Drum Teacher Time-Wasting?

Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
I was in your situation just a few months ago, but I decided to take a break from learning and focus more on enjoying myself by playing what I want to play. It's going great. I learn new things by myself, but I admit it is hugely thanks to the teacher I had. Even if the lessons weren't that great, I still learned a lot of things and I can comfortably play most things I encounter. Sometimes you can learn things from casual conversation with a teacher that isn't strictly technique or sight reading, it could be a small tip or even a life lesson. If I had learned robotically every single rudiment and sight reading book, I wouldn't have the skills I have now, I wouldn't know how to properly hit a drum, I wouldn't have gotten advice to sit with good posture at the kit, to sum it up I would not be where I am now. Rudiments and learning from books isn't really everything, and you can really learn just as much from conversation and enjoying yourself while playing. But I agree, it can be boring and it can seem like a waste of money and time, but you might realize it's a valuable thing in the future. Or maybe he's just an asshat. Which in that case I'd change teacher or teach myself.
 

PaisteGuy

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.

THIS ⬆️
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I've had many different drum teachers in my life. Some were over several years, some just a single lesson for a specific topic.

Either way, there is nothing wrong with variety, or simply just trying someone else.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
I was in your situation just a few months ago, but I decided to take a break from learning and focus more on enjoying myself by playing what I want to play. It's going great. I learn new things by myself, but I admit it is hugely thanks to the teacher I had. Even if the lessons weren't that great, I still learned a lot of things and I can comfortably play most things I encounter. Sometimes you can learn things from casual conversation with a teacher that isn't strictly technique or sight reading, it could be a small tip or even a life lesson. If I had learned robotically every single rudiment and sight reading book, I wouldn't have the skills I have now, I wouldn't know how to properly hit a drum, I wouldn't have gotten advice to sit with good posture at the kit, to sum it up I would not be where I am now. Rudiments and learning from books isn't really everything, and you can really learn just as much from conversation and enjoying yourself while playing. But I agree, it can be boring and it can seem like a waste of money and time, but you might realize it's a valuable thing in the future. Or maybe he's just an asshat. Which in that case I'd change teacher or teach myself.

Hi thanks for your reply and I think I generally agree with a lot of what you've said and I'm glad that things have worked out reasonably well for you in one way or another.

I sometimes 'go freestyle' a little bit between doing tracks and sometimes when I go back to the track I play it better! I realise you have to 'drill' stuff repeatedly in order to learn and practice but that can sometimes understandably get a bit boring at times but I guess stuff in life can be from time to time even if it is your subject / activity of choice.

I just think that my teacher is taking the piss a bit with the 15-20 mins stuff at the beginning of most lessons and that is also basically taking the piss out of me personally which over time would piss a lot of people off. It's just a bit out of order when considering more than several things. I have an idea of how to address this if I need to and it's in quite a subtle and light way. Anything with too much emotion attached to it will probably begin to fuck things up when that isn't my aim at least at present even if the guy may deserve some of that with regards to the amount of times it's happened over quite a long time. My plan is kind of based on some of the advice I've received here as well as from a few other sources so I appreciate all of that. If I'm unsuccessful and my plan fails more over time I could try stepping things up a bit but that's probably the start of things going down hill and at that point I'd leave and hopefully move on to something better.
 
If the remaining 45 minutes are good and you like him, describe your problem to your teacher and find a solution. Maybe he's tired of several hours of noise every day which I could understand. So maybe you can make a compromise like 30 minutes quiet practicing on a pad and 30 minutes on the set. If there are no improvements after the discussion (or he blocks it entirely), it's time to stop.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
I've had many different drum teachers in my life. Some were over several years, some just a single lesson for a specific topic.

Either way, there is nothing wrong with variety, or simply just trying someone else.

That's interesting and very much appreciated so thank you. I have in the past tried more than several teachers and a good few haven't been great but I have reasonably good and valid reasons here unfortunately. I think part of the problem at least in the Uk is that private tuition like this isn't really regulated within any kind of system or authority at all I don't think. Anyone can set themselves up as a 'professional teacher' without any requirements, experience or qualifications whatsoever. With that kind of system and with little if any supervision or regulation, some teachers in this system are going to push things and take the piss just with perhaps different things and extents. They will do it because they know they can get away with it under all these circumstances. That's 'experience' they've probably gained which is positive for them but negative for the student. I know this from experience and have seen it on more than several occasions unfortunately. One thing you can be sure of is that they'll keep on taking the money and quite a bit of it without a second thought with regards to any of this, their teaching standard, behaviour and the treatment of their students. It's out of order.

I appreciate you also get teachers in schools and colleges that may not be great teachers but at least there is a system in place which requires some reasonably extensive training, qualifications and possibly some experience as well in order to teach in those environments.

I found a similar situation with 'lecturers' at university. I guess a 'lecturer' isn't exactly the same as a teacher although I think there should be some similarities. I realise 'lecturers' at a university are less hands-on teaching wise partly due to that system and environment and some of the things that go with that. However what I didn't really agree with was that a PhD gave anyone effectively a licence to 'lecturer'. This was some time ago now though and I don't know if that is still the same kind of situation at least in the Uk. I came across lecturers who didn't have the skills or willing or both to do that to a reasonably acceptable standard. I realise that people like this were perhaps better at research which was another part of their role but maybe stuff like that should have been all / most of their role and they would have probably gone with and agreed to that. I heard of a lecturer from a university who took a more teaching role at a college who thought it was going to be an easier job perhaps due to his past experience and conditioning at the university. He got a bit of a shock when he realised he actually needed to do some actual 'teaching' and I heard he was essentially useless as he wouldn't have had the skills, qualifications or the experience and possibly the will to be able to teach with some success. I realise some lecturers are of a sufficient standard but just making my point on a system I didn't really agree with like the private tuition one above and the further problems that can result from such systems. Yes there will still be difficulties but maybe less of certain ones.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I sometimes 'go freestyle' a little bit between doing tracks and sometimes when I go back to the track I play it better! I realise you have to 'drill' stuff repeatedly in order to learn and practice but that can sometimes understandably get a bit boring at times but I guess stuff in life can be from time to time even if it is your subject / activity of choice.

This is actually a great practice habit. It’s good to practice something for 3-5 minutes, then work on one or two other things, and then go back to the first thing. When you do this, you force your brain to “re-learn” each time you go back, and, over a period of days or weeks, you’ll more quickly get to the point where you can do that task correctly, the very first time you try to play it.

Some of my students set a stop watch to remind themselves to stop the current task, and take on a different task. Personally, I keep a short list of four or five things to work on, and randomize the order that I work on this things, trying to do each thing a few times in each practice session.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
Interesting that not a single drum instructor on the forum has chimed in here.

Ok but I guess you get good and not so good with people in just about every profession on the planet. Some will be taking the piss to different extents and some won't really.

However more maybe taking the piss under the present system of little if any kind of regulation with regards to private tuition at least in the Uk I think. I've discussed this further in my post above.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
This is actually a great practice habit. It’s good to practice something for 3-5 minutes, then work on one or two other things, and then go back to the first thing. When you do this, you force your brain to “re-learn” each time you go back, and, over a period of days or weeks, you’ll more quickly get to the point where you can do that task correctly, the very first time you try to play it.

Some of my students set a stop watch to remind themselves to stop the current task, and take on a different task. Personally, I keep a short list of four or five things to work on, and randomize the order that I work on this things, trying to do each thing a few times in each practice session.

Yeah that's kind of what I've been doing most practice sessions. It kind of mixes things up a bit which is needed I think when repeatedly needing to drill things and that could apply to many subjects / activities etc. Thanks for your input though and although that's what I've been doing your theory gives perhaps some reasoning and explanation behind it which you don't always do or think of when practicing in a certain way. I guess you should but the time that I do have for it is spent practising without maybe considering any theory / reasoning which I may not be aware of anyway. So thank you! Sometimes if I'm having difficulty with something maybe not drumming wise it can be helpful to take a little break from it if you can and hopefully go back to it when you're hopefully a bit fresher / calmer etc. I realise that's easier said than done when you're on with something and want to get to a point where you can hopefully finish it / stop at a reasonably suitable point.

I split my time between tracks. For example if I'm on with 2 tracks I'll do 30 mins on each and time them. I do it with other stuff in life as it can ensure that you're not spending too much or too little time on something. This system doesn't work for everything though for me as I guess it can depend on what it is. That can be both a good thing or a bad thing again depending on what it is.

Thanks again for your interesting and informative reply.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
It appears the instructor wants a bit of social time (“hang time” in drummer parlance). Rearrange your lesson to have 30 minutes of chat and laughs and beer, and the other 30 minutes of focused instruction.

My drum instructor rolled the most perfect joints I’ve ever...experienced witnessed. We would spend 15 minutes smoking, chatting and discussing topics such as narcs on campus (he was a college student, I was 13), and 15 minutes of rudiments on his specially-made leather lap pillow (with absolutely ZERO rebound). Every time I left his apartment I was flabbergasted at his pillow playing. It would take me decades to appreciate what he taught me, but I always appreciated how he taught me.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
Move along. Nothing to see here. No looky-lous.
He's stealing your time.

I don't think I completely agree and there's been a few other people who have been quite helpful which I appreciate. You were here and commented with what you said. You may even get a little bit of amusement possibly from one or two of my posts, or maybe not from the looks of things so far.

In terms of 'Nothing to see here.' Frank Drebin said that on Naked Gun when that rocket thing crashed and blew up in that firework shop and they all started going off. He was stood in front of it saying 'Nothing to see here, nothing to see here' in front of all the onlookers.
 

Durbs

Senior Member
My thoughts as an occasional teacher, and former student...

£24 p/h is cheap (I'm in Surrey mind..), BUT £24 for 30-45 is more on the money. It's possible he offers hour slots for convenience, but actually only has content for less. In some cases, the hour would include set-up and breakdown of a kit if the teacher brings their own. If you're using your kit, this might be what's being used for a chat.
I'd also say that you shouldn't be paying him for your practise time.
If in the 60 minutes, that includes 15-20 minutes of you working through something, that's fair enough, but you don't need him there for that :)

1-hour is quite long if that's a 60-minutes of instruction. Everyone has different styles, but for a 30-minute slot, I'd be looking at some exercises/ideas/theories to explore - a quick check to make sure you understand them, and then move on.


Tricky one really - I don't think you'll get much luck (or value) asking him to fill the time better, equally if you skip the chat and finish after 45 minutes, perfect - just don't expect the price to drop.
It might be worth looking at a new teacher anyway - a change is as a good as a rest! New teacher = new methods & ideas. Keeping things fresh is always good.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
It appears the instructor wants a bit of social time (“hang time” in drummer parlance). Rearrange your lesson to have 30 minutes of chat and laughs and beer, and the other 30 minutes of focused instruction.

My drum instructor rolled the most perfect joints I’ve ever...experienced witnessed. We would spend 15 minutes smoking, chatting and discussing topics such as narcs on campus (he was a college student, I was 13), and 15 minutes of rudiments on his specially-made leather lap pillow (with absolutely ZERO rebound). Every time I left his apartment I was flabbergasted at his pillow playing. It would take me decades to appreciate what he taught me, but I always appreciated how he taught me.

Ha I like your reply, quite amusing! It sounds like some good balance was going on though although my dope smoking days were over a long time ago and stuff I shouldn't have really been doing really but I was a lot younger and a long time ago and things were different then in some ways. I find the drums hard enough without gear confusing things. However all this is only my opinion etc and some people maybe more suited to weed than others. I hear the stuff more recently at least in the Uk has a much higher THC content I think which can cause some serious problems if someone is more susceptible to them etc.
 

Mr_Runner

Active member
My thoughts as an occasional teacher, and former student...

£24 p/h is cheap (I'm in Surrey mind..), BUT £24 for 30-45 is more on the money. It's possible he offers hour slots for convenience, but actually only has content for less. In some cases, the hour would include set-up and breakdown of a kit if the teacher brings their own. If you're using your kit, this might be what's being used for a chat.
I'd also say that you shouldn't be paying him for your practise time.
If in the 60 minutes, that includes 15-20 minutes of you working through something, that's fair enough, but you don't need him there for that :)

1-hour is quite long if that's a 60-minutes of instruction. Everyone has different styles, but for a 30-minute slot, I'd be looking at some exercises/ideas/theories to explore - a quick check to make sure you understand them, and then move on.


Tricky one really - I don't think you'll get much luck (or value) asking him to fill the time better, equally if you skip the chat and finish after 45 minutes, perfect - just don't expect the price to drop.
It might be worth looking at a new teacher anyway - a change is as a good as a rest! New teacher = new methods & ideas. Keeping things fresh is always good.

Sure but my teacher has never mentioned a lot of the points you've mentioned as kind of conditions of the teaching and lessons etc (although he's displayed some more 'unwritten' ones perhaps) and I don't believe many of the points you've made apply to the situation although I appreciate you've come up with possible explanations which is very kind and thoughtful of you.

There's no set-up and breakdown of a kit as it's already there and set up. The hour seems to include everything including his 15-20 mins stuff I've talked about. I try to practise mostly out of lesson time although I guess a teacher does need to see you play a few times for each track for example. However one time my teacher suggested we watch a drummer on a video but said the footage was '10-15 mins long' which we spent a bit of time watching. I didn't learn anything from that and it wasn't relevant technically or related to anything else during the lesson although at least it was drums related I guess and better than some of the usual unrelated 15-20 mins stuff. To me anyone can see if someone is very good on the drums, drum solos and stuff. I usually I think learn little or anything from someone doing an amazing drum solo or whatever so I have little use for it. It's reasonably obvious to almost anyone that they can play a solo really well. I realise this kind of attitude maybe unpopular within any drumming community. I simply am nowhere near good enough to be able to appreciate an advanced drum solo etc technically and to have a reasonable understanding of what is being played from perhaps a partly technical perspective.

I guess 60 mins is longer than 30 mins but it was my teacher who set the lesson length and cost. I appreciate he has other students and other priorities. I also understand that he may get tired of his work from time to time. However he's still taking the cash quite happily.

It is a tricky one and not an easy situation to deal with reasonably diplomatically and effectively. I have an idea of how to address this if I need to and it's in quite a subtle and light way. Anything with too much emotion attached to it will probably begin to fuck things up when that isn't my aim at least at present even if the guy may deserve some of that with regards to the amount of times it's happened over quite a long time. My plan is kind of based on some of the advice I've received here as well as from a few other sources so I appreciate all of that. If I'm unsuccessful and my plan fails more over time I could try stepping things up a bit but that's probably the start of things going down hill and at that point I'd leave and hopefully move on to something better.

Thank you for all of your kind and thoughtful advice - I greatly appreciate it.
 
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Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Yes.

I don't know how things work everywhere, but I charge more than twice that for 45 mins.
 
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