Weighing the true value of in-person vs. video-based drum set lessons

Do you really think purely video-based drum lessons such as with Canada-based Drumeo are the best method for private drum set instruction?

To its credit, Drumeo does claim that having a private, in-person instructor in combination with Drumeo online lessons is advantageous. Perhaps.

But then in the very next section of their latest promotion linked far below out of fairness to them, they completely attack all private in-person drum instructors with a $197 year-round drum lesson offer. The average cost for weekly private, in person drum lessons during the school year is about $1200-$1500.

So how can us lowly private, in-person drum set instructors compete?

It would take me at least one year of full-time work to develop a video-based lesson program on the scale of Drumeo’s as I am a one-drummer show. It’s my career and it has to be multi-faceted in order to earn a living. There are also only so many prospective drum students in any given market. Losing 5-10 percent of that market to online video lessons is a killer.

If you are spending $197 a year at Drumeo for basically the same checkmark program offerings as a $1500-a-year private, in-person drum instructor, then what’s the catch? Sorry, local drum set instructor and working musician who lives in or near your community. You lose.

But there is a catch you should really consider (and it’s a big one): Drumeo has thousands and thousands of active video students worldwide.

I personally have 12 per week between my home studio and a school where I teach, not including my group djembe drum circle work.

I find many video teaching methods aren’t personable, the quality of the lesson isn’t very good, and above all they rarely if ever are point specific to any one student’s actual musical needs in any real micro way.

For example, can Drumeo help a student prepare for an upcoming theater pit band gig by going through that student’s charts one page at a time – slowly – and help them understand notation? They probably say they can, but they really can’t because they have to cater lesson programming to the group dynamic. It’s a business model based on supply and demand. And they still have to pay all their top tier teachers and support staff money as well. So $197 per student looks far less appealing when you consider how many of those single student programs Drumeo actually has to sell in order to make ends meet.

You get what you pay for in life.

Drumeo may have some of the top drummers (many of whom I greatly admire) teaching group video lessons that may or may not apply to you, and offer very flashy website attractions and all sorts of big names and major product endorsements, but they don’t have your best interests in mind.

I can promise you the personal feedback and passion for each and every student is not there with Drumeo nor will it ever be. It’s like suddenly flipping a switch and your kid goes to school one day only to find giant flat screen tv videos have replaced the actual human teachers in the classroom.

Think long and hard about in-person private music lessons and don’t be tempted by the flashy video lesson programs like Drumeo’s. The reality is a lot of those same video lesson themes can already be found online for free.