FAQ - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TEACHING DRUMS?
I started teaching drums when I was aged 15 at high school. My music teacher got me teaching other students at lunch time in return for free reign of the drum kit and drum room.
I started teaching professionally around 2004, for RWJ Drum Store, Perth. This fitted in nicely between my music studies and then my gig schedule. I then set up my own teaching company First Class Drums in 2010.
I'm 36 years old as of January 2021, so I have been teaching drums professionally for 17 years and counting.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS/ACHIEVEMENTS DO YOU HAVE?
I studied music performance at Perth college, initially setting out to do a 3 year degree course. However, due to getting major drumming work for a Uruguayan pop star, I left college after completing 2 years and gaining an HND. Over the years though, I have taken and continue to take lessons with many of the world's greatest drummers.
As for achievements, I finished first in the UK section of the International Shure Drum Mastery Competition 2011.
You can read more about my work in the "Your Tutor" section of this website.
DO YOU WORK FULL TIME AS A DRUMMER?
Yes. Drumming is my full time job. I teach, I perform, I transcribe, I record and I run music workshops for organisations like Youth Music Initiative. I've also written a book and do the odd bit of audio engineering work from my studio.
WHAT AGES DO YOU ACCEPT FOR PRIVATE LESSONS?
The youngest I would teach would be 4 years old. Some 4 year olds have been able to manage, others haven't. It's down to the individual. There is no upper age limit.
WHERE DO YOU HOLD YOUR LESSONS?
I have a private studio in Inverness, Scotland. I also teach in Macduff, Scotland.
International students and those on the waiting list will be able to benefit from Online Lessons & Bitesized Video Lessons in the shop.
WHAT DO YOU COVER IN THE DRUM LESSONS?
Each student is a unique individual, and I tailor each lesson to focus on current capabilities and aspirations, while encouraging progress and development at their pace. It needs to be fun. Even though it can be hard work at times, drumming is always fun.
Each week we feature six mainstream songs varying in genre and difficulty from very easy to very hard.
I like to base my lessons around real professional drumming situations, and often give my students learning experiences based on actual work that I get as a professional drummer. e.g. - learning songs for performance, session drum recording, etc.
Students are also given opportunities to have their drumming professionally recorded and filmed. Students can choose their own song projects from the lesson material, work on the song for as many weeks as they need, before filming a drum cover video in the studio which can be uploaded to the First Class Drums YouTube channel (ww.youtube.com/firstclassdrums). This is not only an exciting thing to do, but a great way of tracking progress, analysing your sound, technique and motion and sharing your talent with friends & family. A lot of students have gone on to get actual drumming work as a result of their videos.
Additionally there are options to study for the Rockschool graded exams. I can also incorporate any song requests or school exam material into your lesson. Over the years I have helped many students with their Higher/Advanced Higher Music Performance Exams.
DO I NEED A DRUM KIT?
To start off with, no. Get some drumsticks and use cushions, pads, pots & pans or whatever you're allowed to use. I used to use the edge of my bed before I had a kit. When you start getting into the more technical exercises, a drum kit is best.
CAN YOU SET-UP/ FIX / TUNE MY DRUM KIT FOR ME?
I offer this service in the Inverness, Scotland area. For full details and cost etc. please refer to the DRUM KIT SERVICING page
I'M LOOKING TO BUY A DRUM KIT, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE AS TO WHAT I SHOULD GO FOR?
Buying a drum kit can be a fairly daunting experience. Here is my experience in selecting drums over the years.
"My first drum kit was a random second hand acoustic kit that my dad picked up for £70.
It wasn't in great condition, but I learned so much from fixing it up, experimenting and trying to make it sound good.
Every so often, I'd save up some pocket money and buy a cheap cymbal (£40 - £70) to add to the kit. It never sounded good, but I had a lot of fun and played it all the time.
I then got into composing and recording music, so I saved up for a decent electronic kit (Roland TD6K) that could plug straight into my computer and I could record studio quality drums with. The electronic kit was also great for practicing and playing along to music.
It wasn't until I was making money playing in bands that I upgraded my acoustic kit. I bought a Sonor Force 3005 acoustic kit, mainly because it was within my price range, came with a lot of drums, it looked good, and Danny Carey from the band Tool played Sonor.
When I started picking up a lot of last minute gigs, filling in for other drummers. I wanted a small kit that I could pack into the car easily. I went for the DW Frequent Flyer kit.
I also have a Pearl Export teaching kit that my friend gave me.
Here is some more information that may help you:
1. Research. There are two main types of drum kit - acoustic and electronic.
- Acoustic - This is the most common type of kit used in band situations. It is much louder than an electronic drum kit, but you could buy silencer pads, or even Remo Silentstroke drum heads to reduce the volume. You will need to tune the drum heads to get a good sound. An acoustic kit also takes up more space than an electronic kit.
Most decent kits do not come with cymbals, bass drum pedal, stool or stands.
- Electronic drum kits. They are smaller, quieter and you don't have to worry about tuning. You can connect electronic kits up to an amplifier, or use headphones. They are pretty good for practicing, but not as good as an acoustic kit for when it comes to live performing.
Electronic kits are however great for basic home recording. Simply connect your drum kit output to the 'mic-in' socket on a computer, and you can record your drumming.
2. Budget - Figure out how much you would be willing to spend on a drum kit. For a new beginner acoustic or electronic kit package, I would recommend spending at least £300. Anything cheaper than that will likely be of very poor quality.
3. Size - For learning, I would recommend your kit having a bass drum, snare drum, hi tom, mid tom, and lo tom (5 piece). You will also need hihats, a crash cymbal and a ride cymbal. Remember that drum stands, cymbal stands, stool and sticks will be needed too. Electronic kits usually have all the drums, cymbals and stands that you need. You may need to buy a stool and a bass drum pedal.
4. What brands of kit do your favourite drummers play? My first decent acoustic kit was a Sonor kit because Danny Carey from the band Tool played Sonor. I admittedly bought the biggest Sonor kit that I could afford and liked the colour of. If you don't really have a favourite drummer yet, go onto YouTube and search for "drum covers". See if you can find a drum cover that you like. Try to find out which brand of drum kit is being used and do more research.
5. How serious/skilled are you at drumming? If drumming is a hobby that you've just started, it's probably not the best idea to spend a fortune on a drum kit. Buy a decent starter kit, practice hard, and sell it on if you ever upgrade.
Lastly, if you still can't make up your mind, phone your nearest independent drum store and ask for some recommendations.