A Drum Kit for a Toddler - am I CRAZY?!
My pre Christmas quandary
What to get a (nearly) 3 year old boy who has everything? Well he doesn’t literally have everything... but it certainly feels that way. He didn’t need anything. His Brio trains, toy kitchen and Hot Wheels are his continual go to toys. I made a little list of Christmas ideas for him, and our wonderful families bought him everything on it!
What do all kids love? Music. What musical instruments might a 3 year old enjoy? A Piano? - undoubtedly. Guitar/Ukulele? most likely. Drums? obviously! This set about a research topic in motion. During several evenings, I came across all sorts of fun multi musical toys in my search and thought I had settled on a keyboard with some drums on and a microphone. My hesitation - we have completely open plan living so what ever big item toys the kids have are on permanent display. This means that they have to pass the aesthetic test as, effectively, a piece of furniture too.
Musical Product Research
So one evening whilst researching all the musical instrument options online, but with a Baby Grand Piano bias (because we have friends with a gorgeous one), I started messaging Alison, and I learnt she had already executed a similar musical plan for her daughter in the form of a Baby Grand Piano (her review is here!). Of course it’s a totally great idea but I didn't want to copy! So, with concerns about how tuneful my toddlers Ukulele attempts would turn out (especially with my having zero guitar skills), the only logical (?) plan was to get him a drum kit. And if I am honest I have a bit of an unfulfilled dream of playing the drums. My initial thoughts were that this would undoubtedly make me the most awesome mother on the planet...IF-you-are-three! But possibly on the awesome wife scales I would be scoring rather lower (if on the scale at all). But, as all logical processes of deduction as described above pointed to this as THE gift, I would have to find a way around the potential marital lack of consent issue.
Which Children’s Drum Kit?
It had to look good. I wanted it to be/resemble a proper drum kit, and I had to retain a sensible budget (I could see it would be all too easy to get carried away). I searched “Drum kit junior” in Amazon and there were drum kits that looked like a shrunken version of the real deal. After looking at many, I found myself really drawn to the “Tiger 3 piece drum set”. It was within my budget, looked the business and so it was time to obsessively stalk the reviews on Amazon, and online generally. In the main they were glowing. It was described as being good for ages approximately 3-7. Some negative reviews concerned poor, or lack of, instructions and this docked a star for some people. Whereas on this point others said it was simple to construct and you can easily Google the instructions. There were a few comments that the boxes had been incomplete, but it didn’t seem to be a big problem and can happen with all sorts of products, so it didn't feel a big risk to me. Almost unanimously the reviewers were very pleased with the quality and sound. I should add that there is a bigger and better (no doubt!) 5 drum Tiger kit, but it was out of our budget.
Next step was to run it past a professional. A good friend of my sister is a mind blowingly talented musician who has in recent years toured with The Editors and is generally on a different stratosphere of cool to myself (Hi Nick!!). On the few occasions I have seen him play the drums (in his earlier years now) it was like watching someone completely and utterly possessed by his art. That is how music should be, not my childhood experience of the daily grind of hating piano lessons. I needed his drum kit opinion…and to tell me I was doing the right thing (I was still wondering if I had gone crazy!)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nick was full of enthusiasm for the concept generally, and gave the Tiger drum kit a thumbs up. He also suggested looking at the Stagg drum kits and sent me an Amazon link to check out. It certainly looked cool and Nick knows his stuff, but unfortunately these are a little more pricey than the Tiger drum kits which ruled it out for me, but if you have a bigger budget, do check them out too.
Next issue, colour?
I ran this past Nick. Going to all this effort to be an awesome mum, I needed to make sure it was a cool colour - and I couldn’t trust my judgment on this. My options: Black, Red or Blue. The response, and I quote:
“Black - cool.. Red - cool.. Blue…not that cool!”.
That probably explains why the blue one is a bit cheaper! Red was out of stock. Black it was.
The boy needed to be subliminally primed that a drum kit was the thing that he most wanted in the whole world (he hadn't asked for anything specific previously). So for the few weeks in the build up to Christmas we watched the Cadbury’s Gorilla playing Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight" A LOT, and also I showed him this amazing video which he kept asking to see over and over again! I had planned to keep the gift a surprise for my husband too, but changed my mind and showed him this clip as well. And do you know what, when he saw it we were totally on the same page. Phew!
Building the Drum Kit
The children and I had flu for the 2 week run up to Christmas (so I was very thankful I had previously been organised) and, whilst I got it out of the box to check all the pieces were there, to be honest in my feverish state I was a little intimidated.
On Christmas Eve, with my husband to help, we put it together. As previous reviewers had warned the instructions were lacking. They weren’t absent though, but the instructions that we had were for the 5 drum kit, and we had the 3 drum kit. This didn’t prove a big problem with a bit of common sense, looking at the pictures in the booklet, and also on amazon to see how the end product should look.
Grown Up First Impressions
It looks fantastic. To my mind, exactly as I hoped: a proper drum kit, in miniature. The quality is staggering. My husband simply didn’t believe what we had for the price (which varies but I paid under £100) and I had to prove to him what we had paid!!
My 2, nearly 3, Year Old’s First Impression
His little mind was blown. Father Christmas bought him “a drum kit WITH STICKS” (as if this latter point was the most incredulous)! He immediately started playing with it, getting the hang of the foot operated bass drum really quickly and loved making lots of noise, and the rest of us dancing around to his beats. It is worth noting as well that my 18 month old daughter also thinks it is brilliant, and this pleases me no end! She can’t reach the foot pedal when sitting on the chair, but she loves banging the drums and cymbal with almost as much novice skill has her big brother.
Almost as fun was the reaction of sheer disbelief from our families. Christmas Day "FaceTimes" were met with almost jaw dropping faces. Who in their right mind buys their toddler a drum kit?! Well we do. And I haven’t even had a word of dissent from my husband (who received some ear plugs as a joke gift from the boy!).
Tiger 3 piece Drum Kit Summary:
- It looks like, and is, a proper bit of kit.
- It makes a nice sound.
- It’s well built.
- It’s well designed.
- It was relatively easy to put together.
- It is great value for money.
- It is a lot of fun for my pre-schooler and toddler, and so far is withstanding a lot of bashing.
- It’s loud!...
- …It’s loud! (we are lucky to have a big double height space in which it lives, and the neighbours are not close)
- The suspended drums have a bit of movement in them. I do not know if big drum kits have this too, but they do seem secure. I can attest to the fact that my 18 month old has literally hung off them to no ill effect.
- The seat has some movement in it - not such that it is unstable, even for my 18 month old to climb up onto, just to a slightly disappointing level.
- The foot pedal started squeaking when used the day after we got it, but this was easily sorted with some oil. It has a little stand which with imprecise use (i.e. a toddler) falls down. This isn't really material, in fact I hadn't noticed it until my husband just pointed it out, but is a bit of a shame.
- The sticks keep rolling under the sofa after use - I don’t know what to do about this!
Overall, I am so pleased with this purchase, and for me it is definitely Five Little Stars worthy. As a parent you have to have the right mind set towards having a drum kit in your home. It is noisy, it is fun …. but if you like neither of these things then it’s probably not the instrument for you!!!
The Amazon link above is a FLS affiliate one, for your shopping convenience.