This may come as somewhat of a shock. I have little desire (nor intent, for that matter) to teach anyone how to play drums. It’s true. What I really do want (and constantly strive) to teach my students is how they can teach themselves. How they can eventually grab ahold of a drum magazine, or piece of sheet music, and figure things out on their own- with no help from me. In addition, how they can grab ahold of their lives and determine the correct steps to take there, as well.
What? A drummer instructor doling out life coach advice? Well, I’m usually able to sneak it in without anyone noticing . . .
Like martial arts and other similar activities, studying an instrument produces a somewhat measurable outcome: you gain the ability to make music. But much, much more important are the other skills that are also developed through those studies, be they musical or athletic. Those benefits include (but are certainly not limited to) more mental focus, greater awareness and control of one’s body, increased creativity, better problem solving, self-discipline, self-expression and the security to overcome fear and take risks.
In individual and group lessons, we break musical passages into smaller, more manageable sections, isolate problem spots, and SLOWLY repeat them over-and-over again perfectly, until muscle-memory eventually sets in and our mind and body “memorize” them, virtually forever. My number one reason for guiding students through this process week-in and week-out is NOT to teach them some new, cool drum grooves. My reason is that I know that, by drilling that process into them (break apart, isolate, slow down, repetition, repetition), the process itself will eventually begin to infiltrate and influence other areas of his/her life. And that’s where the real value lies. Who among us wouldn’t benefit from becoming masters of that?
I believe that these benefits are some of the “other faces” of music, and really any serious endeavor. There’s the “oh, that sounds so nice” solely-aesthetic manifestation of putting in countless hours of practice and dedication. Then there are the things (such as the skills mentioned above) that can have an impact on nearly every other area of your life. THAT’S what I want to be passing on to the students that come through my studio.