Help! My Child Wants to Play the Drums and I’ve Already Got a Headache.


We hear this basic concern from parents often. Boys and girls are attracted to the drums for various reasons, from the “coolness” aspect of it to wanting to be like someone they’ve seen in a band. There are also more inherent musical reasons why children, pretends and teens might gravitate to playing the drums including the fact that “beat” is THE most basic and foundational element of music. (Just as heartbeat is basic and foundational to the life of a human body.)

Therefore, you’ll frequently hear people say “I like the beat of that music!” That’s right. Beat is very compelling!

But, parents sometimes don’t want their children to choose drums as their musical instrument and then insist that they take up a different instrument to start. We typically hear the following 4 objections:

1) Drums aren’t a real instrument because it’s all rhythm and no melody. And, I want my child to learn to read music.

2) I have a headache just thinking about the noise that’s going to be in my house with my son/daughter practicing drums.

3) I don’t have room for a drum set in my home.

4) Drum sets are expensive.

The good news for parents of aspiring young percussionists: if your son is begging for drum lessons, it’s possible to not only let play drums, but for you to encourage drum playing with a clear conscience and without having to wrap your entire home with egg crate foam as he practices his music.

First, know that playing a drum set proficiently requires building skill in complicated rhythmic patterns and developing serious hand, eye, and foot coordination. It’s far from an easy musical instrument to play well, and yet, it’s also easy for a student as young as 4 or 5 years old to successfully get started in drum lessons. Drums and percussion are the backbone of bands of all kinds and of orchestras.

Additionally, percussion lessons can also cover a multitude of styles, from rock to classical music. Therefore with a combination of drum set and melodic percussion instruments such as xylophone, your daughter can learn to read both rhythmic and melodic notation in her drum lessons.

Some of our students at the Academy of Music and Dance in Spotswood, NJ take back to back lessons in drums and piano; two musical instruments where the skills are extremely helpful and transferable to each other. This combination of music lessons takes care of the issue many parents have of wanting their son to read music fully, and also keeps him motivated.

As for the noise factor of a drum set in the house, consider these options:
-Buy an electric drum set with headphones for your daughter to practice her music on. Many professional drummers are switching to electric from acoustic drum sets because of the portability, advanced technology which make the drums sound just like the acoustic, and for the ability to practice drums anywhere at any time without bothering anyone.

-Young beginners often start out on a snare drum or even on a drum pad with a couple of drum sticks. This may be enough to see if your son will want to stick drum study out for the long haul so there’s not necessarily a need to buy a full drum set right away.

And, to take care of all three concerns about noise, expense and space of drum sets consider:

-Renting studio practice time at your local music school. (Academy of Music and Dance offers free studio practice time for all of our students, and rents out studio space for anyone in the surrounding area including East Brunswick, Spotswood, and Monroe, NJ)

Above all, remember that your child’s primary motivation for playing any musical instrument must be internal and not external. Therefore, allowing her to take music lessons on her instrument of choice is crucial for her to practice music on a consistent basis without your prodding.

About Melody Stevens
Melody Stevens is the owner of 2 arts education businesses, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of The Academy of Music and Dance in Central New Jersey and the Founder/CEO of Mozarts and Einsteins Preschool in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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