Again, there we go with the “new normal” buzzword… But it’s unavoidable! Unfortunately, a few of my students have had COVID-19 and whilst, thankfully, they’ve come out the other side without any apparent long-term adversities, online drum lessons will continue for the foreseeable future.
So, let’s get straight into it… Here are my thoughts and experience of teaching drums online, as well as the general online drum lesson environment throughout the pandemic so far. Whether you’re a student or teacher, I hope you find these considerations useful!
Normalisation of the teaching online environment
This is a great development for education in general; there’s really no excuse in doing face-to-face lessons and risk becoming infected, or infecting someone else. Willingly offering and giving face-to-face lessons, particularly in a small space and without the necessary protective gear whilst the infection rate has been high, is irresponsible.
Learning drums online does not replace face-to-face lessons, but it’s a great alternative
Great drummer does not equal great teacher
With most other sources of income for musicians gone, drummers are turning to teaching to make ends meet. Whilst I understand it’s important to try and find work somehow, a good drummer does not make a good teacher. If teaching is not something you’re passionate about, students won’t benefit from it, and you won’t enjoy it… Nobody wins.
Yes, teaching means income but it’s not something to do for a quick buck. Conversely, you might find that you’ve really liked teaching, and want to pursue it further! As for me, I’ve been care passionately about education, and have been teaching for many years to students of different ages, levels and students with S.E.N (learn about my drum lessons here), so I count myself lucky in that respect.
Online drum lessons = global market
One of the best things about online drum lessons is that we’re not restricted by borders or distance. If you have an internet connection, we’re half way there, really! Language, speaking of borders, is probably the biggest restricting factor these days.
This is a really important consideration, because our communication skills are really put to the test when teaching effectively. Similarly, globalisation has homogenised certain global cultural aspects. However, it’s important to be aware of that not all cultures are the same.
Personally, I’ve been lucky to have been raised in an international environment. Having lived in Europe, South America, the Middle East, I grew up going to International schools. I’ve also extensively travelled internationally for work so I have good experience in this. Whilst all that stuff helps, the biggest takeaway from it is to keep an open mind!
As students we can learn from anyone in the world, and as teachers we can teach students wherever they may be
Similarly, we don’t actually need super fancy equipment in order to give online drum lessons… To me, the quality of the teacher far outweighs the quality of the gear we use to teach. Of course, having multiple cameras, and audio interface to run the audio through helps, a full kit setup most certainly helps, but it isn’t 100% necessary.
Of course, a good camera angle and decent audio are important to demonstrate things, this goes without saying. That said, apps like EpocCam let you turn your smartphone into a webcam, enabling you to have a multi-camera setup with minimal investment! You can also find really cheap but sturdy tripods, as well as phone holders on Amazon too.
Similarly, if you’re stuck teaching at home with no drumset, no problem… There are tons of things which can be taught on the pad.
My approach to online drum lessons
Here I’d like to share my approach to online drum lessons. As previously mentioned, if you’re a student or a teacher, I hope these are helpful things for you to think about.
I’ve noticed that my approach to teaching online is mostly similar to how I approach face-to-face lessons. However, there are some factors that, depending on the student, I’m far more flexible with. Here are brief thoughts on some of these. For instance:
Depending on the student’s age, ability, focus, attention span and goals, I’ve adapted my teaching priorities. My approach to engagement has heightened. The lack of a face-to-face, in-person interaction means that I have to make sure that the student is engaged throughout.
For beginners, this may mean learning grooves and songs taking even more of a central role. As such, specific technical stuff I might address over several lessons and less in-depth unless it’s the focus of the lesson.
Like I said, it’s different for every student, but something I’ve noticed. Adapting my style to the environment has been important!
Set the tone… Be positive
More than ever, we have to understand that, with kids in particular and from a mental health perspective in general, making the lesson enjoyable and a positive experience that partly lets the student forget about everything else, is important.
With adults and, particularly children, taking break gives the student a chance to digest all the information and makes the lesson a bit lighter and more fun.
Taking short breaks during online lessons helps focus the mind and can aid long-term memory
Depending on the student and their age, being more conscious of how long I’m spending on each topic I have planned is important. Some students prefer to stay on one particular task for longer, where as other students like more variety.
Using apps / software like Skype and Zoom, you can record lessons (with permission from the students) which can then be downloaded and used for their reference.
Creating neat PDFs in real time
Using software like the brilliant, and free, MuseScore, I’m able to produce neat transcriptions and exercises for students pretty much in real time!
Thanks for reading!
If you’re interested in taking online drum lessons, check out my drum lessons and get in touch!
You can also check out some FREE video lessons with downloadable PDFs on my blog, like this one about a great Half-time Paradiddle Fill.
And, have a look at and follow me on Instagram where I post fun educational stuff every week!
Thanks for reading!