Begin Drumming is an entry-level multimedia course created by professional Australian drummer Jim McCarthy. Jim has degrees in both music and percussion. Even more noteworthy is his 20 years of drum teaching. We have to say that this experience really shows through in Begin Drumming. Unlike other music instructors, he doesn’t waste your time by pausing frequently or by speaking slowly (if anything, he could afford to slow down a touch). He has a personable and friendly style that drumming students will appreciate.
Besides Begin Drumming, Jim has also created a drum course specifically to help his students with their stick technique, called... well, Stick Technique.
Once inside the download area, we found the member’s area clean and free from unnecessary clutter. We had the option of either watching the videos lessons as an online stream or to download them to our computer in either .wmv or .mp4 format. Also available for download are the sheet music files for playing the drum rudiments, solos, and other exercises.
The video lessons aren’t meant to be viewed by themselves. You’ll need the supplemental 52-page .pdf to properly perform the exercises and make sense of some of the lesson material that isn’t fully explained in the videos.
Tip: It may be a good idea to initially download the lesson files as you can keep them for as long as you want on your computer and watch them as much as you want. Another good reason is that when we tried to stream some of the video lessons, they stopped halfway through, which wasn’t an issue with the downloaded files...
The total playing time of the video lessons clock in at just a few minutes short of 4 hours. This makes each lesson 5 ½ minutes long on average.
As the course name states, Begin Drumming is a drum course for the beginner. It starts you right from square one. Mike will teach you how to hold your drumsticks, how to read music, to play the drum using dynamics, how to play your first rock beats, and eventually how to incorporate all the different parts of your drum kit into your playing. While it is a beginner’s course, some of the rudiments and drum solos that are taught towards the end are fairly advanced. Still, you can only fit in so much in 4 hours so some topics are glossed over a bit, such as how to properly set up your drum kit.
From a purely instructional point of view, Begin Drumming is one of the best online drum lessons out there for less than fifty bucks. However, with better quality video, multiple cameras, a few missing lessons, and maybe some play-along tracks, Begin Drumming could have been so much more.
Jim does a fantastic job of explaining drumming and general music theory. This is an area where a lot of drummers (and musicians in general) fail. Without a proper understanding of at least basic music theory, you’ll eventually hit a brick wall with the type of songs you are able to play. On a side note, I was amused by the fact that I wasn’t aware that many simple musical terms had alternate names in the British and traditional classical circles. For instance, crochets are the American equivalent of the quarter-note, and a quaver is the same as an eighth note. This wasn't an issue though since he explains these terms as he’s teaching.
The lessons are full of exercises that you can practice as you progress through the lessons. There are also 10 original drum solos that you can play.
While the instruction is solid, the video quality was definitely the biggest disappointment in Begin Drumming. The videos are quite small and appear very grainy when enlarged on any decent sized screen. The video camera is pretty much just sit stationary on a stand while Jim does the teaching. Multiple cameras are not used, and video close-ups are also pretty much non-existent. (In all the four hours of teaching I believe the video camera zoomed in a twice for a couple brief moments.)
It’s possible that because the four hour’s worth of video weighs in at close to 600mb that the video quality was drastically compressed. It would have been better if they had hi and low quality downloads available. In the videos, you’ll notice a persistent watermark from MACStudio. Upon further investigation we discovered that MACStudio is Jim McCarthy’s own film and audio production company.
We didn’t test it out, but Jim McCarthy advertises personal support to customers of his Begin Drumming course via an email displayed on his website.
Since ordering something directly from a poorly-designed website like BeginDumming.com could be a bit of a scary experience, it’s a comfort to know that Mr. McCarthy uses a 3rd party processor that takes care of sensitive payment information.
Mr. McCarthy's product has 2-month money back guarantee.
From a purely instructional point of view, Begin Drumming is one of the best online drum lessons available for less than fifty bucks. However, with better quality video, multiple cameras, a few missing lessons, and maybe some play-along tracks, Begin Drumming could have been so much more.Official Begin Drumming Website
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Publisher: Jim McCarthy (Self Published)
Suitable For: BeginnersWebsite Compare
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