Frequently Asked Questions

01. Drum Related

What should a beginner drummer/percussionist start on? Snare drum or full kit?

With beginner students, we always start with just the snare drum or practice pad. The fundamentals of all percussion and drum set starts with the snare. Here is where we develop hand coordination, basic rhythm patterns along with an introduction into the lifetime study of rudiments.

Even though our initial study starts with just the snare drum, if the budget allows, I do recommend possibly renting a drum set for a month or so to see how it goes. This way we will see if the drum set is a “fit.” After 4-6 weeks the student (or mom and dad) will know if this is something worth continuing.

How long should I/son/daughter practice for?

What are your goals/intentions? How successful do you wish to become?
Beginner – 30 min a day Intermediate – 1 hour a day.
Advanced – 2-4 hours a day
Professional – 4 hours or more per day.

“I practiced for 4-8 hours a day and sometimes felt that I was barely scratching the surface of what I was learning or trying to accomplish that day. I always left practicing wanting more.” -Anthony Giancola

What name brand of drums are good?

This is subjective in a few ways. It all depends on sound preference, hardware, indented use and budget. Pearl, Tama, Yamaha DW, and Mapax are just some drum companies that offer a wide range of drum set lines to fit every budget and need. You will want a drum set that sound good to “you.” Take the time and compare, your ears will let you know.

Does Groove Academy offer Summer Drum/Percussion Courses and or lessons so my son or daughter will be ready and prepared for band in September?

We offer a 5 Day Intensive Drum Program in the 2nd week of July that covers all aspects of orchestral percussion including Jazz band basics. We also offer one on one lessons during the summer and are a little more flexible to accommodate students who want lessons during the day or evening, and or who wishes to have block time lessons. (2 hours or more)

Should I/we buy a new drum set or used? Which one is better?

This is a personal choice. Some people don’t like used because the drums may look a little worn or just the fact that they’re used. If my budget was $1000 or less I personally would buy used because for the same price as new, you could get a used intermediate to pro level kit, with cymbals and hardware in most cases. Then, in the future if you wish to upgrade, you wouldn’t be taking such a financial loss.

What do I look for when buying a drum set? How Many drums do I need to start off with? How many cymbals do I need to start off with?

For beginner students that are 14 or younger I recommend smaller sizes if possible. Small tom sizes are crucial because the student needs the toms closer to the bass drum for height reasons and ease of practice and performance.

20″ kick, 14″ snare, 10″,12″ tom toms and 14″ or 16″ floor tom. 2″ difference between each tom tom usually has gotten better sound results.

The minimum number of drums would be 1 bass drum, 1 tom tom, 1 floor tom, 1 snare drum, 1 ride cymbal, 1 crash cymbal, a stool, a music stand and a metronome.
When buying used, make sure the drum heads are in good shape and not dented torn or pitted and that the cymbals are not cracked. Make sure the stool can be set at a comfortable height for you (especially for younger students who needs the stool lower then most stools would allow).

Make sure cymbal stands are stable. You don’t want the cymbal stand falling over and cracking, so when testing out the kit make sure to hit the cymbals like you would during practice and watch how the cymbal stand reacts.

What pair/kind of drumsticks do you recommend?

When first starting out we recommend a pair of 5a and 7a. Name brand is a matter of preference.

After the 6 week intro program, can we continue and are we able the keep the same spot?

Yes!! We will have to confirm with you if you wish to continue a week before the course ends.

How do I/we set up a drum set?

Groove Academy offers in house setup and tuning. It is far better to have hands on experience then watching a video or looking at a diagram. Contact us for details.

02. Woodwind Related

What should I look for when choosing a woodwind instrument?

There are many makes and models of woodwind instruments to choose from. Buffet, LeBlanc, Selmer, and Yamaha are a few popular choices. However, what is most important is what fits “you” just right. Everyone’s teeth, lips, and jaws are completely different.

Look for an instrument in which you do not have to “force” sound through. The instrument that feels the most comfortable and natural is probably the best one. For more advanced players, consider what sound you are trying to achieve: Buffet tends to produce a brighter sound, while LeBlanc produces a darker, rich tone.

How should I care for my woodwind instrument?

All woodwind instruments need to be cleaned properly with a swab after each playing session. All of that moisture will gradually create mold in the instrument if it is not cleaned out!

All flute players should have a rod in which a cloth can be attached, and there are a variety of swabs for clarinets and saxophones-although silk will get the best results. Woodwind instruments should be stored at room temperature conditions-cold weather may cause cracks in clarinets that are made of real wood.

How important is reed care?

The most important part of a clarinet and saxophone is the reed. That’s right-that little piece of wood that attaches to the mouthpiece and is secured by a ligature. Reeds often determine the quality of a clarinet and saxophone player’s sound, so proper care is important.

Ideally, reeds should be stored in a reed case that holds four to eight reeds. This provides the best protection and minimizes handling them. Reeds need to be treated gently as they can easily chip or break. If you think that your reed is wearing out, check the center of it. A white mark means it is wearing too thin and you may need a new one. Always have two or three back up reeds with you.

It is also advisable to have a cap to go on top of your mouthpiece. This way, if you need to put your instrument down, the cap will protect the reed.

What is the easiest woodwind instrument to play?

There isn’t one. Every woodwind instrument has their own difficulties.

To give a quick summary: The flute requires the most air and air support. Many beginner flute players tend to feel dizzy at first. Air support is extremely important because many flute fingerings are the same, so a faster or slower air stream determines the pitch you are trying to achieve.

The clarinet has the most challenging fingering system. Once in the altissimo (highest) register, there are many alternate fingerings that must be learned.

Good tone production can be difficult for saxophone players because the instrument itself tends to be a naturally loud one. It takes time and dedication to achieve a medium loud, smooth sound in all ranges.

If I get a sound right away on the clarinet, does that mean I am right for it?

Not necessarily. Unfortunately, many people can achieve a “sound” on the clarinet right away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right one for you. A natural clarinet player should have a flat chin and automatically want to tighten the corners of their lips.

Is jazz saxophone easier to play than classical saxophone?

Not really. Jazz music may sound more “fun” to you, but it is equally demanding in rhythm and even more so in technique-especially for improvising. Jazz is just a different style; the technique remains the same.

Should I start with a beginner model, or go straight to an intermediate one?

I would suggest the first six months of playing be on a beginner model. These models are a bit lighter in weight and will be easier while you are learning basic skills. Once you have achieved a solid foundation, then move on to either an intermediate or professional model.

Do I have to own my own instrument?

No. There are many rental options at music stores, including “rent to own” programs. This is valuable if you feel that you will be sticking to your woodwind playing a good while. If you are set on buying, browse Kijji or E-Bay. Many people are willing to sell their instruments that are just sitting their collecting dust at a very reasonable price!

03. Piano Related

What is a good age to start my son/daughter on the piano?

It really depends on the child. Many parents wonder if their little one is too young. If your three year son or daughter is showing a keen interest in the instrument, Groove Academy provides many stimulating activities for preschoolers. We have programs to meet the age of any student who wishes to learn.

Do we need a piano to sign up for lessons?

No. We would suggest renting a keyboard for a month so your children can practice what is learned in class, but it is not necessary to own a piano.

What kind should of keyboard I get?

A keyboard with 61 WEIGHTED keys is the best choice for beginners. Weighted keys are essential because students will have to press harder on them than on light-weight keys. On our upright Yamaha Piano, students will to be able to push down fairly hard. This will feel much different if having practiced on light-weight keys.

For the piano intro program, what do we need to buy for materials?

Nothing! Groove Academy provides two books for intro programs, a theory book and a piano performance book.

04. Guitar Related

Is it better to start out on an acoustic guitar or electric guitar?

An acoustic guitar is better for beginners. It is generally easier to get a good sound. Because there is no amplifier involved, the student gets a good feel for the sound through the guitar itself. Acoustic guitars are also less expensive than electric guitars.

Which strings are better: Nylon or steel?

Every guitar player has their preference. Many students seem to prefer the nylon strings, as they are softer and easier to press down. Steel strings seem a bit more durable than nylon though, and the sound is a bit clearer.

Do I have to use a pick when I play guitar?

No. There are many classical guitarists who do not use picks at all. There is a specific finger technique for learning this. Electric guitarists almost always use picks though, as you are able to achieve a clear, crisp sound.

05. Bass Guitar Related

What is the difference between regular guitar and bass guitar?

Bass guitar is a completely different instrument. Guitar has six strings, while the bass only has four. Bass guitar strings are thicker than guitar strings. While the bass guitar can play melodies, it is often used as a rhythmic instrument.

Is the bass guitar easier to play?

The bass has its own difficulties as well. Students must have strong fingers, as the four strings are much thicker. There is a specific finger pattern to master; the students must learn to alternate their index and middle fingers while playing. Bass guitar players must have good feel and rhythm, as they often help control the tempo in a band.

Why play bass guitar? What not just stick to guitar?

The bass guitar is a unique instrument. It is the “soul” of any good jazz/rock band, as it controls tempo and feel. It also has a deep, powerful sound, and can be a lot of fun to play!
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06. Percussion & Hand Drum Related

What exactly is percussion anyway?

Percussion consists of many different melodic and rhythmic instruments. Orchestral percussion includes marimba, xylophone, tympani, tambourine, shakers, temple blocks, triangles, cabasa, and many others. Percussion also includes hand drums, such as congas, bongos, and Djembes.

Do I need a mallet instrument at home?

Yes, we would recommend renting a small bell kit from us to be able to practice your scales and melodies at home.

Which mallets should I pick?

Harder mallets are better for bell kits, while softer mallets are better for bigger melodic percussion instruments, like the marimba.

Ready to enroll in one of our programs?

To discuss our programs in detail, or if you have any other questions, please contact us, we would love to assist you further.

Register For Summer Lessons!