Tommy Igoe - State of education

Dave_Major

Silver Member
Hey gangt, came across this last week and havent seen any threads on it.

Heres the video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q81ZHLHDrQ

Tommy discusses how we need to adapt and change as teachers and move past the classic way of teaching (snare books reading etc)

On his FB thread it started a discussion on burning every copy of Stick Control and Syncopation which I don't think was his point but another topic for discussion.

I agree to a certain degree with all he says. In my experience (from my early lessons) teaachers used a cookie cutter approach and taught me the same thing as the next guy. Used the same books, didn't use DVDs or videos and didn't really teach styles in any great depth.

Even in college we didn't really cover any specific styles. We just did a bit of this, learned this song, did a bit of this thing, moved onto the next thing.

What does everyone else think on this?

Look forward to hearing what you all think

D
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Hey gangt, came across this last week and havent seen any threads on it.

Heres the video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q81ZHLHDrQ

Tommy discusses how we need to adapt and change as teachers and move past the classic way of teaching (snare books reading etc)

On his FB thread it started a discussion on burning every copy of Stick Control and Syncopation which I don't think was his point but another topic for discussion.

I agree to a certain degree with all he says. In my experience (from my early lessons) teaachers used a cookie cutter approach and taught me the same thing as the next guy. Used the same books, didn't use DVDs or videos and didn't really teach styles in any great depth.

Even in college we didn't really cover any specific styles. We just did a bit of this, learned this song, did a bit of this thing, moved onto the next thing.

What does everyone else think on this?

Look forward to hearing what you all think

D
I enjoyed the video, and I've been thinking a lot about what Tommy is saying over the past few years, in fact. I'm from the same school as he was. He's a bit older than me but the approach was essentially the same. My experience with teaching has been similar to his: increasingly that method doesn't resonate with the students I see. I've slowly shifted over to more context-based stuff (including his Groove Essentials) and have made reading, etc. less a part of my routine with students.

I've been conceptualizing ways to use modern technology more in my practise and have implemented a few things like:

1. Using recording to give students immediate feedback on their playing. I record them performing grade pieces or songs, etc. and then we discuss what they hear - what was good, what was bad.

2. Using videos and online resources both to get them thinking about certain concepts but also getting them to start exploring the online drumming world on their own. My hope is that this will help fill some of the "inspiration gap" that can sometimes happen with a student. I cheerlead and try to get students as enthused about drumming as possible but there seems to be no better way than for them to go out and explore and see things for themselves which they then want to try out. If they discover something that gets them jazzed, we use that as fuel and go in that direction until they're spent on it.

3. Teaching them to use technology as a tool including everything from recording themselves, to generating click tracks or backing tracks using Garage Band, to using Audacity to slow down tracks so they can decipher what's happening and parrot it, etc.

4. In part because the students I teach don't even always have access to drums at home, etc. my teaching has already been geared toward using their lesson time as "guided practice time" like that used in the "flipped classroom" model though I'm nowhere near implementing anything quite like that yet.

The question of materials is a tough one. They still require good hands, coordination, etc. so they can deliver their ideas with control and clarity, but it's making that work relevant and interesting to students that are context-immersed that's the difficult part. I never used to be a big proponent of grades, but lately I'm relying on them more because at least there's musical context for the skills they're learning.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
saw this last week on his FB

and I agree with him completely

teaching from that old mold is just not affective anymore

I have a theory that is something like

if they don't learn from the way we teach then teach they way they learn

when I was a kid I hated drum lessons and every one of my students loves their lessons

to me that speaks volumes
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
Totally agree gents.

As you said Boomka it's all about making the material relevant to a kids or adults interest.

I use Tommys lifetime warmup for all students and it is great. I sell it to them as a piece of music that we learn a bar at a time. The results are great and students can really see the benefit.

Its so much better than the way I was told to practice rudiments. Heres a single stroke roll.....now go and practice!

I like the idea of getting kids into garageband etc. I am at home in a recording studio and using ProTools/Cubase etc. I might start to steer some students towards that as well.

D
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
I don't teach, but things like Garageband, cubase and other drum vst's etc I think can be valuable learning tools.

Quite often I've grabbed some sheet music and thrown it into one of the above programmes, just to hear what it sounds like before I tackle it with my actual limbs. Really enforces note values and what happens when you shift stuff around too.

I would also argue as an extention to that, being able to hear a piece of drumming and programming it into garageband is not far of transcribing written notation. There should certainly be a way of one re-enforcing the other there.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
People must be doing something right, because crushing young players are coming out of the woodwork right now. If they were suddenly becoming scarce, I guess we would need to figure out why we suck so bad, and radically overhaul our methods. But I'm seeing the opposite-- the type of player who would've been mediocre when I was in school, can sound pretty impressive today. And I don't know who are the "traditionalists" he speaks of, just blandly teaching default stuff. I don't know anyone like that. So I don't know what he's trying to fix.

Further: I suppose by 19th century he means 20th century, because I sure have never met anyone teaching drums in a 19th c. mode. He's being very emphatic, but I'm not hearing anything especially revolutionary. All he's saying about reading, if I'm hearing him right, is that average students don't need to be able to sight read hard conservatory literature like, say, Portraits In Rhythm, which is fine. He's not saying that people don't need to know to read, and if he is, he's wrong.

As for the part about recording, everyone should do it in the practice room, but recording at a professional level is as serious a discipline as playing the drums is, and not everyone is cut out for it. Like, the engineer who just recorded my new album tells me he's fully employed fixing or re-doing people's inept home studio recordings. I think anyone telling you that there is one way to be "the drummer of today" is just selling you on his particular teaching skill set; the one thing all drummers have in common today, is that there is no one way of doing it-- having a career.

It kind of looks like what he's doing here is advertising for private lessons, frankly-- not that he's likely to be hurting for students. And maybe he's trolling a little bit. Music is not flipping rocket science, and he has not blown in with the secret to warp drive, sweeping everyone else "squealing" (he keeps using that word) into the dustbin of history.
 
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groove1

Silver Member
I just loved the photos in the method books I had in the 50's, with the "really old guys" standing in front of a snare drum and holding there sticks in all kinds of positions and always
wearing suits. They all seemed like they were from a completely different time, and were.
Still, we persevered through the books, worked hard, had fun and learned to play. I'm all for
anything that works.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
One other thing, about being "relevant" to your students: this is totally backwards. You are the player, not your students (yet); what you do, and what is important to you, is relevant by definition. All most students have is a fantasy idea of being a drummer, some obsessions with gear, and with whatever drumming flavor of the moment is being marketed to them via the media. It is your job to teach them what a player is, and show them how to be one.

And this so-called flipped classroom thing is sort of interesting-- it never would've occurred to me to call it that, because I've never associated learning music with classrooms, like, at all. And again, it's not a revolutionary idea. We used to do that when I was starting out in a little white trash drum corps from Salem, Oregon. A large part of my lesson time is dedicated to things that I was left to figure out on my own-- like learning more effective ways than pure brute force to work through hard practice materials.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
Teachers other than Mr. Igoe must be doing something right, because crushing young players are coming out of the woodwork right now. If they were suddenly becoming scarce, I guess we would need to figure out why we suck so bad, and radically overhaul our methods. But I'm seeing the opposite-- the type of player who would've been mediocre when I was in school, can sound pretty impressive today. And I don't know who are the "traditionalists" he speaks of, just blandly teaching default stuff. I don't know anyone like that. So I don't know what he's trying to fix.

Further: I suppose by 19th century he means 20th century, because I sure have never met anyone teaching drums in a 19th c. mode. He's being very emphatic, but I'm not hearing anything especially revolutionary. All he's saying about reading, if I'm hearing him right, is that average students don't need to be able to sight read hard conservatory literature like, say, Portraits In Rhythm, which is fine. He's not saying that people don't need to know to read, and if he is, he's wrong.

As for the part about recording, everyone should do it in the practice room, but recording at a professional level is as serious a discipline as playing the drums is, and not everyone is cut out for it. Like, the engineer who just recorded my new album tells me he's fully employed fixing or re-doing people's inept home studio recordings. I think anyone telling you that there is one way to be "the drummer of today" is just selling you on his particular teaching skill set; the one thing all drummers have in common today, is that there is no one way of doing it-- having a career.

All he's doing here is advertising for private lessons, frankly. And maybe trolling a little bit. Music is not flipping rocket science, and he has not blown in with the secret to warp drive, sweeping everyone else "squealing" (he really likes that word) into the dustbin of history.
there are quite a few guys in my area teaching with an old rigid stiff musty strict sit on the pad for 2 years before you touch a drum kit type attitude ..... and they quite often shit talk me and my methods from what I hear from the parents of students who left them to come to me because the kid dreaded going to lessons because he is 9 and being forced to memorize a 3 page snare solo written in 1925 that he has absolutely zero interest in.

2 of these guys have even gone as for as to email me to tell me how "wrong" I am doing things and how I am going to "damage the advancement of these young percussionists "

I assume their dwindling rosters have them in a tizzy since about 40% of their former students are either now part of my roster or on my waiting list and comfortable staying their instead of returning to their past instructor.

the way I was taught in the beginning was horrible and much like the tactics that the guys I speak of.
so many of these teachers take a stance to where making music is somehow secondary .
it is absolutely first in my practice.

all the teachers that opened my mind and kept my attention to the point where I could not wait to see them again all had a music first attitude .

if you do not listen to music with your students and introduce them to a wide range of music.
if you do not move your body and dance with your students.
if you do not pick up or sit down at another instrument and play music with your students
if you do not record those jam sessions with your students and have them leave with an MP3 or CD of it to come back the following week with suggestions and critiques.
if you do not reach out to other teacher in the area and try to form bands made of your and their students and book some sunday afternoon gigs.
you are a cave man and are not going to get the results that the people who do these things get.

(when I say "you" I obviously don't mean you Todd...you know what I mean)

kids are different than they were when we were growing up and respond to different things.... and there are more options now.

I have 10, 11 and 12 year olds in bands gigging playing everything from jazz standards to top 40 with students of other instruments....sometimes I even sit in on guitar.... its a blast and they feel amazing about it.... and super proud

the kids are happy and learning like crazy along with getting life experience
I get amazing satisfaction seeing the smiles on their faces when they find out that they can play in front of people playing things they never thought they could.
and as a result... the parents make it rain

the circle of life
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
there are quite a few guys in my area teaching with an old rigid stiff musty strict sit on the pad for 2 years before you touch a drum kit type attitude ..... and they quite often shit talk me and my methods from what I hear from the parents of students who left them to come to me because the kid dreaded going to lessons because he is 9 and being forced to memorize a 3 page snare solo written in 1925 that he has absolutely zero interest in.
I assumed that paradigm was totally dead-- I guess I've lived in kind of a bubble. The few ultra-conservatives I've ever come across basically had nobody's respect. To me traditional = the modern methods of the 60's and 70's. Which everyone, including Igoe, is still using, because they work. And the good teachers I know are all thoughtful, creative people, who come up with their own adaptations, so it's not a dead, static thing, even if they are mostly using Stone and Reed.

all the teachers that opened my mind and kept my attention to the point where I could not wait to see them again all had a music first attitude .
Absolutely-- I was lucky that even my corps instructors were that way-- they were all Dowd and/or Cirone students. I don't know if it was that I couldn't wait to see them again, it was more that with them I felt I was involved in something important, that I wanted to work at and be a part of.
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
I was definately taught by a poor quality teacher. I had already been 'playing', teaching myself for maybe 4 or 5 years and sought out some lessons.

I admit I wasn't super excited that in order to learn to read I would have to go back to playing very simple stuff. But this guy and in fact the whole schools ethos was to have three students sat with a kit in three different rooms. You paid for an hours lesson, and in effect you were therefore promised 20 minutes one to one with the teacher (a poor start I think everyone will agree). In hindsight this sounds like a way to milk students of money and squeeze more people through the door every hour. But i didn't know that then. Oh and also often the room I got didn't have a proper drum stool, just a chair which was totally the wrong height for me.

I was given a line of music, we talked through it for about 5 minutes and then off he went into another room. 15 minutes later he comes back in and I find I've been playing the piece wrongly for 14 of those minutes and consquently learnt nothing.

I stuck this out for about 4 weeks, before deciding that I was wasting my money. I consequently thought all drum lessons would be like that and I didn't have any appetite for it, despite the fact that I was desperate to learn and advance. There were also valuable lessons I never learnt about options in the music industry, life lessons within music etc etc, all the extras that Tony talks about.

Fast forward to now some 20 years later and I'm sat with a practice pad desperately trying to unlearn all my bad habits and urging time to pass so I can find a proper teacher (I'm getting married and moving to the north of England in the next 6 months, otherwise I would do it now).

Not blowing my own trumpet, but I'm a pretty good drummer. I've always had compliments from well respected players how much they enjoyed playing with me, this includes pros, ex-pros and never pros. Which I take as a high form of praise as there is nothing better than a compliment from non drumming fellow musicians. However these early lessons and my subsequent stubborness I believe have had an impact in how I turned out.

Now I'm passionate about drums, I love the sound, the structure of them, the wood, the act of playing, music, everything, yet I semi slipped through the cracks. I'm not bitter, as maybe everything happens for a reason and you can't go back, but I often think what I could have become if I had been nurtered by a better teacher at the outset.

So how many others have slipped through the cracks? Its not quantifiable, and we will never know, but I know that these bad teachers are out there!
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
I assumed that paradigm was totally dead-- I guess I've lived in kind of a bubble. The few ultra-conservatives I've ever come across basically had nobody's respect. To me traditional = the modern methods of the 60's and 70's. Which everyone, including Igoe, is still using, because they work. And the good teachers I know are all thoughtful, creative people, who come up with their own adaptations, so it's not a dead, static thing, even if they are mostly using Stone and Reed.

I personally use Stone and Reed everyday

both in a very Alan Dawson fashion

those books are timeless when applied properly

this is a method of Stick Control that I use almost daily

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crZ8ALG3tm4&list=LLAvgPUOKuki46TTo17GtNDw
 

brady

Platinum Member
I personally use Stone and Reed everyday

both in a very Alan Dawson fashion

those books are timeless when applied properly

this is a method of Stick Control that I use almost daily

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crZ8ALG3tm4&list=LLAvgPUOKuki46TTo17GtNDw
How have I never seen that?!?! I picked up the Alan Dawson book a little while back but (obviously) haven't looked through all of it yet. I got John Riley's Jazz Drummer's Workshop about the same time... Man, what a great exercise. I'll have to incorporate that soon.

I was wondering what Tommy had cut out of his curriculum besides antiquated snare drum solos. I assumed it was perhaps Stick control on a pad only. I often wonder what sort of things we "waste our time" on when we could be making progress doing something else.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
How have I never seen that?!?! I picked up the Alan Dawson book a little while back but (obviously) haven't looked through all of it yet. I got John Riley's Jazz Drummer's Workshop about the same time... Man, what a great exercise. I'll have to incorporate that soon.
really realy great stuff Brady

such an extremely useful musical exercise
 

Dave_Major

Silver Member
Awesome exercise. That particular one makes a bit more sense now. I had been doing it a bit differently.

I love this book and it helped me really understand what to play in a jazz situation and also opened my mind to the way that syncopation and SC can be used to generate any number of exercises however it can be tricky for kids/students (im 27 and went through this book first time at 24/25) to get as 'jazzed' about it.

Is jazz and that method of teaching jazz relevant to most students - lots of whom won't be pros and maybe will never play any jazz in a band.

I like playing jazz and i like the things that jazz and the study of it has helped me. I also love the history behind it and the influence it has had on all our playing -even if we don't know it - but teaching it because it is good for you or because I did it so you must do it is tricky to justify.

Thoughts?

D
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
Awesome exercise. That particular one makes a bit more sense now. I had been doing it a bit differently.

I love this book and it helped me really understand what to play in a jazz situation and also opened my mind to the way that syncopation and SC can be used to generate any number of exercises however it can be tricky for kids/students (im 27 and went through this book first time at 24/25) to get as 'jazzed' about it.

Is jazz and that method of teaching jazz relevant to most students - lots of whom won't be pros and maybe will never play any jazz in a band.

I like playing jazz and i like the things that jazz and the study of it has helped me. I also love the history behind it and the influence it has had on all our playing -even if we don't know it - but teaching it because it is good for you or because I did it so you must do it is tricky to justify.

Thoughts?

D
I think anyone who sits down with one foot on a bass drum pedal and the other on a hi hat pedal owes it to themselves to understand why that is the case

and the answer is jazz music

a drummer who plays any style owes a certain amount of respect to the jazz players who revolutionized the instrument as we know it today

and there is a large amount of my students who think jazz is cool as hell ..... and they think so because they are introduced to it in an enthusiastic way and shown the right artists

I have 3 different students ages 12, 14, and 17 who each went on to seek out people either at school or putting out ads to start their own jazz trios and quartets.....thats how good it made them feel

I never force music upon a student.... I introduce them to it... if it doesn't tickle them...yet... then we move on to something else

but I have very rarely experienced resistance from a student after showing them Kind Of Blue, Study In Brown, Now He Sings Now He Sobs......more than not they say.... I want to do THAT !

even the kids in the As I Lay Dying and The Number 12 Looks Like You shirts
 

Stefan Brodsky

Senior Member
Tommy's correct. We're ALL much more visual these days, not the least of whom are the younger generations. I can't speak for everyone, but having gone thru a fair amount of "Stick Control" and Haskell Harr stuff, I can honestly say, that I seem to grasp much more from Tommy's "Groove Essentials" videos, which Drummerworld has been kind enough to make available, than by burying my nose in the aforementioned books, particularly as far as the drum set is concerned. I will likely purchase several of his videos. And given Tommy's experience with jazz and Broadway performances, he's very good at exposing younger drummers as well as those of us with a few crow's feet, to a wide variety of music applications on the set, which is essential in this day and age, if one truly wants to be a complete percussionist.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
AA: Yeah. All of those Dawson methods are just the natural, easiest (which is not to say they are easy), most functional, most musical way to approach the drums. You're working with a single rhythmic line, so you're thinking like a melodic instrument; and you're deriving from it a simple or complicated thing on the drums, which fits the line perfectly. Working that way just sorts out so many issues. And by now, it's a traditional method-- it's like 50+ years old.

Is jazz and that method of teaching jazz relevant to most students - lots of whom won't be pros and maybe will never play any jazz in a band.

I like playing jazz and i like the things that jazz and the study of it has helped me. I also love the history behind it and the influence it has had on all our playing -even if we don't know it - but teaching it because it is good for you or because I did it so you must do it is tricky to justify.
I only teach it to students who are in school, or to adult amateurs and semi-pros who are playing in swing bands, or to people who are exceptionally serious, who are going to be dedicating a lot of time to playing the drums. The reasons to do it are that so much of the music is made now is derived from it, as is much of the methodology of drumming-- like those Dawson methods. And everyone good has done it. The most rounded players, anyway. That's what it comes down to-- if you want to be a good drummer and musician, do what everyone good did, which I am showing you.

And I don't see what's wrong with "I did it" as a reason for teaching something-- assuming it actually worked for you when you did it. Things that worked for you are what you have to teach. You have to think stuff through, and have a reason for it, but I think it's a bad idea to be in the position of having to talk your students into trusting your information, of having to justify what you teach.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
AA: Yeah. All of those Dawson methods are just the natural, easiest (which is not to say they are easy), most functional, most musical way to approach the drums. You're working with a single rhythmic line, so you're thinking like a melodic instrument; and you're deriving from it a simple or complicated thing on the drums, which fits the line perfectly. Working that way just sorts out so many issues. And by now, it's a traditional method-- it's like 50+ years old.


.
perfectly stated

"You're working with a single rhythmic line, so you're thinking like a melodic instrument"

brilliant
 
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