Drum Teacher Time-Wasting?

Mr_Runner

Active member
Hi I was hoping to put this out there to see what anyone thought and any input could be helpful.

Anyway I’ve been with my drum teacher for maybe about 3 years now and he’s a good teacher generally speaking and perhaps from several angles too. I think his word of mouth reputation is also good generally speaking although I realise that isn’t always a guarantee as your own experience maybe more important depending on who you are etc.

Anyway what I’ve noticed is that he kind of tries to spend the first 15-20 mins of the 60 mins lesson talking about stuff and a good bit of the time it’s not drumming related (which I guess is ok as long as that’s not too long). He seems to do this reasonably cleverly and glances up at the clock a few times as if to gauge where he is on things. Usually at about 15 mins or even 20 mins I kind of glance down and try to not engage in the conversation as much which is kind of my way of saying that I wouldn’t mind getting started.

This guy is a full-time (I think) professional teacher (and was doing some perhaps more local gigs pre virus as well) and has been drumming and teaching for a long time and probably with quite a lot of success to be fair and an ok guy generally speaking which is also important. I appreciate he has other students and may get tired of his work at times which could be partly due to perhaps the hours he works and the amount of time that he’s been doing it.

However I’m not too sure if he’d really like it if it was the other way around with me doing this to him and him paying. He charges £24 per hour and I realise some people charge more than that and maybe more the further south (Uk) you go generally speaking due to higher cost of living generally speaking? It’s not really the money that can get to me really - it’s more the behaviour and treatment which he probably wouldn’t like if he was receiving his own stuff from someone else who was charging him. I remember one time when a family member dropped me off for a lesson and they were also going to pick me up after which they did. Unfortunately I’d not brought the money on this occasion (it’s been the only time in 3 years) so I asked my family member who dropped me off if they’d bring the money when they came to pick me up after the lesson which is when I normally pay at the end. My family member did indeed bring the money when they came to pick me up after the lesson on time and I explained this to my teacher and his face dropped a bit when I told him. He got his money near enough as normal. It just gave me a bit of an insight with his view on the cash and after he’d known me for a number of years and that I always had the money during that time to pay him. He seems happy enough to waste some of mine though each lesson which can add up with the figures I’ve mentioned above.

I think what I’ve experienced is kind of time-wasting tactics and I’ve seen it before with another teacher who I left and for several other reasons as well. As I said it’s not completely the money, I just feel my teacher can take the piss a bit on a good few lessons and out of me a bit and to be honest that can piss me off. It makes me feel like I’m being too soft, seen as a soft touch and a bit of an insult to my intelligence. Generally speaking I try to be ok with people but perhaps that’s my downfall a bit. Some people see that as a weakness or whatever and behaved as they did towards me. It’s only because I don’t want to fuck things up with people and that’s easily done if you’re not careful.

I don’t live in a large place so there’s less choice with teachers and to be fair this guy is probably the best I’m going to get generally speaking I think. This guy isn’t a friend or a family friend or anything. It’s a professional relationship between a teacher and a student and that’s fine with me and how it should be and especially with the money involved. I’ve seen business and pleasure mix with others before and the results haven’t been good to say the least. Don’t get me wrong if my teacher wanted to talk over a couple of drinks or whatever then I’d probably do so but he never has mentioned that. He seems to prefer doing this during the lesson. I appreciate people need to get to know one another up to a point but that should come in time some of which will have happened.

I just wondered what anyone’s thoughts were on this? I know I can blow things up a little sometimes from time to time but if I was a teacher I wouldn’t take the piss a little with any students whether money was involved or not. I realise that I’ve maybe let this situation carry on for a bit too long and not ‘nipped it in the bud’ but in my view this situation isn’t an easy one to deal with without fucking it up. ‘Nipping things in the bud’ can sometimes come with experience that said. Being ok about things without being too soft or messing it up isn’t easy and for all I know my teacher is capitalising on that. Like I said it’s more the way the situation makes me feel more than the money side of things and it can cause a bit of anger being taken the piss out of a bit and some others have done it to me in the past. I try to be kind with people and try to understand but again that can maybe be my downfall with people.

I remember a conversation with my teacher regarding 'an older guy he taught' as he put it. I asked just out of interest how this older guy was getting on and my teacher said 'well we just talk most of the time' which I found interesting in relation to my own experience which I've discussed here.

Any thoughts at all would be appreciated although I realise that I'm going to have to deal with this situation alone in the end such is life and usually the way it needs to be. I guess that's fine as long as you don't fuck it up too much which isn't easy with a more difficult situation. I realise this sounds bad but with more difficult situations with people I've had to deal with in the past usually if it came to the crunch and worst-case scenario these people usually wouldn't last long either physically or mentally. Luckily I've used any and all of the skills I have to deal with things reasonably efficiently and effectively without fucking it up too much which is going to happen a bit for a more difficult situation however nicely you try to deal with it. Again too much of that and people will take the piss out of you unfortunately. I've had to get as good as I can with talk!
 
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
You scribed a nine-paragraph post on this topic. Obviously, you're troubled by what you perceive to be an unprofessional tactic. As @Al Strange advises, moving on to a new teacher might be beneficial, though I would address the matter before pulling the plug.

One hour is a pretty long lesson. Back In the '80s, I studied for five years with the same instructor, and my sessions were always thirty minutes each. Thirty minutes of focus is a lot more productive than an hour riddled with unrelated chatter.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
You’re clearly unhappy mate, my recommendation would be for you to find another teacher who is a better fit for you? :unsure:

That's a good suggestion and I have thought about becoming more self-taught. I could check some other teachers out and maybe one or two ok leads. Not sure if my present teacher is the best I'm going to get though? I guess the lockdown has provided a break from the situation and maybe that's just as well.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
You scribed a nine-paragraph post on this topic. Obviously, you're troubled by what you perceive to be an unprofessional tactic. As @Al Strange advises, moving on to a new teacher might be beneficial, though I would address the matter before pulling the plug.

One hour is a pretty long lesson. Back In the '80s, I studied for five years with the same instructor, and my sessions were always thirty minutes each. Thirty minutes of focus is a lot more productive than an hour riddled with unrelated chatter.

Hi thank you that's good advice and I'll follow up on some of it most likely.

I have considered lesson length in the past and you may have a point. I have had the opinion that you need an hour and that 30 mins is a bit short but you may have a point here. The teaching would have to be very efficient for 30 mins I guess but in my situation that clearly isn't a bad thing. I remember the subject coming up with my teacher in the past and he said that 30 mins lessons he does are normally for the kids.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Hi thank you that's good advice and I'll follow up on some of it most likely.

I have considered lesson length in the past and you may have a point. I have had the opinion that you need an hour and that 30 mins is a bit short but you may have a point here. The teaching would have to be very efficient for 30 mins I guess but in my situation that clearly isn't a bad thing. I remember the subject coming up with my teacher in the past and he said that 30 mins lessons he does are normally for the kids.

Half an hour is a great span within which to zero in on material. My instructor's approach was incremental. Each week, we tackled a single concept -- discussing, of course, various concepts related to the central concept. At the end of each session, I very much felt that I had grasped something new.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
Cool that's interesting and different to my past view. With my teacher I do an hour every 2 weeks. I guess that fits in a bit as getting to the lessons isn't an easy journey. Another thing on top of other crap which shouldn't be part of the situation!
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
You're the customer, tell him what you'd like to do during lessons. This is probably a better initial tact than telling him what not to do. Don't wait for him to finish his story, chime in right away about what you were working on that week and how you'd like to tackle it in the lesson. If he can't be responsive to that, probably time to move on.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..I just wondered what anyone’s thoughts were on this?..


With weekly lessons over 3 years, you threw about £1250,- away with this “pro” guy (or whatever amount depending on how much times a month you have lessons with him)..

What would be your own thoughts on that..?

I disagree btw with an hour being too much..

An hour is a perfect time to really focus on things, while half hour lessons to me feel much more superficial and too little time to really have something meaningful..

But, on topic, the guy rips you off..
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
You're the customer, tell him what you'd like to do during lessons. This is probably a better initial tact than telling him what not to do. Don't wait for him to finish his story, chime in right away about what you were working on that week and how you'd like to tackle it in the lesson. If he can't be responsive to that, probably time to move on.

Hi that's very good and sensible advice and I appreciate that. Maybe more advice I can follow up on and I'm grateful for that so thank you. Perhaps I've been a bit too tolerant at times and with some people that could make things even worse.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
Agree on the hour. I've been consistently taking lessons from the same guy for 5 years. He's truly pro, formerly with several well-known international acts as well as many known recording credits. The hour lets me sink into a particular thing we're covering and really work/explore it. That's part of his overall philosophy - driving deep until it sounds super-sexy (as opposed to just being able to actually "do it", then move on and/or working on a scattering of things.).

Interestingly, his approach is different from music teachers I've had in the past that mostly used lesson time to check on my progress or mastery of exercises I practiced on my own time during the week. While I do work on the material between lessons with significant improvement & mastery, my current teacher is plenty happy to have me practice in the lesson whatever I'm working on at the moment. Early on, he'd push me to stay with it much longer than I otherwise would and in doing so would push me into the time with an exercise when I'd really start to see the magic happen. It's completely changed and REALLY upped my game! He's helped open my eyes to a different level of playing music.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
With weekly lessons over 3 years, you threw about £1250,- away with this “pro” guy (or whatever amount depending on how much times a month you have lessons with him)..

What would be your own thoughts on that..?

I disagree btw with an hour being too much..

An hour is a perfect time to really focus on things, while half hour lessons to me feel much more superficial and too little time to really have something meaningful..

But, on topic, the guy rips you off..

Sure ok but one-to-one tuition has always been expensive because of that and is probably some of the most expensive teaching there is for that reason.

In terms of my thoughts on this, perhaps I can get someone to design a type of computer game perhaps kind of a virtual reality type thing if that's better than it used to be and each time I can play I can go into the tuition room where my teacher is and machine gun him one time, another go a couple of left hooks etc!

He has taken the piss a bit a good few times but seems to do it in a reasonably clever way by not doing it above a certain level. He's been in the game a long time and maybe has perfected some more negative elements of his craft although positive for him at least.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
I would ask after three years, are you any good at drumming? You should be. Would you be a lot better drummer with another teacher or method? If so, take another approach. If you don’t have the discipline to work at it on your own, maybe you need to stay with this guy.

A round about way could be that you tell him you would like him to pack more instructions into every lesson because you are not progressing at the rate you like and for him to push you more. It indirectly accomplishes the same thing without direct confrontation. If he doesn’t follow through on it, then you can leave after giving him this last chance.

In terms of being a lot better drummer with another teacher or method is simply a question that is basically impossible to answer and one you will only find with experience and time. Don't get me wrong it would be better if it wasn't like this and for a lot of people. You'd essentially need an operational crystal ball. I have needed a lot of self-discipline to practice alone - a teacher can only do so much however good they are. The student needs to put the time in one way or another. If I hadn't I'd be in a worse position and possibly blaming the teacher for a situation that was my own fault. That isn't the case here as explained or maybe it is depending on how you want to look at it in terms of what I've explained in my original post.

I'm maybe going to have to do something along those lines and I appreciate your advice on that so thank you for that.

I'm doing Rockschool material.
 
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Mr_Runner

Active member
THIS! (See my post above.)

I have needed a lot of self-discipline to practice alone - a teacher can only do so much however good they are. The student needs to put the time in one way or another. If I hadn't I'd be in a worse position and possibly blaming the teacher for a situation that was my own fault. That isn't the case here as explained or maybe it is depending on how you want to look at it in terms of what I've explained in my original post.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
Agree on the hour. I've been consistently taking lessons from the same guy for 5 years. He's truly pro, formerly with several well-known international acts as well as many known recording credits. The hour lets me sink into a particular thing we're covering and really work/explore it. That's part of his overall philosophy - driving deep until it sounds super-sexy (as opposed to just being able to actually "do it", then move on and/or working on a scattering of things.).

Interestingly, his approach is different from music teachers I've had in the past that mostly used lesson time to check on my progress or mastery of exercises I practiced on my own time during the week. While I do work on the material between lessons with significant improvement & mastery, my current teacher is plenty happy to have me practice in the lesson whatever I'm working on at the moment. Early on, he'd push me to stay with it much longer than I otherwise would and in doing so would push me into the time with an exercise when I'd really start to see the magic happen. It's completely changed and REALLY upped my game! He's helped open my eyes to a different level of playing music.

In terms of things sounding 'super-sexy', how do you do that - is it a kind of husky-sexy sound from the drums? If so I've never come across that before. Hopefully your teacher is pushing you in a way that works all round and if that's the case then I'm happy for you. I'm doing Rockschool material.
 
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