For International Women’s Day, we’d like to share advice and knowledge from the women of the British Drum Co family.
Whether it is the rocking drummers, the incredible marching bands, or those working behind the scenes, BDC are proud to celebrate the women of the drumming world. As a result, we've reached out to all our artists, both marching and drumset, and to staff from inside BDC, to ask them for their advice and experiences on starting out as a drummer and working in the industry.
For our BDC Artists, we asked: "What advice would you give to a drummer looking to start?"
Gabi King, Drummer of Declan McKenna/The 1975
"The best way to learn how to play drums is to play with other musicians. You find your feet real quick when you have other people relying on you to hold it down. Join a band and play play play!"
Ellie East, Drummer of Caity Baser
"Remember to have fun, it’s so easy to start comparing yourself to everybody else and what they are doing, especially with social media these days. Remember you’re only ever really seeing the highlights.
Also never let anything stop you from starting out with drums or continuing to play them. When I was in school I stopped playing drums for a while because most girls my age were either singing or dancing. I felt like I should’ve been doing that too until I got to an age where I thought ‘actually… no! Drums are way more fun.’ I wish that I had just stuck to what I loved doing all along."
Ilse Hofma, Drummer of Wulf
“Get inspired, practice hard, create your own style but above all have fun and go for it.”
Rachel Thom, Inveraray & District Pipe Band
"My advice for someone looking to start drumming is: First of all, get yourself a good teacher.
Don’t forget about rudiments! Essentially, these are the jigsaw pieces to the big picture.
Always try to make time to keep on top of these. Be positive! It can be frustrating, but remember, you might not understand something just now, but you will.
Always challenge yourself. Being in your comfort zone is good and we feel comfortable, but in order to progress, we need to challenge ourselves.
Enjoy it! As long as you’re having fun when you play, that’s all you can ask for."
Police Scotland & Federation Pipe Band
Shannon Davies - "Take the time to listen to different bands and find a style you enjoy! Having some inspiration while learning the basics is very motivating!"
Brianna McDonald - "Just have fun! It's not always easy but at the end of the day, we're all just making music. So enjoy the moment! "
Shanna McDonald - "Just keep going! Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your progress along the way."
Jane Mitchell - "Take time to practice and develop your skills when learning, and watch bands to see the different visual styles."
Alex Paterson - "You don’t have to be great at the beginning but in order to be great you do have to start somewhere, hard work always pays off."
Rachel Fairley, Snare Drummer - "My advice to any girl or woman looking to start drumming would be to work hard, be patient, and not listen to anyone who says that drumming “isn’t for girls”! Stay determined, be confident, and practise practise practise! It can feel like a slow process in the beginning, but don’t give up - it will be more than worth the commitment in the long-run.”
Emma MacDougall, Tenor Drummer - "Don’t let anything get in the way, focus, be open to learning new styles & don’t be afraid to try anything new! Seek out good tuition, work hard & take on board what the people you admire have to say ☺️ make sure you are committed from the start & learn that it’s okay to make mistakes…practise makes perfect!" Blythe Gerrie, Tenor Drummer - "Practice! Think quality not quantity. Really focus, commit, and reflect on what you are learning and playing every time you go to practice. Make it count (literally). Persevere! Everyone makes mistakes or finds certain movements/phrases difficult, especially when first learning. Some days will be easier than others, but push through, keep practicing and lay a strong foundation, it will be worth it in the end. Be inspired! Make time to listen and watch recordings and performances of all genres, but particularly bands and drummers that inspire you. Work hard, play well, and enjoy!" Alison Gael, Tenor Drummer - "Never stop learning from everyone around you. Confidence, skill, dedication and determination will ensure you go far!" Sharleen Donaldson, Tenor Drummer - "Education Education Education!! Get stuck in to as many learning and performance opportunities as possible. Keep an open mind to a variety of styles of playing and do your homework on joining a band with a good tuition reputation. There are loads out there. Listen to advice and feedback and if you get a knock, dust yourself down and bounce back even stronger. If you work hard, you will get to play hard! 🥁” Lucy Carroll, Tenor Drummer - "Take any opportunities presented to you to gain more experience, such as playing in front of others, at events, or learning from more experienced players. Have fun!! This is so important as many hours of practice will go into learning the instrument and music. Take some time to listen/watch videos of different bands performing - this way you can understand different styles and be inspired by others!” Chloe Taylor, Snare Drummer - "Never stop learning from everyone around you. Practice consistently, set goals and always believe in yourself”
Chloe Easton, Tenor Drummer - "Firstly, look into local bands in your area that have good teaching programmes. You may find there is a band close to you that pride themselves on teaching members of the community of all ages. Secondly, take your time in learning technique and perfecting each stage of learning before moving on to the next task, exercise or tune. It may be tempting to rush straight into the hard stuff, but slow and steady wins the race! It’s never too late to start learning, I didn’t start learning tenor until I was 19 years old, having spent 10 years as a piper. I have never looked back!” Iona Underwood, Lead Tenor Drummer - "Some of my greatest memories and closest friendships come from drumming in a pipe band, and I wouldn’t have got where I am today without it. I’ve been able to travel the world with drumming, play for royalty, become a Scottish, British and World champion with pipe bands and compete at a world championship level as a solo player: things I thought as a young girl were out of reach. Drumming has helped my career as a doctor and not hindered it, although as with everything that’s rewarding, it’s hard work. Drumming is not something as common with the female population as it is the male, but we can change that. It’s all about breaking that stereotypical barrier, and if drumming excites you, then go for it! You can only ever give 100% into something that you believe in or enjoy! Whenever you feel like you want to stop, don’t! You may feel pressure from school, university, close friends and family, that maybe it’s time to give up drumming, even though you’ve worked so hard to get there. You’ll never regret escaping to practice, whether that’s solo or with a band. It puts you in a great mindset and playing music activates a different part of the brain from day-to-day academic life, relieving stress and overall improving mood - why would you ever give that up?! I think it’s always hard making the commitment to any instrument and to end up playing at a high level, but as always, hard work pays off in the end. The reward you get is indescribable in words, but is more of a feeling when you step out on the competition field after a year or preparation and practice and it makes it all worth while. Being part of a drum core is like having another family, where you learn together, from each other, and there’s always a feeling of support from the people around you. Drumming will always help and not hinder your walk in life, providing invaluable skills which support every career choice and providing opportunities you may not have came across if you weren’t a drummer. What I’m trying to say is do it for the girls, you’ll never regret it, trust me."
We asked our staff at BDC: "What advice would you give to those looking to work in the drumming industry?"
Tina Clarke, Artist Relations Manager
"There are so many great roles within the music/drum industry both in the recording and live sector; don’t be afraid of the industry if you are not necessarily academic as many people discover their dream job, and ultimate success, through work experience or on-the-job opportunities. It’s definitely an industry where networking and connections are important. Very rarely are artist relations jobs advertised, most are attained through experience and personal recommendations.
To be recognised and respected in the drum industry, specifically in an artist relations role, always be professional, knowledgeable about the brand that you represent, be hardworking, honest, listen to others and be empathic. Follow your dreams and as a female don’t be put off by being told it’s a ‘man’s world’, I’ve never got caught up in the whole gender topic within the industry as for me it’s always about being the best person for the job. Most importantly find something that you love to do, because if you want to work in the music industry it’s not just a job, it’s a way of life."
Bethany Sykes, Content Producer
"Hi, I’m Beth. I am the Content Producer here at British Drum Company. If you’ve seen any images on our socials or watched a video on BDCTV there’s a 99% chance I’m responsible for it. I originally came from a TV production background but have found myself at home here at BDC. My passion for content creation is what brought me here to BDC and has kept me here for so long! Over the years, I’ve learnt a thing or two about drums and the drum industry as a whole.
I started at British Drum Co. as an apprentice and I think it’s a great way to start a career in the creative industry. It’s an entry level role with the advantage of being able to learn skills on the job and get a qualification.
Social media and video content is essential for the drum/music industry moving forward. So if you’re wanting to start your career as a creative in this field there’s no better time like the present! My advice would be polish up on your existing skills and reach out to companies you would like to work with. I would also suggest getting ahead of the curb and reaching out to drum retailers and enquiring if they would be interested in working with a content creator."
Rachel Bedford, Operations Administrator
"Musician or not, your unique experiences are still needed in the music industry. In any business, it is vital to have a variety of people from different walks of life to provide fresh perspectives and solve problems.
The music industry isn't just about rock stars and record labels, many exciting things happen behind the scenes too, so your specific skills may be just what someone is looking for; anything from finances to manufacturing, logistics to marketing, and more. Here at the British Drum Co. factory, we wouldn't get far if everyone wanted to play drums all day!"
Liv Worthington, Graphic Designer
"At a young age, I’ve always wanted to design in the music world, but it has taken me some time to reach that goal, years in fact. I took every freelance project going and went from designing logos for friends & family, to illustrating covers for small bands. With those small steps and a little hard work, I was able to build my music portfolio more and more, which eventually moved towards working as a designer for British Drum Co.!
Begin your path by taking any small opportunity, learning new skills as you go along. If you're just starting out with no clients, make your own design briefs! Create a logo and gig poster for a pretend band, for example, and add it to your portfolio. Whether it's your friend asking for a quick logo, or a brand needing an event poster, take time and appreciate the process equally as much as the final product, regardless of the size of the project. Be confident in yourself and your creative thinking. Keep on pursuing your passion!"
Hopefully you have found all the advice & knowledge provided by the women across the BDC family to be useful in your pursuit of music & drumming. We look forward to seeing you on your drumming journey! 🥁