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  #1  
Old 08-12-2011, 05:14 PM
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Sondy Pasteurisen Sondy Pasteurisen is offline
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Default When a student gets too good too quickly

Hi everyone,

I've been teaching this guy (16 years old) for about a year now (I'm a drum teacher from the north of England) and he came to me as a precocious metal-head - you know the sort: likes Portnoy and Peart and massive drum set-ups and ridiculous time signature poly-mash-ups.

I've steadily got him through most of his grades and he's now getting to the stage where his technique is utterly phenomenal and beginning to make me sweat a little.

The thing is, he can do all this stuff, but what he lacks is experience and groove - and subtlety. I've talked to him about this but he's more interested in 'brain-mangling groove of the week' (eventually you can only concoct so many, and it's only a facet of what drumming is about). He just can't lay it down.To him, it is boring. He can do it well enough, so why practise the money beat? In addition, he refuses to consider other genres outside of metal, expect perhaps funk and a small dash of fusion. His rudiments are good, his reading satisfactory and his musical brain precocious.

I'm at a loss of a continuing process for him.

Has anyone out there had this issue with a student and do you have any advice?

Thanks in advance...
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  #2  
Old 08-12-2011, 05:24 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

He sounds a lot like my friend's drummer. I've been trying to get him to groove for a while. All he wants to do is play fast and stick-flip. I'd love to see someone else's take on this.
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  #3  
Old 08-12-2011, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

A quick amendment: In the UK there are a few 'Grading' systems that a student can go through, usually Grades 1 - 8 which give them a fairly solid range of skills to build on. The two main ones are Rockschool and Trinity Guildhall (TG). TG is definitely the harder and more comprehensive, but most students go for the more populist and easier Rockschool.

This student has gone for the Rockschool grades. The problem arises from the fact that a student has to choose three performance pieces in various styles, but more often than not they go for the pieces that they find the least challenging. This is what he has done - he's chosen rock/metal/punk etc. and avoided all Jazz, Latin etc. He's now nearly at G8 but, in my view entirely un-equipped as a player...
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Old 08-12-2011, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

It's hard to get into this stuff if they weren't exposed to it from that angle from the start. So much easier when they come in young, unexperienced and you're their first teacher. There's a basic humility towards music and art that's missing.

In my teaching I also teach ensemble, so I slowly try to introduce new styles and then through general comments and experience hopefully they start appreciating the deeper parts of making music.

How about having group lessons as a drum ensemble sometimes? Work on, listening and repeating, dynamics and longer pieces with turnarounds together.

I'm generally a big big fan of parroting phrases in my teaching and do it A LOT at all stages. I also often play bass along with my students and play whole songs where we work on structure, tradings fours(or whatever) and so on.

How about phrasing and melodic solos through a basic blues form?

Even though it's basic I still really like eg. Dave Weckl's Ultimate Play-a-long books. They really give anyone at any level some help with the meat and potatoes. Maybe if you have the opportunity to record him play along with something like that so he can hear himself in context?
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:01 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sondy Pasteurisen View Post
Hi everyone,

I've been teaching this guy (16 years old) for about a year now (I'm a drum teacher from the north of England) and he came to me as a precocious metal-head - you know the sort: likes Portnoy and Peart and massive drum set-ups and ridiculous time signature poly-mash-ups.

I've steadily got him through most of his grades and he's now getting to the stage where his technique is utterly phenomenal and beginning to make me sweat a little.

The thing is, he can do all this stuff, but what he lacks is experience and groove - and subtlety. I've talked to him about this but he's more interested in 'brain-mangling groove of the week' (eventually you can only concoct so many, and it's only a facet of what drumming is about). He just can't lay it down.To him, it is boring. He can do it well enough, so why practise the money beat? In addition, he refuses to consider other genres outside of metal, expect perhaps funk and a small dash of fusion. His rudiments are good, his reading satisfactory and his musical brain precocious.

I'm at a loss of a continuing process for him.

Has anyone out there had this issue with a student and do you have any advice?

Thanks in advance...
If he won't get it, he won't get it. It may take a few years before the penny drops. But, if that's really all you have left to show him you either have to convince him to come down that path with you, or potentially send him on his way to someone else.

Have you tried putting him into a situation that he can't handle (sight-reading and/or playing a SIMPLE groove and making it sound/feel right (recording him is the best way to give him objective feedback) to try and show him what you're hearing/not hearing in his playing? Sometimes a little humbling can work. Creating a "studio" sort of environment has worked to get a few of my students to open their ears to their playing.

Last edited by Boomka; 08-12-2011 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:11 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

First I'm not a teacher so can't offer you any advice based on experience.

How about doing some transcription work with him - getting him to transcribe whole songs which are technically challenging but have large chunks of groove in there as well? I recently watched, e.g. the Billy Cobham at 60 DVD - BC grooves like crazy and then will just let fly with some ridiculous polyrhythic fill (whilst looking like he's stirring a cup of tea). Similarly Vinnie C with Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott's. If he works hard on transcribing whole songs it might just begin to register that you don't get to play full-on all the time.

All that said - he's sixteen. He knows everything and you know nothing (and don't understand him). You can only give him the benefit of your experience - not your experience. And as I started by saying, I have none of that.
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:29 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

Your role as a teacher can be compared to the role of a parent. You would not let a child eat only candy. That's what the child wants, but you know better. You know what nutritional needs the child has. If the child is fed correctly, he/she will develop into a healthy human being.

You have control over your curriculum, not the student. While you may want to include some solo ideas in each lesson (maybe at the end - like dessert after a meal), you want your students to be well rounded, accomplished performers. It is you who chooses your curriculum. With that established, it is the student's decision to sudy with you or another teacher.

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Old 08-12-2011, 07:43 PM
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by Sondy Pasteurisen View Post
The thing is, he can do all this stuff, but what he lacks is experience and groove - and subtlety. I've talked to him about this but he's more interested in 'brain-mangling groove of the week' (eventually you can only concoct so many, and it's only a facet of what drumming is about).
With young students like that, it can be hard to simply convince them to play with subtlety. I think it usually works better if you give them assignments that naturally lead them toward playing with subtlety. For example, you can get your student working on jazz or maybe linear funk with tons of ghost notes and dynamics. You can have him do concert or rudimental snare solos, and insist that each piece sounds like a song rather than just a bunch of rudiments strung together. Or how about sending him to work at a local theater, where he has to read charts and play brushes behind a cabaret act? That'll be a wake up call he's unlikely to forget real soon! haha

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sondy Pasteurisen View Post
In addition, he refuses to consider other genres outside of metal, expect perhaps funk and a small dash of fusion.
Well, that could make my previous suggestion a little tough...BUT...if you present everything as a challenge reserved for really good students, he might be up for it. In other words, you could tell him you think he's a really good drummer so you want to challenge him to rise up to the playing level of a real pro. Tell him about Neil Peart studying jazz and Gavin Harrison playing in pits on the West End. What precocious 16-year-old could resist the challenge of trying to do what his idols have done?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sondy Pasteurisen View Post
I'm at a loss of a continuing process for him.
I think you're only "at a loss" because you're trying too hard to mold your curriculum to the opinions of a 16-year-old student. A little flexibility is necessary, of course...but as Jeff pointed out, YOU are the teacher, and it's ultimately YOUR curriculum based on what YOU believe the student should work on. Once this has been established, it's up to the student to decide if he wants to study with you or not. And if he doesn't, that's OK too. Not every aspiring heavy metal drummer desires to study all aspects of drumming. At least your student took lessons for a year. Some don't take lessons at all. Same goes for aspiring jazz drummers, funk drummers, country drummers, and every other type of drummer out there. In the final equation, only he can choose what he does with his drumming...including how far he takes his formal studies.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:31 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

I don't understand why it's so important to force a student to go where he/she doesn't want to go, although I do get why helping this student improve their groove is important.

As a teacher you can get all authoritarian with your curriculum and alienate some students who don't share your vision, or you can broaden your approach to satisfy the specific interest of the student. Drumming isn't like math where algebra has to be learned before calculus; simple beats don't need to be mastered to a Jeff Porcaro level of expertise before attempting the more challenging ones and there are many parallel competencies that don't need to be mastered at the same rate or in a specific order. If the student is interested in being well-rounded and versed in all the styles, then great. But if the student is intensely focused on a particular style or aspect of drumming, metal in this case, do you really want to stifle (or distract from) that motivation and focus? It's not that the student can't play a simple beat; it sounds like he doesn't want to. I don't see that there's much you can do about that.

But also in this case, the drummer is open to funk, which opens the door to breaking him away from his rigid 16th/32nd note metal obsession. I'd run with that in an effort to open up his groove and break the stiffness. It's probably your best tool at the moment.

I remember being a 16 year-old drummer who was pretty set on all the crazy stuff I wanted to learn, and learning the value of simplicity wasn't on my list - that didn't come until much later. I'm not the most well-rounded drummer on the planet, but FWIW, at 44 I like the way I play and still enjoy chasing the crazy stuff. Most of my drumming peers from my teen years who took lessons don't even play anymore.

Last edited by MikeM; 08-12-2011 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:48 PM
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  #10  
Old 08-12-2011, 08:53 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

Be patient! Tastes change, ears develop (someday...), pennies drop.

Have you tried recording him, and see if he likes what he hears?

Also, since motivation is the best motor for learning, talk to him about his goals,
where he sees himself in "the business", what he wants to accomplish. If all that
doesn't have anything to do with tight, grooving music (which is nearly impossible
haha), then fine! If he does want to play, he will realize himself sooner or later.
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:14 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
Be patient! Tastes change, ears develop (someday...), pennies drop.

Have you tried recording him, and see if he likes what he hears?

Also, since motivation is the best motor for learning, talk to him about his goals,
where he sees himself in "the business", what he wants to accomplish. If all that
doesn't have anything to do with tight, grooving music (which is nearly impossible
haha), then fine! If he does want to play, he will realize himself sooner or later.
Good advice, esp about his goals. If all he ever wants to be is a metal drum, he is sure well equipped for that task.

I worked at a Drum School a few years back. The director had been teaching for 40 years. The first thing he said to me was, as Mike stated, Ken, you're still drumming. Most of these students won't be drumming for the rest of their lives. He also told me that students who don't do what you say are not worth your time because in the long run they are not a good reflection on you as a teacher. Then he said, "Remember, you've forgotten more than these kids need to learn about music."

But when you are doing this for a living, you need to find ways to keep students and keep them interested. I would suggest integrating videos into the curriculum, if you haven't done that. You can talk about various drummers, the history of drumming or lessons of the greats available on video. You can take a drummer like Neil Peart and look at his influences. Talk about Moon and Mitchell, how Mitchell started as a jazz drummer, and then guys like Buddy, Krupa or Art Blakey. I spend some time with videos with some of the students talking about the videos to keep them engaged. This may be a way to get him interested in other genres. But I had a student like that last year. He said, I need some time off and never called back. When he said that, I thought well good riddance. It gets frustrating when a sixteen year old is not open to what the teacher has to say. btw. My sister has worked in Brixton and Tottenham. She could tell you a few stories about dealing with kids who don't want to learn or listen to what you say.
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:17 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

I think you should be commended for realizing that for all his technical accomplishments he lacks groove. I wish my first drum teachers had bothered to teach me that stuff.

I'd say suspend teaching drums for a few lessons, and focus on teaching music.

During the brief time I taught, I would bring in a guitar, and play some chords, and simulate a jam session to really give the student the idea of what it's like to play with other musicians.

The best experience I has as student is when Dave Beyer taught me how to play music. We broke down songs, and studied how typical songs were 8 bar phrases, how to break down parts of songs into easily memorable parts, and how to write out a cheat sheet for learning a new song. That became more valuable to me than all the years of coordination exercises.

Maybe you can bring in a pre-recorded session, music with a click minus drums, and play the role of producer. Record his drumming to the click with the music and point out what is right and what isn't happening. Explain how this could be the difference between making $100 for quick session and being sent home.

When you can show him how drums work in a musical context, I think he'll come around and realize there is more than just playing complex fills. Most kids, when they sit at home and play along to their favorite records, don't realize how much they're missing because to their ear they're lining up with the pre-recorded drums, and that appears to be good enough, when we all know playing without pre-recorded drums is completely different.
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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I don't understand why it's so important to force a student to go where he/she doesn't want to go, although I do get why helping this student improve their groove is important.

As a teacher you can get all authoritarian with your curriculum and alienate some students who don't share your vision, or you can broaden your approach to satisfy the specific interest of the student.
I don't think Sondy said he wanted to force his student to go where the student didn't want to go. He said that he noticed certain qualities lacking in the playing of his student (like subtlety, groove, etc.), and he wanted to figure out how to proceed forward. I think it's the teacher's job to come up with a curriculum to work on those areas that are lacking. If the teacher does this and the student isn't interested in taking the journey, then there are some decisions to be made. Either the student can quit lessons and just drum on their own in their own way...or the student and teacher can reach an agreement that the lessons will be something other than what the teacher truly feels is best. There are no real rules here, but it should probably be discussed directly.

I once had a student who refused to learn reading. It was turning into a weekly battle, so we finally discussed it at length and reached an agreement. I told the student why I thought learning to read would be helpful. I also told the student that my personal teaching approach involves the use of notation for learning certain skills. The student said they still didn't want anything to do with reading, but that they did want to continue lessons for the other things they were learning. I told the student that we could proceed forward without any reading involved, but that they needed to understand that it would ultimately limit how much drumming I could teach them in general. The student understood and accepted this, and we continued on. It worked out alright. So flexibility is good, but in my opinion, this is different than simply following the whims of each student with no regard for a clear curriculum.
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:37 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

Also, find every interview with Kenny Arnoff and give him a copy.

Kenny has a great story about how he was classically trained, he studied at a major university and studied under Vic Firth, and yet, when it came to his first session, he got thrown off the album because he could not just lay it down and groove to the click, and how he learned from that experience.
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:03 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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I don't think Sondy said he wanted to force his student to go where the student didn't want to go. He said that he noticed certain qualities lacking in the playing of his student (like subtlety, groove, etc.), and he wanted to figure out how to proceed forward. I think it's the teacher's job to come up with a curriculum to work on those areas that are lacking.
I agree with you; I think Sondy explained perfectly that he was at a loss for how to get the kid down the path of being able to make something simple groove. The student was lacking "experience, groove and subtlety," which to some degree are acquired traits that are much harder to teach (you have to want to learn those things). It was some of the other more dogmatic responses along the lines of "my way or the highway" that inspired my post.

Hats off to you for continuing on with a student who refused to learn reading. That's in the spirit of what I was trying to get at, but might have been a little further than I'd be willing to go!
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by DrumEatDrum View Post
I wish my first drum teachers had bothered to teach me that stuff.
Oh yes, I absolutely second that!! My first teacher didn't really point that out to me either,
let alone work on it!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deltadrummer
Good advice, esp about his goals. If all he ever wants to be is a metal drum, he is sure well equipped for that task.
Yes, although, he still should play the things he plays well, no matter the genre!
In the end it's all music, with time, groove, form and dynamics (few dynamics in
metal, but still, LOL). So I'd say he's just well equipped if all he wants to do doesn't
involve playing in a band.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:26 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

I would tell him to check out youtube vids of Peart playing at the Burning for Buddy concert,or the Buddy Rich Memorial concert to watch Neil playing......OMG..Jazz,with a big band and not a Marshall stack in sight.
Or how about Mike Portnoy playing Beatle covers at BB Kings in NY City..also on youtube

I remember when I was 16 and posessed the the total sum of mans combined knowledge,but even before then,I listened to Buddy,Gene,Joe Morello,Elvin Jones,as well as Baker,Mitchel,Clive Bunker,Appice,and Bonzo.And ask any one of the Rock guys who they listened to.Buddy was playing blast beats before anybody.

I know after raising kids of my own and as a veteran scoutmaster,what its like when an unstoppable force meets an imoveable object.You do the best you can...and move on.Cheers mate.

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Old 08-12-2011, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by MSPaintClock View Post
Issue him to go to a jam session/open mic with more experienced players. His own natural curiosity on why it sounds wrong will get the best of him.
I agree with this. He needs to overplay and fail publicly. If he's a metal guy, he probably thinks blues is below him in ability, so I would make the next lesson at an open mic blues jam. According to him, he should be able to ace it.
He thinks it's boring to just lay it down....I used to be like that too. I don't know that anyone could have made me see the light at that time. Tough wall for sure.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:50 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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It was some of the other more dogmatic responses along the lines of "my way or the highway" that inspired my post.

Hats off to you for continuing on with a student who refused to learn reading. That's in the spirit of what I was trying to get at, but might have been a little further than I'd be willing to go!
I do not consider it "my way or the highway." It's more of not compromising my values. I take teaching very seriously an feel good knowing that I give 100%. If a student refuses to do something that I ask of him, what should I do - water it down just to keep the money coming in? No, I don't do that. Many teachers do. Many are afraid to lose students so they let the students run the lesson - to the detriment of both teacher and student. The teacher knows that he/she is only giving the student a fraction of what they should get. And the student actually does not progress in the essential areas. Who really benefits to the fullest extent? - nobody.

I think the problem the original poster may have is that he has already let the student choose the curriculum. So now to be firm and say, "we really need to concentrate on this" may be met with resistance.

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Old 08-13-2011, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

I've had two teachers who really meant a lot to me...mentors actually.

And if one of them told me to do something as significant as what you're sharing, that's what I did or I knew that teacher was going to shake my hand and say see ya around.

I also think I need to investigate this whole UK grading system thing because I hear you guys talking about it and in many ways I just dont understand. With that said, I'm in no way discounting the ability of a musician who can get through all the grades, because it sounds like you have to have some game to do it. In fact I think anyone willing to acquire that discipline is doing something good, and an accomplishment remains an accomplishment. Moreover, I'm aware that some of you here made it to grade 8 and are top rank players.

I'm only drawing into question anything that passes as a versatility comprehensive national standard that allows students the leeway to bypass gigantic absolutely required to be versatile components. And what exactly is this Rockschool stuff? Again...not to discount, but to an American that's going to sound like what goes on in a Jack Black movie.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:05 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

At my last job I took over a lot of students who had all basically been running the show for years. I basically had two types of sudents. New students who progressed really quickly and old students who knew close to nothing and had real issues with a basic learning situation. The fact that I had a boss who reinforced this crap and was on my case about it is the main reason I decided to quit. I was really completely burned out. After two years I started to see I was making a change, but I just couldn't take it anymore.

Got a new job now, where everything is different and two new bosses that actually get it because they're teachers, too.

Giving propper direction is a good thing and something that someone who is really interested in learning their instrument and music will appreciate.

This doesn't mean boring or overly strict lessons. It means useful teachings done with passion and joy in a relaxed atmosphere where I as the old "master" just get a bit of healthy respect for my experience and wisdom. Exactly what I would want myself if I was the student.

When a student is self motivated, understands the basics and has his/her own routine things become a little different.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:15 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

Players come from different directions - some get the physical side down and then work inwards, others get the basics down and build up chops, and that's determined by their tastes.

It sounds like the young guy is progressing well in his preferred direction. Some people simply don't want to play simply and that's no doubt why his chops are going so strong.

This comment from Matt Ritter stood out for me - " I think it usually works better if you give them assignments that naturally lead them toward playing with subtlety. For example, you can get your student working on jazz or maybe linear funk with tons of ghost notes and dynamics."

The middle ground between music and metal (haha) is fusion - it has all the flash and buzz but it demands groove.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:26 AM
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:38 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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I agree with you; I think Sondy explained perfectly that he was at a loss for how to get the kid down the path of being able to make something simple groove. The student was lacking "experience, groove and subtlety," which to some degree are acquired traits that are much harder to teach (you have to want to learn those things). It was some of the other more dogmatic responses along the lines of "my way or the highway" that inspired my post.
Cool. I don't know whether or not my post about the teacher setting the curriculum was one of the "dogmatic responses" that you are referring to here. In any case, I want to say that I feel there needs to be a balance. Every person has different goals with drumming, and every person has different strengths and weaknesses. For this reason, any effective teacher needs to be somewhat flexible in their approach. At the same time, I do feel that a professional teacher has a responsibility to establish some sort of curriculum. The ever-changing likes and dislikes of a young student cannot effectively steer the course of study. That's why a teacher is there in the first place.

Certain students don't want to have some "old guy" directing the things they do on the drums. They just want to jam out in their own way and have some fun with it. So those students will probably quit lessons. And as I said before, that's perfectly OK. It doesn't mean the teacher did something wrong or had a "my way or the highway" attitude. It just means that the teacher did their job of planning out a course of study, but the student had no interest in pursuing it. At my Tae Kwon Do school, the instructors follow a very specific curriculum mapped out by the grandmaster. If I decide at some point that I don't enjoy following that curriculum, then I will probably quit the school and do something else with my time. And that will be fine, if it ever comes to that. But it won't mean the teachers at the school did anything wrong or acted dogmatic in any way.

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Hats off to you for continuing on with a student who refused to learn reading. That's in the spirit of what I was trying to get at, but might have been a little further than I'd be willing to go!
Yes, this is the flexibility side of things that I was mentioning. I have a curriculum that I have developed over 15 years of teaching. It is incredibly detailed, and it even exists in written form. However, I also take each student on a case by case basis to offer what is best for that person. In the case of the student who refused to read, they had a pretty deep mental block in regard to reading. It wasn't a block in their ability, just a block in their willingness. At the same time, however, this person loved drumming and it gave them something meaningful in their life. I got the feeling that other areas of this student's life weren't exactly smooth sailing. The student's mother thanked me on numerous occasions for helping her child to have something positive going on. That, for me, was more important than harping on the one aspect of drumming that was upsetting to this student. So, we agreed to drop the reading, and I found other creative ways to keep the student progressing and having a positive experience. Mind you...I was still the one determining the curriculum and steering the course of study. But it was done with awareness and compassion for the student's individual needs. For me, that's the ideal balance.
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Old 08-13-2011, 02:53 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Certain students don't want to have some "old guy" directing the things they do on the drums. They just want to jam out in their own way and have some fun with it. So those students will probably quit lessons. And as I said before, that's perfectly OK. It doesn't mean the teacher did something wrong or had a "my way or the highway" attitude. It just means that the teacher did their job of planning out a course of study, but the student had no interest in pursuing it.
+1 ... that perfectly describes my experience of having lessons - approx 10 lessons with two teachers since 1975. There was absolutely nothing wrong with what the teachers gave me, just that I wanted to "jam out in ... [my] own way and have some fun with it".

I'm qualified in adult education and obviously the curricula I laid out for classes would be far less flexible than what a drum teacher can provide in one-on-one instruction / mentoring.

In one-on-one a teacher can tease out the issues that prevent a student from achieving their playing goals and work through that. For some students it will be best to explain exactly what an exercise is designed to achieve, for others it's probably best to operate by stealth - to get them where they want to be despite themselves.

I reckon one approach could be to play this guy some Tribal Tech with Kirk Covington. When I was young I was into exciting players like Ian Paice and Bonzo so when I first heard Billy Cobham with MO it blew my mind and got me interested in jazz - and subsequently - groove. Not that I'm any sort of success story but I think the principle is the same.
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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+1 ... that perfectly describes my experience of having lessons - approx 10 lessons with two teachers since 1975. There was absolutely nothing wrong with what the teachers gave me, just that I wanted to "jam out in ... [my] own way and have some fun with it".
And it seemed to work out fine for you. You're still actively playing in bands 36 years later - more evidence that not everyone needs or wants formal lessons.

Still...I can empathize with the opening poster. He has a student who seems to be unusually gifted, and so he wants the kid to learn as much about drumming as possible. And the kid is resisting. I have a similar situation at this very moment. One of my students is incredibly talented and advanced for his age. He even practices all the time. The only problem is that he practices almost exclusively by playing along to his ipod, and he rarely spends any time on his official assignments. He'll show me some impossible song he learned with double bass and changing time signatures, but then I'll see that he still can't play his simple snare drum solo that I assigned weeks ago. It wouldn't be a problem except that this student says he wants to audition for music college. When a student has future goals that are incompatible with their current actions, it can get complicated. So...in the case of the opening poster...it might really be a problem if that kid is talking about going to music school and becoming a freelance drummer. Otherwise, maybe it's fine if the kid stops lessons and/or refuses to learn anything not directly related to heavy metal.
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Old 08-13-2011, 09:33 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

An amazing response!

It's opened up quite a complex issue I think.

Teaching is a double edged sword at times - You have to have your process, but you don't want to be so dogmatic that you forget to listen to your student as their needs do differ. However, I agree that they shouldn't dictate. More than once I've stopped a lesson, handed the sticks to the kid (usually) and said, quite calmly, 'go on, teach me something as I obviously don't know what I'm talking about', although this is rare and the majority of the time everyone's happy learning a balanced mix of technique, reading, interpretation, improvisation and music appreciation. But when you get a problem kid, they sure do stick out!

There's some great advice in there, thanks everyone.
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Old 08-13-2011, 10:21 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Players come from different directions - some get the physical side down and then work inwards, others get the basics down and build up chops, and that's determined by their tastes.
Well said!
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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And it seemed to work out fine for you. You're still actively playing in bands 36 years later - more evidence that not everyone needs or wants formal lessons.
Well, yes and no. Yes, I'm still actively playing but I'm still thoroughly ordinary :) Thing is, I planned to go pro but the idea / delusion / pipe dream was to be in a band that "made it". What I needed more than anything was to spend a whole lot more time working seriously on tempo with a metronome but ... (see below)


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Originally Posted by MattRitter View Post
One of my students is incredibly talented and advanced for his age. He even practices all the time. The only problem is that he practices almost exclusively by playing along to his ipod, and he rarely spends any time on his official assignments.
... all I wanted to do was play along with records. I'd play for hours and hours and then shift to the pad when it got too late but usually playing along with music. That meant I never mastered what is arguably the most important part of drumming if you want to go pro - tempo control - increasingly spacing the clicks out rather than relying on a pro drummer on a recording to hold the groove while I pretended.

Thing is, students may want to achieve a goal but do they realise the graft that achieving serious goals entail? When I was very young I wanted to be an astronaut because I had a romantic notion of outer space, but I quickly changed my mind when I realised you needed to be a scientist first ... same thing, really :)
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

First off im not a teacher so this is just what I found in my experience!

Get him to look at Guildhall stuff after he has done his grade 8 (If he is still planning on having lessons) This knocked me down a lot of pegs and started working on grade 6 guildhall when I could sight read the Rockschool stuff!

And another exercise I enjoyed was making the basic beat (8th note hats, bass drum 1 and 3 and snare 2 and 4) groove in different styles with out changing it! maybe get some tracks for him to play this beat along to in as many different styles as you can think of.

Finally get him to just sit in one of these grooves for 32 or 64 bars without any fills. One of the hardest exercise to not fill every 4 or 8 bars! playing in the pocket is one of the hardest things to explain but this might help

Good luck :)
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:38 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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First off im not a teacher so this is just what I found in my experience!

Get him to look at Guildhall stuff after he has done his grade 8 (If he is still planning on having lessons) This knocked me down a lot of pegs and started working on grade 6 guildhall when I could sight read the Rockschool stuff!

And another exercise I enjoyed was making the basic beat (8th note hats, bass drum 1 and 3 and snare 2 and 4) groove in different styles with out changing it! maybe get some tracks for him to play this beat along to in as many different styles as you can think of.

Finally get him to just sit in one of these grooves for 32 or 64 bars without any fills. One of the hardest exercise to not fill every 4 or 8 bars! playing in the pocket is one of the hardest things to explain but this might help

Good luck :)
Cheers mate, some nice ideas in there.

I absolutely agree about the trinity thing. TG G6 certainly removes any arrogance that may have accrued after completing RS G8. It makes one realise that you've only just started really. If he can stick it I'll certainly point him in that direction.

I think the idea of recording him playing a groove without a guide drum track is also a great idea. It's one of the hardest things to do well and a genuine indicator of one's standard.
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Old 08-13-2011, 09:30 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by Sondy Pasteurisen View Post
An amazing response!

It's opened up quite a complex issue I think.

Teaching is a double edged sword at times - You have to have your process, but you don't want to be so dogmatic that you forget to listen to your student as their needs do differ. However, I agree that they shouldn't dictate. More than once I've stopped a lesson, handed the sticks to the kid (usually) and said, quite calmly, 'go on, teach me something as I obviously don't know what I'm talking about', although this is rare and the majority of the time everyone's happy learning a balanced mix of technique, reading, interpretation, improvisation and music appreciation. But when you get a problem kid, they sure do stick out!

There's some great advice in there, thanks everyone.

Often, I will say to a student., "I have you're total best interest at heart." My feeling is that in the course of life events, there are very few people that you will meet who can actually say that. I have the expectation of practice and progress. But I take each student at their interest and capability.Their parents, spouse or girlfriend put more expectations on them. From that point of view, when you have a student who lets the teacher guide him or her, it is a wonderful thing. I have a student like that now. He is a very intelligent, straight 'A" student. He does what I say. Two weeks ago I gave him a difficult piece beyond his ability. He struggled with it. Last week I taught him the main groove and he could do it. I told him next lesson he will be able to play the whole piece. When I came to the lesson he couldn't do the main beat, still struggling with it. After one half hour he knew the whole piece inside and out. I told him, "this was no lesson in futility. This was a lesson in learning how to deal with a difficult piece." Then I asked, "what do you want to do with your remaining half hour." He said, "You mean an hour is not up. It feels like more that an hour has passed." That could not have happened if he didn't trust me. He would have just said, "I can't do this or don't want to do this." If I come to study with Sondy, Jeff , Matt or any of the teachers here, I come to study with them. Why would I go study with them if I did not have total faith in their ability to teach me?
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Old 08-13-2011, 11:04 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Often, I will say to a student., "I have you're total best interest at heart." My feeling is that in the course of life events, there are very few people that you will meet who can actually say that...
...
If I come to study with Sondy, Jeff , Matt or any of the teachers here, I come to study with them. Why would I go study with them if I did not have total faith in their ability to teach me?
Exactly, we study with teachers because we have faith in them.

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Old 08-13-2011, 11:06 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by Sondy Pasteurisen View Post
An amazing response!

It's opened up quite a complex issue I think.

Teaching is a double edged sword at times - You have to have your process, but you don't want to be so dogmatic that you forget to listen to your student as their needs do differ. However, I agree that they shouldn't dictate. More than once I've stopped a lesson, handed the sticks to the kid (usually) and said, quite calmly, 'go on, teach me something as I obviously don't know what I'm talking about', although this is rare and the majority of the time everyone's happy learning a balanced mix of technique, reading, interpretation, improvisation and music appreciation. But when you get a problem kid, they sure do stick out!

There's some great advice in there, thanks everyone.
Exactly, I did mention my curriculum and it seems like it may have been interpreted by some as an unmovable regimen. I do follow it closely with young students who are learning the basics. But as the student progresses, his/her needs become different. One may be focusing of marching band auditions - another on district auditions - another is playing in jazz band at school - another is an adult playing in a rock band, etc... I combine my standard curriculum with exercises tailored to specific needs. But my students don't make their own curriculum.

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Old 08-14-2011, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by Deltadrummer View Post
If I come to study with Sondy, Jeff , Matt or any of the teachers here, I come to study with them. Why would I go study with them if I did not have total faith in their ability to teach me?
Because you're not a 16 year old kid with blinkers on, stars in his eyes and a penchant for blast beats.

I couldn't agree more with your statement. But it is the logic born from years of real life practical experience. This is something a teenage student is obviously lacking. I'll wager he won't feel the same way at 26 as he does at 16.

All you can do is show him the path and provide him with the opportunities to broaden his horizons. Whether he follows it or not is up to him.
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Old 08-14-2011, 01:00 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

When I started out as a 12 year old, I wanted to learn metal and punk music.

By 19 I was (of my own choice) getting deeper into jazz, afro-cuban, funk etc.

I probably wouldn't have enjoyed myself if I were pushed to learn them, but
my teacher never pushed the issue. Always recommended, but was just as
happy getting into the intricacies and history of the styles I was digging. I still
remember how happy he was when I told him I had gotten a couple jazz albums,
like he had been waiting to give me all of these exercises and albums while I
was beating away to Slayer.

If you get sucked into the hustle and bustle of status, flash & image in your
life, it's going to reflect on your playing. I'd rather have someone become aware
of what the world is all about, then have their music follow. Seems natural to me.

Eventually he'll have his mind blown and be completely humbled. Only then will
he realize that everything he's done amounts to only a fraction of what drumming
and music are. Perhaps he'll have a quiet moment in traffic where he hears some
feathery jazz, or super in-the-pocket soul and thinks "Oh no, I suck!!"

Rambling on and getting reminiscent of my younger self! But i always enjoyed it :)
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Old 08-14-2011, 01:32 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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I've had two teachers who really meant a lot to me...mentors actually.

And if one of them told me to do something as significant as what you're sharing, that's what I did or I knew that teacher was going to shake my hand and say see ya around.

I also think I need to investigate this whole UK grading system thing because I hear you guys talking about it and in many ways I just dont understand. With that said, I'm in no way discounting the ability of a musician who can get through all the grades, because it sounds like you have to have some game to do it. In fact I think anyone willing to acquire that discipline is doing something good, and an accomplishment remains an accomplishment. Moreover, I'm aware that some of you here made it to grade 8 and are top rank players.

I'm only drawing into question anything that passes as a versatility comprehensive national standard that allows students the leeway to bypass gigantic absolutely required to be versatile components. And what exactly is this Rockschool stuff? Again...not to discount, but to an American that's going to sound like what goes on in a Jack Black movie.
Matt, I'm going to answer these questions.

The grading system in the UK is an old tradition that harks back to formal Classical training. Like you say, the grades are 1-8 and there are others beyond. A 'grade 8' player is somebody that has the potential to study full-time and is often the minimum standard required to enter a University music course. I've seen this grading system close-up because I've done it and so has my brother - my brother being something of a musical prodigy (he had a Distinction level in grade 8 Piano when he was ten!).

The idea is to give an objective assessment of a player's inherent technical (and - to a lesser extent - musical) ability. A grade 1 player is a beginner, a grade 2 a better beginner. Grade 5 is where things start happening and the player might be considered to be of a decent standard - but still very much amateur level. I have a grade 5 in Classical singing and never took any more grades because with the exam board I was using (yes, there are several boards) grade 5 theory is also a requirement to take exams after grade 5 in an instrument. I didn't pass grade 5 theory at the time (I was fourteen) because I didn't put enough study into it - although in retrospect I should've done because at the time I was being encouraged to take my singing very seriously.

There are different exam boards too. For Classical instruments there are the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM), Trinity and also Guildhall. The ABRSM exams are generally held to be the harder of the three boards and as a result usually when a Classical musician says they have a 'Grade 8' they mean an ABRSM grade 8. The examinations are about forty-five minutes long (depending on the grade) and take the form of selected repertoire that's usually sold as a book. The teacher and student select pieces from (usually) two lists ('A' and 'B') and have to pick a certain number of pieces from each list. The player is then asked to perform and they are marked. The marks are awarded for technical accomplishment and musical interpretation. Then there are other parts of the exam like technical exercises (for the Piano, often scales and arpeggios) and aural tests. I'm not sure what the marking system is now, but it used to be that 100 was a 'Pass'. There are also 'Merit' and 'Distinction' grades; although where the boundaries are drawn now, I'm not sure.

The drums - being a generally 'popular music' instrument have had their own grading system implemented. I'm under the impression that the ABRSM don't award drum grades (they do award gradings in percussion but it's all Classical) so Guildhall and Trinity set up their own grading systems. 'Rockschool' is one of the syllabuses set up (I think by Trinity) to grade 'popular' music. I did a couple of the grades and they have schemes for guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and vocals. You can even perform as a band for a joint exam if you want to! These are still formal examinations and the structure is similar to the Classical grading system. The Rockschool syllabus is often seen as a fairly easy syllabus and in my experience, the books often have two or three easier pieces and a few challenging ones. The student and teacher aren't subjected to a listing system either - so it's possible to bypass what you can't play. You often play to provided backing tracks or can sometimes use your own tracks provided you bring sheet music and are judged to be of a sufficient difficulty - although that may have changed in the last eight years since I did anything with Rockschool.

The Guildhall exams are different and based more on the ABRSM system. They're generally harder but less popular.

I hope that helps a bit.
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Old 08-14-2011, 03:32 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

Thank you MFB for the explanation.

I've never even heard of such a concept until I started reading it on this board. I can't say there is anything even remotely equivalent on this side of the pond.

At least now I have some clue what numbers mean now.
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Old 08-14-2011, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Thank you MFB for the explanation.

I've never even heard of such a concept until I started reading it on this board. I can't say there is anything even remotely equivalent on this side of the pond.

At least now I have some clue what numbers mean now.
Yes thank you Duncan. I now get where the whole thing is going, especially the music school placement stuff, although I'm still baffled by what is accomplished succeeding in rock school when even you guys concede it's a kind of nebulous credential. However, I can absolutely appreciate the value of the theory credentials, seeing as how so many non keyboard playing drummers essentially start their American theory training from scratch when they're older...and in an almost crash course kind of way.

And DED is of course right. There's nothing like that stuff over here...and that includes to a larger extent the concept of students telling teachers what they choose to learn. I suppose this occurs in those private scenarios where the drummer doesn't join school band. However, in the US those who don't join (although large in number) are definitely the minority...meaning that by the time you're sixteen (or grade 10=a minimum of 4 years organized band/including a probable two full seasons marching) most already know their role within the context of the teacher/student relationship. In my high school experiences the do it my way guys were either shown the door or they figured it out for themselves.
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:42 AM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

As a private tutor the grades are optional and I only suggest them if I feel they are beneficial, or better put, that the student is ready for the process. Most of my students are between the ages of 8 - 13, and as such can only be expected to have a small musical world as fed to them from their surroundings.

The top three requests, or stylistic markers are: 1. Green Day 2. Coldplay 3. The Kings of Leon.
That is what they want to play and quite often they're just not prepared to learn anything beyond that. Fine, although I have my own methods of 'nudging' them towards the good stuff without them really noticing.

The grades do offer a tried and tested structure though, and bring the various skills up at a parallel level. I've had several mature students who can hold their own in a pub band, but have real difficulty with a single paradiddle.

I'm also at pains to tell them that once G8 is done you can then start to learn to play the drums. They have no idea what that means until they get there!
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:48 PM
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Default Re: When a student gets too good too quickly

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Originally Posted by Sondy Pasteurisen View Post
The top three requests, or stylistic markers are: 1. Green Day 2. Coldplay 3. The Kings of Leon.
That is what they want to play and quite often they're just not prepared to learn anything beyond that. Fine, although I have my own methods of 'nudging' them towards the good stuff without them really noticing.
To the student that is the good stuff, who are you to tell them what music is good or bad, its a completely individual choice.
In situations like this i would teach them the song they want but explain to them that in order to play that they must learn the techniques and skills to play it.

I dont see the point in forcing kids to be the type of drummers we think they should become. It will just make them hate coming to you. We should instead help them get as good as they can in whatever sort of playing they want to do.
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