Setting Realistic Expectations: How Long Does it Really Take to Learn Drums?

82% of parents want to take the leap and help their child learn a musical instrument. This makes sense when you consider that making music can help foster critical thinking skills, improve coordination, and provide a sense of accomplishment.

The good news is that nine in ten children also want to learn music according to Royal Philharmonic Orchestra research!

How Long Does It Take to Learn Drums?

Still, if your child wants to play the drums, they likely are eager to know when they can start jamming to their favorite songs. But how long does it take to learn drums, exactly? Read on to learn.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Drums?

Unfortunately, there’s no set answer to this question. Different children take different lengths of time to learn drums, and what comes easily to one person may be more challenging for another.

Several factors might go into how difficult it is to learn drums is for your child. Age is a primary consideration. A five-year-old may have a lot of time banging on the drums and making sounds, but they likely will be unable to read even tab notation. A teenager who can read words and letters will also have an easier time with sheet music.

There’s also evidence to suggest that about half of a person’s musical ability is genetic. It’s inherited and innate. The amount of musical talent a child is born with will impact how quickly they can learn drums.

Drums also require a lot of coordination, so your child’s level of hand-eye coordination will impact how quickly they can learn drums.

Basic Proficiency

However, regardless of skill level, children should develop basic proficiency in playing drums within 2-6 months of starting lessons. This is, of course, assuming that the child practices regularly and has consistent instruction.

Basic proficiency usually means that the player has begun learning drum beats and tapping out simple rhythms. They’ll understand fundamental drumming techniques like posture, strength, and coordination.

Gaining the ability to play simple rhythms and basic songs is a great milestone that children can reach quickly. It’s a cause for celebration because they can feel like they accomplished something awesome.

Intermediate Playing

Diligent students can gain intermediate drum proficiency within a year or two of beginning drum lessons. This intermediate understanding means that the learner can play more complex rhythms and songs. They’ll have been learning drum beats for a while and will begin to master new techniques.

Playing the drums at an intermediate level is awesome because children can experiment with more genres and styles of music. They’ll be able to engage with their hobby in a more creative way, which boosts engagement and makes them want to keep learning.

Advanced Drumming

After 4-5 years, a child may be considered an advanced-level drummer. This isn’t always the case because it will depend on the frequency of lessons and whether they practice consistently. However, it’s a good goal to have your child work toward when they learn drums.

Learning Advanced Drumming

During this stage, the player will be able to play more challenging pieces, intricate rhythms, and complex fills. They can figure out how to adapt music to new styles to put a personal twist on their favorite drum songs. They also may understand improvisation well and begin to work with odd time signatures.

Keeping Children Engaged While They Learn Drums

Unfortunately, many children lose interest in making music in the early days of their drum lessons. This is because they get bored when they’re not learning fast enough. No kid wants to sit there playing the same few notes over and over for a week on end.

That’s why it’s important to use strategies that make kids interested in their ongoing lessons. They’ll have an easier time staying engaged in the long term when you do. This can help them continue practicing until they get to the intermediate and advanced stages that they’ll have fun with.

Set Realistic Short-Term Goals

“A couple years from now” is an almost unfathomably long time for a child. Telling them that they’ll be able to play a challenging piece in a year or two with practice isn’t going to motivate them. They’re going to become frustrated that they can’t meet the goal.

Because of this, it’s important that you work with their experienced drum instructor to come up with short-term goals that make sense.

Break down challenging pieces into smaller steps. Tell them that you want them to practice and play a couple of lines of a piece this week. Pick a technique and break it down into chunks so that they can learn smaller bits and put them together.

Having small, easily attainable goals makes children feel like they’re succeeding when they learn drums. A sense of accomplishment and talent will keep kids proud of their progress and engaged in learning.

Let Them Try Favorite Pieces

Drums are an especially fun instrument because they’re the domain of pop, alternative, and rock songs. Most children aren’t super interested in classical music, and learning drums is a way to learn their favorite pieces that they enjoy listening to on Spotify or vinyl.

Ask kids what songs they’d like to learn in an ideal world. Lots of companies make sheet music of popular songs tailored just for beginners. You might be able to track something down online that will make them look forward to practice time.

Allow Time for Independent Experimentation

Children like learning new skills, but they don’t always like to feel supervised (or, worse, judged). That’s why it’s critical that parents give their children time to play the drums independently.

Let your child have some quality time to spend alone with their drum set and music. Tell them that it’s okay to try any new notes, techniques, or skills that they want to experiment with. This gives them a chance to be creative and express themselves while they learn drums.

They’ll associate drum practice with fun in no time!

Making the Learning Process Smoother

To help kids learn the drums more quickly, you’ll want to help them keep a practice journal. This can be in a notebook or on a smartphone or tablet.

The Drum Learning Process

It can include a quick overview of how long the child practiced, what skills they worked on, and which pieces they were looking at. You can also ask your little one if they’re interested in jotting down one sentence about something they’re proud to have done or something they’re excited about trying the next day.

This gives children something concrete to look back at so that they can see all that they’ve accomplished.

Practice Consistently

Consistent musical practice reinforces skills and makes it easier for children to remember and build on past lessons. It also opens neural pathways by activating procedural memory, which means that children will develop muscle memory and instinct surrounding drumming techniques.

Studies show that when children do something routinely, they also are better able to enjoy it and remember it.

Even practicing drums for 10-15 minutes daily is better than one 2-hour session in a week. Consistency is more important than practice duration. All skills and techniques stay fresh in the child’s mind so that they can constantly improve the skills they’ve already learned.

Record and Play Back

Ask your child if it’s okay for you to record part of some practice sessions. Don’t do it all the time – once a week at most is good. You don’t want them to feel like they’re on trial or being watched.

If they’re okay with you recording a video, that’s awesome because they can look at their own posture and physical drumming technique. You can then help them figure out their strengths and areas that need improvement. They’ll see what they can do better and adapt.

If you decide together to only record audio, you can still play it back to them. They can hear what sections of songs and beats they’re weaker at and practice those more. This is a great way for them to make the most of practice time and learn more quickly.

Keep in Touch With Instructors

Finally, it’s important that parents of budding musicians stay in the loop by talking to drum teachers. Experts have more perspective on what your child is great at vs how they can improve. They see what the student is struggling with, understand their learning style, and can give you pointers for tailoring practice time to their needs.

Make sure to communicate with the teacher after every drum lesson. You’ll get information on what they’re improving at and how they’re learning to get better. You can then emulate the most effective learning strategies at home.

Make the Most of Drum Lessons in Santee

So, how long does it take to learn drums? The answer to this question will depend on the player. However, high-quality lessons and independent goal-setting can make the process quicker.

Drum Lessons in Santee

Now that you know the ins and outs of helping a child learn drums, it’s time to begin finding music lessons with experienced professionals. Staump Music School offers both individual and group lessons to children who are passionate about music. Contact us to learn more about our instructors, classes, and methods before signing up.