It’s a noisy hobby, but one that can be very enjoyable and rewarding for a child. It’s a great way to encourage self-expression, creativity, and an appreciation of all music. It can be a big investment, or as simple as a set of sticks and a practice drum pad. If you are thinking about giving drum lessons to kids, consider these points as you begin the journey.
Section 1. How Playing Drums Can Teach Kids to Express Themselves
Drums have been used as a means of self-expression for a long, long time. The various rhythms have been used as a means of communication between humans. We see them in marching bands, in African tribal celebrations, and in Native American ceremonies, to name a few. Many cultures have used drums expressively over the years, and they can take on a spiritual aspect.
Today, drum circles are a big thing. A group of people sit in a circle and play hand drums. The idea is that sharing the rhythms with one another will develop into a collective rhythm. The result is an increase in the feeling of connection within the group. Drum circles can include children of all ages, and are considered to be very therapeutic.
Playing the drums can provide a good physical workout, while it’s helping to facilitate self-expression and release stress. Practicing rudiments is essential. But, plenty of time should also be spent letting the child experiment and play what they want. During this time, they may realize the biggest self-expression benefit.
Section 2. How Playing Drums Can Give Kids Something Constructive to Do with Their Time
The drums are a musical instrument. Like any other instrument, they require a practice regimen. Be sure that a regularly scheduled practice time is available for the child. If you do not play the drums yourself, consider getting some lessons for the child. Private lessons are usually available through your local music store.
Most kids have an innate love of music, especially popular music. Learning to play the drums to popular songs can give them goals to set and achieve.
The discipline involved in regular practice is benefit enough. But, you are also encouraging the child’s interest in music. Allowing the child space to be creative in their drumming is essential. Let them go crazy from time to time.
Section 3. Proper Playing Position
It’s important to have the right size drum set for the child, so that they can use the proper posture to play. For younger kids, buy a beginner’s drum set. Kids that are older or taller can play on a full, standard size drum set.
They should sit up straight. Slouching will bring pain in the back, shoulders, and neck. The stool should be adjusted up or down so that their feet can reach the pedals of the drum set. Keep the knees around a 90-degree angle. Observe and adjust the stool if the child is leaning in. That will lead to fatigue and lower back pain. Take care that good posture is used, or the child may lose interest in the drums early on.
Section 4. How to Hold the Drum Sticks
There are a variety of grip styles that can be used on the drumstick when playing the drums. Some constants are that they should be held between the thumb and index finger, about a third of the way up the stick. It’s important that the sticks be balanced and allow for a good swing. Finding the balance is tricky at first, but becomes second nature as playing progresses. We’ll look at the two main grip distinctions here.
This style grip is very common in jazz drumming and in corps drumming. Corp drummers carry their drum on their hip. It’s difficult to use a matched grip, where the stick is held the same in both hands. Also, the traditional grip is a softer tap. Rather than gripping the sticks, they rest in the pocket of the thumb and index finger. Find the balance, and rest the stick on your last two fingers.
This is the style grip that’s popular in rock drumming, and is now accepted for most kinds of drumming. It simply means that both hands are holding the stick the same way. The stick is gripped with the thumb and index finger directly. Find the balance, and close your grip with the other fingers. You get a lot more power in playing with a matched grip. That’s why it’s more popular in rock drumming. Most drummers use the matched grip now, but older drummers feel that it’s important to know how to use the traditional grip.
Section 5. Practicing Basic Rhythms
Depending on the age of the child, it’s recommended that they practice in shorter, more frequent sessions. Going for a marathon practice session may make them lose interest. If the noise gets to be too much, invest in a drum pad for the child to practice on. They get the simulation of hitting a drum head, but without the noise.
Speaking of noise, make sure that the child has some form of ear protection when playing on the drum set to avoid damaging the hearing. You can use foam ear plugs, or noise blocking headphones.
When the child is starting out, consider using a metronome mastering the beat. It will serve as a guide and will ensure that the beats are even. Probably the most important thing to practice, especially for the beginner, is rudiments. These include:
• Single Stroke Roll
• Double Stroke Roll
• Single Paradiddle
• Double Paradiddle
• Flam Tap
• Multiple Bounce Roll
These are just a few of the rudiments that drummers will become familiar with. Practicing rudiments is the equivalent of practicing scales on a piano, or with a vocal coach. Every sticking pattern, and every rhythm, will be made up of these rudiments, and mastery is essential.
The child should be spending about half their practice time on rudiments, and the other half playing whatever they want. They need a combination of both activities to advance as a young drummer.