Where to go after Trinity Drum gradings..?

Someone's Dad

Senior Member
My boy just passed his Trinity Grade 8 Drum Kit exam with distinction (which is great and we're all very proud). But what next?

The structure of the Trinity program has been great to keep him motivated and practising over the last four years. And I'm looking for something to fill that gap. A Trinity Performance Diploma is the obvious answer, but it's apparently 900 hours of effort and a significant jump in difficulty and commitment. He'll be sixteen in September, so there's exams, school work and all that stuff to focus on too. And then there's the guitar - he's now playing guitar for the school Big Band to give other kids the chance to play the drum kit. And he plays guitar with his garage band because he knows more drummers than guitarists. I'm a bit worried that the joy of learning something new (and the seductive nature of guitar effects pedals) will drag him away from the drum kit.

I'm sure his drum teacher will have ideas, but I thought I'd seek the wisdom of the forum. Anyone had experience of the Trinity performance diplomas? Are there any alternatives for structured learning? Is there any real substitute for playing with others?

All thoughts appreciated.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Is there any real substitute for playing with others?
Speaking as a private drum lesson teacher of many years: no, and there never will be. There is no substitute for that time spent "in the driver's seat".

I'm a bit worried that the joy of learning something new (and the seductive nature of guitar effects pedals) will drag him away from the drum kit.
Why is it so important to you, that your son play drums, and not guitar? His drum education is not wasted, because that rhythm training will transfer to his guitar playing (or to any other instrument).
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
If i would have a son that age and had to choose between letting him become a skilled drummer or a skilled guitar player, i would advice him strongly to become a skilled guitar player, especially when he also has a kinda decent vocal..

For such people there is always work, for a skilled drummer (at least where i live) not that much..
 

Someone's Dad

Senior Member
Why is it so important to you, that your son play drums, and not guitar? His drum education is not wasted, because that rhythm training will transfer to his guitar playing (or to any other instrument).
That’s a good challenge. And I definitely agree that no musical learning is ever a waste - he’s picked up the guitar much more easily because of the skills he’s learned through drumming.
I do want him to play guitar, and piano, and any other instrument he can get his hands on, but he has shown real potential on the drum kit and I’d like him to continue to develop that potential to see how far he can go. He enjoys drumming right now and if he gets the opportunities to play with others I’m sure he’ll keep enjoying it. But I’m worried that as his progression inevitably plateaus he may start to see drumming more as hard work than fun. So in my mind, it’s about finding ways to keep the hard work rewarding for him.
 
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Someone's Dad

Senior Member
If i would have a son that age and had to choose between letting him become a skilled drummer or a skilled guitar player, i would advice him strongly to become a skilled guitar player, especially when he also has a kinda decent vocal..
Well, my boy’s no singer... but I take your point.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
But I’m worried that as his progression inevitably plateaus he may start to see drumming more as hard work than fun. So in my mind, it’s about finding ways to keep the hard work rewarding for him.
It's actually very good for him to have experience on more than one instrument. I guess the real question is: does he want to study music at a university, and, if so, what sort of program? Jazz? Production? Composition?

This "Trinity Performance Diploma" may be good in lots of ways, but it will not guarantee that he'll be ready for a university audition. That's where your involvement comes in: finding out what skills the colleges and universities are looking for, and working to get those skills developed. Usually, a university jazz program audition involves sight-reading (best learned in a school band setting), knowledge of musical styles (medium swing, latin, afro-cuban, etc.), a prepared solo/piece, and possibly playing live with other members and faculty. Bear in mind that university music programs tend to involve lots of piano, ear-training, and music theory, so it's best if your son can prep those things in advance, and pass out of those classes.

If your son intends to study music classes at the college level, then get him into piano/theory/ear-training classes with a teacher who can impart those skills, ASAP. And allow him to continue on both drums and guitar. You know what's not fun? Being the worst musician in the whole university/college...
 

Someone's Dad

Senior Member
I appreciate the time that you’ve taken to respond here and the insight that you’ve offered. My boy has got three years left at school and had set his sights on the Tonmeister Music and Sound Recording Degree course at Surrey University. But his music teachers and his drum teacher have suggested that he may have the potential to apply for a conservatoire. I don’t know if that’s realistic and of course, he needs to decide what he wants to do and understand the commitment required for either option.
The boy’s on track with most of your recommendations - his theory and sight-reading are good (that’s a big part of the drum grading exams and he’s just taken the ABRSM grade 5 written theory exam). He’s studying GCSE music with the intention to study A level music next year. He has reached a standard that’s enabled him to perform solo and ensemble pieces on guitar and piano. He’s played drums and percussion with his school Big Band, Orchestra, Latin percussion ensemble and improvisational Jazz group.
So if he maintains his momentum over the next three years, maybe a music degree with drum kit as his principal study is feasible. But it’s a competitive field, so he’s really going to have to want it for himself.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
You're welcome! I feel like a conservatory or music performance degree is much more valuable than sound recording. It's not the degree itself that is important (unless you want to teach at the college level), of course, but who you're meeting and working with, as you're pursuing it. Who is noticing your playing, the network of colleagues you're building, etc. will ultimately become more important than learning how to record and mix.

Most successful musicians will tell you that a variety of skills is necessary to build a career as a musician. They play an instrument very well, sure, but they can also write out horn parts for a funk band, or arrange strings for a pop recording session, mix/edit/produce music on a computer, write a commercial jingle, score music for a TV ad, sing backup vocals, etc.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
If i would have a son that age and had to choose between letting him become a skilled drummer or a skilled guitar player, i would advice him strongly to become a skilled guitar player, especially when he also has a kinda decent vocal..

For such people there is always work, for a skilled drummer (at least where i live) not that much..

If I would have a son that age and had to choose between letting him become a skilled drummer or a skilled guitar player, I would advise him strongly to become a skilled KEYBOARD player !!!!!!!!!!
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I am greatly encouraged that you have taken such a strong interest in your son and his success. Maybe show him some of these answers and discuss wwith him just where he'd like to be in five years. Any music education is great overall. My only question is how long has he been playing the drums and the guitar. Has he been playing guitar as long as drums and does he have a teacher for the guitar? After tasting both he may like one much better, but as was said before no education is wasted. Props to you Dad.
 

Someone's Dad

Senior Member
I am greatly encouraged that you have taken such a strong interest in your son and his success. Maybe show him some of these answers and discuss wwith him just where he'd like to be in five years. Any music education is great overall. My only question is how long has he been playing the drums and the guitar. Has he been playing guitar as long as drums and does he have a teacher for the guitar? After tasting both he may like one much better, but as was said before no education is wasted. Props to you Dad.
Cheers. He's been playing the drums for almost four years with structured weekly lessons. The guitar for a couple of years, but largely self taught with some informal lessons along the way. With drums, it's been a variety of musical styles with the school orchestra, big band and jazz group (and some School of Rock-type stuff). On the guitar; mainly rock/pop, but he has just started playing guitar with the school big band to let some other kids play the drum kit.

Locally guitar seems to be dying - few kids play and even fewer play well. That's why he's ended up playing guitar in his garage band. He's known as one of the best guitarists in his school, but he's definitely in the category of "bigger fish in a small pond". There are kids with better classical technique, but his confidence to perform with the syncopation and rhythm that he's learned from the drums go a long way.

Drums are his favourite instrument, but most of all he likes making music and playing live, whatever the instrument. In the last year or so, he's taught himself some piano and played/sang a couple of pieces at his recent school concert (his vocals are functional - he has no ambition to be a singer). And it's all great for his development as a musician and I don't want to discourage anything.

But I feel like he needs to find new opportunities to play drums with others if he's going to maintain his enthusiasm and development. The latest suggestion from school is that he should look at one of the weekend junior jazz programmes that are run by Conservatoires in London. Not sure how realistic that is, but we'll encourage him to audition next year.

One last thing - I am constantly sharing posts and advice from this forum with him, so thanks to all.
 

TMe

Senior Member
I hesitate to comment because I'm not a professional musician, but... from what I gather...

If a kid wants a career in music, drumming is a hard row to hoe. It would be wise to know guitar or piano as well as drums. In North America, it's impossible to get a degree in music from most schools playing only drums. It's also rather difficult to write songs on a drum kit. So my vote would be for guitar as an instrument to study (if your kid isn't into piano).

Having said that, the popularity of guitar seems to be waning and the guitar virtuoso's of today are starting to look like the star clarinet players of yesteryear. For someone wanting a career in music, bass might be a better choice for a performance instrument. Good bassists are difficult to find. Drums and guitars are increasingly replaced by electronics, whereas a real bassist is still usually preferred for even the most artificial music.

At least this is what I gather, from reading, listening to interviews, and speaking with people who work in the industry or teach music.
 
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