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Drum practice software: learn drums online

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Drum practice software: learn drums with automatic feedback as you play-along

Melodics & Drumeo alternatives - cheapest first. Then ideas for where to buy instruments secondhand linked so you can click-through for each instrument. Most of the other links are suggested rather than linked, because the precise links change too quickly, but the suggestions might help.A P2P site that works for instrument hire and a cashback site for ebay  Musicroom, Instruments4Music & Bax-shop are the only links that help pay for this site. There is no temptation to leave-out cheap or free software just because it provides no paid link.

Midi Connectors - you will need to do a bit of research (1)

Other instruments can be understood by software using a microphone, at least till you find a better system. Drums need a direct midi connection. Usually it costs money. using a lead like the one suggested on synthesiagame.com/keyboards/Help/desktop/midi Click or scroll down to see the little I know about this.

Yamaha Song Beats: Drums FREE

For IOS: Iphone and Ipod Touch. Work-arounds have been written for android installs using APK files.
Shows drum pad diagrams or a sequencer / piano-roll notation with a moving cursor; no staves.
Songs can be slowed down or played as a loop for the difficult parts.
Free demonstration songs; it looks as though others have to be bought. A comment under the youtube video: "Don't get why its a free app and then a cable that nobody has, that is really overpriced". The Yamaha web site reads "i-UX1 offers a USB MIDI connection between USB-equipped instruments and CoreMIDI-compliant iOS Applications.". Other drum software needs a midi connection as well.


MIDI HERO FREE open source

For Windows 10 and similar, so not easy to test as I use a Windows 7 laptop for drumming. It works as a midi player and shows a big neat drum pad diagram, but no stave as far as I can tell. If it works on a laptop that you can plug into a midi drum machine, I suppose it would show you whether you had hit the right pad; if anyone can easily test or knows already, please let me know.
https://github.com/SpyderTL/MidiHero


PurelyMusic.com: Purely Guitar / Bass / Acoustic Guitar / Viola / Violin / Cello / Fiddle / Ukulele / Piano / Drums / Busouki / Lute / Mandolin @ £40 ONCE per instrument or £4 monthly with regular reductions

Shows a stave with a moving cursor, and an instrument diagram at the bottom of the screen.

My drum version showed nothing about my playing on the Karaoke stave as I played, or on the notes at the end which track about how long you have practiced each lesson. The only feedback was the built-in tuner.

If you watch the firm's videos like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srCfsHwe7iI, you see a cursor moving jerkily along the stave, which is hard to follow. So don't buy this without trying the trial first: trial versions available on app stores and CNET for Windows desktop.

For Windows, including old versions, Mac, IOS, Android, Kindle Fire. Discount vouchers sometimes show on the order page. The desktop version can import XML3 music written for the one instrument, otherwise you have to use the 200 or so exercises included. Schools can pay £350 for up to 40 devices on one site. There are free test downloads with one exercise on App stores and CNET for Windows. Requires Adobe Air, now at https://airsdk.harman.com/

Roland DT-1 £45 ONCE for any midi drum kit connected to a mac or PC computer or tablet

Works with Midi drum kits - not just Roland - and PC or MAC.
Shows a score with a moving cursor, with red crosses where you hit the wrong note. An instrument diagram is at the bottom of the screen. There's an option for waterfall notation if you're used to it.
Reads MIDI files, often free from sites like Bitmidi, Midisfree, Free Midi, Midi World. 
There are 57 bundled exercises and some lift music to get you going.
Allows your choice of speed down to 20 beats per minute, allows just snare and kick-drum, shows a diagram of what parts of a drum kit to hit, and allows you to make a tricky part of the track into a loop  to practice over and over. You can also mute the original drum track.
Music shops can order this from Roland as a CD or it's on sites like ebay, sent from Japan. Roland has a stake in Melodics, below, which makes them much more money so they don't promote the DT-1 or change it at all. The good side of this is that second hand copies are just as good as new ones. Gear4Music charge £45 for a new disc. Prices are about the same if you want to buy or sell on Ebay.
This needs a converter cable to connect your computer or tablet to a midi device. The cheapest on Amazon is notorious for not working. The one from Roland is called a UM-1 .

This 2022, it looks as though this can't be ordered from shops any more, so secondhand copies will rise in value. There are also web pages about how to get-around the need for a pass code to activate trial software, but I don't know how it's done. Simpler would be for a charity or the Arts Council to fund an open source clone of the Roland DT-1.

GIGAJAMONLINE.com £10 monthly or £140 ONCE Drum / Keyboard / Guitar / Bass. Occasionally reduced a lot.


30 pdf print-out exercises take you to grade 5 with a careful structure - even lesson plans - and slow progression of difficulty. Each lesson has pdf notes, like the textbook that this is, a downloadable play-along, and a rather watchable TV interview describing the tasks. I have not yet discovered a Karaoke-style display of the notes, but you can play an exercise from the print-out and the sound file if I understand right. You can't import songs.

If the software is called Xtractor 5, it can only work-out feedback at the end of each lesson; the next "xtractor" software might work in real time. Unusual features are getting more all instruments on one licence, cheap exam grading up to grade 5 from London College of Music at University of West London, and a range of licences for schools and music hubs. There is a free version which just demonstrates the software as applied to one instrument. It's called "debut level".

schools.gigajam.com for educational discounts. Pricing is per pupil in a year group, and low.
One Scottish education authority subscribes to Gigajam and runs a music bus round all of their schools that need it, allowing pupils to see a music teacher once a month and practice online in between if they're keen. The simplest way to get feedback or exam marks is with a midi interface but Gigajam woll work with videos of performances as well.


Melodics.com/pricing  $30 monthly or $150 yearly for Drums / Piano

For Windows 10 64-bit, some IOS and OSX, used with midi keyboards, drum kits, and pad controllers. Occasionally reduced by $50 at sale times, but you still have to have a Windows 10 64-bit laptop near the drum set or something else compatible.

Large collection of videos and online lessons graded by difficulty. One review says that the licence covers Piano as well. If you like piano-roll notation - dots falling down the screen like a waterfall - then there's instant feedback on how well you play to the notation; it doesn't mention practising from drum tab or staves as far as I can see. 



Drumeo.com/order $29 monthly or $250 yearly

Large collection of videos and online lessons. The idea of individual teaching is stretched: you can upload a video of your playing and get feedback, and there are weekly live sessions with some kind of forum discussion, but it is mainly a set of videos and software practice aids.
There are a few longer reviews online which offer voucher for a six month trial, which looks a good idea. They also have some free videos linked from their site - including ones on freedrumlessons.com from decades ago which don't meet their production standards for paid content but are fine for free. Drumeo have been known to knock the yearly price down to $200 on sale days at the end of November: they put offers on drumeo.com/drumshop

 - you will need to do a bit of research (2)

Synthasiagame write:

E-MU Xmidi 1x1 Interface

This is the most-compatible USB-to-MIDI adapter we've been able to find. It works with everything and doesn't require any drivers. You can find it for about $38.

When plugging this into your keyboard, use the opposite port:

  • The In cable goes to your keyboard's MIDI Out port
  • The Out cable goes to your keyboard's MIDI In port

Do not buy cheap or generic MIDI adapters. Incompatible and flakey adapters cause more problems for Synthesia users than any other source.

The worst offender is shown below. If you're having trouble getting things working and your adapter looks like that one, there is a good chance the adapter is causing the problem.

Do not buy this adapter

There are also own-brand connectors from Roland, Yamaha and maybe other electronic drum kit companies which are low-risk but not the lowest price.

The knack looks a bit different for smartphones.

Software written more like an arcade game than something to practice on, that still gives some feedback on some kind of notation like moving frets or a waterfall.


Performous.org FREE: The All in One Music Game for Drums / Vocals / ... -  open source

Singers can opt for detailed feedback on this program. Drummers are not so lucky but get some feedback in blob form and can accompany singers; it allows more than one user at the same time for party karaoke

"For A computer that can run 3D games (doesn't need to be fast)"
 

Opened for me on a Windows 10 desktop PC but not a similar laptop. Also designed for Mac and Linux. I'm not sure how to test this and find out more about what it does. A separate download is called Composer, for importing songs in "various formats including Frets on Fire Midi", so you are in with a chance if you want to try and import songs. I don't know how much quicker  it is if you don't need the karaoke lyrics.

"Playing drums is like the real thing, especially if you happen to be lucky enough to have one of those professional MIDI drum sets. For the rest of us the el cheapo band game controllers will have to do."

The only video of drumming - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6yu6rdo8X0 at 1'20" - shows four drums represented by four blobs on an adapted fretboard diagram; there's no more detail than that; presumably more drums get more blobs up to some limit. A video of drums connected to another gaming program shows someone tapping a control panel on the drum kit to allocate midi channels, which my electric drum set doesn't do. 

Apart from drums and vocals, there are settings for "dance mat" and "5 button guitar controller", 
which apparently is no great help for learning to play strung guitars. Unusually, different players can use the software at the same time together.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soYIbsVmcyU&t=24s is the Youtube demo. 

DEFUNCT Does anyone know how to make Friendjam, ex Roland, import songs?

This doesn't work unless there's some way to import songs since Roland pulled the plug on the download site to stop it working.
http://web.archive.org/web/20180301144018/http://roland.com/FriendJam/V-Drums/ is a copy of the old web page and some of the download sites have a a transcript. There is a childrens' version with a brighter, rainbow-coloured drumset diagram.

It shows some 57 songs, "downloading" if you click on them. I can't see how to import your own songs now Roland have pulled the plug on theirs.

For Roland midi drums designed between the first V-drums and 2019; runs on Windows and MAC. Downloadable from sites like CNET, or the web archive version of Roland's former page.
Requires Adobe Air, which your machine might not download automatically because it has moved to
https://airsdk.harman.com/ 
https://www.roland.com/ca/support/support_news/1804021100/ "no longer ... available do download after ... 2018. Any customer that has already downloaded the applications can continue to open and use them. However, worldwide ranking will be disabled and no further support will be available". I don't think they were real friends anyway.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQpdV8EmxG0 and other online videos show more about what it does while playing Japanese lift music.
If you know how to make this work, please email, attention of John Robertson, using the address at the bottom of the page. Thanks if you
do.

Drum Beat Trainer, is another defunct program for windows by Lumbeat, 2011-2017
http://web.archive.org/web/20161201041607/http://drumgroovetrainer.com/
They still sell drumming apps for apple tablets, but  I don't see one for learning drums.  There are still trial versions on CNET and there are facebook groups for people using some of their software, but a review said that it had trouble keeping a steady speed.


drumming | fretboards and stings | keyboards | singing | blowing ... are other pages in the same series



Renting Drums for practice in the UK

Fat Lama lets you try to rent-out your stuff or hire from someone willing to put their stuff on the site, which pays for new introductions. There might be someone near you renting-out already, although business is very slow. In England, Music Hubs can advise by email on any ways of hiring locally and are encouraged to do it themselves, although they mainly rent classical instruments to schools. Some music shops rent as a sideline.

Buying Drums for practice in the UK

A cashback site offers about 1% off Musicroom, Bax-shop, and Ebay 


The simplest option is go get something new delivered from Musicroom (click-through from the cashback site).

https://www.musicroom.com/instruments/percussion-and-drums/electronic-drums/

Delivery will be subsidised out of the margin on the drums. It's worth checking if they last long enough ever to turn-up on ebay. If so, you can sell them later.

If you can collect a working set from a second-hand seller nearby, it will probably be better value, unless you mess-up as I did and even then it's probably better value. Getting a set that's likely to have spares available proved important, as nearby ebay sellers will tell you if you make an offer quoting the lowest Musicroom price, but they might shift down a little bit if you sound reasonable.

If you're buying for yourself and can carry drum kit parts in a few trips or load a car, then second-hand drum kits with brands on them are about the same price as the cheapest online offer. Maybe less. Brands like Roland, Alexis, and one that claims to fold-up small called Tourtech. If you can collect from a music shop there might be better quality for the price as well. 

Schools and teachers tend to use and recommend Yamaha because they provide free practice software that only works on Yamaha products, and connection of electric drums to midi has always been easy to set-up. They don't make quite the cheapest throw-away models, so they're a safe bet. There are also deals between Yamaha, Roland, and some of the music practice aids like Gigajam, so if you are buying both at the same time for a school, you could ask the software company if there is anything off for buying Roland or Yamaha at the same time.

I messed-up when I bought an electronic drum kit, but it didn't matter except that it took a lot of learning-time to sort out. The closest likely kit on Ebay was a very early model of Roland, from when they had 5-pin plugs and needed an adaptor called a UM-1 to connect to a computer. This was available online; the cheapest non-name ones don't work, I found. The rubber had worn-out in a pedal after two or three people learned to play on this machine (the seller said) so I had to learn about bits of rubber called "Roland Actuators", which are available, so I bought a rather slow learning experience for a few tenners as well as the drum kit. Otherwise, no harm done. I just had to learn about fixing midi drum kits before I learned about playing them. After a year or two practicing I begin to notice that the rubber pads and pedals don't offer many different sounds; maybe just one at one volume, which doesn't matter at first for practicing. The mesh pad has more sensitivity.

If you see a brand of electric drum-kit on Ebay and wonder whether you could cope with worn-out bits, google and search ebay for the name and guess whether you could find parts like rubber for pedals. If you just see the same set sold as "spares or repair", then that's what will happen to yours.

A cashback site offers about 1% off ebay and offers at a few music shops including Musicroom and Bax-shop 

For those who have never bought on ebay, it's good for finding private sellers willing to post. That makes it worse for sorting adverts, because they vary more."Distance | nearest first" is good if someone local allows you to collect, rather than pay postage. "Price + Postage | lowest first" is the main one to use. (Amazon has something similar, rather hidden, as an alternative to "featured"). The lowest prices are often for things you're not looking for, like an instrument case when you're looking for an instrument. It may help to search only for used instruments, and try to include some similar search options like "reconditioned", just to make the search more accurate. There is no obvious way to rule out ads like "buyer collects: Rockall (300 miles)", which are also cheap. You can opt to search only for "buy it now" prices, rather than look at the items that are cheap because the auction hasn't reached the end yet. Another way of treating auctions is to look-up what similar instruments went for under the "sold" category, decide the maximum you want to pay, and set a maximum bid for that amount. Sites like Auctionstealer, called Sniping sites, set your maximum bid independently of ebay, and reveal it only in the last ten seconds of the auction. That saves you bidding against people who keep bidding till your maximum bid is reached; your bid comes as a "snipe" or surprise. Oh and there is the cashback site that gives you about 1% cashback on most types of purchase if you click-through from them to ebay before purchasing.


Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Drums > Drum Kits > tick a box for electronic (or acoustic) then sort by distance, nearest first. 

... is the place to look, backed up by charity shops and the usual small ad sites: Gumtree, Preloved, Vivastreet and Reverb for music.
You can search Gumtree and Reverb at the same time with for-sale.co.uk

Drummers go to gigs with a foot pedal, snare, and surprisingly expensive cymbals.
Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Cymbals
Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Drums > Snare Drums
Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Parts > Drum Pedals 
Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Drum & Percussion Accessories > Drum Sticks & Brushes

The venue usually provides the rest.
Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Drums > Drum Kits > including acoustic ones
Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Drums > Toms
Ebay > Musical Instruments > Percussion > Drums > Bass Drums

Music shops that sell secondhand near you, charity shops, and pawnbrokers are hard to link-to from here, but there is a way to link to some local classified ads.
https://www.for-sale.co.uk/ tries to search, and search by distance, on ebay amazon  and sometimes
https://www.gumtree.com/percussion-drums
https://www.preloved.co.uk/classifieds/making-music/drums-percussion
https://www.shpock.com/en-gb/c/sport-leisure_musical_instruments_drums-percussion and
https://reverb.com/uk/c/drums-and-percussion which is expensive. Shopkeepers use it. They have higher costs so they go upmarket where the margins are higher.
You can log-on to for-sale.co.uk and tell it where you live to sort by distance or search UK-wide in case sellers will post (usually not). Another idea is to add the word "classifieds" to a search on a search engine, which doesn't search by distance but gives some ideas about where else to look. There are some other odd basic web sites for buying and selling instruments free. A search engine might find your nearest drum shop as well, and whether it sells secondhand.

Cashconverters are often a little cheaper than ebay and often quote for postage.
https://www.cashconverters.co.uk/shop/music-tv--video/musical-instruments/percussion---drums--cymbals
/drum-kit
/drum-pedal
/drum-stand
/drum-throne
/drum
/snare-drum
/bongo-drum
/kick-drum
/bass-drum
/high-hat
/cymbal
/cymbal-stand
/drum-tom
/tambourine

/kick-pedal
/drum-skin
/high-hat-stand
/xylophone
/drum-key
/castanets
/conga-drum


Shaw is a firm that sells drum sticks and gets some of its products made in the UK.

That is about all I think I know about the type of drum to buy. Oh except those rubber desktop pads that you can roll-up. I bought one on ebay and forget why I gave it up quite quickly and sold it again. Maybe because the positions of the pads are so different to my music teachers' acoustic drum set. I don't remember it working with a midi teach-yourself drumming program either.

Maybe there is a good article about them on the net somewhere.
Schools and music hubs in the UK that buy several instruments at once have some different choices and a separate page. It's not based on first hand experience but might prompt some ideas. 

Upmarket, there are is a 0% interest scheme called "take it away" at some music shops for parents of school children; the scheme has a web site that can help your find your nearest music shop that takes part. A search for specialised charitable trusts to fund musical instruments will find some lists. Options vary by postcode, the age of the applicant, type of instrument, and time of year - some of them meet quarterly and will not fund past purchases. A typical aim would be to help students of classical music performance get instruments to use at a specialised music college. This is not something to encourage without a warning. There is not much money nor courting potential in playing classical music, even if you get a rare job in an orchestra. Not even if people hang-around the school gates trying to lure you into the world of Associated Board music exams and careers in orchestras. There is a lot of hobby potential, even alone. Edward Heath used to play the piano to himself to relax in his flat after a day being Prime Minister.

Buying amplifiers and headphones

This isn't important for a learner's guide, but a some of Marshall amplifiers are still made in Milton Keynes, UK (unlike Vox now in Vietnam).
They reply to emails asking what's made where:

For Marshall:

  • All the vintage reissue amps
  • Studio series
  • JVM
  • Handwired Amps

Natal Drums :

Angel and Curves Carboncam headphones are made in Birmingham, UK, and more affordable on Ebay (Bose and Sennheiser are assembled in China). An ideal guide would list things made in democratic welfare states with good human rights records, but that's a hard list to put together. Nice things sound better though.


Old computer speakers with built-in amplifiers might be in the back of your drawer already or on this UK Ebay page: https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/3702/i.html


The Music History Handbook

The Music History Handbook is available online from https://musonix.co.uk/the-music-history-handbook-978-0951721469 .  It is not yet available via book wholesale and retail: you can only get it here online. It is in a different style than this web site - much more expert and neutral, with original research and explanations, as well as links to videos of most of the pieces described, so you can listen to the pieces and read about them.

Rehearse Direct and Play

Software and apps don't help you play or jam or rehearse with other people, a band or "ensemble"as some people call it. A piece of UK legislation in the 1990s (if I have got this right) suggested that pupils should learn to "rehearse direct and play" in an "ensemble", but didn't say where the teaching money would come from! This booklet was printed and re-printed as a cheap pocket guide to read when you are on a bus to a rehearsal and unable to read your tablet or smartphone. It uses a technology called print on paper, but is still only £3.50+ postage: cheaper than a lot of apps.