Lessons FAQ

Why did you start online group courses for pipe band drumming?
– each year students were being turned away because there were never enough solo spots available for the amount of drummers wanting lessons. Group lessons are a way to allow more students to study and at a more affordable price. One on one solo lessons can also be intimidating for some people so a group atmosphere allows everyone to learn at their own pace and comfort level.

My band offers free tuition. Why would I pay for your course instead?
– If you’re lucky enough to find a band in your area offering weekly free lessons then I’d say go for it. Make sure they’re actually structured lessons though and not just hanging out at band practice trying to pick up what you can by ear. If you find yourself stuck at some point, confused or constantly not good enough to make the band, then that’s when most players would start taking paid lessons. When you pay for lessons you’re getting a guaranteed path to learn the material and skills needed for pipe band drumming. After 30 years of teaching, this path has been refined again and again and is at this point a well-oiled machine to help get you on the road to drumming success.

How long does it take to complete each course?
it depends how strong a student you are and how often you practice between lessons. Daily practice for 15-30 minutes is essential to begin with. As you progress to higher levels, more practice time is required. If you don’t feel strong enough to move up a level after the first course, you can always take the course again the following year. Higher levels will typically take more than one year to complete for most drummers.

How do you make sure each student is in the best course for their ability?
– If you’re a beginner, then obviously the beginner course is where you’ll want to start. If you’re a competition drummer, you’ll already have a level assigned to you by your association and you can choose to study that level or move up a level if your goal is to eventually move up a grade within your association. If you’re not a competition drummer, then we can help you figure out what level would be best suited for you based on what you already know and want to learn. If you start a course and find it too difficult or too easy, you can move to another course within the first month without any issue.

Can I get individual feedback on my playing while studying in one of the group courses?
– Yes. All students can send videos of their playing at anytime during the course for personal feedback and critique. Only exercises, rudiments or scores being studied within the lessons are eligible and feedback will be given via email, similar to a judge’s solo or band critique sheet.

Do you have audio, video and notation examples of the material being learned?
– Yes. Links to high quality audio examples and PDF notation are given after most lessons. During the lessons, video examples are often recorded and available after the lesson has ended. Students can also request specific video examples to help them study. In addition, there are practice piping recordings for all drum scores presented so that the student can learn and practice playing to the pipe melody. These recordings can also be used in competition if needed.

What happens if I miss a lesson?
– You’ll get sent all of the relevant material by email during the course but unfortunately there’s no way a lesson can be made up or refunded if missed. You can schedule a solo spot to catch up but that would incur an additional solo lesson fee. Each new lesson typically starts with a recap of the last so unless you miss a lot you shouldn’t find yourself falling behind too much. We want drummers to succeed so we’ll look after you as much as we can.

How long does each lesson last?
– each lesson, solo or group lasts for 50 minutes. Lessons are conducted via Zoom software. See this page for information on how to prepare for your online lessons.

Why don’t you offer courses for Grade 2, 1 and Open Drummers?
– we only offer solo lessons for drummers at these levels. This is because drummers who get to this stage are more self-sufficient and can, or should, be able to progress on their own with minimal input from an instructor. If you find yourself ‘stuck’ as a higher level drummer, then you may be missing some of the essential skills learned in the lower grades like reading and writing music or stick control and technique. The Theory Course is open to all levels of players and highly recommended if learning new scores and/or understanding rhythms is an issue for you. The Theory Course also covers some of the PDQB requirements and essential material needed to become a judge or teacher.

Can I join a course after it’s started?
– Yes. You will get sent all the material for the course but obviously miss out on the lessons presented up to that point. Depending on when you start, we can also try to prorate the fee.

What are Spot Lessons?
– spot lessons are one-off lesson times available throughout the month. They are not recurring and only available as time permits. Some higher grade drummers like to ‘check-in’ every now and again as a way to get feedback on their solo playing or help with any specific issues they may be having. There is no commitment to more lessons or on-going study of any kind. They can be used to ask anything about music, including questions about score writing, leading a drum corps or teaching drummers.

What do I do if I feel I need more one-on-one solo lessons than are available?
– we can recommend other teachers to study with. Please email to discuss.

When will the free additional lessons be offered?
– at various times throughout the year students enrolled in courses will have the chance to sit in on some of the free additional lessons. The topics covered and frequency will depend on the demand for them each year by the students. See here for some of the topics on offer this year.

Do you teach in-person lessons?
– The only in-person lessons offered are for band workshops. Evening, day or weekend workshops are offered with a minimum 2 hour session. Please use the contact page to ask about availability.

Do you offer Score Writing Services?
– Yes. Snare scores can also include tenor and bass arrangements for an additional fee. All scores are professionally typeset using Sibelius and include MP3 recordings. Please get in touch using the contact page for more info.

Do you offer lessons all year long?
– No. All lessons start in October of each year. Group lessons end in May and solo lessons end in July. New courses and solo lessons are scheduled in September for an October start date. Getting in touch around August and September is your best bet for scheduling lessons. Use the contact page here.

How long must I commit for when taking lessons?
– Group lessons are paid for at the start of each year and for the entire course at one time. You can stop at anytime, but there are no refunds given once you’ve started the course and had access to the material. If you do decide to stop (work or school conflicts, etc are the main reasons) , you’ll continue to be on the mailing list for the year and will still receive all of the material and examples given out. Solo lessons however are paid for in groups of 4 at one time. You can stop at anytime after your current group of 4 lessons finish. There are no refunds for ending early so it’s best to make sure you can commit to the amount of lessons you’re paying for.

How good a drummer can I eventually be by taking lessons at dougstronach.com?
– The material is presented in exactly the same way for all students to learn, but the reality is that some students have gone on to be world champion drummers, while others don’t get past Grade 4. So it’s important to understand that it’s mainly you who decides how good a drummer you’ll be. There’s absolutely no pressure at www.dougstronach.com for you to be anything other than what you want to be, but your commitment to daily practicing, and your commitment to investigating all of the avenues presented during the lessons is what will determine your eventual outcome as a player. For instance, I often see drummers more interested in sound than technique. Some enjoy playing scores but are bored by the repetition of exercises, while others enjoy the act of performing more than the routine of practicing. From 30 years of teaching, I can say that the best drummers are those that don’t leave any stone unturned. An all-round learner will eventually be an all-round player which is what it takes to be an all-round great musician.