Do you need to be a good player to be a good teacher?

Fishnmusicn

Senior Member
I'm just wondering, I don't think it's necessarily so, but I think if you play well it helps.

I responded to an ad on Craigslist for drum lessons just to see what the guy was about, lots of mention about using drum method books that were listed, the Moeller technique, etc., a very large buildup.

I always request to hear any examples of the ad posters playing. I was really kind of taken aback with the actual playing of this guy - it just really wasn't all that good and sounded like all the other not so good drummers out there, just very mediocre, and the level of musicians he played with were also subpar.

With all the hype in the ad about chopbuilding and getting a killer beat, I was hoping to hear some of that but to no avail.

We emailed back and forth a bit, and I tried to give him my opinion without getting too critical, but it would have been better having heard his playing, not to respond. Actually I did just that, but he emailed me after he hadn't heard, and I gave him my honest opinion which set him off.

His main point back to me was that he didn't have to be a good player to teach, he could convey his teaching style to his students and get them to learn. It made sense to me, but it still bugs me that he doesn't play all that well.

Just wondering what the consensus might be regarding how well a teacher plays, maybe it comes down more to how well they teach... Still disappointing to me when I wasn't hearing what he was claiming in his playing...

Fishnmusicn
 
W

wy yung

Guest
I think being able to play is important. Perhaps also as important is the ability to communicate with patience and understanding. Having knowledge of the instrument if high on the list. I know a guy who is a great player, has amazing knowledge of the instrument but who in my opinion is a terrible teacher.
 

grannydrums

Senior Member
I have had several teachers, and to me the best ones were the ones that did not keep getting on the kit to show how good they were, but the ones that had me on the kit and could look at what I was doing, analyse it and point out how I could improve.

A couple of teachers I have tried were obviously good drummers and turned up with tried and tested books and lesson routines, but were not able to look at me as a player and taylor the lesson to my needs.

I always found the best teachers were those that did it full time as their main source of income rather than a gigging drummer who was using it for a bit of extra cash between gigs.

I dont think you can assess a teacher until you try them out.
 

Fishnmusicn

Senior Member
I've heard this before, that there are very good players that are lousy teachers - guess it makes sense with the number of instructors out there.

Without getting into who this guy is, his website says on the front page - "Drummers - Get a Backbeat that cuts like a knife". Should follow at least to me that I am going to want to hear that in his playing, and it's just not there. A little misleading to me.

I hear him dragging time and executing some awkward fills, doesn't fit. This is why I would want to take some lessons, I used to do the same thing when I recorded myself.

I use this analogy also. I took piano lessons a few years ago. The teacher was an incredible player who plays out, but he also was a patient and understanding person that did a great job teaching. I wouldn't want to take those lessons with a keyboardist that did not play well, it wouldn't make sense to me.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Yes, though I don't think you need to be an elite player to be a great teacher. It takes more than the intuitive ability to play the drums well to teach. It takes an analytical side and the ability to communicate that analysis effectively. Those skills don't always come as a package, however.

There is more to teaching than just building up someone's chops and coordination. There's the experience and wisdom that comes from time in the trenches, in real playing situations. Only there can you learn what it takes to get the job done. I hope I help my students not only to play their instruments, but prepare them to be professional players and survive in the music business. And the skills it takes to do that change all the time as the industry changes. If you don't have your nose in the thick of things, you can't know what those skills are. For example, have a gander at Bermuda Schwartz's thread here, or check out his stuff at Drummercafe.com and find any video you can of his clinics. You'll rarely see a whole load of blazing chops on display, but you will find oodles of sage advice from an insider on what it takes to build and maintain a successful career. He can back up every word he says because he's doing it. Being a good "player" means more than simply being able to smack some drums well.

I think of my own amazing teachers and they've given me far, far more than drills, exercises and pointers on my technique (though I've been roasted too many times to count...) They've given me (and continue to give me) support, friendship, confidence and, above all, mentoring. When I call one of them up because I've got a dilemma in my own playing/career and need a sounding board, I know they've been there before and have found a way to adapt and keep their careers moving forward. A good teacher/student relationship goes beyond the practice studio and lasts long after the student has been cut loose to walk their own path.
 

Fishnmusicn

Senior Member
Yes, though I don't think you need to be an elite player to be a great teacher. It takes more than the intuitive ability to play the drums well to teach. It takes an analytical side and the ability to communicate that analysis effectively. Those skills don't always come as a package, however.

There is more to teaching than just building up someone's chops and coordination. There's the experience and wisdom that comes from time in the trenches, in real playing situations. Only there can you learn what it takes to get the job done. I hope I help my students not only to play their instruments, but prepare them to be professional players and survive in the music business. And the skills it takes to do that change all the time as the industry changes. If you don't have your nose in the thick of things, you can't know what those skills are. For example, have a gander at Bermuda Schwartz's thread here, or check out his stuff at Drummercafe.com and find any video you can of his clinics. You'll rarely see a whole load of blazing chops on display, but you will find oodles of sage advice from an insider on what it takes to build and maintain a successful career. He can back up every word he says because he's doing it. Being a good "player" means more than simply being able to smack some drums well.

I think of my own amazing teachers and they've given me far, far more than drills, exercises and pointers on my technique (though I've been roasted too many times to count...) They've given me (and continue to give me) support, friendship, confidence and, above all, mentoring. When I call one of them up because I've got a dilemma in my own playing/career and need a sounding board, I know they've been there before and have found a way to adapt and keep their careers moving forward. A good teacher/student relationship goes beyond the practice studio and lasts long after the student has been cut loose to walk their own path.
I checked out JBS' website, good stuff - I'm not talking here about chops ability, but just being a good enough player to back all the hype up - GET A BACKBEAT THAT CUTS LIKE A KNIFE - please gimme a break if you're not at least a good player, don't need elite, it's just misleading again...
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Teaching is the conveying of your knowledge and skills to others. If a drummer doesn't even realize that he slows down his own time, he probably won't realize it if you are, too.

I constantly get students that come to me with really bad habits because that's what they learned from their last teacher...because the last teacher had the bad habit, so didn't know how to correct it, or that it needed correcting.

I also think about it this way: to be a middle school math teacher, you have to have taken courses in not just that math, but algebra, algebra II, geometry, trig, calc, etc. The reason why is that you don't just need to understand HOW to do something, but WHY you do it that way, in order to truly convey it with ease and understandability, and also how it applies in other situations than what is mentioned in the book, in case kids have questions about that. The same is true about drumming.
 

what the funk of it

Senior Member
There is something to be said about people with a knack for teaching. I've taken lessons from some great teachers and some not so great ones but they had one thing in common - they were all excellent players. I feel that one day I could be a pretty solid teacher. I might just have that knack ...maybe... Not today though.
Last spring I turned down an opportunity to teach at a small teaching studio because feel that I am simply not good enough and am lacking experience. (Not to say I can't do just as good a job as some of their current instrucors...)

Bottom line: I will never pay for lessons with someone who isn't at least twice the drummer I am.
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
I have never really had any experiences with teachers that couldn't play. Most likely because I sought them ou based on hearing them first.

If you're still looking into finding a teacher, I have heard good things about Dan Monaghan. I know he teaches at Temple in Phila. I'm not sure if he does private lessons outside of school.
http://www.temple.edu/boyer/AppDev/port.asp?portID=376

One of my former students is also playing and teaching in Philly and doing very well. If you'd like his contact info, please PM me.

Jeff
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Interesting question. Probably you should ask yourself if you'd want to be taught by someone who isn't a good player.
I don't see teaching a musical instrument as being in the same realm as, say, teaching history. A good history teacher could very well be a mediocre historian and still do the job very well, but when it comes to teaching a musical instrument mediocre, in my opinion, just won't cut it.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
If you can't play at all, then any student would be as well off to buy videos and be able to watch what they are being told to do. Some bit of expertise is necessary.
And what do you do when your student catches up to your skill level??
 

Malti

Senior Member
#1) You can't teach what you do not know.
#2) Just because you have the experience, knowledge and skill, as a teacher you must be able to transfer that knowledge to your students. You really need to be able to understand that not everyone has the same learning style (some are more visual, some more auditory, then there's kinesthetic, etc..) A good teacher will be able to address all those issues and present the lesson accordingly.

I'm a part time riding instructor. I have no problem referring a potential student to a higher level instructor once they've exceeded my ability to advance them.
 

pbloxam

Senior Member
I can't remember the line but it goes something like those that can't play well should become teachers....

My experience is that many who teach are not great or phenomenal players but great at teaching...

Then again, I have had some great teachers who are great players but they cost a great deal...

No I don't believe you have be a great player to teach and the majority of teachers or instructors are not Thomas Langs or Buddy Richs, or John Rileys, etc...

They are average players at best...

That doesn't mean that great players are great teachers...Many of the greats don't have the patience to teach...

It does take a certain person to teach... It's not easy...
 

Hedon

Senior Member
I can't remember the line but it goes something like those that can't play well should become teachers....

My experience is that many who teach are not great or phenomenal players but great at teaching...

Then again, I have had some great teachers who are great players but they cost a great deal...

No I don't believe you have be a great player to teach and the majority of teachers or instructors are not Thomas Langs or Buddy Richs, or John Rileys, etc...

They are average players at best...

That doesn't mean that great players are great teachers...Many of the greats don't have the patience to teach...

It does take a certain person to teach... It's not easy...
depends what you call average
obviously not all teachers are thomas langs because there are only few on that level worldwide but i do think a teacher should be a very high level player

heres mine!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrlsARU9ty8
 

TTNW

Pioneer Member
Yes you need to be a good player to be a good teacher.

The qualities that make up both are very different.

If you're teaching someone to play drumset, it's a must. If you're looking for fundamentals, then a good teacher's drumset playing is less important than whether they translate their command of the fundamentals to the kit well.

If all you want to do is learn the basics, you can forego a better player over having a better teacher. Otherwise, a good teacher has to at least be able to demonstrate what he is trying to get you to learn.

Drumming is not football, coach.
 
Last edited:

cnw60

Senior Member
fwiw - all of my teachers have been very good players, with abilities well beyond my own.


and from my first teacher:

"to teach an art with fruitful results we must first understand our craft, then the art, and finally the pupil whom we have undertaken to initiate."
 

pbloxam

Senior Member
depends what you call average
obviously not all teachers are thomas langs because there are only few on that level worldwide but i do think a teacher should be a very high level player

heres mine!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrlsARU9ty8
I agree!! You have to have a command of what you are teaching or you are wasting the clients time and money....

My point is that there are a lot of quote unquote teachers out there or people claiming to be teachers who really can't teach regardless of their level of playing...

Many have a better grasp of theory but their actual playing skills aren't on the same level...

I listened/watched your video... Very impressive....Hand/kit skills like yours are what you hope a good teacher would have and great knowledge of theory but reality is that most
do not have the chop/skills you posess...

At least not in my area...
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
My opinion on this is fairly simple...

Just because someone is a good player doesn't mean they are a good teacher. However, a bad player can't teach someone to play better than them, because they haven't reached that understanding in themselves yet. The most important thing about teaching is inspiring your student. Without that, their motivation to learn will be sapped, and it might even slow their progress. Teaching is about more than simply problem-solving...it's important to be able to remind people why they want to do the thing in the first place.

I had a guitar teacher for some time who would ask me to improve aspects of my technique that he himself was sloppy at, or explain something to me and then demonstrate it in a technically deficient way. Consequently I had less respect for his opinions on my technique, and was left confused about the direction I should take to improve myself.
 
Top