Students need experience

Drummers Alliance

Senior Member
I have been teaching drums for 30 years and equate learning drums to learning to drive.You don't learn to do it properly until you hit the road.Playing to music and grades is useful, but human interaction and experience is essential.If a student is not playing live after a year of tuition alarm bell start to ring for me.Any thoughts ?.Regards Toni Cannelli


Platinum Member
There's no hard-and-fast rule but I would generally agree. I've played a lot of gigs as a drummer and a few as a guitarist but my relative inexperience with others has shown a few times with the guitar and the bass.

I read an article a while back about exactly this. I can't remember where I read it but the general advice was the same. You can practice all you like in your bedroom but working with others is where you learn the most quickly. Some great music has been written by people that have little instrumental experience but work with others very early on - look at Joy Division as an example. It helps musicians find their own voice. With the drums in particular - where we play as a 'backing' to others, being able to respond to other musicians is absolutely critical and the only way of learning that effectively is by playing with others.

Once a student has a decent grasp of basic technique, I'd be encouraging them to work with others as soon as possible. Some of the best fun I've ever had with other musicians was when I was new to the instrument(s). I remember having played guitar for a few months and then attending a theatre course. We wrote some really good songs as a group (with me writing much of the music) and despite the inexperience, working together with others really solidified my enjoyment and confidence.

This reminds me that I need to get back into the 'live' game.

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I think there are people that are very afraid of playing in front of strangers, or maybe anyone. I asked a lot of people but no one has ever met me in the park for a public jam session.


Platinum Member

I had tons of drum lessons as a teenager. None of that meant anything as player until I got up on stage and started doing it, making mistakes, and learning from said mistakes.


Gold Member
Completely agree. Your post is very timely. I'm not a teacher but I have played in many bands. Now my only gig is every Sunday in our church's praise and worship band. Rehearsals on Thursday nights; worship service on Sunday mornings. I volunteer my talents.

Where this is going is we have a need to fill up our roster with younger talent and depth so that when a major player wants to take a break or goes on vacation, the next person in the rotation can fill in with no problem. Good in theory, but hard to put into practice. Eventually we want a weekly rotation.

The bass player's son, in 6th or 7th grade, has been playing drums in school for a year or so and we are moving him into the drumming rotation. It was just me for about 6 months, so when this idea was discussed I readily agreed to mentor and coach him along.

It's nice for him because he is eager and wants to learn and he's like any beginner behind the kit - sticks to the pocket, doesn't fill a whole lot, straight careful drumming. Making some mistakes but (hopefully) learning from them. (Who here hasn't screwed up while playing live?)

So what better way for him to start learning the kit and playing live than in a very forgiving church environment where there are expeienced gigging musicians there to mentor and coach him along? I'm sure his parents would probably object to open mics or open jam sessions in bars. Ha!

Bringing him into the rotation is a win-win for everyone.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I will relate this to me being in Germany with Uncle Sam. I learned much more german in two years than I ever did french in a class room at school. I was using it and got much more feedback.


Silver Member
Some people never want to play in a band. They just want to play the instrument for their own enjoyment. I think you need to discuss with your students what their personal goals are. Maybe they don't want to play in a band. For those that do, I believe they should but for those who don't there's nothing wrong with studying an instrument for plain self enjoyment.


Platinum Member
I think there are people that are very afraid of playing in front of strangers, or maybe anyone.
Me, for one. My teacher is the nicest, most encouraging and helpful person you could ever hope to meet but sometimes i was so scared, I couldn't play anything other than rudiments in front of him. Mechanically and musically, I could have played with others after a year, but it took me three years to gain sufficient self-confidence. Now I don't mind playing in front of strangers - but I still find it difficult to play in front of people I know. I have a desperate fear of making them feel disappointed and ashamed.

Drummers Alliance

Senior Member
I discuss goals with all students, I have not had one that does not want to play live.Standing on your own two feet and learning from mistakes is a great skill for life.