A hidden truth is revealed, and its grip is overwhelming - inevitable.
Am I dreaming?
Did I hear my son, daughter or spouse utter those words correctly? Their lips moved, but ... huh?!
They're saying it again - I'll listen more closely, carefully ...
"I want to play the drums."
Upon hearing those six mostly harmless words, you faint.
Revived, dialog from "Ghostbusters" is echoing inside your head:
"Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!"
But in reality, how would one start the pursuit of - dare I say it - drumming glory?
Equipment and Study Materials
Beginners rarely start on a full drum set. Basic rhythm and drum rudiments (rhythmic patterns) can be practiced using only a practice pad (a substitute for an actual snare drum that when played responds like the real instrument but is much quieter). A pad is usually less expensive than a real drum, and will provide time to assess if this newly found drumming interest has staying power.
When a student commits to lessons at my private percussion studio, I consider experience level and his or her goals, then recommend study materials, drumsticks, and probably a practice pad. All three items cost roughly $70 dollars.
By the way, how much is an X-Box video gaming system by comparison?
If a new student wants to join school band, he or she will need to a bell kit, as well, which can be purchase or rented. The kit's items are bundled in a soft, back-pack-like case that includes orchestra bells, a practice pad or snare drum, stands for both, a detachable music stand, drum sticks and mallets. I will recommend the school band study materials appropriate to the district, as I work with percussionists from many townships.
It's essential that these students immediately start on orchestra bells because school bands often require performance on some or all of these mallet instruments: orchestra bells, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, tubular bells - to name a few.
All of these instruments' "layouts" are the same, similar to the black and white keys of a piano. Only bar spacing or playing surface angle may vary a bit.
My percussion studio is located in the heart of downtown Menomonee Falls, inside Wondersound Music, just off Appleton Avenue and Main Street. Purchasing, renting or lesson sign-up couldn't be easier. Simply stop in or call 262-255-6950. Say "Hi" to the shop's new owner, Jeff!
I have students as young as 4 years old on my schedule, and adults past retirement. Age is mostly irrelevant. However, I look at a few indicators for the youngest prospects: Will they practice 10 to 15 minutes per day for most days of the week? Do they have some basic word reading skills (to read directions written in their study materials), or is a parent available to read the directions to the child if the child cannot? Will the child be able to sit reasonably still for a weekly half-hour lesson?
Most kindergartners are 5 years old, and are already under a teacher's guidance for much longer than a half hour. So, it isn't a stretch for many 4-year-olds to begin their musical journey at this young age.
Older students usually have very clear goals in mind, even if it's simply "to start drumming."
No musical experience is necessary, but realistic goals help. I will put the older student on the appropriate "track" to fulfill those dreams.
Students begin lessons at many different skill levels, from zero to professional.
Most are somewhere in-between.
A former student had recently graduated with a degree in music education, and was applying for the position of school band director. She wanted to review her college percussion fundamentals coursework because, of all the band instruments she knew how to play, she felt her percussion skills fell short.
Another former student is a playwrite. He wanted to learn percussion notation better so he could write the percussion portion of the play's musical score more accurately.
Professional drummers/percussionists will need to have their music reading ability and playing skills assessed. Typically, I will ask the professional to come in for the initial consultation with goals already considered and written out Once a baseline is established, the sky's the limit. Lessons can take an infinite number of paths.
Most students have no musical background when they start. Because of this, I set out to meet beginners exactly where they are at this juncture - personality, energy level, temperament, the way they learn best - I consider everything.
Really, noise isn't a reason to withhold exploration of the percussion world. There are myriads of products on the market that deal with this issue. From the aforementioned practice pads, to rubbery pads that cover the drum set and cymbals, to electronic drum sets and their headphone jacks, to name a few.
If you're interested in signing up for percussion lessons with my studio, and noise is a concern, please message me via my Facebook page. I'll be happy to answer your volume-related questions so you can start laying down those grooves!
I've always managed to find space for anyone seeking lessons with me.
That said, I have a bustling full-time teaching schedule. I'm at my studio Monday through Saturday, and beginning and ending times vary, depending on the day.
Upon sign-up, I'll ask for a range of days and times the student is available. Once selected, that 30-minute time slot will be their permanent time each week.
We'll also discuss questions regarding illness, emergencies or vacation. Generally, I require 24-hour notification for a cancellation, or the lesson must be paid for. Even in this circumstance, I still prefer to schedule a make-up lesson, rather than only take payment. Let's keep the learning happening!
Private lessons are an investment. Because of this, students tend to remain more motivated to practice.
Most private studios ask for monthly payment to further enhance commitment level. I ask for the same.
When inquiring about lessons, I'll be happy to discuss my lesson rate.
Past and present students, and their parents, have described me as "patient, unintimidating, encouraging, caring," yet also say I "excel at finding the best ways to push the student as quickly as they're capable of progressing."
I'm humbled and grateful that my students and their parents see me this way. Having this type of balance in my teaching approach is something I always strive for.
In case you're wondering, I'm happy to provide references - one of which is the School District of Menomonee Falls' band program. I'm also on the Falls' "preferred teacher" list.
Reading some of the many percussion/music related blogs I've written for the Patch will help give insight into my passion for education. You can find them by entering my name (Jim Kube) into this site's home page search box, or visiting my studio's page and scrolling down.
My bio and qualifications are also posted on my studio page. Just click on "About," beneath my picture. Once there, please note that, while I offer snare drum, drum set and mallet instruction, I also have a full set of timpani and hand percussion to work with.
I would love to address any remaining questions or comments regarding this story, right below in the comment section provided. Create a free Patch account, sign in, and message away. Simple - and I promise to answer.
I'm excited to read your comments and questions!
Interested in percussion lessons? Or, just curious about my studio? Please contact me via my studio's Facebook page. You'll find much to explore - including all of my past blog posts. Hit the "like" button to let me know you've visited. Thanks - I appreciate you!
My studio can also be followed on Twitter: @JimKubeDrums.
A quick shout-out to my lovely wife, Kat. She was recently named managing editor of Discover magazine at Kalmbach Publishing in Waukesha. In the magazine word, this is an incredible honor, and an amazing career opportunity. I'm so proud of her!
She also does some light editing on my blogs to save me from myself.