Traditionally, if you wanted to learn the drums, you found a teacher in your area, booked a lesson and started on your merry way to becoming the next John Bonham. But in 2023, our options are much greater, with the best online drum lessons now able to teach you everything you need to know from wherever you are, and for a fraction of the price.
Thanks to advancements in technology such as cameras, audio equipment and speedy internet connections, it’s now possible to take a lesson from pretty much anyone, pretty much anywhere.
But with many options available – from independent teachers to collections of lessons from some of the biggest players on the planet – which are the best online drum lessons for you? That’s what we’re here to find out.
We've rounded-up our favourites in this guide and included some handy advice towards the end of the piece if you need more guidance.
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Best online drum lessons: MusicRadar’s Choice
It’s impossible not to recommend Drumeo Edge if you’re after the biggest range of lessons as well as song transcriptions. You’ll need to remain focussed (and Drumeo’s structure does help with this) as there’s so much stuff, it’s easy to get lesson FOMO and try to watch everything you can. It’s a one-stop shop of drum education.
Beginners should give Drum Ambition a good look too as, while it doesn’t have the big names and massive range of features, it does cut out the potential distraction.
For improvers, and those who want a more personalised approach, we have to recommend MikesLessons.com along with Stephensdrumshed. If you feel like you’d respond better to single-teacher consistency we think you’ll love the delivery and dedication of both teachers.
Melodics gets a nod for being aimed specifically at electronic drum set players who might want to get started in a different way, but we do think that you’ll eventually want to move on to more ‘human’ lessons.
Best online drum lessons: Latest offers
Drumeo Edge: 30 day free trial
MusicRadar readers can get a full month of Drumeo for free (rather the usual 7-day trial) via the 'view deal' button below. In addition to all the drum lesson goodness that Drumeo has to offer, your trial will also grant you access to Drumeo's sister platforms including Pianote, Guitareo and Singeo, just in case you have grand plans to become a multi-instrumentalist!
Best online drum lessons: Services guide
If you’ve ever shown the slightest interest in online drum lessons, there’s a strong chance you’ve already watched one of the 1,200-plus videos currently hosted on Drumeo's YouTube Channel. Take out a subscription, however, and you’ll get access to thousands of hours of lessons from some of the greatest drummers on the planet, thousands of song transcriptions, jam tracks, live lessons and more.
If you’re a complete beginner, the Drumeo Method syllabus will guide you from kit set-up to advanced techniques. Intermediate and more experienced players will love the ability to delve deep into more refined and niche techniques and approaches. There really is something for everyone, regardless of ability and music taste.
MusicRadar readers can enjoy a full month for free (the standard trial is 7 days) using this link. Your trial will also give you complete access to Drumeo's sister platforms Pianote, Guitareo and Singeo.
Read the full Drumeo review
Revered drum educator Mike Johnston really cares about teaching, and it’s reflected in the design and presentation of his lessons. There are over 50 courses included with a membership, each one designed to improve the core areas of your drumming. Mike is constantly working on the best way to present and explain concepts, and offers multiple camera angles, full notation and multiple tempos for every one of his lessons.
But what we love most about mikeslessons.com is its ability to deliver the lessons in a way that feels personal. There’s a comprehensive practice planner to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time, homework assignments to ensure progression and live sessions including jams and Q&As to give you actual contact time with Mike. It’s possibly not the starting place if you’ve only just picked up sticks, but advancing and intermediate players will love Mike’s enthusiasm and friendly presentation.
Stephen Taylor is another teacher who you may have discovered via his excellent YouTube content, and his website stephensdrumshed.com offers enrolment on his Drum Better Daily programme. With over 70 courses, weekly live Q&As and regular interactive guest artist sessions, there’s plenty to get stuck into.
There’s accountability and support provided too via a community forum, personalised lesson plans and feedback. The lessons are presented with a friendly and inclusive approach and, similarly to Mike’s Lessons, most of the content is taught by the same teacher – which adds to the familiarity and personal approach.
Drumeo’s vast amount of content is rivalled only by Drum Channel. With masterclasses from the likes of Chad Smith, Bruce Becker, Thomas Pridgen, Abe Laboriel Jr and many others, there are lessons and courses covering the basics – from your first beats to extreme double pedal playing, full track breakdowns and even fitness (see Yoga for Drummers).
Plus you'll find song play-alongs and transcriptions, and jam tracks. An annual plan costs $197 a year (working out at $16.41 a month) or you can pay monthly at $25, plus Drum Channel offers a 90-day money-back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied.
Dave Weckl is a true icon of the drums, and while he’s a technical powerhouse from another planet, he’s been an educator in parallel to his playing career for decades. Here, Dave has created a series of courses via Teachable based around all aspects of playing, from set up to hand and foot technique, timing and feel, soloing and even recording.
As well as the courses, there’s interaction directly with Dave and his team (including representatives from the brands he plays) via an exclusive, private Facebook page and forum. You’ll also get access to performances, playalongs and guest lessons/seminars from top instrumentalists such as Mike Stern and Oz Noy. The courses cater for all ability levels, but we think the detailed nature could be more applicable to intermediate/advanced players.
If all this talk of blistering chops and world-class celebrity teachers has you feeling a little intimidated, Drum Ambition narrows things down a little by focussing on beginner to intermediate drummers. Simon Dasgupta has developed a curriculum to take you through the fundamentals of drumming over five modules, split into 100 videos.
The Drum Ambition app means it’ll work across your devices. There’s over 40 minutes of free lessons on the Drum Ambition site to give you a taste of the lessons and presentation style, starting from the very beginning of how to count eighth-notes. Once again, you can pay monthly or annually, with tiered pricing starting at $29 for pay-monthly, $199 for pay-annually and a $499 Pro package which includes a monthly one-to-one video chat with Simon, and a personalised practice plan.
180 Drums was started with a view to giving drummers their ‘180-moment’ that is a noticeable change of direction and progression that feels tangible. As with Drumeo and Drum Channel, lessons are delivered by a mix of in-house and famous drummers, with over 500 videos available covering many different styles.
We love the Progress Killer Quiz that's designed to help you decide what courses to take, and 180 Drums has structured its presentation so that you can learn from individual tutors, by style or technique. There’s also a strong focus on improving quickly, making sure that you stay engaged with getting better on the drums.
MasterClass is an all-round education site, with courses on many subjects from cooking to… drumming! Current drum courses include Ringo Starr (Drumming & Creative Collaboration), Sheila E (Drumming and Percussion) and Metallica’s guide to being in a band (featuring some instruction from Lars Ulrich).
There’s a lot to be learned, but we’d say it’s better suited to players who have found their feet (and hands) and want some more specific lessons or to learn directly from the players mentioned. MasterClass memberships starting at $180 (billed annually), but this gives you access to every course on the MasterClass site.
The beauty of online drum lessons is that you have the freedom to niche-down if you want to, and that’s exactly what Peter Erskine’s course with ArtistWorks offers. Focussing solely on jazz drumming, you get to learn from one of the all-time greats.
As well as a very detailed jazz syllabus, there’s access to a video submission service where you can submit five videos per-year for Peter’s feedback, plus you have unlimited access to his feedback on other students’ drumming. It’s priced at $105 dollars for a three-month plan, $179 for a six-month plan, or $279 for a 12-month plan.
Melodics presents a different approach to the rest of the platforms featured here. First, it’s aimed at electronic drummers, and second, it isn’t based on the personality/teacher style of lessons we see presented elsewhere. Instead, you download the Melodics software, and hook-up your kit to your computer. From here, you learn through a slightly ‘gamified’ interactive learning concept.
It’s a great way of teaching yourself, and it’s the educational partner for both Roland and Alesis. However we do feel that you might be seeking further inspiration and more human instruction before very long. If you’ve got an electronic drum kit, download it, try the free lessons and there’s no obligation to continue.
Best online drum lessons: Buying advice
Choosing the best online drum lessons for you
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There are plenty of teachers and organisations offering online drum lessons, usually presented as pre-recorded courses aimed at different ability levels in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Here are some things you should consider and some common questions answered.
How do online drum lessons work?
Typically, you take out a subscription (usually monthly, but often annual subscriptions are available). This gives you access to an archive of structured video lessons content to work through at your own pace. The best online drum lessons platforms are constantly adding to this archive with new lessons, programs, guest masterclasses and more.
These lessons are accessible via a web browser, or in some cases also through a dedicated app. This means that, as long as you have a laptop or smart device to and, you can practice at your convenience, day or night. And the portability-factor means your learning doesn't miss a beat if you're away from your kit for a period of time. Going on holiday? Pack a pair of sticks and a practice pad, load up your online lessons and away you go.
Can't I just watch drum lessons on YouTube?
You have probably come across many of the best known educators in the online drum lesson game already via YouTube, which begs the question: why not just watch the stuff they post online for free? Well, obviously that’s an option, but it’s important to note that free content on YouTube – while often extremely informative – is posted partly as a marketing tool.
But what you don’t get from sampling a lot of free content is structure. You run the risk of only learning disparate grooves, chops and tricks whereas paid-for courses are designed to give you a logical progression and a more complete understanding of the topic you’re learning.
Which online drum lessons service is right for me?
Selecting which service to go for will partly depend on you, your current ability level, schedule and the ways that you prefer to learn. Just as with face-to-face lessons, it’s worth having some objectives of what you’d like to achieve from the lessons. Are you looking to start playing from scratch, or are you a more experienced player wanting to improve a narrower, more specific style or technique?
If you only have a small amount of time to dedicate to drumming each week, you may find that having access to too much content is overwhelming or distracting. Likewise, feedback and accountability for making sure you’re progressing properly and consistently could be high on your list of priorities. If so, it’s worth checking out a membership that gives you the option to submit your playing for feedback and ask questions etc.
How much should I spend on online drum lessons?
But we also need to consider budget. Many of the memberships in our guide cost less if you pay annually – with a cooling-off period if you change your mind – but also offer a pay-as-you-go option if you’d rather not pay a lump sum.
We’d suggest taking advantage of a free trial, or perhaps starting on a monthly plan if you need more time to decide. This way you can give yourself a test run with dedicated lesson and practice time and see how it fits into your schedule before committing to a full year.
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