Can a mediocre drummer be a good teacher?

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
So it's pretty well known here that I am in a band that hosts a weekly open mic. It's also well known that I see more than my fair share of mediocre drummers. Now some of these guys actually teach. I don't know how many students, if any at all, but I would never hire these guys to teach drumming when they themselves are severely lacking in fundamental areas. I just don't know what to make of these guys. Surely if these guys teach, I should be doing it as well. But I haven't really pursued it either. My question is....(read thread title)
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I dont think anyone without a complete grasp on fundamentals should be teaching anyone anything...

but I have known of some guys who were not fantastic as far as ideas, chops, or even very musical at all and maybe didn't sound all that good behind a band.....but they could somehow get great results teaching and just had a knack for filtering information so that it was very clear to students

there is that old saying....those who can, do.... and those who can't, teach

I'm not a real believer in that because plenty of guys who DO also teach....me being one of them, and plenty more members here as well...

but the saying came from somewhere :)

get yourself a couple students Larry....you are an awesome player with great knowledge and personality ....thats all it really takes to get results

you may find it very rewarding
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I'm pretty sure I fall into that category larry. Other than showing someone the basics of a groove, just as a means to spark some interest, I wouldn't dare put myself forward. I think it's also valid to argue that a really great drummer doesn't necessarily make a good tutor, or even a mentor. Real educators have my utmost respect, as their skill set is very specific to their craft.

Just about the only lesson I would dare to offer, is how to get away with mediocre skills yet still have fun :)
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Well there's a saying in pro sports, academia, art and many other fields..... "those who can't 'do' teach"

I'd have to say with drumming or many other activities, it could be misadventure learning 'technique' from somebody who had poor technique of their own.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I would love to teach. That's why I spout everything I know here, I genuinely love to teach others. IDK, I would want my teacher to be able to wow me in some fashion. The guys who teach who IMO shouldn't be....it seems like they self inflate themselves to make it seem like they are better than their skills show.

One of these "teachers" once lamented to me, he said..."I've been coming to these jams for a while now and no one has asked me to play...."

I proceeded to lay out exactly why that was. I told him he's playing jazz drums to blues music, I told him to drop his wimpified trad grip (I didn't say it like that) and smack the snare drum harder on the backbeats, use some rim on the backbeats...and some other stuff like be less busy...and concentrate on groove....which was a waste of time....First you have to understand that in Blues, groove is king. If you have the mindset that any beat played for more than 10 seconds sounds boring....trying to get that person to settle down and lock in is a waste of time....you have to understand the role of the drums in music, and the power of a groove. He overplays during the song, on the ride cymbal when the singer is on mic, not listening to the soloists enough....then at the endings when it's OK to show a little flash, he passes up that opportunity for a lukewarm, nervous ending. Ugh.

Maybe he can teach but he sure can't play.
 

bigd

Silver Member
I think a mediocre drummer can teach but he will only attract and produce mediocre students. I think you'd be dealing with a lot of students who although may appear interested will be dissappointing. The will come unprepared. They will cancel lessons. The will have other outside interests that will get in the way.

How does a mediocre player get and keep students?

DVD's and youtube have taken a bite out of the average kid seeking lessons from a real live person and the serious students search out the most qualified teachers and wouldn't consider a mediocre player.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I would love to teach. That's why I spout everything I know here, I genuinely love to teach others. IDK, I would want my teacher to be able to wow me in some fashion. The guys who teach who IMO shouldn't be....it seems like they self inflate themselves to make it seem like they are better than their skills show.

One of these "teachers" once lamented to me, he said..."I've been coming to these jams for a while now and no one has asked me to play...."

I proceeded to lay out exactly why that was. I told him he's playing jazz drums to blues music, I told him to drop his wimpified trad grip (I didn't say it like that) and smack the snare drum harder on the backbeats, use some rim on the backbeats...and some other stuff like be less busy...and concentrate on groove....which was a waste of time....First you have to understand that in Blues, groove is king. If you have the mindset that any beat played for more than 10 seconds sounds boring....trying to get that person to settle down and lock in is a waste of time....you have to understand the role of the drums in music, and the power of a groove. He overplays during the song, on the ride cymbal when the singer is on mic, not listening to the soloists enough....then at the endings when it's OK to show a little flash, he passes up that opportunity for a lukewarm, nervous ending. Ugh.

Maybe he can teach but he sure can't play.
Music and technique are not the same thing. It's like any other art... Sometimes it's not how advanced the skill level is, but how creative someone is with the skills they have. It's possible you'd lose hard if you went up against him in a accurate rudiment contest, and a the same time, everyone would rather play with you.

On the OP, I'd say the biggest thing you'd need to be sure of before you start teaching others is that you can read and write complicated drum music. I think just teaching drums by ear is really not a good way to bring someone along. It limits things to basically only your views and methods, where if you're able to work from books and teach that stuff, things will be more globally useful in the end.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I'm a mediocre drummer, simply because I haven't played that long. If that was the whole truth, then I should not be teaching. I've seen so many "drum teachers" do so much more harm than good.

Now in my case I've played and studied music for close to 30 years and taught for 20 years. I took up the drums about 3 years ago, bought all the material I could find, took lessons, went to seminars for drum teachers and have worked my butt of on the pad, the snare and my now finally more complete kit. Actually, it did start as a reaction to what I saw had been going on with a former teacher(selftaught guitar player, who also taught bass and drums). It was a disaster. I've since seen this all over the place and I think it's really sad. I take my role as a drum teacher very seriously. I wouldn't claim to help super skilled drummers with their stuff. I simply know how to teach and had reached a level as a musician where when I saturated myself with drum information I was able to relate one to the other. I'm still working hard, but these days I feel I can do a good job for my students, mainly because I'm too still the humble student both of drums and teaching.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I had a go at teaching years ago, teaching beginners, but I gave up reasonably quickly, it takes a lot of knowledge to be a good teacher, not just from the fundamentals and the technique or being able to teach whatever a student is asking for, latin, jazz, reggae, rock, funk etc... it's also being able to get the best out of each individual student, some basic psychology is a must to help the student to reach it's potential.

If anything, I gave the few guys I teached the passion and love of the instrument, but that's probably the only good thing I did.

My wife has been a teacher all her life (not in music, though), and I can say I wish a had a teacher like her for everything were I needed a teacher, she's the best teacher I've ever seen all my life, and the results of thousands of students just speaks for itself, I agree with Andy, I have the utmost respect for those who have the gift of teaching and getting results.

Despite my inconditional love for the instrument and the music, I'll never be a teacher, ever.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I had a go at teaching years ago, teaching beginners, but I gave up reasonably quickly, it takes a lot of knowledge to be a good teacher, not just from the fundamentals and the technique or being able to teach whatever a student is asking for, latin, jazz, reggae, rock, funk etc... it's also being able to get the best out of each individual student, some basic psychology is a must to help the student to reach it's potential.

absolutely Henri

it takes a lot to be a good teacher and you have to love doing it

you have to have an educated answer for some of the crazy questions

and like any kind of teacher you have to be prepared for psychological disorders, mental breakdowns, laziness, etc

and also you must have the creativity to find tactics that will draw the most potential from each given student....all of them being completely different

you have to tap into their interests and gain their trust

i have resorted to writing a song about the video game Zelda as a last resort to light a fire under this one kid who had a lot of potential but little desire.

he loved Zelda....so I wrote a little tune on guitar and we wrote the lyrics together ....we put a drum part to it together and recorded it ...he went home with a CD of our song Zelda returns and his parents LOVED it

that was 3 years ago and he has not missed a lesson since and is becoming a surprisingly good player
 

eddypierce

Senior Member
I proceeded to lay out exactly why that was. I told him he's playing jazz drums to blues music, I told him to drop his wimpified trad grip (I didn't say it like that) and smack the snare drum harder on the backbeats, use some rim on the backbeats...and some other stuff like be less busy...and concentrate on groove....which was a waste of time....First you have to understand that in Blues, groove is king. If you have the mindset that any beat played for more than 10 seconds sounds boring....trying to get that person to settle down and lock in is a waste of time....you have to understand the role of the drums in music, and the power of a groove. He overplays during the song, on the ride cymbal when the singer is on mic, not listening to the soloists enough....then at the endings when it's OK to show a little flash, he passes up that opportunity for a lukewarm, nervous ending. Ugh.
Having done my share of blues gigs (some of them as a house drummer at open mic jams), as well as a fair amount of jazz gigs, I agree 100% with what you're saying here. However, I would like to throw my 2 cents in and say that not just in blues is groove king, but it also should be in jazz as well (or at least almost all of it, with the exception perhaps of some avant-garde jazz in which there is no strict meter per se). If you hear any great jazz drummer, the drumming may be much busier and interactive than with most blues drumming, but there will still be a strong sense of groove (by which I mean there will be strong sense of time and swing, a good feel, and a consistency of sound). A lot of drummers who try to play jazz play a lot of busy junk that is inconsistent sounding, but not only does that not sound good on a blues gig, it usually doesn't sound good on a jazz gig either. :)

Ed
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
When I was young I could DO and did TEACH. Athletics, not drumming. I was a better than average soccer player, and coached for many years. I also swam very well and coached from the time I was 18 until I was 37. So them that teach can also do. Because of my background in athletics and motion, kinesiology...I was able to help a pro bowler with his form and I could bowl worth a damn. So if you have the knack to get your message across you can teach without being the most perfect or best drummer. You can teach reading charts, rudiments which your students may play better than you in a short while, and reinforce time with a metronome. To say one must be great to teach is wrong.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
The best teachers are so because they are the best communicators, not because they are necessarily the best players. Can anyone imagine Buddy giving lessons? God help the poor sod who wasn't getting it.

That said, there's certainly knowledge and skillset requirements for a good teacher to be able to impart that knowledge in the first place. If you can't "do" it to begin with, how can you possibly teach it?
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
I think it depends on what exactly do you want to teach. You do not have to be the best player in the world to teach the basics, fundamentals and correct technique. However for a specific style I would say that you need an advanced player. Not just anyone can teach how to play jazz or afro-cuban stuff, you would have to seek out someone who has mastery over the specific idiom.
 

JBoom

Senior Member
The best teachers are so because they are the best communicators, not because they are necessarily the best players. Can anyone imagine Buddy giving lessons? God help the poor sod who wasn't getting it.

That said, there's certainly knowledge and skillset requirements for a good teacher to be able to impart that knowledge in the first place. If you can't "do" it to begin with, how can you possibly teach it?
Chiming in on this, I think the ability to teach something is separate from the ability to do it. I'm sure there are brilliant drum teachers out there that are crappy players, and brilliant players that are crappy teachers.

That said, a good teacher who is also a good player will probably also be more inspiring to their students. But a good teacher who isn't a good player will know how to otherwise inspire their students.

As a side note, I'm a firm believer that if you *really* want to learn something, teach it. That lesson actually came from my drum teacher, who was (is) both a great player and a great teacher. :)
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I think you really just have to know how music is taught and be good at motivating people. I don't know how much you actually have to be able to perform. To be really good at it you do have to be a good student yourself, and a good communicator, as PFOG said. I think most of the people I encountered in college-- including some pretty not-great players-- were together enough to teach 95% of students by the end of their second year as percussion performance majors. So if that's what you mean by mediocre, then yes, you can be a mediocre performer and a good teacher.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Mediocre is mediocre. Good is good. You may as well ask if chocolate can be vanilla.

Ask yourself if you'd be happy to give your money to a mediocre drummer for lessons.
 
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audiotech

Guest
I don't believe that I would want to learn a skill or craft from an individual who was just "mediocre" in their particular field. At some point in time, sooner or later, the student's learning process will be squelched by the inadequacies of the so called teacher.

Dennis
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Good answers here. I guess the answer is yes, but limited to beginner and perhaps intermediates. I just don't see how a drummer, who doesn't grasp certain concepts, can take anyone too far.

Eddy, agree, bad jazz drums don't work for blues or jazz. There was no common thread in his playing, no swing, no pulse, just disjointed stuff...with bad dynamics, no interaction, and no clue what the hell it is that a drummer is supposed to do IMO. And he teaches. I have to ask about his students next time I see him.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Well it is all subjective. If you know nothing then anything is helpful. All good drummers have moved on from their 8th grade band teacher who had skills in multiple instruments and specialty in maybe one. When the time comes, you move on, but starting out, a mediocre drummer can be very helpful.
 
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