Dundee Drum Academy 30 Day Challenge

posted 14 Sept 2020, 01:40 by Chris Morris   [ updated 14 Sept 2020, 01:49 ]

Starting on Tuesday 15th September, I will be going live on the Dundee Drum Academy Facebook page daily to perform the 30 Day Challenge exercise that you can find on this page. Here is the notation for it (Can also be downloaded in PDF form at the bottom of this page, and stick around at the bottom of the image below for an explanation of the challenge):

The above exercise can be studied by drummers and non-drummers of all ability levels, as there are various paths through the exercise, and it can be played at any tempo. The top three lines are “bases”, which we’ll be going back to at multiple points during the exercise. So the most likely path would be:

Base 1: four bars
Variation 1: four bars
Base 1: four bars
Variation 2: four bars
Base 1: four bars
Variation 3: four bars

...And so on.

Then the same would be repeated with bases 2 and 3.

For a more full explanation, take a look at the daily videos over on the Dundee Drum Academy Facebook page, as I will be going through this every day until the 15th October.

You can drum along with the live videos, watch again later on, or just go through the challenge at your own pace. But make sure to do it once every day for the next 30 days!

The aim is to improve your general fluency, technique and speed behind the drum kit. At the end of the 30 days we’ll all see a big improvement in our drumming!

New ISM Agreements

posted 12 Sept 2020, 06:52 by Chris Morris

Starting this week, I’ve been asking students to fill in an agreement for private music tuition through my membership of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM). 

I have been a member of the ISM since 2017, and have found this membership valuable as it provides things like public liability insurance, a community of professionals to exchange ideas with (this was very beneficial in setting up Zoom lessons earlier this year), and I even attended a great seminar with Paul Harris which was organised by the ISM.

Another benefit of being a member is that they provide template agreements for private music tutors such as myself. I’ve never used a proper agreement in lessons before, but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic I am now asking all current (and future) pupils to accept this agreement for lessons as it will help create a little more stability moving forwards.

The pandemic hit most people quite hard, and for self-employed people like myself, it has been a time of uncertainty and worry. Generous support was received from the government, however, many pupils were lost as a result of being away from lessons for too long, and many potential new students are understandably wary about starting something new during this time and have reservations.

In this blog I would like to set out what these new agreements mean, and of course you’ll be able to read in full the terms and conditions before signing. There aren’t many real changes and lessons will continue to run in much the same way as before, but with some small changes.

Firstly, prices are staying exactly the same and I have no plans on increasing fees in the near future. However, many of you will know that I have never charged for missed lessons, but the ISM agreement states that any missed lessons that are given less than 48 hours notice of cancellation will have to be paid for. I have, unfortunately had a few occasions where I have been notified very late, or not at all. It is stated in the agreement that missed lessons with less than 48 hours notice may not be charged for under the discretion of the teacher because of exceptional circumstances

The agreement also details how lessons can be terminated by either party, and that written notice will be required for this. Unfortunately, I’ve had no communication from some pupils as to whether they will be returning to lessons, and these pupils are sadly no longer listed on my timetable.

I feel these agreements will help give Dundee Drum Academy a little more stability as we continue to recover from the pandemic. Thank you all for your continued support, and I look forward to more lessons!

Improve Your Double Strokes

posted 28 Aug 2020, 07:09 by Chris Morris   [ updated 28 Aug 2020, 07:56 ]

Please find the PDFs for these lessons at the bottom of this page. If you missed the Facebook Live lesson, don't worry, it's be available to re watch on the Dundee Drum Academy Facebook page here -

Have a good practise! 


Fees Increase for Single Lessons

posted 31 Jul 2018, 04:07 by Chris Morris

Due to a rise in the cost of running Dundee Drum Academy, I am raising the price of single lessons by £2. The single lesson increase will become effective from Monday 3rd September 2018. The new prices of lessons will be as follows:

    • 10 minute lessons - £12
    • 30 minute lessons - £14.50
    • 60 minute lessons - £25

As you will know, I have never raised the prices of lessons since starting Dundee Drum Academy back in 2011. In that time, I have earned an LTCL diploma in instrumental teaching, introduced two annual concerts, a snare drumming competition, and I am in the process of introducing African drumming for children and adults. All of this, of course comes with extra costs, and I have plans to introduce more in the months and years to come, but I would not expect another price increase.

The decision to increase the price was made after taking advice from my professional body, the ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians). The ISM send out an annual survey each year to private instrumental tutors to find out what they charge for lessons, and it has been found that there are many other teachers charging more for lessons, and they are less qualified and experienced. Even with this increase in fees, lessons at Dundee Drum Academy will still be cheaper than other places, as I want to ensure that music lessons are open and affordable to as many people as possible. If it weren’t for the free music lessons I received at school myself, I would not be where I am today and I think it’s important to keep the price of lessons as affordable as possible without making it difficult to continue to earn a living from doing what I love to do.

Discount for block-bookings.

If you currently pay for lessons in blocks, there will be no change to the price of lessons. If you currently pay for single lessons at a time, you can change to block bookings to receive the same discount. Block bookings will continue to be the same price:

    • Four 20 minute lessons - £40
    • Four 30 minute lessons - £50
    • Four 60 minute lessons - £92

Thanks for your continued support of the work done here at Dundee Drum Academy. I look forward to seeing all pupils continue to grow as musicians and people.

Chris Morris
LTCL Instrumental Teaching
BA Popular Music Performance
Dundee Drum Academy.

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Dundee Drum Academy

posted 8 Jun 2018, 06:48 by Chris Morris   [ updated 8 Jun 2018, 06:49 ]

On Saturday 23rd June, Dundee Drum Academy will be hosting our 2018 Summer Concert, and this marks our tenth performance event for pupils. To celebrate this, I thought I'd write a little special blog with ten interesting points about Dundee Drum Academy that you may not have known. So here we go!

1. Dundee Drum Academy has two birthdays (sort of).

The first lesson taught under the name "Dundee Drum Academy" took place on Tuesday 15th February 2011, and this date is sometimes adopted as Dundee Drum Academy's birthday. However, the name was created and insurances bought on Christmas Day 2010. Either of these dates could be thought of as Dundee Drum Academy's birthday, for me personally, I tend to think of the date of the first lesson as the real one.

2. Three percussion tutors have taught lessons as part of Dundee Drum Academy.

Although Dundee Drum Academy is generally the teaching practice where I base my own lessons, two other tutors have also taught lessons at Dundee Drum Academy; in 2011 my good friend Jennifer Gill stepped in to teach some lessons while I was volunteering in India, and on two occasions another friend Gregor Christie has taught some lessons as part of his music studies at UHI.

3. No Dundee Drum Academy pupil has ever failed any form of music exam or audition.

This is something I'm very proud of - over the years my pupils have taken part in many graded exams (from Grades 1-8), school exams and applied for music courses from Dundee to London, and so far each and every individual has been successful. This is partly down to my own policy of making sure a pupil is more than ready for an exam before telling them to apply, but mostly down to the sheer hard work and determination of the pupils themselves. Well done, and long may this continue!

4. There have been a total of 142 individual performances by over 50 people at events so far.

Performances have of course largely been on drum kit, but over the years we've also seen performances on xylophone, guitar, djembe and of course, snare drum solos. Ages have ranged from VERY young (more on that in a bit) to... a bit older (I won't give an estimate of how old our older performer has been, but I can tell you it wasn't me!).

5. Only one person has performed at every single event.

If you've attended any event run by Dundee Drum Academy, the one thing I can guarantee is that you have seen a cracking performance from Alexis, who has performed at every concert, and every Snare Drum Challenge. Starting out with playing something quite simple in her first concert way back in 2014, at this year's Summer Concert be prepared to be blown away by an excellent rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication.

6. The Snare Drum Challenge has some mystery awards.

Some students are afraid to play the drums too loudly in case they break them, to which I reply "Don't be afraid, there's a prize for accidentally breaking the drum". And there genuinely is! There are also some mystery awards for gaining a perfect score at the Snare Drum Challenge, and tying for first place. In addition to these, there are also other things students can do at the Snare Drum Challenge that would earn them an award, but these are kept secret! Only time will tell whether anyone achieves any of these... 

7. It's not just drum kit lessons that take place at Dundee Drum Academy.

Drum kit takes up the bulk of my teaching time of course, but I also spend my week teaching tuned percussion, and I even have one student who comes for djembe lessons. I can teach just about any percussion instrument, and I charge the same amount for any of these, so if you're interested, just ask! 

Bonus fact related to this: the most requested instrument I get is guitar, but I only know a few chords and I'm far away from being any sort of expert on this, so no guitar lessons at the moment unfortunately!

8. 81% of currently timetabled students started drumming before I did.

Some of them started MUCH younger. I was twelve when I started learning drums at school, and 81% of my current students have started years before then. Everyone learns at different rates however; some students who started much later than me are doing great. It all depends on how much you practise!

9. The youngest performer at an event was just three years old.

At the most recent Christmas Concert, Anders blew the audience away by performing a very tight version of Queen's We Will Rock You aged just 3! He also perhaps holds the record for the biggest round of applause at a concert, and very deservedly so! Anders will be back at the next concert too, and the progression from his last time around to now is outstanding. Certainly someone to watch out for.

10. I currently spend 34 hours per week teaching.

When Dundee Drum Academy started back in 2011, I think I may have been lucky to have been teaching for 4-5 hours per week. The progression to where I am now is down to working with some incredible people - my supportive family, the parents of the pupils, and of course the pupils themselves. Teaching drums is the best job in the world, especially when I get to work with such amazing people. So thank you to each and every person who fills my week with inspiration and excitement, and allows me to do what I love!

April Updates

posted 13 Apr 2018, 05:18 by Chris Morris

I hope everyone has had a nice Easter break, and are ready to get back to normal life for a little while. We’ve had plenty going on in the last few weeks so I thought a blog update would be in order!

The Snare Drum Challenge 2018

Firstly, congratulations to every participant in this year’s Snare Drum Challenge. We had a new top scorer in Level 1 in Tony Craig, and both Vincent Wilkie and Drake Petrie came top in Levels 2 and 3 respectively for the second year in a row! There were plenty of great results aside from the overall top scorers too, with plenty of Silver award winners as well as high Bronze and even one other Gold who wasn’t very far off coming top.

These full results, along with the notation for all pieces and sight reading (seen and unseen) plus a few bonus pieces are now available to purchase as part of the Snare Drum Challenge 2018 book for just £12. Go to the Snare Drum Challenge section of this website or to our new Facebook Shop to order your copy. These are printed to order, so please allow around 3-4 working days for delivery.

Changes to Photography/Video Consent Policy

I’ll be putting letters out this week to explain a slight change to how we will be doing photography and video consent going forward. As you will know, it’s a strict policy of mine to obtain permission from parents/guardians to take and/or use photos and video footage of Dundee Drum Academy pupils, and this will always remain the same. However, starting from next week I’ll be issuing consent forms at the beginning of every school term (going by Dundee school term dates). This will be asking permission to take and use photos/videos at any event during this period, and also during lessons to allow us to showcase more of the talents of pupils who attend lessons. I’m hoping to share some more interesting content on social media pages and allow all pupils the chance to shine and show what they have been practising in lessons. 

More information about this will be found in the letters going out over the next week.

National Youth Orchestras of Scotland

NYOS have been in touch with me this week asking to share some information on their courses this summer, which includes a course for young percussionists aged 8 – 14 who are of roughly Grade 3 level. This would be a great experience for any pupils attending lessons at Dundee Drum Academy who fall into this category. I attended the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Scotland twice when I was at school and it was a really good experience which helped me grow in confidence and become a more experience percussion player in a classical setting. 

For more information on this, visit

Summer Concert 2018

Finally, no firm date has been set for the Summer Concert this year but expect a proper announcement on this immanently (You can expect this to be around 22nd – 23rd June). What I will say however, is that I’m planning a bit of a change to how concerts run; so far most of our concerts have been split into two halves with primary school ages students performing in the fist half and secondary in the other. I was inspired by Anders, our youngest ever performer who, at the age of just three years old opened the secondary schools half of the Christmas Concert last year to enthusiastic applause from the audience. More of this would be good – younger students performing to older ones, and vice-versa. So expect the Summer Concert to involve a bit of a mix this year, and for there to simply be an interval in the middle rather than thinking of it as two separate concerts. 

Looking forward to getting back to a full timetable this week!


Forty-Seven Students

posted 15 Apr 2017, 09:34 by Chris Morris

Hi everyone, thought I'd take a moment to update the blog with all the latest goings on, as there are a few noteworthy things to write about.

Busy Timetable!

The timetable for lessons has been busy for a long time and has hit a new record this week with 47 students timetabled in for regular lessons. I just want to say a huge thanks to each and every pupil, past and present who has made this happen. When I started Dundee Drum Academy I think I had six or so students, all of whom have since moved on. I don't think I'd ever have thought it would get to this number. Many of you have been coming for years too, so thanks for your support over all of these years, it's a pleasure to have  every one of you.

With the timetable being so full, this has led to some changes too. There is now a waiting list (which is also beginning to fill up!), something I've never had to use before. If you're reading this and would like to be added to the list, there is now a handy form on the Available Lesson Slots page.

Because of the lack of spaces, gift certificates have been temporarily taken off of the site. These may return if there comes a time where there is space for plenty of new people, but I wouldn't want people buying gift certificates and not being able to use them, so they have been removed for now.

One final note about the busy timetable; Dundee Drum Academy continues to not charge for missed lessons as I know in life these things happen, and up until now I've been lucky enough to work with pupils and parents who I share a mutual respect with and who haven't taken advantage of this. However I will now be adapting a policy where if a student misses two lessons without explanation then their place will be freed up for new students. I don't anticipate this happening but wouldn't be fair to those on the waiting list if there was a space they could be coming to.

The Snare Drum Challenge

Huge thanks again to all involved in the first ever Snare Drum Challenge. I'm pleased to confirm that the event will be returning annually and as most people will have noticed I have started a plaque where the highest scorers from each year will be displayed.

Also, there will be a Snare Drum Challenge book each year. The first of these is currently in production and will be available to purchase on the website very soon. Thanks to all of those who pre-ordered.

LTCL Instrumental Teaching

Lastly, I'm pleased to confirm that I now hold an LTCL qualification in Instrumental Teaching. It's been a great year learning more and more about teaching and putting it all into good practice. Thanks to those who have helped with different things towards this. I will keep learning more thanks to all of your brilliant support!

That's all for now, speak to you again soon!


The Snare Drum Challenge 2017 - Challenge Complete!

posted 26 Mar 2017, 14:40 by Chris Morris


I'm fortunate enough to do a job where I quite often witness things accomplished by young people that just blow me away. At each Dundee Drum Academy Christmas and Summer Concert there are always one or two people who perform to such a high standard that I wonder if they've maybe been taking master classes with Tommy Igoe and not telling me. And then, there was The Snare Drum Challenge.

The name The Snare Drum Challenge says it all really; it's a challenge. Across all three levels, this event was a very difficult one. When the pieces were released in January, I was very blunt with my pupils, telling them that I didn't think that anyone would achieve a Gold certificate, because it would just be too difficult. The pieces themselves are very difficult, the marking scheme is quite harsh, there's an unknown element with the sight reading part, and the judge (me) is known to be quite an unforgivingly harsh one. You'd have done extremely well to get a Bronze, never mind Gold.

Well, four participants proved me wrong. And the rest impressed me beyond anything I'd expected.

The Snare Drum Challenge is based on an event in my life that inspired me, and helped me be who I am today. In 2002, I competed in the Dundee Schools' Music Festival in a snare drum contest. I practised the piece so much that I can still play it from memory today. And when I stood in front of the quiet audience with nothing in front of me but a snare drum and a pair of sticks, I was sure that the people in front could hear my heart because it was beating so hard against my chest. I've never been more nervous in my life.

That was on the 25th March 2002, and on that date in every year since I've always remembered how I felt that day, and how overjoyed I was when I'd finished it. I'd taken on the challenge and succeeded. I believe up until then that it was the very best day of my life, and set me on course to be a drum/percussion teacher. And it still remains one of the best days of my life.

So you can imagine how I felt when I was thinking about running this event back in the summer of 2016, and I found that the Saturday the week before the schools came off for Easter was the 25th of March. I'm not a very superstitious person, but that date just seemed too perfect, and so The Snare Drum Challenge was born.

The Snare Drum Challenge was open to any young drummer in the Dundee area who wanted to participate. Unfortunately no external (ie, non-Dundee Drum Academy students) entered. Perhaps that's just because the best ones already come here for lessons? Because of that, and just in case anyone thought I was favouring any one person because I liked them better, I marked the participants "blindly", having my back turned against them. I'd thought I would probably have a feeling about who was who, but was pleasantly surprised that in the vast majority of cases I had no idea who was playing. 

From the very first participant (who I now know was Vincent), I had to remind myself to actually mark the pieces instead of just enjoying them. Every performer from all three levels played their pieces so impressively I almost wondered whether it was all really happening. It's a testament to the participants' talents that nobody achieved below a Bronze (And I'd like to make it clear that Bronze is not the lowest award, you have to achieve at least 60% of the marks to earn this). 

I really think this event brought out the best in the participants, and I hope that no matter what the result they are all pleased. Each participant had their own story to tell, and I know most of those stories well - some of them are personal, some are passionate, but all of them are unique, and they brought that into their performances. I want to make clear in this blog that I am so proud of each and every one of them. I wish I could take all the credit for their success but it's really down to them. They are all amazing.

And by the way, those fifteen participants are only a third of the pupils I currently teach. The Snare Drum Challenge will likely be back in 2018, and there will be new participants who I know will bring that same passion and commitment, and I already can't wait. I think I may have been driving my wife a little crazy in the last 24 hours because all I've been talking about is how well my pupils did and how I can't wait to do it all again.

The results for The Snare Drum Challenge 2017 can be found below and have now been verified and processed. All participants will receive their certificates in the coming week. A huge congratulations to all who took part, brilliant results all round!

The Snare Drum Challenge 2017 Results


Congratulations to the highest scorer (and trophy winner) Josh, who also won a Gold award. 

Full results
Congratulations to:
BRONZE award winner Adeolu. 

SILVER award winners Brian & Evie.

GOLD award winners Ansh & Josh.


Congratulations to the highest scorer (and trophy winner) Vincent, who also won a Gold award.

Full results
Congratulations to:
BRONZE award winner Alexis.

SILVER award winners Ben, Jay, Lucas, Nikhil, and Vitoria.

GOLD award winner Vincent.


Congratulations to the highest scorer (and trophy winner) Drake, who also won a Gold award.

Full results
Congratulations to:
BRONZE award winner Marco.

SILVER award winner Oliver.

GOLD award winner Drake.

Year in Preview

posted 4 Jan 2017, 06:14 by Chris Morris

A very happy new year to all! I hope your Christmas break was relaxed and full of
joy... and maybe a little noisy too.

Lessons at Dundee Drum Academy are just getting back to normal and after a very productive year we start 2017 with an amazing 40 students timetabled for regular lessons. This is an incredible number and I'd just like to start the new year by thanking all - whether you've been coming for lessons for a long time or whether you've just started - thank you for all the support and allowing me the privilege of teaching music lessons.

For me, 2016 was a busy year as I began to study towards my teaching diploma (An LTCL, you can read more about what this is HERE). In order to sit the exam I also had to have a Grade 8 qualification in drum kit, and although I've been playing drums and teaching for a number of years I'd never sat a graded exam before. I didn't take it lightly, and was pleased to have achieved a Distinction on the path to the LTCL. The experience of sitting my only graded exam was definitely a positive one, and I certainly now appreciate how nervous some of the Dundee Drum Academy students can be when sitting their own exams!

Through studying for the LTCL I have been doing a lot of reading, attending courses and improving my own approach to teaching. I feel I have gotten better in the last few months and that's the most important thing about sitting the diploma; I would like ideally to teach in a school (or schools) as well as continuing what I'm doing here, but learning more about teaching and improving as a tutor is the best thing about studying for this diploma.

So, going into 2017 I should (hopefully!) finish up Unit 1 of my diploma in the next week or so and then sit the practical exam in March. But more importantly, what does 2017 have in store for the students of Dundee Drum Academy?

First of all, I'm sure you're all aware that the events we run have a new addition this year - The Snare Drum Challenge. This is the first contest we've run and will be held on the 25th March at the Tayside Deaf Hub. The contest is open to all young people in the Dundee area, regardless of  whether they come for lessons at Dundee Drum Academy or not. The music performed at this event will be original music written by myself, so that everyone has the same chance, and nobody will have seen the notation before. The pieces for all three levels have just been released and can be viewed on The Snare Drum Challenge page.  I encourage all students under the age of 18 to participate and remember, it's not about being the overall winner, but about achieving the best result you can.

As well as the event, a Snare Drum Challenge book will be released in April containing even more original pieces to study. This will be available to purchase through this website, and you can also pre-order a copy along with your entry to the contest.

Of course, we will also have the regular Summer and Christmas concerts too, and after the last Christmas Concert just three weeks ago, I'm already looking forwards to seeing everyone perform at the next ones. I thought everyone played brilliantly and really did themselves proud. So well done to all and we'll see you again in June and December!

There are also several students who are currently preparing both for SQA exams at school and Graded exams through RSL Awards and Trinity. 2017 looks to be a big year for exam successes and I'm looking forward to sharing all the wonderful news with you all here on the blog.

Let me finish this blog by once again thanking everyone who made 2016 a fantastic year and by giving a warm welcome to those of you who have just joined us. May 2017 bring even more joy and success!


Oliver Achieves Grade 6 With Merit

posted 10 Dec 2016, 07:53 by Chris Morris

Yesterday we received the very exciting news that Oliver has achieved a Grade 6 with Merit qualification in drumming from Trinity College London! This sets a new record as the highest grade achieved in an exam by a Dundee Drum Academy student. Oliver is also the student who has achieved the most success in graded exams, completing five since starting lessons. 

The Trinity graded exam is comprehensive, covering a variety of pieces and technical exercises with supporting unpitched aural tests and sight reading. Oliver worked very hard all year in preparation for this exam and will now be looking towards sitting a Grade 7 exam in the near future. 

As always, I am impressed to see such a young student achieve such a high grade, as the requirements for passing National 5 (which Oliver will sit in the next academic year) are that you must play up to Grade 3 standard, so Oliver is more than prepared for this exam already. Oliver will be performing one of his exam pieces at next week's Christmas Concert, which brings us nicely on to the next part of this blog:

Yes, the Christmas Concert is right around the corner, and I am very excited about this one as I think it's going to be the best yet. The primary school section kicking off at 5:00 will see a variety of interesting pieces and so too will the high school section which begins at 6:00. In addition to the high school section we'll also be closing with an adult student performing two of his favourite songs, only the second adult student to perform at one of these concerts. 

You can check the Facebook event page for all the latest updates. Hope to see you there!


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