No, beginners can grow pretty rapidly by practicing on pillows or practice pads but I find it hard to stay motivated to practice without an actual drum kit whether its electronic or acoustic.
How much should I practice?
I strongly advise against using time as an indicator for practicing. Much like someone who is working at a job they don't like, you spend your practice time figuring out ways to ease your time obligation, like "tuning out". Instead, I believe in setting goals and deliberate pactice. Here are a few articles on this.
How long does it take before I'll know how to play drums?
First, each student must define what "play" means. I have discovered that the best way for a student to define the overall reason for taking lessons is by the student building a playlist of songs that they consider inspirational. By critically choosing a list of influential songs both the student and I start to get a clearer picture of what "play" means to them. Only then can we see how long the road that lays ahead really is. Ultimately, it is up to every individual student to determine how long it takes by setting and meeting personal goals.
Is it important to read music?
NO! in fact, I feel that reading music only makes our ears weaker because we end up relying on our eyes even more. Just think about anybody you know that has taken lessons on an instrument. If they have only learned by reading music they can only play if sheet music is available. Now think about your heroes, are any of them reading music at concerts or when they record? If the answer is no, I would suspect that reading music for you would be a complete departure from your original intentions on being a drummer. There are exceptions of course. For example, drummers that are interested in pursuing a music degree, playing in musicals or cruise ships. For those drummers reading is crucial and I can certainly help in that department. Bottom line, the most difficult aspect of music for most people is developing their ears. My teaching style and philosophy is heavily centered around ear training.
Why do some people hold their sticks like that? (traditional grip)
Much has been said about this subject. Some people insist that this grip is superior or advantagous. If this were true, drummers everywhere would have been playing with both palms up in order to double the advantage. There is however historical reasons why this grip exists and to be honest, it does look cooler than matched grip. For more info go here:
Does learning how to play Jazz make you a better drummer?
NO! think of it this way, nobody ever asks "will learing spanish improve my english?" Jazz has its own history, records and heroes. Studying them will in no way help you be a better rock drummer for example. I love Jazz . If you do too, let's learn about it. If on the other hand you feel that learning about Jazz is a way to earn respect you would be embarking on a very long fruitless detour. Learn about what you love becuase you love it! I do however, believe that improvisation (which isn't exclusive to jazz) is a super important skill. Improvisation therefore, is one of the pillars of my teaching philosophy!