THOUGHTS ON SELF-LEARNING DRUMS

NickSchles

Junior Member
So, I’m a drum teacher, and have been teaching for many years. Similarly, I believe in the value of education, and take lessons regularly, and do self study.

That said some people choose to go full solo in their learning... Are you one of those people? If so, I wrote a blog you might be interested in with tips for successful self-learning!


If you’re a drum teacher or a drum student, I’d love to get your take on this, and if you have thoughts on the blog post, I’d love to read ‘em!
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Being self taught only gets you so far, I was self taught. It's the best way to get into drumming though and by far the most fun.

A lot depends on the individual and how driven they are to become a better drummer (which is a never ending journey). The biggest bit is practice, if a student wont put the hard yards in then it's pointless them having lessons.

The best teachers are the ones who steer you in the right direction and set you up with the tools to play for life. Much easier to buy into that. I feel there are a lot of teachers that focus on what to play and not how to play.

The biggest problem for any drum teacher now is youtube because nobody is ever wrong on the internet and it's free of charge.
 
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Al Strange

Well-known member
Nice work @NickSchles ... I had the privilege of studying with a great teacher for 3 years...he changed my life. That was 30 years ago, but I’m still working on his concepts and ideas to this day! If you can find a great teacher you’ll see a quantum leap in your playing. I appreciate that not everyone has access to a teacher or can afford private lessons. YT channels like Drumeo, Rob Brown, @Rob Hirons and @BenOBrienSmith (Sounds like a drum) are really helpful for self taught players IMO. :) (y)
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I’m self-taught. I simply didn’t have the resources to take lessons when I was younger. It wasn’t even a choice. The cool thing was all of my drummer friends didn’t take lessons either, so we were all just winging it together learning from each other by listening to music we loved and helping each other out.
 

Old PIT Guy

Well-known member
A good thing about being self-taught from the get-go is avoiding the high odds of a teacher with a rigid, dogmatic approach to instruction and how that could make your early years not so much fun. The worst thing about it is figuring out many years later you should've at least laid a foundation for teaching yourself. The good news is you can do that at any time, and should if you're not getting it done on your own.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
I found drums on my own, and taught myself many things. But I started at age 12. So I had the opportunity to join the band in school. And, marching band, where I really started to learn good techniques. I became a very good drummer. But I always struggled with certain things because I never took
a lesson (or I am just not physically gifted enough in that way). Like the left foot (Al will remember me mentioning Still having arguments with my left foot). :rolleyes: Some problems with the left hand as well. Never had really strong doubles. Now. . .now I deal with arthritis in my hands. So I just don't put a lot of time into practice. I've basically accepted that I may have reached my limitations. But, I am seriously considering lessons. When things feel a lot more normal from everything going on. Maybe finding a teacher will motivate me to push through some of the pain I deal with.

To Mr. Schlesinger, I would have Loved having the option of recording myself practicing and then being able to go back and critique and listen. Using a tape recorder and that crappy mic that comes with (we're talking 1984 when I was practicing like a nut) it, just didn't seem fun. I never really considered recording myself. Much different time and tech today.
 

beet

Well-known member
I think the issue for private teachers today (when teaching adults, not children) is that they are not problem-solving oriented and often too easy on the students. They don’t offer much more than video-based teaching.

A good teacher sees weaknesses and essentially forces the student to work on the hard and boring stuff. When a student thinks they are good but they are not, the teacher works to fix the issue. That is not fun for anyone but that is what a good teacher will do. ( Some are better at communicating the issue to the individual student than others). If teachers are not moving students to eventually be excellent in each important area, the student might as well learn from Drumeo.

I think motivation comes from the student. The teacher can help create the motivation by clearly showing the problem, how to solve it, demonstrate what the results will be when the problem is solved and discuss how maintaining bad habits and techniques will hurt their future playing.

edit: I think most teachers are from the dark ages. IMO, every beginning drum kit student should have a double bass drum pedal and should train feet like they do hands. Make using feet as natural as using hands.
 
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J-W

Well-known member
Excellent work on the blog, and some very good advice.
I initially took lessons, but went out on my own fairly quickly. My instructor was a very closed-minded jazz-hole, and didn't consider any thing other than jazz as legitimate music. As Old PIT Guy said, it took the fun right out of it. However, it gave me the drive to better myself at the style I wanted to play. I've used very little of what he taught me throughout my "unsuccessful professional" career as a drummer. I learned far more on tour with an outstanding player than I did in any lessons I had. But the biggest lesson I learned from him and that tour was learning what the music business is really all about. That lesson saved my life, and for that, I'll forever be grateful.
 
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River19

Senior Member
There are so many additional resources available to people today compared to when I started playing (45 years old now...started in 1984). Back when I started playing in 4th grade, the only real way of learning in an efficient way was in person with a teacher. Today the amount of outstanding educational YT content can certainly play a major role in a students education either as a primary or supplemental resource.

I took formal lessons for ~8years and by then was playing in bands regularly and then gigged heavily through college and throughout my 30s, that experience was the next chapter in my "education". During that time, I would have loved to have had the video resources that are out there today like Drumeo etc. Watching someone play a style or song etc. is exponentially more effective than having to decode it purely by listening alone.

Today's drum educators/teachers clearly need to be as much an "advisor" as a classic teacher to help the student build a well rounded educational plan consisting of the classic "hands on" 1:1 learning as well as incorporating the outside supplemental resources to enhance and support the learning plan and roadmap.

I honestly feel that with today's resources I could have ramped up to my current playing level in ~50% of the time.......
 

someguy01

Well-known member
I started back to the kit last year after a very long time away and YT advanced my playing more than anything I did in the past. I did take a few lessons this year with a private teacher and it reinforced that I was on the right track having been self taught from day 1.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
A common conversation with a student:

Me: "Did you get to work on that exercise/song/routine we talked about in our last lesson this week?"

Student: "So I was watching this YouTube video..."

I think the issue for private teachers today (when teaching adults, not children) is that they are not problem-solving oriented and often too easy on the students. They don’t offer much more than video-based teaching.

A good teacher sees weaknesses and essentially forces the student to work on the hard and boring stuff. When a student thinks they are good but they are not, the teacher works to fix the issue. That is not fun for anyone but that is what a good teacher will do. ( Some are better at communicating the issue to the individual student than others). If teachers are not moving students to eventually be excellent in each important area, the student might as well learn from Drumeo.

I think motivation comes from the student. The teacher can help create the motivation by clearly showing the problem, how to solve it, demonstrate what the results will be when the problem is solved and discuss how maintaining bad habits and techniques will hurt their future playing.

edit: I think most teachers are from the dark ages. IMO, every beginning drum kit student should have a double bass drum pedal and should train feet like they do hands. Make using feet as natural as using hands.

Ouch! There's a lot here that seems a bit unfair. But as a kid, I did have a pretty lame teacher at first. Other teachers were fantastic, though.

My lesson room has two (acoustic, not electronic) kits, and they both have double pedals. Just having the pedals there, I tend to teach double bass pretty often, since the students ask about it due to the pedals being present in the room. But the reason most students don't own double pedals is that they're not that into metal, or they can't afford it, or their parents see it as frivolous. It's not the teachers.

When teaching adult students, one approach that has worked well is to have them play something they like, and rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Then I'll play the same thing, and have them rate my performance. Finally, I'll ask them to articulate what exactly makes me playing it sound better. That usually opens to the door to some good discussion about what and how to practice. But I'm not telling the student what to play, what to like, or what their goal should be. It's 100% student-directed. And everyone knows that Drumeo can't teach like this, because a video cannot know in advance why the student struggles to play a piece, tailor a response.

Online videos do have value. I use them quite often, but only as a supplement to lessons I'm already teaching.

Improvement *is* fun. When a student has some success, they become more motivated to keep going. It's not an entertainment type of fun, like video games. It's maybe as much fun as, say, checkers. Accomplishments bring joy. I can't tell you how many times, when something finally clicks for a student, how their faces light up in a smile. It's fun, getting better at something.
 

River19

Senior Member
@brentcn I think that is a very fair perspective and sounds like what I was trying to articulate above. Depending on the student, (and everyone learns differently and is motivated in different ways), a solid lesson plan from live teacher 1:1 supplemented with the new media material feels like a great combo.
 

Nictarine

Silver Member
I learned proper technique and rudiments in high school drumline but I'm self-taught on the kit. I grew up in the age before the internet and didn't know of a local teacher, I spent a lot of time in my room with my AIWA stereo blasting Green Day and Rage Against the Machine CDs and learning how to play that way, I eventually found a friend that played guitar and that's when my progress really skyrocketed.

I teach lessons now and I think since I never took lessons I have a different approach than some instructors, I focus my attention on fixing my student's weaknesses and make them all around better players, I also get them prepared to play with other musicians and I'll play guitar or bass and jam along with them.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
You can't become a musician by just completing lesson assignments-- people have to have a musical life outside of lessons, and teach themselves to some extent. Most learning happens when you're actually doing the thing, playing with people.

This, this and a side helping of this!

The most important thing any musician can do is a grounding/cutting your teeth on stage. It's a Doctorate from the school of hard knocks!
 

NackAttack

Well-known member
When teaching adult students, one approach that has worked well is to have them play something they like, and rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Then I'll play the same thing, and have them rate my performance. Finally, I'll ask them to articulate what exactly makes me playing it sound better. That usually opens to the door to some good discussion about what and how to practice. But I'm not telling the student what to play, what to like, or what their goal should be. It's 100% student-directed.

Improvement *is* fun. When a student has some success, they become more motivated to keep going. It's not an entertainment type of fun, like video games. It's maybe as much fun as, say, checkers. Accomplishments bring joy. I can't tell you how many times, when something finally clicks for a student, how their faces light up in a smile. It's fun, getting better at something.

These are approaches/views of a good teacher (in general, not just drumming). I applaud you for your work sir!
 

NackAttack

Well-known member
...if you have thoughts on the blog post, I’d love to read ‘em!
I thought it was a great post. I felt you made a great case without disparaging pre-recorded lessons. I think correcting bad habits is the best part of having live feedback and you touched on that. Looked good!
 
I think most teachers are from the dark ages. IMO, every beginning drum kit student should have a double bass drum pedal and should train feet like they do hands. Make using feet as natural as using hands.
I don't teach but I don't think it would have motivated me to spend equal amounts of time on hands and feet as I was never into double bass drumming - working with the hi hat always seemed more interesting to me and getting quarter notes, 2 and 4 and good open / half-open hi hat sounds on different counts was enough for most things in the beginning. Finding out what the student enjoys most and working towards improving playing that music while incorporating some other things along the way seems more rewarding to me. Everyone's different of course.
I also get them prepared to play with other musicians and I'll play guitar or bass and jam along with them.
Excellent - one of my teachers regularly played piano and this taught me lots of things - tempo, dynamics and most of all that it's a lot of fun to play with other musicians.
 

wraub

Well-known member
Question-
I've been sort of practicing playing drums for many years on pads and other surfaces, and have really enjoyed the last year actually having a drum set.
I have decades of experience playing with drummers, so know what I like, but not sure that informs this decision.

As an adult who knows a little but knows they don't know much more, how to choose a teacher? What to look for- Accreditation? Experience? Recording credits? Something else?
 
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