Drumeo review: What is it?
For the purposes of conducting this review, Drumeo granted us full access to the Drumeo Edge platform.
Conventional wisdom says that musical instrument lessons are best carried out in-person. However, we’ve never been at a better point in time in terms of our internet connections and audio and visual quality. What that translates to is greater detail when it comes to the content we consume online, whether it be streaming TV shows, or drum lessons.
Cost: $29 per month, $240 per year, $1,200 lifetime
Free trial: 30-days with this exclusive MusicRadar link (usually 7 days)
Format: Web browser, iOS/Android apps
Features: Over 260 courses from some of the world’s leading drummers and educators, 2,500-plus lessons, 3,100 song transcriptions
Styles covered: Rock, funk, jazz, blues, electronic, soul and more
Sign up: Drumeo
Over the last couple of years, doubters of learning online have been forced to either join in, or miss out altogether meaning that perceptions of taking drum lessons online via paid-for subscriptions have changed massively.
One such platform is Drumeo. With over two million subscribers to its YouTube channel, over one million Facebook fans, and (at the time of writing) around 850,000 followers on Instagram, you’ve probably sampled Drumeo’s free content already. But if your experience ends there, you’re missing quite a large piece of the picture.
To call Drumeo Edge ‘Netflix-for-drummers’ is perhaps a bit of a disservice, but it does sum-up the concept. You pay your monthly subscription fee, and in return you get unhindered, all-you-can-eat (and live and breathe) access to its absolutely massive library of drum instruction ranging from core drumming skills through to technically advanced and encompassing pretty much every style of playing you can think of.
The lessons are taught not only by an expert - but in many cases a well known or even legendary drummer. With over 100 names to choose from currently, if we say Billy Cobham, Dennis Chambers, Stanton Moore, Benny Greb… you probably get the picture. Plus Drumeo has announced sessions with Aaron Spears, Slipknot’s Jay Weinberg, Simon Phillips, Cindy Blackman Santana, Steve Smith and many more for 2022.
As well as the pre-recorded lesson courses, there are over 3,000 play-along songs (complete with transcriptions), regular live sessions with current regular Drumeo Coaches (Kaz Rodriguez, Larnell Lewis, Michael Shack, Todd Sucherman and more), quick tips and a number of non-lesson/drumming-related entertainment videos.
A big criticism of online lessons is the lack of accountability. How do you chart progress, or overcome problems when you’re learning from a recorded video remotely? Well, Drumeo offers its Student Focus service, where subscribers can send videos of themselves playing for tips from Drumeo coaches, plus there’s an active community where users can post questions and receive answers from other members and tutors.
A subscription to Drumeo costs a regular price of $240 a year, however it does run offers at various points in the year, including discounts and additional gifts in return for your sign-up. That price is an annual payment, but you can pay on a rolling monthly basis at $29 per-month. You’ll obviously be paying nearly a third more, but you do have the option to cancel at any point. If you’re not sure, there’s the option of a 30 day free trial that's exclusive to MusicRadar before you go all in.
Drumeo review: Performance & verdict
Once you’ve signed-up for your Drumeo Edge subscription, you simply log in to access the content. This can be done via a browser on your computer, or by downloading the app for your tablet or mobile from your app store.
Where you are in your drumming journey may well govern how you choose to navigate the lessons and content on offer, but it’s laid out in a few basic categories to help you find what you’re looking for.
Drumeo Method is a 10-level course (with each level comprising a number of videos) aimed at providing a complete curriculum which takes you from absolute beginner subjects including setting up your gear and playing your first beats to advanced concepts such as odd-time signatures, metric modulation and polyrhythms.
You can also discover lessons by choosing a course or coach, or simply typing a subject (‘double pedal’ or ‘jazz’ for example) into the search box if you’d prefer to learn something more specific.
The first thing we noticed is just how much there is to digest. There’s breadth and depth to it too rather than simply being Rock Beats 101 and some big names dazzling you with their chops.
Want to learn the heel-toe foot technique? There’s a 72-minute video with 10 notated examples and multiple camera angles for that. How about an independence and coordination lesson from Thomas Lang? Or a ska & reggae masterclass from Gil Sharone? Maybe jazz comping with Peter Erskine?
That’s just a few, but needless to say there’s everything from an overview of a style through to some very pointed topics for you to get into the weeds with. You’re unlikely to run out of inspiration in a hurry.
The lessons and supporting notation are all downloadable to your computer or device too, which is perfect if your kit is located away from your internet connection. It also means that you aren’t going to suffer drop-outs of any kind if your connection is less than great, or if you want to put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ for the duration of your lesson time.
Another section of Drumeo that it would be easy to overlook the value of is the song play-alongs (not to be confused with the 400-plus Play-Along in-the-style-of jam tracks). There’s everything from AC/DC to ZZ Top, and it’s not just limited to rock. Now, in reality these aren’t bespoke backing tracks or drum-less versions. The way it works is, you choose your artist and pick a song, then you’re presented with an embedded video of the track’s original audio (including the drum track).
Obviously, if it stopped there we’d be disappointed, but the track is just the starting point. Because Drumeo has provided interactive transcriptions for every song on the list (there are over 3,000). Press play and a cursor scrolls along with the notation, and you can jump around by clicking on the score, which in turn sets the video to sync with your cursor’s position.
Further options include playback speed adjustment, an additional click track, looping and stave appearance (multiple lines, linear horizontal, full-page). Obviously, not all music was created to a metronome, so we did experience some sync issues between the click and the original audio, however there is also an option for listening to a synthetic programmed version of the drums only.
Not only does this line up perfectly with the click, but gives you a better idea of what the drums are doing if the original mix is tricky, or if your reading isn’t up to the level of the score.
There’s a huge amount of value in the song transcriptions alone. While the speed change function is essentially the YouTube speed control - expect the audio to start glitching/chipmunking if you go too far either way - the looping feature is fantastic if you’re trying to work out a tricky part of a song. As we type this, we’re looking at a number of printed transcription books on our shelves, each of which cost around the same price as a month of Drumeo Edge, don’t include reference audio, and didn’t come with lessons from the world’s finest players to boot!
There’s a lot to dig into with Drumeo Edge. Your first instincts might be to baulk at the price. At its highest, $29 may seem expensive for ‘just a streaming service’ particularly when you consider the Amazon Prime account that you’ve binged dry. But compare it to one lesson a month with a teacher (and we’d suggest that you’d probably take double that number of lessons as a minimum), and suddenly Drumeo is really quite a bargain.
Is it a replacement for in-person lessons? That will depend on you, the way you like to learn and the things that keep your attention. The benefits of a great teacher, instructing and guiding you one-to-one cannot be underestimated. The online method of learning requires an amount of self-motivation to ensure you put in the time, and are honest with yourself about your progress. But with Drumeo’s support systems, you can get help with tracking your progress and any problems you’re encountering.
The ideal scenario will always be a combination of in-person lessons and regimented self-education, but not everyone has access - either geographically or financially - to a great teacher, or a schedule that allows for lessons. The benefit of learning online is that you can make that time work around your schedule.
The sheer volume of learning materials on offer is a great deal - almost to the point of choice paralysis, so we’d definitely recommend that if you’re starting out and this is your only source of instruction, you follow the Drumeo Method curriculum to ensure some structure.
Intermediate and advanced players will love the flexibility of having detailed lessons on a whole range of subjects to hand when the moment strikes, and we dare say that everyone from beginners to gigging drummers will also get a lot out of the song transcriptions too.
Overall, it’s very difficult to fault Drumeo Edge because it covers so much, we’d highly recommend making use of the site’s free trial, or even signing up for a month to help you decide. We’re pretty confident that you’ll be hooked.
Drumeo review: Hands-on demos
Drumeo review: Specifications
- Cost: $29 per month, or $249 billed annually
- Free trial: 30-days with this exclusive MusicRadar link
- Format: Web browser, iOS/Android apps
- Features: Over 260 courses from some of the world’s leading drummers and educators, 2,500-plus lessons, 3,100 song transcriptions
- Styles covered: Rock, funk, jazz, blues, electronic, soul and more
- Contact: Drumeo