No band would be complete without a drummer. The Beatles famously fired their original drummer to get Ringo, and Adam and the Ants decided they needed two drummers, at the same time.
Drums set the tempo for live music playing, they add color and texture. Many would argue that the drummer is the driver of the band or the backbone. Where would that famous Phil Collins song – In The Air Tonight – be without his marvelous intro?
According to Statista, around 106,000 drum kits were sold in the United States in 2020, as veterans replaced their kits, and newcomers took up the instruments.
The drums are a popular instrument for children, but there are some issues when learning on a kit at home.
How old should your child be when learning the drums?
As a parent who has visited toy shops more than once, you are no doubt aware of the versions of musical instruments aimed at children. There are toy guitars with keyboards instead of strings, microphones, and colorful xylophones. There are also drums.
There are drums that are aimed squarely at toddlers. Some of these are colorful novelty drums, but others are far more professional. As children get older there are junior sets for different age ranges from around 3 or 4 years of age upwards.
Many, though, would say that 6 to 7 years would be a good age to start learning the drums. This doesn’t mean that younger children cannot learn, this is just a general age. Some children develop faster, and if they have the motivation to learn, and focus, they can start earlier.
Basic requirements for a child learning to drum are:
- Being able to hold the drumsticks
- They have patience and can focus
- They want to learn and love music
- They can count, at least until 4
They need to have some basic rhythm and have some desire to learn an instrument. If so, then maybe it is time to invest in a drum kit for them.
What will a child get out of learning to play the drums?
Playing an instrument gives the player a certain amount of benefits. Some of these are physical, as drummers will develop strength. Their overall cardio will improve but don’t expect big muscles, drumming is more about endurance.
Playing the drums can also help with mental wellness as stress levels will be reduced by the activity, and it’s a great way to remove feelings of frustration or even sadness. Also, their confidence will grow as their playing progresses.
Anyone playing the drums or percussion will be able to work with other musicians, start a band, and meet new people. Learning a musical instrument is a great way to boost a social life. Drummers are rarer than guitarists, so they are more in demand.
Is it expensive to learn the drums?
For any parent, the crux of any new hobby is often down to the cost. Especially when children are prone to switch from one pastime to another as interest wanes.
Musical instruments are a good choice for a hobby though, and fortunately, there is a huge secondhand market.
Drum kits can be expensive. Some of the most expensive kits can cost thousands of bucks. However, most drum kits lose a certain amount of value once they leave the shop floor, much like taking possession of a new car does. Therefore, it should make sense to buy second hand.
Giving a musical instrument as a gift means that you can introduce your child to music from all around the world. But, it doesn’t mean breaking the bank.
Although drums and cymbals are more expensive than a beginner’s guitar, you should be able to pick up a set for $200 to $500 depending on the quality. Most drummers look after their kits so secondhand shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
What are the problems with learning drums at home?
The problem with drum kits is simple, they are loud, especially the cymbals and bass drum. This can lead to problems with neighbors, and might just drive you insane too.
No one picks up an instrument and starts to play like a virtuoso, and beginners getting used to their drums may not sound like music to your or your neighbor’s ears.
Time Out reported that noise complaints in NY went up almost 300% in 2020 as the lockdowns came in. This was around the same time as musical instrument sales went up. People became less tolerant of noise as they were forced to spend time indoors.
Unwanted noise from neighbors can literally ruin a person’s life. There are laws in place to protect people from nuisance neighbors, and while learning an instrument is to be encouraged, you may have to consider the quietest way to do so.
How can your child learn the drums, and keep the noise down?
It sounds like an impossibility, right? Drums by their very nature are noisy, so how can you play them quietly? Here are a few things that you could consider.
Get rid of the drumsticks
Instead of practicing with drumsticks, use rods or brushes. Although the sound will be different, you will be able to practice a lot quieter. Brushes will feel very different from sticks but they are even quieter than rods.
Speak to your neighbors
One simple solution might be to find out what time would be suitable for practice. Perhaps your neighbors are always out in the morning, or maybe they have an hour at yoga three times a week. You may simply be able to work your child’s practice sessions around the neighbor’s schedule.
Use electronic drum kits
Acoustic drum kit sales have been in a steady decline for 15 years or more now. One of the reasons might be due to the popularity of electronic drum kits. You may want to consider how to choose the best electronic drum kit for your child instead of an acoustic one.
These drum kits are far from silent, but they are quieter, and they have more control over their sound. You can also use headphones on an electronic drum kit.
Practice pad kits
Unfortunately, this would make learning the drums more expensive as you would need to purchase these as well as a regular kit.
However, if it is within your budget, your child could learn to play on these. Alternatively, start them on a practice pad kit before you purchase a full acoustic set. These kits are very quiet, and while they won’t sound the same as real drums, they are great for practicing.
Change your kit or add accessories
There are options for low-volume cymbals which can reduce the noise greatly. And you can also buy mesh pads to cover the drums which also will lower the sound when they are hit. Dampening the kick drum can help some too.
The drums are a fantastic set of instruments to learn. They can be used to play with so many musical styles, and they are a major part of jazz, rock, metal, and pop music.
Though you don’t want to annoy your neighbors, and you yourself will want some peace too. Therefore, it may be necessary to take some steps to reduce the sound made. Electronic drum kits are certainly an option, although if you get lucky you may just be able to compromise with your neighbor on practice times.