On teaching

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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I hate admitting that I'm getting older. Worse, I hate feeling like things have passed me by, or I let them pass me by.

This weekend I got to teach some audio basics at a blues guitarist weekend retreat - kind of like a band camp situation - where all the participants were holed-up in a Holiday Inn, and through out the day they attended classes, private lessons, or had jam time with themselves or instructors. I was one of those 'lecture-seminars' covering basic live audio and recording.

My part went great, I'm not here to talk about what I did. But in between sessions, I got to meet with some of the participants while I was on a break and we talked a lot about how people learn.

Since they knew I was a working drummer, naturally, we got talking about education and what each of us did. But what surprised me was when I related to how I learned some 30 years ago, to how kids are taught today, it was like night and day.

My situation was nothing as violent as the movie Whiplash (which I have yet to see, other than the trailers), but it was close. Since I was at a blues guitar retreat, I told them the story of how on my first day in college with the jazz band, we pulled up a blues chart, and we didn't even get through the first 12 bars before the director stops us and proceeds to rip into me about how bad my timing is, and how I couldn't lay down a solid shuffle, etc.,....

A lot of the guys I spoke with this weekend didn't like the story at all. Some even related stories of how they were kids playing some other instrument and quit because the teacher just wasn't the positive motivating kind.

I argued my point that this happened to me in college, where I was paying to be there. I was not some 12-year-old in beginning 5th grade band. In the college situation, I think my instructors figure that you got this far, and you're willing to go through hell to get where you're going. And my instructors, back in the mid to late 80s, were the people who played in big bands with leaders like Stan Kenton, or Maynard Ferguson, or even Buddy Rich. That era of musician: working hard, playing out a lot, and getting jaded in the process, is where I came up in, I guess.

I get that teachers should be motivational and nurturing to their students (this would be the pendulum swinging completely the other way), but by how much?

Some people say the movie Whiplash is completely fake and wrong - some I've heard say they wouldn't let their kid to suffer through that kind of environment because now it's mentally damaging. But in my day, my instructors totally played head games with me to get me to work on stuff. Nobody ever threw stuff at me or trashed the drumset, but they certainly applied some mental anguish at some point to push me farther than I thought I would go.

And in college, I paid a lot of money for that. And in a way, it has shaped me into the guy I am now. I'm not complaining about not ever having played with Sting or anything, but I still work on stuff around doing the jobs I've gotten.

I'm not saying that I think the teacher-student relationship should be adversarial, but how much could it be? Obviously, you're not as good as you want to be, so you go to school to get better. The teacher points out you have problems, and forces you to either take the bull by the horns so you get better, or you quit working on it. Perhaps my take on this is that you can't really be 'friends' with your parents because ultimately, they're preparing you to be on your own?

This whole experience really had me biting my tongue and kept me from barking back to some of these students about just "manning-up" (or "womaning-up) and take care of business. I realized a lot has changed in the last 20 or so years, and there's plenty of positive examples of players who didn't get beat-up by their instructors and went on to bigger and better things.

What are you willing to do to get better at your chosen craft? What are you willing to listen to to make yourself get better? Or do you just resign yourself to not getting any better and stop listening? What did you pay for?

Just wondering out loud. Or am I crazy?
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I'm on your side with this.
There is no need to belittle someone in public, or swear at them.
But a teacher needs to push when pushing is what is called for.

I can just see these musicians falling to pieces when things get tough, if they have been coddled too much by teachers.


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KamaK

Platinum Member
What are you willing to do to get better at your chosen craft? What are you willing to listen to to make yourself get better? Or do you just resign yourself to not getting any better and stop listening? What did you pay for?

Just wondering out loud. Or am I crazy?
Different people are driven by different things. Mean teachers exist by virtue of those that are willing to pay for them to teach. If they weren't a demand for them, they'd all seek other jobs.

Crazy question. Do you play because you enjoy it, or are you compelled to play in the same way that 'a resident' is compelled to repeatedly wash his hands, lock the windows, and flip the light switch 9 times?
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Its just poor lazy teaching. You dont beat everyone with the same stick. learning an instrument, especialy when you are paying for the process, is not a one size fits all method.

People who are paying obviously want to learn, most are like a sponge, they just soak it up. A good teacher motivates and inspires students and makes the method fit the student, with a great tutor students cant wait to be back in the classroom/studio because the process is fun and exciting.

Of course there will be sticking points and stressfull times, but Its the primary job of the teacher to ease the different personality types through these difficult periods. If it was surviival of the fittest, I could teach that, pick up the sylabus notes for the day and shout at everyone, yea.....great teaching method.

Students learn more, and faster, If they respect and admire the tutor, both as a teacher and as a musician. Fear should never be a part of teaching.
 

BachBeat

Senior Member
The best teachers in life always get to know their students. They never treat them like 'students'...they are treated like an individual; there's no 'all students are the same...one size fits all' approach to teaching. Developmentally...there are similarities between all teenagers (for example), but you simply cannot apply the same method to scores of individuals and hope for excellent results. There is a balance point to find between 'this is how people are' and 'this is how you are', and a good teacher will invest the time and care to find that balance.

I've been teaching now for nearly 20 years behind the drums, and have taught in elementary schools right up to college in various disciplines, and the greatest teachers I've ever met or worked with genuinely care about their students. Sometimes that requires tough love...but there's a world of difference between 'tough love' and just 'tough'.
 

picodon

Silver Member
Positive motivating is good for beginners. If you're looking for excellence, nothing works better than the occasional kick in the butt. Occasional, not permanent :)
I have two kids. One badly lacks self confidence and continuously asks for positive motivation. But it's only when I kick her butt (not literally) that things are taken to the next level.

My former drum teacher was 23, that's 20 yrs younger than I am. He's a very ambitious and demanding guy, but very conscious about his age and mine. One week I had not made any progress, due to business trips and things to do at home I had not touched the kit the whole week. He gave me the radioactive look and said softly, looking for the right words: "you know, this stuff takes a lot of effort. You really need to put in the effort, or we're not going anywhere and it won't be any fun for you or me. Next week I hope you can do better." There was no swearing or throwing cymbals or anything but I swear that worked on me, the X-ray look even more than the words I guess. The week after that I knew how to play my stuff.

Nurturing and motivating should not be necessary with a self-motivated ambitious student. And if the student is not self-motivated and ambitious, why choose a career in music?

PS I tried to watch Whiplash but gave up after 10 mins.
 

bigd

Silver Member
Bo,

I understand what you're saying. People want education in general to be "fun and exciting" I see that every day as a public school elementary teacher.

I also have a son in a major music conservatory here on the east coast. Famous school and percussion department. The professors there are all very supportive from the percussion department to the large ensemble conductors. They are also intense. Pressure is there for sure but never have I heard that they cross the line into mean ever.

As for my own son, I have an agreement with his studio teacher that he is to have his foot implanted firmly up the boys behind. He assures me ever time we see him at concerts that it is. The pressure is intense but the kids in the school are amazing.
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Maybe I should've pointed out that I'm talking about "tough love" teaching. Probably tougher than what they do today?

It would be interesting to see ages with the responses, like I know Hollywood Jim is older than me, so he can relate. Like I said, it's probably generational. But when KamaK asks if I play because I enjoy it - I could similarly ask if everyone does their regular job because they enjoy it. Probably not 100% of the time - that's why they call it a job. I love playing but when you're working there's always stuff you don't want to do. If I enjoyed my playing that means I wouldn't be compromising for the person who hired me. Meaning I'd never get hired.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Maybe I should've pointed out that I'm talking about "tough love" teaching. Probably tougher than what they do today?

It would be interesting to see ages with the responses, like I know Hollywood Jim is older than me, so he can relate. Like I said, it's probably generational. But when KamaK asks if I play because I enjoy it - I could similarly ask if everyone does their regular job because they enjoy it. Probably not 100% of the time - that's why they call it a job. I love playing but when you're working there's always stuff you don't want to do. If I enjoyed my playing that means I wouldn't be compromising for the person who hired me. Meaning I'd never get hired.
I just thought of a good example of why a teacher should teach you how to play along with learning how to push yourself over the difficult parts.
Remember when Bo was let go from his mouse drumming job. What did he do? Did he lay down and quit? I know he felt like doing that.
No, he picked himself up and made stuff happen for himself.


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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
At 66 my teaching days are over. I have a teaching degree and can tell you that maybe in 1950 in Parochial school this kind of thing may have worked, but people are much smarter these days and will find a less abusive teacher and accomplish the same things. A classroom teacher would never get away with this kind of thing so why would someone pay for a private instructor to act this way. My degree is in teaching Phys. Ed. from K-12. I have heard all of the jokes about , "them than can do, them that can't teach.", and it is bunk. People, like me, spend a lot of money going to school to learn how to teach a particular subject and in my case had to learn some sports and games and then demonstrate how to teach them. Anyone that puts up with abuse from any teacher, especially a private one, because they have a reputation for turning out good students is foolish. I used to coach 118 swimmers five nights a week, aged 6-18 and got great results by just being a teacher and friend. It also helped that they knew that I still swam competitively, and were just as interested in how I did at meets as I was of them.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Bo,

I understand what you're saying. People want education in general to be "fun and exciting" I see that every day as a public school elementary teacher.

I also have a son in a major music conservatory here on the east coast. Famous school and percussion department. The professors there are all very supportive from the percussion department to the large ensemble conductors. They are also intense. Pressure is there for sure but never have I heard that they cross the line into mean ever.

As for my own son, I have an agreement with his studio teacher that he is to have his foot implanted firmly up the boys behind. He assures me ever time we see him at concerts that it is. The pressure is intense but the kids in the school are amazing.
None of my bisiness, but, is the boy doing this cos he wants to, or cos you want him to? From the above remark it would sound like the latter. Do you think the teacher being continualy on his case is a good thing? I always thought we did this cos we like and enjoy it. The only pressure put on me, drumming wise, ever, was and is the pressure I put on myself.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
At 66 my teaching days are over. I have a teaching degree and can tell you that maybe in 1950 in Parochial school this kind of thing may have worked, but people are much smarter these days and will find a less abusive teacher and accomplish the same things. A classroom teacher would never get away with this kind of thing so why would someone pay for a private instructor to act this way. My degree is in teaching Phys. Ed. from K-12. I have heard all of the jokes about , "them than can do, them that can't teach.", and it is bunk. People, like me, spend a lot of money going to school to learn how to teach a particular subject and in my case had to learn some sports and games and then demonstrate how to teach them. Anyone that puts up with abuse from any teacher, especially a private one, because they have a reputation for turning out good students is foolish. I used to coach 118 swimmers five nights a week, aged 6-18 and got great results by just being a teacher and friend. It also helped that they knew that I still swam competitively, and were just as interested in how I did at meets as I was of them.
Good point, and I want to say that I'm not for one way or another, I'm just wondering out loud. Obviously, this whole thing can go south and we can start jumping on each other about how the education system should be or what's wrong with it, and that's not my intent. And maybe I'm not being clear, but I'm not talking about abuse in the traditional sense, so maybe my definition of "tough love" is different from others? I would never advocate people being abused.

But, once you've passed through high school and gone into college, how much of it are you willing to take? If it's all fun and games, do you accomplish anything? Do you want it bad enough? I'm amazed when I see some of the young people come in for auditions (both as being a musician and being a sound technician) here in our industry - what they know is incredible and sometimes I feel guilty that I never pushed myself that far on my own to be that prepped (or over-prepped?) for a position. Of course, it only amazes me sometimes because being on the job, I'm certainly not blind to the human nature for slacking, and have done a bit of that myself. And it makes me wonder if they got that way because their instructors were always nice, or if their instructors suggested they do alot more homework to push themselves over the top?
 
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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
None of my bisiness, but, is the boy doing this cos he wants to, or cos you want him to? From the above remark it would sound like the latter. Do you think the teacher being continualy on his case is a good thing? I always thought we did this cos we like and enjoy it. The only pressure put on me, drumming wise, ever, was and is the pressure I put on myself.
This situation sounds like the boy is in college, doesn't it? If the parent talks to his instructors, I would assume the child and the parent understand why he's there and that the child made the decision to be there. So it's ok for the instructor to be kicking him in the ass (if that's what's actually happening). I suppose I'm saying that once a legal adult, you're allowed to make your own decisions, right?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My take on it is people are getting softer. Manliness is at an all time low. The media supports the image of the castrated/pw/uneffective male and it's reflected in the population. Everybody wants easy and fast and hard work is getting pushed out the door. I just believe these are all symptoms of the softening of society.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
This situation sounds like the boy is in college, doesn't it? If the parent talks to his instructors, I would assume the child and the parent understand why he's there and that the child made the decision to be there. So it's ok for the instructor to be kicking him in the ass (if that's what's actually happening). I suppose I'm saying that once a legal adult, you're allowed to make your own decisions, right?



I have no problem with that statement at all. It just sounded to me like the drumming may not be the childs thing but the parents. If the child made the decision to be there the tutor would not have to be kicking him in the ass, surely?

I have long experience of coaching junior athletics and if a parent told me to give there child a continual hard time I would refuse, point blank. Music, and indeed athletics, is a pastime or hobby that for some become a lifetimes passion.....but its there own passion. Supportive parents are a blessing, pushy parents are a pain.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Good point, and I want to say that I'm not for one way or another, I'm just wondering out loud. Obviously, this whole thing can go south and we can start jumping on each other about how the education system should be or what's wrong with it, and that's not my intent. And maybe I'm not being clear, but I'm not talking about abuse in the traditional sense, so maybe my definition of "tough love" is different from others? I would never advocate people being abused.

But, once you've passed through high school and gone into college, how much of it are you willing to take? If it's all fun and games, do you accomplish anything? Do you want it bad enough? I'm amazed when I see some of the young people come in for auditions (both as being a musician and being a sound technician) here in our industry - what they know is incredible and sometimes I feel guilty that I never pushed myself that far on my own to be that prepped (or over-prepped?) for a position. Of course, it only amazes me sometimes because being on the job, I'm certainly not blind to the human nature for slacking, and have done a bit of that myself. And it makes me wonder if they got that way because their instructors were always nice, or if their instructors suggested they do alot more homework to push themselves over the top?
I am to trying to defend the educational system at all. I am defending people. Going from high school to college is not the point. That's saying high school is over and now it's time to be a man or an adult. Not so. People in college are still people and they will learn and expand when they are ready. The time frame is different for everyone. A student that is paying for college or for private lessons in anything should not need that much motivation. A good teacher will draw that out of them with out being, loud, abusive, threatening, whatever. I took seven girls on my swim team to the Nationals. Not because of what I did but because they had a goal and I was just there to guide. They knew that if they wanted to do well they were going to have to work for it. I was there to guide.

Larry, is the manliness in women also at an all time low? It has to do with maturity, and that again is different with everyone. Mature people can motivate themselves. I think or at least hope that we have evolved to some degree where the whip or switch is no longer a tool for motivation. I agree that giving everyone a ribbon for being there is not the right thing to do. That they should be earned, but it's not the people participating that are making the rules, it's the generation ahead of them. If your son or daughter can't play dodge ball it's not heir fault but their parents fault. In most cases these things come down to money.
The school system is not going to get sued because someone got hurt
playing a game.
There are no accidents anymore. Someone is always at fault. Not my feeling, but those in charge.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Larry, is the manliness in women also at an all time low?
Doesn't apply, I'm just talking about men, in an overall blanket statement. Not everyone, I am referring to the male population as a whole, compared to say my father's generation. Mine was close to the first generation to have it really easy. My Dad, when he was a boy, lived in a dirt floor shack with little heat in the winter. The easier people have it, the softer they get. Just for fairness and clarity, I include myself in the softee generation. I can clearly see the differences in mine and later generations compared to prior generations. IMO, men as a whole are less manly, that's the only way I can describe it.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
My take on it is people are getting softer. Manliness is at an all time low. The media supports the image of the castrated/pw/uneffective male and it's reflected in the population. Everybody wants easy and fast and hard work is getting pushed out the door. I just believe these are all symptoms of the softening of society.
George Carlin did an incredible rant on the pussification of America. One of the best routines anyone has ever done.
 

bigd

Silver Member
[/B]


I have no problem with that statement at all. It just sounded to me like the drumming may not be the childs thing but the parents. If the child made the decision to be there the tutor would not have to be kicking him in the ass, surely?

I have long experience of coaching junior athletics and if a parent told me to give there child a continual hard time I would refuse, point blank. Music, and indeed athletics, is a pastime or hobby that for some become a lifetimes passion.....but its there own passion. Supportive parents are a blessing, pushy parents are a pain.
Mikel,

Bo is correct the boy is in college. He plays because that's what is in him. It's in every breath he takes. It's more then a love of playing. It's who he is. He is 1,000,000 times more intense about it then most people will ever be including myself. At 19, he and his school colleagues play at a level most of us couldn't dream of. He is chasing greatness.

Sorry if it comes off as being pushy sporting parents that's not even close to what this is. It's very hard to understand for people not familiar with conservatory situations.

As for the agreement we have, it is in jest as this child eats, sleeps and breathes the percussion world.

BigD
 
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