Posted: December 7, 2010 in Techniques

I have a client I’m working with one-on-one (J).  He stutters, which is the main reason he’s in music therapy.  He also wants to learn how to play drums, and I’m using this as a method to help him learn how to regulate his internal tempo.  Part of the issue with his stuttering, beyond a mild intellectual disability, is that he’s a speed demon.  He often tries to go a lot faster than he needs to.  In this, it is awesome that he wants to learn the drums because you HAVE to regulate your speed to be successful.

One problem – I know next to nothing about playing drums.  We didn’t have a methods class in percussion techniques when I was an undergrad, so I never go exposed to all of the rudimentary information there.  I know how to keep a steady beat, and I know a little bit about putting together rhythmic patterns, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to teach drums.

So far, we’ve been working on keeping a steady beat with a metronome.  I’ve been trying to get him to get his own without much success – he always says “I’m trying” when I ask him about it.  He does very well keeping the beat with recorded music, but on his own or with me on guitar, he rushes.

Lately, I’ve been trying to add the bass pedal to his repertoire.  We don’t have a set here, so I’ve just had him tapping his foot while he plays.  He keeps his hands and foot together pretty well, but is currently struggling with trying to just hit the drum with his hand on the off beats (two and four) while keeping the foot steady.  Yesterday, I got him to do it by having him hit an imaginary drum on one and three, so it sounded right.  The next step is to get him to not hit the imaginary drum, but to still leave the space there.

After this, I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I checked out a beginning rock drummer book from the library which is helping me come up with some ideas, but I really wish I had sought out a percussion class when I had a chance.  I’d love to hear some thoughts if anyone out there has any.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Roia says:

    That sounds like a neat opportunity. Does your client feel completely committed to being a rock drummer? Would he be willing to learn on the djembe first (or a doumbek)? There are a lot of videos out there (from Kat Fulton to Arthur Hull and such) about being in a drum circle, and they include details of how to play. If he needs to slow down in relation to other people, that might be a good thing anyway. Good luck! I barely survived the drum skills class I had when I was an undergrad. Argh!

    • themtguy says:

      Actually, he’s mostly been playing on tubano or congas so far. As for being a rock drummer, I think that’s his idea of what drumming is since he’s a pretty big rock fan.

      Thanks for the video tips. I’ll seek them out. Having him involved in a drum circle is a pretty good idea that I should look into.

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