If you know how to and enjoy playing drums, then you can consider a career as a drummer. In this profession, your responsibility is to play the drum set. This is a multi-percussion instrument that is composed of a bass drum which is equipped with a pedal, snare drum, tom-toms, hi-hats and cymbals.
Your main role in popular music is to provide rhythm and beat to the entire performance. You are considered as the backbone of the group. The timing, dynamics and intensity of the music are all placed in the palm of your hands—or more correctly, your drumsticks.
Your specific responsibilities will depend on the kind of career that you will be pursuing as a drummer. If you are going to work as a session drummer, you will mostly be playing the drums in the confines of a music studio. You are hired by the management to provide accompaniment to artists who are recording their songs.
If you are a member of a working band, on the other hand, you will be earning a living by performing in live shows. Bands that have established their reputation in the music scene may also do album recordings in addition to live performances. Writing music, collaborating with other band members in writing songs and engaging in regular practices with the rest of the band to prepare for gigs are also going to be part your responsibilities.
You may also work as a teacher to students eager to learn how to play drums. In this career, you may work in music schools and conservatories or you may opt to offer lessons in your home or go to a student’s home on a regular basis to teach privately. If you work as a drum teacher in a postsecondary school setting, you will also be undertaking responsibilities related to teaching. These include preparing lesson plans, evaluating student’s performances and organizing school activities.
To succeed as a drummer, you need to be dedicated to the craft. There are more drummers than bands or studios willing to hire them so the field is going to be very competitive. You may experience one rejection after another so it’s important to persevere in this profession no matter what the challenges are. Also, you need to be very skilled in playing the drums. If you are out of rhythm, the song gets ruined so rhythmic ability needs to be inherent in you as well.
Why Become A Drummer
A career as a drummer is well-suited for those who are really passionate about playing the drums. It is for the musician at heart. It is also for those who want to become part of a band and make it big in the music industry. Drummers may not earn a lot of money when they are starting out but the career does hold the promise that they could end up with big-name bands, especially if they have excellent skills and showmanship while playing the drum. A word of caution is in order, however, since only a very few number of drummers reach this status.
Drummer Work Environment
Drummers who play with a band may work in concert halls, night clubs and other music venues. They may be asked to perform in the evenings, weekends and holidays. They have to work doubly hard to book performances and gigs so they can earn money especially if the band is still new. Those who work as session musicians are typically confined to playing in the music studio and collaborating together with singers, composers and producers. Drummers may also be hired to play for religious organizations like churches during worship services and other events. Meanwhile, those who teach will need to report to school regularly.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have salary information specifically for drummers. However, the agency reports that for the general category of musicians and singers, the mean hourly wage for musicians, singers and related workers is $29.92. Data from private firms that have done research on the salary of drummers reveal that session drummers stand to earn about $50,000 a year while those who teach students can make anywhere from $20 to $90 an hour, depending on whether they are already well-known or not.
Drummer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that for the period covering 2012 to 2022, the job outlook of musicians and singers is expected to be positive, with a growth rate of five percent. Although this is slower than the average for all job types, the demand will still come from the public’s clamor for musical performances.
There are no strict postsecondary degree requirements for aspiring drummers. However, it’s a must that they should know how to play a drum set. This can be learned by attending classes and workshops on the subject. Those who would like to hone their music skills can opt to take further studies in music and even earn a bachelor’s degree.