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  #1  
Old 02-21-2015, 01:39 AM
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Default My drum teacher failed me.

When I was a beginning drummer, I took lessons from the same teacher for about five years. Since then I've grown and learned quite a lot, and in doing so I've come to realize that my teacher was not a very good one. It saddens me to say this, because I really liked the guy, and he was super enthusiastic. But he failed to identify and correct numerous problems with my technique, both hands and feet, that took me years of practice and research to overcome, although I'm not fully there yet even now. I also realize now that this teacher was not very focused. He had me working out of several instruction books simultaneously, and I don't think I got past the halfway point on any of them, so I never achieved what those books were designed to accomplish. He never introduced me to a metronome. He never taught me how to tune drums. I could go on. Unfortunately, since I was a beginner, I didn't know any better, and so continued to be his student. He was a good player, and he would amaze me with his skills, but he was simply no good at teaching them. The thing that really bums me out is I think I would be a much better drummer today if I had a better teacher.

So how can other beginning drummers avoid this fate? I will say that anyone who starts out these days is extremely lucky to have so many online learning resources, like this site, youtube, etc., none of which were around when I was learning. Aside from my teacher, the best I could do was read Modern Drummer, or painstakingly search for concert footage of drummers so I could figure out how to play certain things, but I don't think anything quite matches in-person instruction from a good teacher. But since there is no sort of certification for drum teachers (none that I'm aware of) how is a prospective student supposed to know whether a teacher is qualified or not?
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:58 AM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Maybe set a goal and a deadline and see if you reach your goal. If you arenít reaching your goal then consider changing something, possibly your teacher.
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Old 02-21-2015, 11:51 AM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

I've just started drumming recently and have just changed teachers.

Not because he was a bad teacher but because he had given me his best and it was time to move on.

I've taken a lot of music lessons over the years on different instruments and I would say 5 years is way to long with the same teacher.
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Old 02-21-2015, 02:18 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

I was going to be an astronaut but the teachers in school just didn't do enough to nurture my brilliance.
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  #5  
Old 02-21-2015, 03:29 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Originally Posted by Dre25 View Post
I was going to be an astronaut but the teachers in school just didn't do enough to nurture my brilliance.
The implication being that the failure is mine? What should I have done differently? Or do you just like to leave hit-and-run sarcastic statements?
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Old 02-21-2015, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Bit of both.

You sound like someone blaming their parents that their life didn't turn out the way they wanted.

Your teacher had a job to do but your development wasn't solely his responsibility, you have to figure things out for yourself too.

What would you say about Dennis Chambers being completely self taught?
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  #7  
Old 02-21-2015, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Originally Posted by Dre25 View Post
Bit of both.

You sound like someone blaming their parents that their life didn't turn out the way they wanted.

Your teacher had a job to do but your development wasn't solely his responsibility, you have to figure things out for yourself too.

What would you say about Dennis Chambers being completely self taught?
And I did figure things out eventually. In fact, my learning and progress were much better once I was on my own, older, and able to access more information. (I was his student from age 13-18, by the way). But my poor technique hampered my playing significantly until I worked all that stuff out. My complaint is that my teacher was being paid to optimize and accelerate my learning, and most importantly, help me establish a solid foundation that I could continue to build on. He failed in that regard by not correcting things over a five year period that a good drum teacher would spot immediately, like poor stick grip, poor pedal technique, bad timekeeping, etc. I don't know if you've ever had to unlearn poor technique developed over several years and relearn proper technique, but it's no picnic, let me tell you. In my opinion, that is a problem one should not have after five years of professional drum instruction. As for Dennis Chambers, I would say he did not lose a lot of money on a subpar drum teacher. So is it your position that drum teachers are unnecessary? Would you advise new drummers not to bother with drum teachers?

Last edited by boomstick; 02-22-2015 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 02-21-2015, 06:09 PM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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So is it your position that drum teachers are unnecessary? Would you advise new drummers not to bother with drum teachers?
On the contrary. If you want a kid to get good at a young age, you deepen and broaden the education. You don't just pick one teacher and cross your fingers. You yourself only had one teacher, but it's not uncommon for students to have more than one (some have three). Of course, the parents who are willing to shell out for such an experience for their child are (you guessed it) usually musicians themselves. A friend of mine had kit lessons with one teacher, rudimental lessons with another, belonged to a snare drum line, and played kit in every high school musical in town. When you do all that for a few years straight, your technique comes together in a hurry!

It sounds like your teacher showed you how to have fun with the instrument, and exposed you to a wide variety of concepts and approaches. Later on, you were able to evaluate methods based on your successes and failures with early ones. But most importantly, you're still playing. The worst thing is when a teacher sours the experience of the whole instrument. At least you weren't failed in that sense!
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Old 02-21-2015, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Its a shame, but as you say the teacher was a good guy and was "super enthusiastic". Hindsight is a wonderful thing, It seems strange that after 5 years you now think he was a bad teacher. If he instilled a love of drumming and you were making progress then whats the problem? If you were not making progress then why did you stay with him?
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  #10  
Old 02-21-2015, 06:40 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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On the contrary. If you want a kid to get good at a young age, you deepen and broaden the education. You don't just pick one teacher and cross your fingers. You yourself only had one teacher, but it's not uncommon for students to have more than one (some have three). Of course, the parents who are willing to shell out for such an experience for their child are (you guessed it) usually musicians themselves. A friend of mine had kit lessons with one teacher, rudimental lessons with another, belonged to a snare drum line, and played kit in every high school musical in town. When you do all that for a few years straight, your technique comes together in a hurry!
Well, I've been drumming for decades and this multiple teacher approach as the way to go is news to me, so it would especially be news to a beginning drummer. How would they know to do this? Is it even possible for most people, financially and otherwise? I grew up out in the burbs. My teacher was the drum teacher at the local music store. Not a drum shop, mind you. A small music store with a decent selection of guitars, a ton of sheet music, and like one drum kit and some cymbals. There was no music program at my school. No internet. I was a kid getting around on a bike. In other words, my resources were limited.

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It sounds like your teacher showed you how to have fun with the instrument, and exposed you to a wide variety of concepts and approaches. Later on, you were able to evaluate methods based on your successes and failures with early ones. But most importantly, you're still playing. The worst thing is when a teacher sours the experience of the whole instrument. At least you weren't failed in that sense!
Good point. As I said, he was super-enthusiastic and super-nice. He was also a really good player. He definitely did not sour me on the drums, but I think he was partially responsible for a lot of unnecessary frustration with my playing over the years. It's like the more I learn, the more I discover fundamental things that I was not taught that I should have been taught. It's very disconcerting to discover that years-long struggles with bad technique could have been avoided if some very simple things were taught to me from day one.
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  #11  
Old 02-21-2015, 06:52 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Its a shame, but as you say the teacher was a good guy and was "super enthusiastic". Hindsight is a wonderful thing, It seems strange that after 5 years you now think he was a bad teacher. If he instilled a love of drumming and you were making progress then whats the problem? If you were not making progress then why did you stay with him?
The thing is, I was making progress when I was learning from him. But the thing about playing with bad technique is you can sort of power through the deficiencies to a certain point, even to the point of being a passable drummer, but then you hit this wall that you cannot get past, no matter how hard you try or how much you practice. I always thought my problem was that I just needed to practice more. So I practiced more and more, really locking that bad technique into muscle memory. This is where you actually start to get diminishing returns. As I said, since I've gained access to more resources, I've discovered the root of my problems, and I've had to spend a lot of time correcting them. In many ways, it was like learning over again from the beginning. So, yeah, I'd say that's a pretty good indication that my formative education was not a good one.
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  #12  
Old 02-21-2015, 07:12 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Learning/Teaching an instrument pre/post internet are two very different things.

Pre Internet: As long as your teacher motivated you to chase your ambition and taught you the basics, you were getting the best training available outside of an academic institution.

Post Internet: Everyone is literally an expert. Young students play with a remarkable degree of virtuosity. Access to any style and multiple instructors is completely unencumbered.

"Kids today don't understand how good they have it". That's not a complaint, that's just an observation.

For me, the job of a teacher has always been to teach me how, what, and why I should practice.
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  #13  
Old 02-21-2015, 07:21 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

I guess I hold pre-internet teachers to higher standards, but good points, KamaK.
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Old 02-21-2015, 07:50 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Originally Posted by boomstick View Post
Well, I've been drumming for decades and this multiple teacher approach as the way to go is news to me, so it would especially be news to a beginning drummer. How would they know to do this? Is it even possible for most people, financially and otherwise? I grew up out in the burbs. My teacher was the drum teacher at the local music store. Not a drum shop, mind you. A small music store with a decent selection of guitars, a ton of sheet music, and like one drum kit and some cymbals. There was no music program at my school. No internet. I was a kid getting around on a bike. In other words, my resources were limited.
As a child or teen, you'd have no idea, so you can blame your parents for that, haha! Typical parents wouldn't see the value in placing their child into more than one music lesson/experience/ensemble; only musician parents might understand the value of such a strategy. Furthermore, it takes a particularly single-minded child to want to study one thing so intensively at a young age. Most kids want to, and probably should, explore the world a bit more.

The nice thing about having to do the work of improving your technique yourself is that you remember what you did and why. Some kids are so young when they learn the basics that they just can't relate to a kid who doesn't automatically "get it". Having dealt with those challenges at an older age helps you to understand and communicate that information to others. In short, a late bloomer often makes a great teacher.

Also, being a great drummer at a young age isn't a reliable predictor of future fame or financial success. There are just too many variables -- but pedigree (who your parents are, what resources were available) is the most influential. So you haven't really missed out on much. :)
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Old 02-21-2015, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Interesting points all, brentcn, but I would like to clarify that my perceived shortcomings are not about commercial failure, but simply my progress and abilities as drummer (or lack thereof). I have never been satisfied with my quality of playing, and in more recent years I've learned that the problems I've identified have a lot to do with that.
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  #16  
Old 02-21-2015, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

The problem with the internet is that you don't actually have access to the most knowledgable teachers. All the truly great teachers are still in their offices. People seek them out and go to them no matter how far. Todays great teachers don't need or use the internet as the students still come to them. As for kids having multiple teachers, that is the norm for todays top students.
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Old 02-21-2015, 08:40 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

When I first started learning, one of the most (the most?) renowned drum educators was Roy Burns (still is?). I went to one of his clinics in my late teens. Major eye-opener. That was my first experience with a great drum teacher. Would have loved to take lessons from him.

On a bit of a tangent, I still remember a couple things from the clinic. He started by discussing differences between matched and traditional grip, and how some people claimed that matched grip gives them more left hand power. He said the power is nothing to do with grip, but with leverage. It's sometimes perceived that there's no left hand power in traditional grip because some trad players hold the stick close to the middle. For example, jazzers might hold it there for more sensitive snare work. But he said you could get just as much power as matched grip by choking back on the stick, and pointed to Stewart Copeland's trad grip. He holds it all the way back at the end and slams down a wicked backbeat.

I also remember him stressing the importance of rudiments, and demonstrating why they're important for playing basic beats on a kit. He started by doing simple paradiddles on the snare, then showed how if he just moved the sticks to different surfaces, modified the accenting, and incorporated a simple kick pattern, he could make a super tasty beat. It was such a simple, yet awesome demonstration for how the rudiments are applied in every aspect of playing.

As for playing ability, my teacher was good, but Roy Burns struck me as a true master player.

Last edited by boomstick; 02-21-2015 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 02-23-2015, 03:22 AM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Listen, there are blaggers in every area of society all trying to make a penny out of the unsuspecting or unknowing... I find this all the time, the number of students who come to me missing fundamentals or have clearly been drawn in by bullshitters... The real problem is with beginners, how do they know what they're getting in to, I mean the guy can play a beat loudly therefore must know what he's talking about right?... Even later on it exists, companies like drum channel promoting Cobus a guy who can barely play and who advocates a teaching method based on nothing, just self learning and all the potential flaws that can be associated with that...quite ridiculous really... after all why would anyone want to study with someone who could pass on ' the knowledge ' handed down through generations of schooled drummers who over years of experimentation and practice arrive at a real method....anyway, quick fixes and money making and all that...
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:08 AM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

This is obviously a very personal subject. "Technique" is an emotive word, I have been to lots of great gigs over the decades and listened to hundreds of drummers but I dont recall ever leaving a gig and commenting "That drummer was great, he had good technique".

For me listening to and playing music is and organic, live in the moment thing. I couldnt care less about the musicians technique I care about how they sound. From Joe Morello to Kieth Moon I liked what they played on the night, or not.

If you dont like what or how you play then that is another issue, but as a wise man once said. "Equip yourself with the tools you need to get the job done" Thats what your original teacher did. When you want to take things further you equip yourself with more and better tools, thats what you do when you decide drumming is for you, you get another teacher who can teach you what you want.

Most beginners dont want to be overwhelmed with endless rudiments theory and technique, they want to play music with others and be inspired. If the drumming bug realy bites, and you need it to progress, then get involved in the minutia.

Play and enjoy first, then acquire what you need to take it where you want to go.
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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I couldnt care less about the musicians technique I care about how they sound.
Well, one affects the other, does it not? My poor technique was precisely why I could not attain the sound I was striving for.

Also, I'm not lamenting a lack of "endless rudiments theory and technique" in my drumming education. I'm taking basic stuff, like how to hold the sticks properly, how to work the pedals properly, or how to keep good time. Again, I have no doubt that a good teacher would have taken one look at me playing and instantly identified my poor form and sloppy timing and taken steps to correct them.

I'll give one example how this became a problem later on. My first time in a recording studio, I learned that my kick technique caused frequent unintended rebounds. It was a real problem that made the recording session way more difficult that it should have been. I was unaware of the problem until that point, and it has taken a significant amount of time to correct it. Again, i think this is something a good drum teacher would have spotted, especially within a five year time span. Now that I think of it, that first recording session was also when I discovered what poor timing I had. That whole episode was a rude awakening. It was like all my flaws were magnified loud and clear, and they were significant flaws.

I must say, I'm a bit surprised at the overall lax attitude toward a person that was paid a significant amount of money to do a job, and failed to cover some very important basic fundamentals. I imagine a chemistry teacher failing to teach the periodic tables and everyone here brushing it off and saying it was the student's responsibility. I doubt many other people would see it that way.

Last edited by boomstick; 02-23-2015 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 02-23-2015, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Boomstick, You did deserve better for your money. Technique is important. Without it you can't express what you want. Gadd, Weckl, Aranoff, Erskine, Viinnie all schooled players. Three of this list have degrees from major music schools. Can someone figure it out on there own sure. It's just gonna take a hell of a lot longer. Try getting a true paid position in the percussion world without real technique. Yes they do exist and with benefits even. Not gonna happen.
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Old 02-23-2015, 12:55 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Originally Posted by boomstick View Post
I imagine a chemistry teacher failing to teach the periodic tables and everyone here brushing it off and saying it was the student's responsibility. I doubt many other people would see it that way.
Yes, but teachers in schools have to get a formal qualification to teach in schools. We don't often ask drum teachers for their credentials.

I had a similar situation to you in that I had an early teacher tell me to hold the sticks tight. Worst bit of advice I ever had - I played with stiff hands and tense feet. I had been playing like that for close to 10 years when I took some more lessons and a new teacher spotted it. It only took about 2 months until I had eliminated that tension and was playing more 'normally'.

As you progress there will always be something about your playing that you identify that needs improvement, and then you work to improve it.

The point is that you're on a journey. Sometimes it will be good, sometimes bad. Sometimes you will make fast progress, sometimes you will feel like you've plateaued.

The good news right now is that you're now aware of what you need to work on. The other good news is that we have never had it so good in terms of the availability of information. There are so many resources (most notably this forum!) where you can get advice and help.

This won't be the last time that you identify something that you need to fix. That's the fun of it actually. I have been playing for over 25 years and I am still learning, tweaking, improving.

For myself, I am just starting to learn jazz drumming after years spent playing rock, pop and funk. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know...

So: look forward, not back. Take a deep breath, then take an inventory of what you want to improve, pick something, and get started.

Enjoy the ride! Good luck.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:31 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Anyone can sell teaching services. The quality varies and each teacher is different. For beginners just basic drumming skill might be enough.. When the student is ready for more and does not get what they want from the teacher then it is time to change.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:44 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Boomstick, You did deserve better for your money. Technique is important. Without it you can't express what you want. Gadd, Weckl, Aranoff, Erskine, Viinnie all schooled players. Three of this list have degrees from major music schools. Can someone figure it out on there own sure. It's just gonna take a hell of a lot longer. Try getting a true paid position in the percussion world without real technique. Yes they do exist and with benefits even. Not gonna happen.
Good post, thanks bigd.

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Yes, but teachers in schools have to get a formal qualification to teach in schools. We don't often ask drum teachers for their credentials.
That actually gets to where I was really aiming with this thread. I really didn't intend for it to be about me, but about how prospective students can determine if a teacher is qualified or not.

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I had a similar situation to you in that I had an early teacher tell me to hold the sticks tight. Worst bit of advice I ever had - I played with stiff hands and tense feet. I had been playing like that for close to 10 years when I took some more lessons and a new teacher spotted it. It only took about 2 months until I had eliminated that tension and was playing more 'normally'.
I feel your pain on that one. I will say that my teacher never literally gave bad advice like that, rather they were things he just failed to address.

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The point is that you're on a journey. Sometimes it will be good, sometimes bad. Sometimes you will make fast progress, sometimes you will feel like you've plateaued. The good news right now is that you're now aware of what you need to work on.
Believe me, I am appreciative of the fact that I am finally overcoming these flaws. It's been a long process, as there were numerous problems to correct, but at least now I am a point where I can continue to move forward and improve instead of having to back up and re-work things from the beginning. I didn't mean for this to be a gloomy thread. Again, I just used my own experience as springboard for a broader question.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:49 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

I agree there are some shocking teachers out there because it's about the money.

Also it depends what the curriculum is where you're studying.

I had to dep at a local music school. Once I got there I had a book shoved under my nose saying this is what they're working through.

There was nothing regarding technique or feel it was just sight reading which personally I'm not great at and I don't find it inspiring or stimulating for kids anyway.

The school were basically putting bums on seats and getting easy money but weren't actually learning how to play. I know this because the first thing I said to them was play something. Without the dots they were lost.

My suggestion would be to find out what a teacher can offer you and bring the best out of your playing.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:01 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

I actually had not considered trying another teacher at this stage because I've been working through my problems on my own pretty successfully. I think I've corrected all the flaws at this point with the exception of my kick technique. I'm still not satisfied with it, but I think I've identified what I need to do differently, so it's just a matter of practice now. If I can't work through it on my own though, I would probably be open to finding a good teacher, if even just to help me accomplish that one thing.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:54 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Ive gone through a few teachers on my time. I now have 2 trusted ones, the first I found on recommendation from a friend - he works with me on technique and helps me with my reading, and the other I researched the best jazz drummers in the area and tapped him up for some lessons specifically targeting the style.

Both are great as they listen to what I want to work on, and they let me know what they think I need to work on and integrate it all into the lessons.
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Old 02-23-2015, 03:29 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Originally Posted by boomstick View Post
Well, one affects the other, does it not? My poor technique was precisely why I could not attain the sound I was striving for.

Also, I'm not lamenting a lack of "endless rudiments theory and technique" in my drumming education. I'm taking basic stuff, like how to hold the sticks properly, how to work the pedals properly, or how to keep good time. Again, I have no doubt that a good teacher would have taken one look at me playing and instantly identified my poor form and sloppy timing and taken steps to correct them.

I'll give one example how this became a problem later on. My first time in a recording studio, I learned that my kick technique caused frequent unintended rebounds. It was a real problem that made the recording session way more difficult that it should have been. I was unaware of the problem until that point, and it has taken a significant amount of time to correct it. Again, i think this is something a good drum teacher would have spotted, especially within a five year time span. Now that I think of it, that first recording session was also when I discovered what poor timing I had. That whole episode was a rude awakening. It was like all my flaws were magnified loud and clear, and they were significant flaws.

I must say, I'm a bit surprised at the overall lax attitude toward a person that was paid a significant amount of money to do a job, and failed to cover some very important basic fundamentals. I imagine a chemistry teacher failing to teach the periodic tables and everyone here brushing it off and saying it was the student's responsibility. I doubt many other people would see it that way.
There are any number of ways to hold a stick. Benny Grebb, a multi clinic drummer, says he changes his grip while he is playing to suit the moment. His grip, or grips, have evolved, obviously, through playing and learning what suits "Him". If your old teacher had you holding the sticks in clenched fists I would agree its not the best way to play.

I dont understand the "Work the pedals properly" part. You place you feet on them. Some use heel up some use heel down, some bury the beater some dont, whatever suits and comes naturaly mostly. If you want to change from what you do naturaly then you need to work at it, as we all would.

As for the chemistry teacher analogy is hardly relevant. School teachers, in Britain at least, have to follow a very structured path to train them, and modirate them, its not the same in music. School teachers have a curriculum they must teach to students they have little leeway to help student that dont follow the pre planned pathway.

You have pretty much no choice in going to school whereas going to a music teacher is very much personal choice to pursue something you enjoy, so drum teachers are probably using different methods to teach different students. Unless you go to a music school there is no one size fits all way of teaching.

I presume your parents were paying for the lessons? If so a quick conversation regarding what method the teacher would be using, and a few updates on progress, would not have been too much to ask, over five years, regarding the teaching of a minor.
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  #29  
Old 02-23-2015, 04:02 PM
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boomstick boomstick is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

If you can't imagine poor technique, I don't know what to tell you. I could probably think of a dozen bad ways to use a kick pedal or to hold a stick. As I said, I've identified the problems and have taken steps to correct them, but my teacher did not. If you still disagree with my conclusions after everything I have written above, then I don't think you will ever see it differently. So thanks for your opinion.
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Old 02-23-2015, 05:12 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Originally Posted by boomstick View Post
If you can't imagine poor technique, I don't know what to tell you. I could probably think of a dozen bad ways to use a kick pedal or to hold a stick. As I said, I've identified the problems and have taken steps to correct them, but my teacher did not. If you still disagree with my conclusions after everything I have written above, then I don't think you will ever see it differently. So thanks for your opinion.
No problem, we all have our opinions.

Its a drum kit, you hit the drums and you press the pedals. If the way you do it works for you, you stick with it, If not you find a way that works better. Its not rocket science.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:10 PM
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Davo-London Davo-London is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Mike Johnson, who is well-regarded as a tutor, would rarely change any of his pupils' key techniques, i.e. stick holding or kick drum technique. He is an advocate of working out the best method yourself.

I understand and have observed this in my own playing but as a beginner it would be wise to start off with at least a common version of "good technique". There are a lot of so-so drum tutors out there. Someone good with teenagers might be poor with adults. I tend to agree that 5 years is the maximum I would recommend with your first tutor. Even if you back to them you should take a break and explore your own ideas.

Cheers
Davo
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:06 PM
bigd bigd is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Originally Posted by Davo-London View Post
Mike Johnson, who is well-regarded as a tutor, would rarely change any of his pupils' key techniques, i.e. stick holding or kick drum technique. He is an advocate of working out the best method yourself.

Cheers
Davo
I think this really helps boil this topic down a lot. There are many different ideas of who qualifies as a qualified drum instructor. Many people would gladly pay for the services Mr. Johnston or a comparable name offer. I am sure he may be a fine instructor. On the other hand, he would never even make the long list of names to gain the money of some students let alone the short list of names to study with. I think it boils down to what you're looking for and the level of true commitment you are dedicating to learning. If you want technique training search out a teacher serious about teaching technique.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

I'll give a couple examples of my bad technique. First of all, one sure indication was that I used to get multiple blisters on my hands. This is not something that should be a problem with proper grip and strokes, and it has not been a problem since I corrected it. But remember I was a teenager with limited resources, and I knew very little about anything. So at the time, I was under the misapprehension that I just needed to practice more and develop calluses so that I would not blister any more. This didn't work, of course. Also, my left hand was ridiculously weak, so I way over compensated with my right hand, making it work more than I should have.

As for the pedals, let me start by quoting part of mikel's post above:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikel View Post
Some use heel up some use heel down, some bury the beater some dont, whatever suits and comes naturaly mostly. If you want to change from what you do naturaly then you need to work at it, as we all would.
That is more than my teacher ever spoke on the subject. Again, me being a clueless kid, I looked at the kick pedal and thought, "Ok, my heel must go on the heel plate and my foot should line up perfectly with the footboard." I didn't know about heel-up, or whether I could slide my foot back or forward on the footboard. There were other factors too, like how my foot was aligned (or misaligned) with my leg, the height of my seat, the distance between the seat and the pedal, etc. What really never occurred to me in heel-down playing was thinking about the upstroke as well, or lifting the front of foot as well as pushing it down. All of my energy was spent pressing downward. This constant pressing down hard into the pedal would cause my foot to slide forward against the toe-stop, and as I kept pushing, my heel would actually start sliding outward. Put it all together and it did not work well, so I would just put more and more muscle into it until I achieved what I wanted, or close to it. Once I started analyzing things carefully, I realized this caused tension from the tips of my toes all the way through my leg and into my lower back. And as I mentioned before, I was burying the beater all the time but also getting unintended rebounds that made my kick work sound sloppy. I wasn't even aware of it until the first time I entered a recording studio and the sound was isolated. My kick technique was a mess, basically. I think a lot of this could have been avoided with some simple instruction like this from the beginning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LQoVrPxkNk

Between my legs and hands, I must have looked like one big ball of tension when I played, which I think a good teacher would spot and correct immediately.
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:37 AM
brentcn brentcn is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Between my legs and hands, I must have looked like one big ball of tension when I played, which I think a good teacher would spot and correct immediately.
Yeah, probably, but young kids can be very resistant to change, too. Also, your teacher may have been under financial pressure to make lessons entertaining, in order to retain students and keep the cash coming in. The music store, you, and your parents, all made the mistake of conflating performance ability with teaching ability.

But let's just agree that your teacher, and the music lesson business in general, failed you in many respects. The music store should have hired a better instructor, or your instructor should have given you more useful information, or both. Now, you have all the information in the world, and you've spent time practicing. Does it matter at all that you weren't very good as a kid?

Think about what it would take to make sure that every drum teacher was at least "good". They would all have university teaching degrees (not performance), be required to attend biannual seminars, etc. That stuff is expensive, and the cost of drum lessons would, in turn, skyrocket, and probably become beyond reach for most parents. Then what?
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:00 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boomstick View Post
I'll give a couple examples of my bad technique. First of all, one sure indication was that I used to get multiple blisters on my hands. This is not something that should be a problem with proper grip and strokes, and it has not been a problem since I corrected it. But remember I was a teenager with limited resources, and I knew very little about anything. So at the time, I was under the misapprehension that I just needed to practice more and develop calluses so that I would not blister any more. This didn't work, of course. Also, my left hand was ridiculously weak, so I way over compensated with my right hand, making it work more than I should have.

As for the pedals, let me start by quoting part of mikel's post above:


That is more than my teacher ever spoke on the subject. Again, me being a clueless kid, I looked at the kick pedal and thought, "Ok, my heel must go on the heel plate and my foot should line up perfectly with the footboard." I didn't know about heel-up, or whether I could slide my foot back or forward on the footboard. There were other factors too, like how my foot was aligned (or misaligned) with my leg, the height of my seat, the distance between the seat and the pedal, etc. What really never occurred to me in heel-down playing was thinking about the upstroke as well, or lifting the front of foot as well as pushing it down. All of my energy was spent pressing downward. This constant pressing down hard into the pedal would cause my foot to slide forward against the toe-stop, and as I kept pushing, my heel would actually start sliding outward. Put it all together and it did not work well, so I would just put more and more muscle into it until I achieved what I wanted, or close to it. Once I started analyzing things carefully, I realized this caused tension from the tips of my toes all the way through my leg and into my lower back. And as I mentioned before, I was burying the beater all the time but also getting unintended rebounds that made my kick work sound sloppy. I wasn't even aware of it until the first time I entered a recording studio and the sound was isolated. My kick technique was a mess, basically. I think a lot of this could have been avoided with some simple instruction like this from the beginning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LQoVrPxkNk

Between my legs and hands, I must have looked like one big ball of tension when I played, which I think a good teacher would spot and correct immediately.
Once again, I was not taking a pop at you, its different ways of learning.

I have never had a lesson. Not bragging just stating a fact. I picked up drumming through listening and practice.

Back to pedals. I never realy thought about or looked at my feet they sort of naturaly go heel up when playing, trying to change a natural body fit is not easy. I know the terms like "heel up" or "bury the beater" from forums like this, and I believe they are peoples natural ways of playing. Not right or wrong just natural.

It would seem that you have the personality that would fit with a teacher that is all about technique and would tell you exactly what to do. ie "This is how you sit at the kit, this is how you hold the sticks, this is how I want you to play the BD pedal."

Nothing wrong with that at all it's what suits the individual at the time. Most drummers technique has morphed out of lots of different styles ( I wont go into the ridgid structure of the "Music School's, Berkley etc)

Lots of drummers learn to play by differing methods, initialy, then find a teacher If they want to add certain aspects to there playing. They would chose a teacher that suits there requirement. If they wanted to get into Jazz they would look for a respected and recommended Jazz teacher, etc,etc.

Benny Greb said "People have problems because they dont set up the kit to suit there body and where there limbs naturaly fall" Meaning, set the kit up to fit "You" dont change what you do to fit the kit.

There is no right or wrong way to set up a kit, within reason, just as there is no right or wrong way to play it. Experimentation in drum, pedal and cymbal placement, by all drummers, to make playing comfortable for "Them", is how the individuals kit ended up as it is.
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Old 02-24-2015, 06:28 PM
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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Once again, I was not taking a pop at you, its different ways of learning.
No worries, mikel. I wasn't being defensive by quoting you. I was just using your post as an example to illustrate how a random person who posted a few lines on the internet covered the subject better than my teacher did.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mikel View Post
It would seem that you have the personality that would fit with a teacher that is all about technique and would tell you exactly what to do. ie "This is how you sit at the kit, this is how you hold the sticks, this is how I want you to play the BD pedal."
I think a better approach would be to have the student go through the motions, analyze what's not working, then tell the student why it's not working and how to correct it. Even if the student doesn't follow through with the advice, at least they are aware that there could be a problem with their technique if they are having problems down the road, but I'm pretty certain I would have followed the advice. My bad technique caused a lot of frustration and I would have tried anything to fix it.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:31 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: My drum teacher failed me.

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No worries, mikel. I wasn't being defensive by quoting you. I was just using your post as an example to illustrate how a random person who posted a few lines on the internet covered the subject better than my teacher did.



I think a better approach would be to have the student go through the motions, analyze what's not working, then tell the student why it's not working and how to correct it. Even if the student doesn't follow through with the advice, at least they are aware that there could be a problem with their technique if they are having problems down the road, but I'm pretty certain I would have followed the advice. My bad technique caused a lot of frustration and I would have tried anything to fix it.
Hi Bro. I get everything you say.

My problem being that I am from an era where drum tuition was very difficult to find, If you even wanted it. Every musician I was involved with, back in the day, was self taught, all instruments with the posible exception of piano. Back then I had no idea you could get tuition, I was too busy playing to even think about that.

The theory back then was to listen to vinyl records and try and work out what someone was doing, any happy mistakes you made became part of your style and in that way we sometimes got musicians that were pushing the boundaries and taking drumming somewhere else.

Not that being ignorant of drumming technique, history or other drummers is the road to musical invention, for most its probably not, just an indicator that there are lots of ways of learning, its down to the individual.
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