The very first spark that ignited the entire FUNdamentals movement came courtesy of my 4-year-old son Jackson. He was the one that expressed an interest in the drums and even showed a basic aptitude for playing them early on. As the father of four, I never pushed drumming on my kids. In not doing so, I raised a goaltender, a dancer, and an artist. As the youngest, Jackson represented my last hope for a musician in the family. Therefore I was quite ecstatic when the prospect presented itself for me to share my love of drumming with him.
Jackson’s attraction to the drums was quite simple. Daddy’s drum kit looked fun to beat on. One day while practicing I let him take a turn. What caught me by surprise was how quickly Jackson began counting in time and playing discernable beats. Before I knew it, he had a facsimile of “4-on-the-floor” going and even worked the hi-hat a bit, even though he couldn’t quite reach the pedals.
He was pretty good for a pre-schooler, but let me add that he was not, and is not at the tender age of 5 now, a prodigy. Jackson is not one of the rare, dozen or so kids that you see blazing through ‘Tom Sawyer’ on YouTube. He’s just a regular kid, who likes to play drums but will often prefer to play with his toys instead. He represents the vast-majority of young children who playfully dabble in-and-out-of music. He may or may not pursue the drums in any serious capacity in the future, but at this point in time he shows a real interest.
As parents, we all want to provide our children with guidance so that they will have a chance at being successful in anything they do. I was quite fortunate to be raised in a school system that had a vibrant music program which provided me with plenty of guidance. I first accompanied my middle school’s choir on drums in the 7th grade and went on to play in the high school’s marching band, stage band, symphonic orchestra, and percussion ensemble while taking additional lessons outside of school. When Jackson began showing an interest in an instrument, I wanted to school him myself with some exercises that might make it easier to play. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much available for kids on the younger-age spectrum. Worse off, most of the material that was available was anything but fun.
Nowadays I’m a firm believer that kids should be having fun in whatever they do whether it is music, sports, or any other extracurricular activity. Years ago I made the mistake of becoming one of “those parents” with my oldest son’s hockey career and I still regret it. I also believe that kids should be presented things in manner they can relate to. Almost immediately I recognized a huge gap in the teaching of percussion theory as nothing seemed to meet either of these criteria. There was a distinct need for something new, tailored specifically to younger children, and presented in a way that would at the least, introduce them to the instrument in a FUN way.
Enter my man Rich Redmond, whose not only one of the most exciting and popular session and touring drummers in the industry today, but also an experienced clinician with a master’s degree in music education. Yeah ladies, he’s smart too. You don’t get better credentials than playing in the famous 1:00 Lab Band at the University of North Texas, as well as on ten #1 singles, and multiple hit albums selling over 7 million copies. Jackson digs him the most.
From the day we first spoke, Rich and I both realized the power that a parent and a professional could have on redefining percussion theory for kids. We also recognized the physical limitations that children like Jackson had playing on their parent’s full-size drum kits. Thankfully, there were folks in the industry who had realized this untapped market and were re-designing their products for kids.
Drum Workshop’s PDP Players Kit solved the pedal problem by providing a high-quality drum set that is specially-sized for kids. Pro Mark’s Future-Pro junior-sized sticks took the scale-down theory one step further and designed little sticks for little hands. Now armed with manageable sticks and reachable pedals, children could comfortably make their own music – in their own way.
The FUNdamentalsTM of Drumming for Kids program (which includes our upcoming book, a blog, clinics, videos and online material) is the manifestation of our efforts to fulfill the remaining gap, the educational-side. No matter what the presentation medium is, each FUNdamentalsTM lesson and exercise uses age-appropriate instructions designed to provide applicable skills for drumming for children ages 5-10. And with over 35 separate items, there is something FUN for all ages and stages!
Rest assured that we’re not out to breed the next Buddy Rich. Those YouTube virtuosos have their own groove going on. We’re simply out to share our love of drumming and introduce the fundamentals of the instrument to regular boys and girls out there, aka the “Jacksons” of the world, who show an interest in drums and deserve to enjoy themselves as they explore them.
In other words, Rich and I don’t pretend to guarantee how far kids might go. What we do promise is that they will have plenty of FUN while getting there!