How many of you are self-taught?

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
Self taught mostly. 3 months of rudiments when I was 13 yo. That set me up for reading drumset notation from instructional books. But most of my early drumset play, post-rudiments, was RnR stuff I learned by ear. I was always writing out Neil Peart's drum solos and fills and could visualize the notation while playing. Chart reading is from high-school symphonic band, and then jazz charts later from OJT and a book or two.

Self taught with all the styles, from books and from listening. That said, I've taken a couple of weeks of lessons here and there. The clinics that pop up around the US have helped, Steve Orkin's Fantasy Camp included. Bissonette's clinic at the Chicago Drum Show a few years ago, with the RLLKKRLKK fill, was great for the toolkit.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have loved to have gone to Berklee to get spoon fed all the delicious stuff the pros can do.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Taught myself for a while just playing with the boys in garages, then eventually went in for lessons with a bunch of different teachers. I think there's value in both.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
I took lessons from day 1, starting when I was 11. Originally from a kid up the street from me who was a couple years older and had been playing for about a year. He gave me an old rubber practice pad, a pair of sticks and a chart of rudiments, and taught me a few basics. About a month or two later I started taking formal lessons from the best teacher in my home town, Jeff Ryder, who mainly focused on hand technique and reading through rudiments and UIL snare solos. And on rare occasion, drum set. I took lessons from him for at least five years, and I loved working on rudiments and getting my hand technique down. In fact, I often spent hours on a practice pad when I got home from school, as I loved working on all that. And of course I was in band programs throughout high school and college, including drumline (snare and tenors), concert band and jazz band.

I haven’t really had any lessons since my school days, but I’ve been thinking about taking some. Dave Elitch has a studio that he teaches out of that’s literally like 3 doors down the hall from my studio, so he’d be an obvious choice. Though I have no idea what he charges. But I’ve also thought about finding a really good jazz instructor and focusing solely on that.
 

petrez

Senior Member
I took lessons quite early (1992, I was around 8) for a few years when I was playing with a marching band, but my teacher soon moved away, and I think I was basically self-taught after that. It was a bit funny at the time, since the only "senior" drummer remaining there basically said that he felt we were on the same level of ability, so he didn't see the point of becoming my new teacher. I was about 10-11 then, he was around 16-17. Don't know if that said more about his abilities than mine, but it definately boosted my confidence, at least.

At least when it comes to the music I play today (hard rock/metal), every little techniques I had to learn by doing.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
. . . mainly focused on hand technique and reading through rudiments and UIL snare solos. And on rare occasion, drum set. I took lessons from him for at least five years, and I loved working on rudiments and getting my hand technique down. In fact, I often spent hours on a practice pad when I got home from school, as I loved working on all that.
Your above passage could be an excerpt from my drumming biography. Our teachers held similar philosophies. That approach is condemned in certain circles, but I'm ever-thankful to have had the privilege of learning in a rudiment-intensive manner.
 
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Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Your above passage could be an excerpt from my drumming biography. Our teachers held similar philosophies. That approach is condemned in certain circles, but I'm ever-thankful to have had the privilege of learning in a rudiment-intensive manner.

same here...and I also would come home and spend tons of time on rudiments; it was just as worthy of a task in my 12 year old brain as playing along to albums, because it totally helped the playing along to albums...and vice versa.

I would play drum set till about from 4- 7:30pm, and then pad out till around 11 on a normal middle school age night. Homework was done at school - usually during morning recess if at all...but nothing got on the way of my drumming at home
 

TK-421

Senior Member
Your above passage could be an excerpt from my drumming biography. Our teachers held similar philosophies. That approach is condemned in certain circles, but I'm ever-thankful to have had the privilege of learning in a rudiment-intensive manner.
I feel 100% the same. To me, the most important part of learning anything, be it drums, guitar, tennis, golf, etc., is to get extremely comfortable with basic fundamentals and technique, and build from there. For drums, that means proper hand/stick technique, and there‘s no better way to achieve that than through diligent work on a pad or snare. Once you have that down, everything else becomes so much easier.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
90% self taught. My first year, my instructor was the percussionist for the Pasadena Symphony. Then, for about 4 years, I was in a marimba band, but was also playing drums, and had the same instructor for both. And then another 4 years (mostly marimba/mostly music theory) with a 3rd instructor. That takes me thru high school ..... and from college and beyond I've been on my own (and just a drum hack;)).
 

Rotarded

Senior Member
100% self taught on kit using Headphones and FM radio in the late 70's.

4 years Grade/Middle/early High School band percussion ending my Sophomore year. In school, I didn't do well with rudiments and couldn't site read, but I was always able to listen to, then "ape" my way through any part, on nearly any percussion instrument. My band teachers always admired and admonished me for it. I still do much the same with the drum kit. Packed the kit in the closet and off for college in 1980, then life.

First, and only, band started after a dare at an open stage night in late 2011, an ongoing until now.
 

roncadillac

Member
I'd say I'm probably 90% self taught. I played clarinet for 1 year in middle school band then played trumpet for 2 years in middle school band before switching to drums and I haven't looked back. That was twenty years ago. I had two different drum "instructors" for only a few months a piece, one of them just wanted to show me how well he could play dream theater songs and the other just wanted to show me how to be a steady "four on the floor" rock drummer. I took a basic piano class, a jazz improv 101 class (played marimba), and a general "high school band" class. That's about it... I learned most of what I know by simply picking up sticks, sitting at a drum kit, and immediately from day 1 writing original music with friends.
 

Nictarine

Silver Member
I spent my first year self taught. Was gifted lessons by my grandma. After 8 months I moved and it was on my own again. In all fairness my teacher knew I was moving so he modified my lessons to include as much as I could digest for an hour each week. Once I moved to Arkansas, there were no teachers here, so I was on my own again and tried to learn something from every drummer I could.
I was teaching a lesson and was telling the student "next week, we'll cover...." and he goes oh yeah, "I'm moving to North Carolina tomorrow", damn dawg a little heads up would have been neat!!
 

Nictarine

Silver Member
I think it takes at least that one lesson to get off the ground. My kids have sat down at my kit and I see the same thing I experienced. They just start hitting all the wrong stuff. I give them one 10 minute lesson and they immediately understand what was previously a complete mystery.
When I worked at Guitar Center I'd see kids in the drum room tapping stuff with no idea what they are doing, I'd be like "wanna learn a beat!?" I'd show them the ACDC beat with quarters on the hats and then with 8ths, you could see it all making sense in their brain!
 

s1212z

Well-known member
I started in the 4th grade, with basic reading lessons, then had a year of lessons when I was 15 yo which was very beneficial. I did a percussion camp that helped with Brazilian and Afro-Cuban stuff for a week long ago, and had tabla lessons for 6-7 years which helped shape my drum set playing either directly or indirectly in various ways. My hand technique has evolved over the years, body and hands just change as you get older. Then I taught myself to write compositions with mallet percussion/piano/bass but I had a feedback loop from other musicians who I wrote for. Everything else, I've taught myself...I find even books, rather than going through everything I found it more of a creative exercise to start warping inversions from specific exercises. I don't find the self-taught title be a badge of honor or anything...that is just ego bullshit. I know if I took lessons from John Riley for year than I would improve in some way, my brush playing has been entirely homemade. But my best lessons on the drums were feedback from non-drummer musicians who were more mature experienced players.

The main benefits of lessons for me were

1) Really stressing fundamentals....fundamentals are boring so entirely self-taught may not have the patience but there major benefits to doing them.

2) There is some pressure performing for a teacher, particularly something that is challenging. This is healthy for musical growth

3) A feedback loop can change your playing, hopefully for the better assuming if build a relationship. A lot lesson time is sometimes discussing concept or history from someone who is more experienced in music, this was extremely help in formative years
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
very cool to read all of these posts...and the recent string of other people's experiences with their musical/percussion education in some of the other threads as well

one thing that I just can't wrap my head around is the concept of fundamentals being boring...I guess I never had anyone tell me that when I was doing fundamentals that it was supposed to be boring. Both on drums and bass...I was always happy to just be playing. The motivation was always that if I could play _______________ fundamental concept, there was somebody who could do it better, and i needed to get to that level. It still happens even to this day

I think maybe I also don't consider fundamentals something that was going to be "over"...like, that I was going to get beyond them or be done with them

maybe I am just weird...
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
My experience was self-taught for twenty years or so, and then took lessons. I learned more and improved more as a player in that year than I did the first twenty.

As for fundamentals, I recently hired an excellent jazz drummer and educator, and at least half of the lesson, if not the whole hour, is him watching me play rolls and flams. I can rightly claim 40+ years of experience, and this is what he knows I need: rolls, flams, diddles. I wish I had realized long ago that I didn't need all the instructional DVDs and book-of-the-month to get that drumming wow factor. I just needed a qualified teacher to put me through the rudimental paces.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
My experience was self-taught for twenty years or so, and then took lessons. I learned more and improved more as a player in that year than I did the first twenty.

As for fundamentals, I recently hired an excellent jazz drummer and educator, and at least half of the lesson, if not the whole hour, is him watching me play rolls and flams. I can rightly claim 40+ years of experience, and this is what he knows I need: rolls, flams, diddles. I wish I had realized long ago that I didn't need all the instructional DVDs and book-of-the-month to get that drumming wow factor. I just needed a qualified teacher to put me through the rudimental paces.

yep...this concept/mindset is looked down on by a large segment of the musical population...and again, I wonder why...I just never understood how the idea that undirected involvement in an activity can lead to success, especially in the beginning stages...and again, this is coming from my mind set of ALWAYS seeking instruction or advice while learning a new activity. I was never the kind of kid/person to just dive into something...

I have been teaching for 30+ years, and ALL of the students who came to me with questions about "roadblocks" in their playing were encountering the blocks because of bad fundamental grip, motion, or reading skills. Every time. The 2 most common historical backgrounds from these people were:

1. I am mostly self taught
2. I took some lessons, but never practiced what the teacher wanted me to

both groups are always left saying pretty much what you said above after a few months of working out the fundamental issues
 

NickSchles

Junior Member
I studied for five years under the tutelage of an excellent instructor, but we're all, in a sense, self-taught when you get right down to it. A teacher merely guides. He or she can't dictate productivity or progress. Ultimately, the student has to do the work, which involves, by necessity, a high degree of self-motivation and a healthy dose of creativity. Going through the motions just because you're paying for lessons will do little to promote development. On the other hand, telling yourself you can get by without instruction might prove to be a deprivation in the long run. Lessons can offer a wealth of advantages to those willing to submit themselves to a formal and rigorous program.

I don't think the topic comes down to two extremes: being trained through instruction or being self-taught. It's not as though those who seek instruction lack talent and can't learn independently, whereas those who shun instruction don't need it and would derive no benefit from it. For instance, I can read music effectively but prefer to learn pieces by ear, which is how I always go about things unless I'm given a drum chart to follow. Being able to do both is important in my opinion, and I never would have committed myself to the task of reading music without a teacher who emphasized its value. At the same time, most of my "ear training" resulted from listening to music independently and dissecting its parts. Still, the foundations my instructor helped me build very much supported that process. Thus, I see learning as an amalgamation of related resources, not as an isolation of distinct influences.
Great points, indeed. I agree with you... It's not a binary thing about "formal lessons" vs "self-learning", there's a grey area in the middle too.
 

NickSchles

Junior Member
I am self taught - or at least self started - on bass. Learned by playing along to all of the 80's metal and punk I was listening to. Applied reading and theory stuff from piano, but I played for about 5 years before taking some lessons to learn walking and jazz bass stuff specifically

drums was always instructed though...
I feel you! My first instrument was the guitar, and I taught myself to play... My teachers were The Beatles, Nirvana, Metallica, Megadeth, etc... I think it's very important to learn more than one instrument in order to be a well-rounded musician.
 
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