
I don't have any advice for you about your problem but I want to comment about the Rock Band thing...

I don't know what the overall consensus on Rock Band/Guitar Hero, but I also went from that to real drums. Granted I'm not 8 years old so it might be a little bit different, but I definitely think it can't hurt and it also sparked my interest from the start.

I started lessons in May of last year and bought an electronic kit around the same time. I switched that out for an acoustic in August, so I always say i've been playing since August because real drums are a TOTALLY different ballgame than anything else.

Anyways, after about 6 months I can play all Green Day, and I consider that a big accomplishment because some of their songs are absolutely not easy.

So I guess my point is here that as I said before, (and I don't know what you're expecting from him coming from a video game) real drums are different than anything else. I do think Rock Band helped a lot for me but the drums are hard, so don't expect it to put him too far ahead.

I realize this maybe doesn't contribute to the conversation much (unless the OP was wondering the stuff I said) but I just wanted to put my opinion out there on Rock Band because it was really a big deal for me.
 

chuckles

Junior Member
Thanks all who have replied. Whether I end up taking your advice or not, it is still appreciated.

I understand the arguments against RockBand...that it doesn't really teach you how to play an instrument. Personally, I just don't buy that completely for the drums, and frankly even the guitar. It doesn't teach a lot, but it does teach something. For drums, it helps with independence (not an insignificant thing), beat recognition, rhythmic patterns, all sorts of things. Of course it has limitations, but so does an 8 year old. Nobody is going to convince me that it does more harm than good. Sure, I'd like to ensure that his grip his correct. I'd love to have his technique be sound, but those are correctable. Right now he's learning to love music, and he's LISTENING. How can that be bad?

I spent the evening tonight playing a variety of CD's for my two boys (at their request) describing the bands, players, sounds, history, etc. They LOVE it. Seriously, we got home from dinner and they asked if we could spent the night listening to tunes. Dave Brubek, Little Feat, Led Zepplin, Allman Brothers, Steely Dan, Phish, Gov't Mule, My 8 year old is commenting on how he likes the ride cymbal in Tale Five. My 10 year old loves the way Warren Haynes sounds on the Mule songs. Love of music is so much more important right now than making sure they are practicing for an hour every night on some rote pattern. Obviously there is a place for fundamentals/rudiments, and we'll get there. We got my youngest a practice pad tonight and he banged away for awhile before bed. But I don't want to squash their inherent love of music right now with dull, repititious drills.

I do appreciate the comments. Additional perspectives are always good, and I may be missing the boat on some things. Will (my 8 year old) is really looking forward to having a kit to bang around with, and my oldest is also hoping to "jam" a little with his younger brother as soon as possible. I'm encouraging that. My question is what is the smartest way to approach that. Get a cheap starter ($300) for now so that he'll appreciate the upgrade when it happens and he's more "vested" in it? Or, go ahead and spend a little more now ($600-800) so that he has quality stuff from the get-go and let him grow into it and so I don't have to re-buy stuff.

Mike
 

bigd

Silver Member
He's my input on the situation. I have a 14 year old son who is a gifted young percussionist who studies with a college professor of percussion. I started him at around age 7.

I DON"T LIKE your practice routine. Here's why.

1) It's more important that he practice CORRECTLY then the amount of time spent.
10 minutes of correct practice is better then 60 minutes of improper practice.

2) Young kids noodle practice. They play with things. Ten minutes here, 5 minutes there. My son is finally at 14 is just starting practicing in a serious way and only in the last month or so.

3) If the practice routine is too strict it will make the kid hate playing quicker then if it's looser and the QUALITY of practice is good.

My recommendation is that you find a qualified teacher, make sure you are in the lessons with him the entire time. 1 so you can see how he likes it and reacts to the teacher and 2 so you can learn the lesson and say " didn't your teacher tell you to do it like this" It's well worth the effort and it's a lot of fun to see your child enjoy and excell at music. Have fun and hang in there.

Good luck.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I definitely agree with bigd here. Not only for the reasons stated, but also I think your rewards program is a little complicated for an eight year old child. I would recommend a 20-30 minute period outlined every day perhaps after dinner, and a very quantifiable reward for daily practice: an ipod nano, a video game, a new snare drum, a new cymbal.
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
I understand the arguments against RockBand...that it doesn't really teach you how to play an instrument. Personally, I just don't buy that completely for the drums, and frankly even the guitar. It doesn't teach a lot, but it does teach something. For drums, it helps with independence (not an insignificant thing), beat recognition, rhythmic patterns, all sorts of things. Of course it has limitations, but so does an 8 year old. Nobody is going to convince me that it does more harm than good. Sure, I'd like to ensure that his grip his correct. I'd love to have his technique be sound, but those are correctable. Right now he's learning to love music, and he's LISTENING. How can that be bad?
I can see your point, but it sounds like you are not a drummer yourself. Since you do want drummer's opinions, take this into consideration (along with what Deltadrummer and others have said):

You want your son to start a sport, but instead of enrolling him in a sports league where he will learn from trained professionals and actually play the sport, you have him play wii or a similar video game and rationalize that the experience (while not being the same) is still beneficial. Well yes (hand eye coordination, a bit of motion) but how beneficial?

Jeff
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
What percussion do these kids play? Do they accomplish that much each lesson?
Of course they accomplish a lot. If they didn't, I would just be taking the parent's money. That would not be fair of me. I hope that's not what you are insinuating.


With children of that age, I start each lesson on snare drum. Here they learn to read rhythmic notation and develop hand technique. From there we move to mallet percussion (concert bells) where we learn melodic notation, musical form, etc... Then we move to drum set where we work on styles, coordination and reading.


No offense to Drums 101, but it seems as if you have not been introduced to what young children do with Suzuki violin. They start the instrument much younger than 8. My wife has a violin student who is 8 - started when she was 4 - and is now playing some Bach pieces.

Jeff
 
Last edited:
Top