Since I started teaching drums as a full-time thing a few years ago, I started noticing that when learning or, more specifically, becoming a pupil in our adult life, students above 25y/o seem to behave a bit like children. Now, I don’t mean this in a negative way at all! In fact, I behave exactly the same way when I’ve gone to see a drum teacher. So, how can we use this to learn drums better?
What interests me about this observation is this perceived change in attitude; the shift in which we proceed to accept information from an ‘expert’ (i.e. someone who’s considerably ahead of us). We surrender our trust and our will to this person, placing ourselves in a vulnerable position, and perhaps making feel a bit like kids again.
Have you noticed this yourself perhaps as a teacher or as a student? My partner, who teaches English in an ESL school, reports this exact same behaviour of her students. Senior as they may be in age or job in their native countries, she says they behave like middle schoolers. Now, her stories revolve around immature behaviour, which isn’t the case in my experience; my focus here is a general approach to learning.
So with that in mind, how can we make the most of this (i.e. learn drums better), our rejuvenating child-like sense of learning and adventure? To me, it’s about approaching learning something new with an open mind and a disposition to change something about ourselves (i.e. learning a new skill or developing it further).
The great Dom Famularo, said it best. To him, the fountain of eternal youth was to constantly be on the cusp of learning something new. Therefore, following on from those very wise words, consciously and actively try to
Keep an open mind, but not just when going for a lesson; do so in picking up new information and perspectives. Even if you might not agree with it, it might enrich your knowledge
Take advantage, and try to impress your teacher. On one hand, learning is done for ourselves, yet it’s also motivating to hear encouraging words from your teacher
Work with a mate on things you’re struggling with
Base your learning around projects like songs you’d like to cover, for instance
Thank you for reading my blog, as usual. I hope you’ve found this useful or interesting in one way or another. I would love to know what you think; whether you like it, or think it’s rubbish!
We’ve all been there; struggling with whether you should practice and be a better drummer or continue watching Netflix. And, to be fair, it’s not easy to get off the couch. But why? That’s always been a burning question for me. So below I attempt to make sense of this by applying ancient Chinese principles, concerning nature’s seasonal cycle, and how these affect humans and animals alike.
This came about during my latest tour with the always awesome Tallulah Rendall. She told me that she was studying Chinese medicine, which intrigued me. I started picking her brains about it and learned that one of the governing principles of Chinese thought, culture and medicine is something called the 5 Elements Theory.
Following the tour I decided to research this a bit more in-depth and see if it could be applied help us be a better drummer. In short, the theory is a system that organises all natural phenomena into five groups. Each of these has its own meanings and implications, and include categories like seasons, climate, stages of growth and development, emotions, etc. These groups are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, and according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation (2015), they “reflect a deep understanding of natural law, the Universal order underlying all things in our world”.
The theory proposes that everything is interconnected through energy, linking us humans (our mind, body, and spirit) to something external in nature at an energetic level (TCMWF, 2015).
The elements are five fundamental energies in nature, constantly in motion and dynamic in their relationships. These relationships balance two principles:
Generation which nurtures and promotes growth; and
Control which is the restraining energy, stopping things from disproportionally developing (growing too quickly / slowly, too strong / weak)
So what on earth does this have to do with playing drums and being a better drummer? Well, each of the 5 Elements are used to describe the state in nature or season. As I’ve summarised below, each of these has implications on our behaviour as human beings. I would like to align the principle of cyclical seasonality and the natural order of human behaviour in this context to make achieving our goals as drummers easier.
What was the point of that, right? Hopefully it shows that we can align ourselves to nature’s seasonal cycle, and not just to achieve our goals of being a better drummer. Perhaps this can help us to be aware of wider concepts that can make us more effective as people. Then again, this isn’t supposed to be prescriptive; this may not work for everyone. Similarly “each one of us is a unique and characteristic blend of the influences of all the elements” (Acupuncture Online, 2015), yet it may serve as something to explore in your journey of becoming a better player – a new medicine for your medical kit.
Originally published in April 2015.