An ancient Chinese proverb says “to know the road ahead, ask those coming back”. In your journey to becoming a better drummer, there’s no doubt that you’ll want to learn from
the best drummers around; those who are most experienced. So, how to pick a great teacher is an important part of the process. With this mind, I wanted to bring some food for thought to the table when searching for tuition.
It starts with establishing a difference between a great drummer who teaches and a great drum teacher. Is there really a difference? I believe there is, so we’ll explore these below.
Let’s start with the things both groups have in common.
To my eyes there are basic elements that can make a great drummer and a great drum teacher very similar. At the end of the day, both groups are knowledgeable drummers!
When it comes to the differences, I believe the devil is in the detail. Great drummers come in many shapes and sizes. Some focus on technical proficiency and speed, some on pocket and feel, and some are great at both. And whilst some may specialise in different styles, they all have in common a great sense of time, musical sensibility, and are active listeners. Yet, when it comes to teaching, their approach might be more geared towards a lecture on a particular topic.
In contrast, a great drum teacher is the drummer who is able to provide guidance, nurture and develop skill. The focus, therefore, turns away from his / her own abilities and towards the student’s. This translates to understanding where you stand as a player, identifying your goals and getting to know how your mind works to use to effectively communicate with you. This goes in tandem with spotting areas that need development and creating tailored solutions for these. In doing so, being patient and supportive, keeping fun in mind, yet always challenge to push you forward.
To sum up, I think it’s important to acknowledge that some drummers are better teachers than others. This doesn’t make anyone worse or better drummers or musicians than the other by any stretch of the imagination. Some like teaching, and are great at it, some don’t like teaching and therefore prefer not to. Conversely, it’s important to be aware that some may like teaching but may not have the aptitude, whilst some may not like teaching but be reluctantly be good at it!
The point of this article hasn’t been to box any one into two distinct categories. On the contrary, I hope that the paragraphs above have served as a guide for you, the student (and let’s face it, we’re all students), to help you in choosing your drum teacher.
Ultimately, you should explore different teachers, and find what works for you. Go to sites like www.drumteachers.co.uk, or its sister sites www.drumteachers.ca (Canada) or www.drumteachers.info (USA) to help you find the right teacher for you.