Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A TOS Review: DrumsWithWillie

If you happen to walk past my apartment door this week you might hear a few different things. I’ve been listening to an Agatha Christie audiobook on youtube (love the mysteries). You also might hear the folding of a dozen loads of laundry (yep…gittenerdone) and you assuredly will hear the stylings of my 13-year-old aspiring drummer.  If you are my neighbor I apologize…You have been probably been enjoying these “stylings” for some weeks now.

It’s just natural that some kids just need to drum on things. Mine is so exception. Unfortunately, our apartment living has limited his garage band dreams. When I found out we had the opportunity to review DrumsWithWillie from JazzEdge, I couldn’t even contain the squeals.

DrumsWithWillie is a self-paced online review from JazzEdge. The founder of JazzEdge, Willie Myette, is a Berklee College of Music graduate. His primary goal was to find a home for all of his jazz education and performance ventures. Now it has grown to include educational resources. We had the opportunity to review HomeSchoolPiano last year.


DrumsWithWillie is for drummers from beginner to advanced. There are three levels of lessons available. The students can learn the basics of drumming, how to read music and then can branch out to improvisation and composing. The lessons use the 6-Step Cycle. This cycle involves working on technique, rhythm, ear training, reading music, playing songs and improvisation. The whole curriculum creates a well-rounded music program that meets all of the National Standards for Music Education requirements.

The instructor for the program is Mike Marble. Mike has taught drums for over 25 years. He has been published in “Modern Drummer” magazine and is a busy session player.  Josiah really enjoyed Mike. He is an enthusiastic and thorough teacher.

Now on to what you need for this program.  You need a high speed connection and a good set of speakers. The videos can be streamed from any device (which is pretty great). Your child (or yourself) you will need a drum kit - a basic set with a kick drum, snare drum, hi-hat, at least one cymbal, and one pair of sticks.

We ran into just a few issues that had nothing to do with the lessons or the site itself. We had major computer issues over the review time period. It was harder to gain access to some of the lessons, the beauty of it is that once Josiah reached a certain level we were able to download the videos and he could watch them at his convenience…or the convenience of his computer.  

Another issue is that while we have access to at least 2 drum kits the only drum Josiah has at home to practice with is a snare. Again, I found that it didn’t interfere with some of the basic lessons on rhythm and reading music. 

There are a set of free lessons you can check out, but I want to walk you through just a little bit of how it all works.
One of the great things about the program is that we are allowed to move around freely. I have been able to look a bit ahead and Josiah can review to his heart's content. In fact, we worked on the CoreDrums Unit more than once. He just learns better with repetition.


For our purposes today, I clicked on the View CoreDrums. The box below is the last few choices. I am going to click on #5, How to Hold Your Sticks. Very important for the drummer.  


You can see that the video gives us a birds eye view as well as a front view of Mike. The videos aren't very long and keep my busy guy engaged. Along the bottom of the video you have the option to watch the previous video and/or move forward.


If you move on to the other levels there are resources available for download. There also might be a lesson quiz. You can see by the blue checkmark that Josiah has already completed the lesson quiz for rhythm.


This is the Lesson Quiz. As I said, Josiah has already taken it, but you can see how it works. The student clicks on the play box of the media player and marks the correct response.


If you take a look at the small red box in a corner you will find a Help box that will lead to some live support. That little box can be found everywhere. 

I believe I also mentioned that the Lessons from Units 1-3 can be downloaded. This has been a lifesaver for us. Computer problems can be the worst! 

 Josiah has struggled with learning to read music. He is dyslexic and I am sure that has something to do with it.  But…he has a natural rhythm and loves to drum.  I haven’t had to twist any arms during practice time.  Despite his struggles, I am pleased that the music reading part of the process hasn’t been neglected.


This is a fantastic program. Any aspiring drummer would benefit from it. The lessons are quality and I am just pleased Josiah is “sitting under” such an experienced and pleasant teacher. I love that we aren’t limited to a certain time of day or an appointment for Josiah to go through his lessons. He has reviewed several over and over. Our goal for our family is that Josiah will eventually be able to play with our family band. We not only lead Praise and Worship at church, but we minister at a Nursing Home. Several of us play instruments (and some of us more than one), but there is not a drummer among us!

This is also such a fun summer project. You or somebody in your house want to play the drums? Check it out.


 You can follow DrumsWithWillie via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click the banner below to read more reviews. Some of us reviewed other music programs!
JazzEdge Review

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