How should I choose a drum teacher as a beginner?

aaronmcd

Member
Hi there, this is my obligatory "new to the forum and new to the hobby" post!

I've introduced myself in the other thread that most likely no one except us newbs visit. In summary, I'm 33, live and work in SF, and felt like an additional hobby so I just started practicing 2 months ago on a practice pad and pillows, and a friends kit a few times. Mostly rudiments, timing, basic beats and fills, more rudiments, more rudiments.

I'm thinking I'm about ready for a teacher (and maybe a kit, but it looks like there's a studio on my way home that charges $20 for 2 hours of time), so I got a 3 quotes from Thumbtack. Would it be reasonable to just sign up with a first lesson from all 3 of them in the next few days and go from there? Kind of like interviews where I'm paying but also getting something out of it.

One guy I can only get to driving, but the other 2 teach out of studios that are literally on my 2.5 mile bike ride commute. Both seem to be professional, i.e. a decade or 2 of experience, bands, session work, many years of teaching etc. One of them looks like he has a masters degree in music with a focus on percussion. But the real question is will it be bad form to go take lessons from all of them at once to start? And what kind of questions should I ask / things to watch out for?

Thanks!
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Ultimately, you will have many teachers for different facets of drumming.

I have a general teacher that I see once every few months. I use Bill B's website when hit a wall with my hands. Etc, etc.

Try out all of them. See which one is most convenient and gives you the best results. No need to try them all in the same week, as you'll probably end up learning something from each of them if you space it out a bit.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
You never really know.

They should have an education and experience both laying and teaching.

Knowing how to play does not automatically make one a qualified teacher.

You'll know quickly. They should teach you technique, reading, styles and interpreatation all in well planned universal way. They shuold be able to explain anything to anybody and understand who they'e working with as to put the right focus on the right thing at the right point in time.

He/she should also have clear expectations of your effort.

Not always he case when you pay for the name and stature, but you generally get what you pay for. Learning fundamentals is different from seeking out a specialist further down your path.


Trying out all before you decide is ok, but I agree that doing them all the same week will possibly overload you and keep you from getting the most out of each situation.

Higher degree in education doesn't mean much. Experience and humlity that allows for constant growth is the main thing. A few years in college or university simply means they've had that experience and met several different types of teachers in that environment. too.
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
Start with the two on your bike commute. If one of them doesn't work out then search around. You may be out a few bucks, but nothing is cheap in SF.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Choose someone with really fluid, relaxed technique, who seems to play effortlessly. Also, choose someone who seems like a decent human being.
 

Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
You have to pick your teacher always the same, it doesn¨t matter if you are a complete beginner or advanced drummer:

Choose between the BEST PLAYERS (recognized because you´ve seen them play, etc.), and once you know who they are you have to TEST a lesson with each to see which one is the most DIDACTIC of them.


ONLY study with drummers you respect, admire, etc.

When you are beginner, unless you already played other instruments at advanced level, this search I mentioned MIGHT (in general IS) be difficult to do.

Sources to save time are:

1) Ask at the local JAZZ CLUB which are the main players and call them and ask them if they teach.
2) Go to the JAZZ DEPARTAMENT of the local UNIVERSITY and ask SEVERAL students there who in there opinnion are the best players and teachers in town.

It is important that you get different sources because, some will be bias, uninformed, etc.

If you don´t live near any of these things (BUT NOT ONLY) you also might consider taking ON-LINE LIVE lessons. Then you will have at your disposal the WHOLE PLANET to choose from.

I teach on-line if you are interested, please have a look, there are many VIDEOS OF ME and STUDENTS: http://www.alexsanguinetti.com/english.html

Best luck!
 
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Frank

Gold Member
Avoid people teaching from music stores. While you surely can find someone good that way, that population is filled with drummers who aren't teachers but need the money.

Ideally the person has their own studio and teaches near full time. Bonus points for having a music degree.

It's also a good idea to actually go see them play.

When you try someone out, you want to see that the teacher is working from a combination of materials that include books. If all the teaching is ad hoc and not written down, that's not your teacher.

[Hard to believe, but there Are "teachers" that actually do that. Pitiful. That approach is only valid, sometimes, for advanced players seeking coaching. It's surely not for beginners and intermediates.]

The teacher should be giving you material in a number of different categories - rudiments, rhythm patterns, styles, songs, etc.
 

DrumWild

Senior Member
This is an interesting question, because I did not get to pick my early drum teachers. I was way too young and didn't even know what would make a good teacher, or what questions to ask.

My first teacher was John. W. McMahan. He taught a the closest music store, about 10-12 miles away. He'd also authored a book, "Readin', Ritin', & Rudiments."

I have to admit that drum lessons with him were somewhat frightening. He taught in the basement. Always sat behind his desk when it was time for me to play something. The metronome was broadcast over one of those school PA wall speakers. Guy had a 1,000-yard stare.

Went to Richard Paul in junior high [Paul-Mueller Studios], and he was my instructor up through my second year of college. His students would call him "King Richard."

Those were my childhood instructors. What they had in common was that they were really tough, and were not all that friendly. Also, outside of demonstrating proper technique on a snare or marimba, I'd NEVER heard EITHER of them play drums. Never saw either of them behind a kit.

TO THE OP: Since you're old enough to type on here and ask, you're already at a place of advantage. Referrals can be good. Lots of great advice on here already, regarding things like degrees.

Here are some things that I look for in an instructor. Some of these might be helpful, or not. Your call.

Connection: What I look for in a music instructor today is things like whether or not we seem to be connecting. I've had some teachers, and it seems like I wasn't quite getting what they were offering up. Then get another teacher, and one lesson later have an understand of what the other person was trying to say.

Customization: My guitar teacher had me fill out a questionnaire that gave him information about my background and experience. He then customized my lessons for me. Nothing generic about it. As a beginner, your instructor should be able to customize your lessons quickly, based on your strengths and weaknesses.

Care: After growing up with "Whiplash" and "Whiplash II" as drum instructors, I've found that I am very rough on myself and have unrealistically high expectations. This is something that will inevitably get in the way.

When I told my guitar instructor that I had concerns about forgetting things, he said that if I remember 25% of what he teaches, then I'm a genius. He encouraged me to lower the bar, or to even remove it, and to enjoy it. So long as I'm doing the legwork, I shouldn't be worried about how well or poorly I'm doing.

And make mistakes. That's how things get fixed, and improvement comes about.

My music theory instructor said something similar, stating that I was experiencing something similar to "Mathematical Anxiety." He knew this about me, and made a modified learning program that includes writing a song once per week, with the end goal of throwing it in the trash. No pressure or anxiety.

Let that go, and you can learn better.

Ah well, that's enough for now. You're lucky that my finger hurts, otherwise I'd be writing a regular length post.
 

Frank

Gold Member
Drumwild - I'm sorry to hear that your early teachers took some of the fun out this great pursuit of ours.

It should always be fun - especially at the beginning. My first teacher was modern, progressive, and really encouraged me along the way. He'd also sit down on the kit on a regular basis and show me what it should all sound like. He was a great teacher. I couldn't imagine taking lessons as a child from someone that had any Whiplashian characteristics. I wouldn't have stuck with it.

I took look lessons from that teacher for 7 years. Until I idiotically decided that the pursuit of girls took higher precedence for how I spent time than practicing the drums.
 
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mikel

Platinum Member
Check around the local music scene for a recommendation. I have never had a drum teacher, but If I ever did I would expect them to have qualifications of some sort and I would expect there first question to be "What do you want to get out of any lessons?"
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
First, most teachers offer 1 lesson free. Try one with each. Or even if you have to pay for one with each.

I would base it on a few things.

Style of drumming.
If I want to learn jazz, I'm not going to a metal drummer who will try and teach me double kick all day. If I want to learn metal, I'm not going to an expert in country and pop. I'd want a drummer who can blast and play double kick etc. A jazz drummer most likely wouldn't even have that on his kit.

Drumming ability of teacher
As a beginner most people teaching will be better than you, but as you progress you'll want someone who can keep pushing you in the right direction.I have seen some "teachers" with terrible playing habits. You also want someone who can make sure your time, technique, rudiments and more are good. (If a teacher doesn't want to teach you rudiments, doubles, reading music etc that's a huge red flag). I want someone awesome teaching me, not some guy thinking he's awesome

Teachers ability to teach
This is more important than the other 2 combined in my opinion. I have seen teachers, and even gone to clinics where I left thinking, WOW I didn't learn a thing. From amazing drummers too. I have also had guys who may not be as good as drummers as myself teach me before and it went very well. Teaching is its own skill. I would rather have someone that plays a completely different style, or is maybe not quite as good as the next guy help me learn and get to the next level rather than watch some pro do chops at a lesson. Some people are visual, some are hands on, and everyone has a different teaching/learning style. Pick a teacher you feel a connection with and if you change your mind you can always change down the road. I actually recommend having 2 or changing over the years as you learn different things from different people.

Also, Don't be afraid to go to YouTube and online stuff for extra learning. There is always something to be working on.

Lessons should be fun, and you should notice progress. I log every practice with BPM's and check every week to see. It's cool to look at progress for motivation.
 

DrumWild

Senior Member
Drumwild - I'm sorry to hear that your early teachers took some of the fun out this great pursuit of ours.
Me, too. The weird thing is that it put me in a place where I'd end up taking the fun out of it myself as well.

The good news is that other instructors worked with me to put the fun back into it. Within the context of drums, I took some lessons from Chad Wackerman. It was interesting to play in his home studio. Other drummers have helped as well.

These days, it's all about fun, so my story has ended up in a comfortable place where I have that freedom again.

I hope that AARONMCD has some good info, and can follow-up with what happens next.
 

aaronmcd

Member
That's for the info guys!

I have already agreed to meet this guy on Monday evening:
https://www.thumbtack.com/ca/san-francisco/drum-lessons/professional-drum-set-lessons
He teaches out of a rented space at Lennon Studios. The description doesn't look like much but he seems to be recommended online. Also it is convenient and I hope to frequent Lennon anyway. Not sure if its alright to post rates here but its a pretty decent rate. I could afford to take lessons every week no problem.

This is the other guy who is nearby:
https://archives.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/best-drummer/BestOf?oid=2204100
http://www.vibomusicschool.com/WarrenHuegel.html
He wants to meet Monday morning. I could ask for something later in the week possibly. OTOH I was thinking its easier to compare teachers when I meet them the same day. Its probably too much though. He charges 50% more but still I am surprised by how reasonable private lessons cost. Still not a bad price.

Last is this guy teaching from treasure island.
http://www.zingari.com/brent-elberg.html
Apparently he plays at an Italian restaurant?
Treasure island is pretty close but I can't ride my bike there so Id probably only want to go on weekends. He wants to meet tomorrow afternoon. So that could be 3 in 2 days. Plus my friend is gonna give me a "lesson" today hopefully before his jam with another guitarist friend (I'm the 3rd wheel here lol).

Come to think of it I'm not sure how long they have been teaching other than self proclaimed experience on Thumbtack.

One thing is if they ask me what I want to get out of lessons Ill have to reply that as a beginner I don't know yet! That's one of the reasons I want lessons. I can and have been looking up lots of stuff online but the amount of info out there is crazy and knowing what to focus on and when is a challenge. (Hmm... I guess that's my answer!)
 

aaronmcd

Member
Also apparently Dawn R. teaches in the area and gets good reviews, but Idk if that's just cuz she happened to join a band right before their breakthrough album. Also her website freely admits she focuses on rock cuz its what she knows.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
If you're new and it's even the most common reason for experienced players to get some more guidance, TECHNIQUE is one.

Basic reading. Not talking about sightreading advanced pieces that you wouldn't play right anyway, it's about understanding the rhythmic building blocks of music.

There's all sorts of coordination and ostinato work and depending on age and interest one cold actually do pretty hip stuff rather quickly, but I'd advice putting it in a context of learning the most important styles as quickly as
possible. Diverse and solid first, as any hireable musician on any instrument.
 

Frank

Gold Member
The first guy looks like a legit teacher. I think you should give him a good chance.

After you take your first couple of lessons with him, post what books he started with you.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
One thing I would point out from reading your OP. You "Felt like an additional hobby". Not being funny, a genuine question, why drumming?

For me, and I would guess a lot on here, drumming was a compulsion, a need. I was always tapping on things, listening to music and working out the drumming in my head and dreaming of the day I could afford to get my first kit.

Do you or did you feel like this? Not saying its a requirement but having a basic desire and drive seems to be the mindset that keeps people playing and learning, and the kit wont end up in the garage with the fitness equipment and the mountain bike. Anyway, good luck.
 

Frank

Gold Member
One thing I would point out from reading your OP. You "Felt like an additional hobby". Not being funny, a genuine question, why drumming?

For me, and I would guess a lot on here, drumming was a compulsion, a need. I was always tapping on things, listening to music and working out the drumming in my head and dreaming of the day I could afford to get my first kit.

Do you or did you feel like this? Not saying its a requirement but having a basic desire and drive seems to be the mindset that keeps people playing and learning, and the kit wont end up in the garage with the fitness equipment and the mountain bike. Anyway, good luck.
Very good point. I did not catch that. Before my parents allowed me to start as a kid, it was a Critical need. I was craving it like needing oxygen and food. I Had to do it.
 

aaronmcd

Member
It has been on the back of my mind for several years as something I would like to do. I only have a little music experience - a couple each guitar, piano, and theory classes back in community college just for fun but never got sucked in. I moved to the Bay Area for grad school and by the time I graduated I started doing Spartan Races. Then shifted gears to bike racing and got completely sucked into that. Hundreds of races over a few years. I don't intend to quit bike racing, but having only one thing I do every weekend until I die doesn't sound like a good idea. I've been really into listening to music for a couple years now. Yeah I'm always drumming on random things all the time, and I have decent rhythm but not the best ear for picking out a bunch of notes in a chord. And since I've been kinda thinking about learning drums for a while I figured I better just jump in and do it cuz it won't happen on its own!
 
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