Are you looking to elevate your knowledge of all things drums and percussion? Good for you!
Luckily, there are a number of institutes for higher learning that focus on taking students’ drumming education to the next level.
We’re going to take a brief look at five of the top percussion colleges that you could attend to further your drumming education.
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Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music is to higher music education as Michael Jordan is to basketball. You cannot separate the two in conversation, and for good reason.
If you’re somehow unfamiliar with Berklee, Berklee College of Music is located in the historic city of Boston, Massachusetts. Berklee is also the largest musically oriented school in the world. Thousands of musicians, including hundreds of drummers from around the globe, flock to Berklee to sharpen their chops.
Berklee has a campus located in New York City that offers a one-year master’s degree program. They also offer a study abroad program in Valencia, Spain, for those who’d like to see other parts of the world.
Berklee often signs on top percussionists and drummers alike to teach their students. Students benefit from learning about not just drums but the ins out, and outs of the music industry, productions, composition and more.
Notable Berklee drummer alumni include Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre, Winery Dogs, Liquid Tension Experiment), Demian Arriaga (Iggy Azalea, Jonas Brothers), Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce), Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Suicidal Tendencies), and more.
Musicians Institute (College of Contemporary Music)
For drummers who love the sunshine and maybe want a chance at spotting their favorite movie star, they should enrol at Musicians Institute located in sunny Hollywood, California.
Musicians Institute focuses on contemporary music. The goal of the Musicians Institute, as expressed on their website, is to ensure that their students are well-rounded and versed in a multitude of different drumming and percussion elements.
Their drummer-oriented programs cover not just acoustic percussion but electronic drumming, digital recording, and loops & sequencing as well. Students can also learn about more traditional acoustic instruments like the cajon, conga, bongo, and many others.
It’s worth noting that the Musicians Institute also offers some flexible ways for drummers who want to learn as well. Drummers can take private lessons if they don’t have the ability to enrol full-time. You are even able to take short courses that allow you to build towards a Bachelor’s on your own time.
Notable MI Alumni include: Neil Sebba (Jamestowne), Ralph Alexander (CRX), David Myers (Frank Ocean)
Drummers Collective offers an immersive experience catered just to drummers. They do not teach anything else but drumming.
What’s really impressive is that every drumming instructor at Drummers Collective is a world-class drummer. You will be learning from the best of the best all day, every day.
Their class sizes are small and focused, with a 1/5 student ratio. If you’re someone who likes to have a personal connection with your instructor, this is a great place for you to attend.
Private lessons are also offered here. So if you want to jump in and see what they have to offer, that is a good way to get your feet wet.
Incremental two-week intensive camps are also offered at Drummers Collective for those who may want to try something a little more challenging than the occasional private lesson.
Another huge plus of the Drummers Collective is their Visiting Artists. Drumming pioneers like extreme metal drummer and blast beat innovator Derek Roddy occasionally make appearances and offer lessons.
Other recognizable names include Rich Redmond (Ludacris, Joe Perry, Kelly Clarkson), Chris Parker (Cher, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin) and Ray Luzier (Korn, KXM).
Los Angeles College of Music
For those who want to study drums and be close to an active music scene, the Los Angeles College of Music may be a great choice.
LA College of Music teaches their student-drummers to focus on a wide variety of musical genres with an emphasis on playing with others. They want to teach you how to be a dynamic player that can apply your skill set to various genres.
You’ll also get an education on the business side of the music industry. An extremely important component to learn that is often overlooked by most.
The LA College of music will get their student drummers ready for careers as a theater drummer, a church drummer, studio drummer, an accompanying player, or even a teacher.
As a student, you will enjoy learning from experienced drummers like Ralph Humphrey, who has played on projects like Dancing with the Stars, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. David Beyer is also on the premises. David has worked on numerous film projects and recorded with stars like Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.
The Royal Academy of Music (London, UK)
If you are a drummer heavily interested in Jazz, then this is the place you want to be. In order to play the drums here, you will need to sign up for a Jazz degree here anyway, so it’s a win-win for jazz drumming lovers.
Located in the heart of London, you will be taken under the tutelage of accomplished drummers at the top of their respective genres and field.
Students have the option of participating in various projects that should delight and expand their knowledge. You can choose projects like Big Band, ensemble projects, repertoire and improvisation, contemporary rhythmic skills, and many more.
It’s worth noting that the Royal Academy of Music alumni includes the legendary Elton John. While not a drummer, he does play a percussive instrument. The Piano. How great would that be to say you went to the same academy as Elton John?
If you want to mix you want to travel, and get an education in the art of jazz, then the Royal Academy of Music may be a good option for you.
Which School is Right for You?
When deciding on what school of drumming you should attend, I’d recommend giving this some serious thought. You will be spending a lot of time, sweat, and tears, no doubt, when you choose to advance your education.
Ask yourself the hard questions. What are my goals? Does this school specialize in the specific genre I’d like to learn? Is the school located in an area that I’d find conducive to my learning experience?
Choosing where to go should not be taken lightly if drumming is the career path you wish to pursue.
Alternatives to Traditional Schooling for Drummers
Maybe attending a traditional college/academy/school is not for you? Luckily there is a multitude of online learning tools available at the fingertips of every drummer.
With a quick visit to YouTube or Vimeo, you could easily type in a prompt like “how to play___” and find numerous lessons from independent artists teaching from their homes or online lesson platforms like Drumeo.
Manufacturers caught onto this trend early and began creating their own content. Companies like Remo, Meinl, Vic Firth and others often put together educational videos featuring their endorsed artists teaching parts of their original compositions.
Attending a school like the ones listed above can be of great benefit to someone who wants a career in drumming. People will know what it means to have graduated from somewhere like Berklee or the Royal Academy.
There’s also a sense of responsibility that comes with that diploma. You’ll receive praise and a level of respect. You’ll also be expected to perform your instrument impeccably.
There is nothing wrong with learning in an alternative fashion. Educating yourself through YouTube is a completely valid way of learning. You won’t have the diploma, but you may have more fun along the way.
You may even develop techniques that will later be taught in a prestigious school! Who knows?