Drumming System Review
Are you looking for DVD drum lessons, but are concerned about their quality, focus, and effectiveness? Well, Mike Michalkow thought about these things and came up with a comprehensive series of drum lessons covering virtually all styles & skill levels, called Drumming System.
This course is designed to cover every aspect of drumming, diving into as many of the popular topics as possible…but is it a good investment?
Let’s look at the pros & cons in my detailed Drumming System review below, and by the end you will know whether it is right for you.
Check out the video tour below to learn more about the Drumming System course:
Jared and Mike put together a helpful video describing exactly what you get with Drumming System.
Note: They discuss the physical DVD version, but you can also save $100 with the online-only version if you don’t need the hardcopy of the course, (the physical and online videos are exactly the same).
Here’s what you get with the Drumming System:
- 30 hours of concise video lessons, covering all aspects of drumming
- Over 100 play-along songs, with and without a metronome
- All sheet music included (5 Workbooks)
- Practice routine generator
- Start Up and Resources Guide
- Member Support Area (Community Forum online)
- Coaching: Private Q&A online and over the phone!
- One personal session with the instructor
- Full online access to the entire course
Here are the most common questions I receive about Drumming System. If you have more, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to find an answer for you.
Q: Does Drumming System include access to Drumeo Live?
A: The Drumeo Packs with lifetime access (e.g. Drumming System) do not include full access to the Drumeo Live lessons. However, you do have access to the forums and can tune into the Monday Live Lessons each week. You can also view all previous Monday live lessons in the Lesson Library.
Q: How much will this cost me?
A: One-time payment of $297 for the DVDs, which includes online access as well. If you only want the online-only version, you can save $100 here.
Q: If I don’t like it, can I get my money back?
A: Both the DVDs and online version come with a 90-day, 100% money-back guarantee.
Q: How does Drumming System compare to private lessons?
A: The main advantage of Drumming System is that you get a comprehensive series of lessons and content at a fraction of the price of live lessons. You can also easily replay portions of the video or come back to it 5 years later without paying again. And it gives you total flexibility with your lesson and practice schedule.
The downside is that you don’t have real-time feedback on your playing from an expert instructor so if you’re doing something wrong, you won’t know immediately. For this reason, I would recommend using Drumming System or any other video course for 3 or 6 months at a time and then going for a few live lessons just so they can critique you and give you a different perspective on what you’ve learned.
Q: How many lessons will I have access to?
A: Drumming System includes over 30 hours of video and these are broken into 20 topics. Each of the 267 “lessons” focuses on a particular exercise, issue, or song and lasts between 2 and 10 minutes. You can see the full list of 20 topics in the Instructors/Styles section below.
Q: How many instructors are there?
A: All of the lessons are taught by Mike Michalkow. You can read more about him in the Instructors/Styles section below.
Q: System requirements?
A: A DVD player or a computer and Internet connection is all you need. An iPad is great for viewing the sheet music PDFs, though you could also print and bind them all at Kinko’s.
Q: Can I learn actual songs with Drumming System?
A: They do offer over 100 play along tracks, however these are not going to be famous songs from your favorite bands (due to prohibitive licensing fees). They are generally good songs and representations of different styles, and are performed by real musicians. In short, they fit the purpose.
|Cost/Lesson||$0.74 / Lesson
$6.57 / Hour
|Best Deal||Get $50 OFF|
|Lesson Format||20 DVDs
|Live / Feedback|
|Video Quality||Very High|
|Lesson Length||5-10 Minutes|
|Total Lessons||267 Lessons
Lesson Quality: 91.9%
|Value for Price||
Value for Price: 93.5%
|Ease of Use||
Ease of Use: 95.8%
Lesson Variety: 91.7%
|Gear and Setup|
Rating: 93.7/100. Drumming System is a comprehensive resource for new and intermediate drummers, including one feedback session and private support by email and phone.
In my opinion, this course is a better investment than private lessons considering the amount of money you will save, though in-person instruction can be very valuable afterward.
- Comprehensive materials (267 lessons)
- Effective structure and progression
- Lots of genres & styles covered
- Lifetime access for one-time cost
- DVD version includes online edition
- Support: Forum, Email & Phone
- Free coaching feedback session included
- Most expensive DVD drumming course
- Lessons are short (though this can be good)
- So many topics mean some are skimmed quickly
- Doesn’t offer live lessons like Drumeo
Drumming System History
Recorded in 2009 and packaged as a hardcopy course, it is now also available as an online-only course for $100 off.
The lessons can be divided into 3 main types: explanation, demonstration, and play-along.
The explanation lessons will focus on those aspects of drumming that are better explained in words than in notes. These lessons include topics like:
- How to Practice Efficiently
- How to Get Gigs
- How to Sight Read
- How to Develop Speed
So some of the explanation lessons, like Snare Drum Tuning, will include very little if no actual playing.
However, these lessons are still very important for your development as a drummer and Mike does a great job of explaining things concisely.
The other explanation lessons focus on technique and some playing, but the sheet music is barely necessary.
The main purpose of these is to give you good visual examples of the techniques, advice for developing them, and the reasons for why you should or shouldn’t do something a certain way.
In the demonstration lessons, Mike will give you a series of exercises, drum beats, or fill patterns and play each one at two different tempos, one moderate and one fast.
The videos for these demonstrations use four different camera angles with the notated music in the middle (see example below).
I have to say that this is much better than even a live lesson because it is so easy to switch between looking at the feet, the hands and the sheet music.
It’s also important to note that you can easily replay it as many times as needed before moving on.
The play-along videos are somewhat interesting just to watch an experienced drummer performing with a band instead of teaching. Though, when you are practicing, the audio versions are much more useful.
The CDs/MP3s come both with and without a click track and they’re essential for putting your technique to work by playing with other musicians.
Mike Michalkow is quite knowledgable, polished, and engaging as an instructor. He’s from Canada and has been playing since 1988. If you’re interested, here is his full bio.
In general he is very effective and I have no significant complaints. The only thing I’ll say is that they overwork the camera angle switching in some of the videos.
It seems that they decided to switch cameras with every paragraph (or even sentence sometimes) and when you add the teleprompter on top of that, some of the explanations can be a bit stilted. That being said, the explanations are concise and I certainly prefer this to long-winded instructors who get off track and can’t deliver a clear message.
To give you a better idea of the areas covered by this series of videos, here are all of the topics and their runtimes (h:mm).
1. How To Play Drums By Ear (1:38)
2. How To Practice Efficiently (0:28)
3. Drum Theory & Notation (1:58)
4. Hand Techniques (1:06)
5. Drum Rudiments (2:37)
6. Foot Techniques (1:35)
7. Heavy Rock Lessons (1:58)
8. Mixed Rock Lessons (1:48)
9. Groove Rock Lessons (1:43)
10. Jazz and Latin Lessons (0:48)
11. Drum Fills (1:48)
12. Dynamic Drumming (0:58)
13. How to Build Speed (0:47)
14. Drum Setup, Tuning & Gear (1:34)
15. Live Gig & Studio Drumming (1:03)
16. Drum Soloing (2:39)
17. Drum Play-Along 1 (2:06)
18. Drum Play-Along 2 (1:28)
19. Drum Play-Along 3 (1:40)
20. Bonus Lessons (0:42)
Total Time: 30 hours, 26 minutes
Although the total time of 30 hours might not seem like much, keep in mind that all of these lessons are very concise and only deliver what would be the core content of a live lesson. Most of the time in a (good) live lesson is going to be you playing for the instructor and receiving feedback.
So based on the years of private lessons that I’ve taken, I would say that 10-15 minutes of Drumming System content is equivalent to a standard 1-hour live lesson, so the total package is equivalent to about 120 hours of live lessons. And because you can revisit the material as many times as needed, the value quickly becomes clear. (Feel free to play around with the Lesson Savings Calculator in the sidebar to the right of this page.)
To complement and support all of the video lessons, they give you all of the sheet music for the exercises and play-along tracks. You can download these PDFs to your computer and print them out. Or read them directly from an iPad if you’re really hi-tech.
There is also a Practice Routine Generator PDF that helps you to plan out a weekly practice schedule based on the amount of time that you can devote to practicing. It is a simple tool, but quite useful for juggling all of the different styles, exercises, and songs that you are working on.
In addition to the PDFs, Drumming System comes with all of the MP3s for the play-along tracks. Note that these are not the entire lessons in MP3 format, just the play-along tracks. And these tracks come with and without a click track if you need some help staying on top of the beat.
I like to play through first with the click track a couple times and then switch to the other version to make sure I can hold the tempo on my own. And finally, they include a series of simple metronome tracks (from 50 – 200 BPM) that you can put on repeat instead of switching your headphones back and forth between your iPod/computer and a metronome.
If you want to see how all of these things are organized and can be used together, check out Mike’s video walk-through in the video tab at the top of this review.
Is Drumming System for You?
Drumming System is the most comprehensive and well-structured series of anything out there. For this reason, it is going to be the best value for those who are fairly new to drums. Though, intermediate players will also find that it’s worth their money due to the lifetime access and high quality of everything you get.
I’ve been studying drums for over 15 years and I still learned a lot just due to the broad range of music that’s covered here. So, even if you have several years of experience, you might be interested in these lessons to round out your skills in unfamiliar styles.
Now, if you already have an intermediate skill level and are really looking to specialize in 1 or 2 styles, this probably isn’t the best product for you. Instead, I would recommend you check out my review of Drumeo as they offer a huge lesson archive with each 1-hour lesson devoted to a single topic. They have a team of 16 instructors, each with their own specialties and you can ask them questions in real-time during the live lessons.
Conclusion to my Drumming System Review
I hope you enjoyed my review of Drumming System and that you now have a better idea of whether it’s right for you.
Still not sure? Have a question about Drumming System? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!