How to be an Effective Drum Teacher
Close your eyes, relax, and think back to the time when your interest in drums was first sparked. You wanted to learn, to take in everything, and start playing like Travis Barker in 3 days. I donít know how many of you actually had any formal drum training but itís something that is definitely important and can help beginning and intermediate drummers start off on the right foot. With the right mindset and the proper skills and agenda, any advanced drummer can start to teach the drums and really embrace their past Ė by teaching an eager and excited drummer. Heck, everyone was there at some point in their careers. So letís dive in. Here are some effective guidelines and tips for being a good drum teacher.
1. Assume nothing.
When teaching an absolute beginning drummer, itís important to really put yourself in their shoes and assume that they donít know anything about drums. You may think that itís obvious how to hold a drumstick after 10 years of playing, but to this newbie, it may seem like something completely foreign. So donít assume that they know anything and teach them the very basics. If they already know, then fine. If anything itíll boost their confidence. But if you go too fast and assume that they know something when they donít, it can prematurely burst their little drum bubble and discourage them. Thatís not what you want to do as a drum teacher.
2. Start off with the basics.
Teach your student the very basic of drums, including how to hold a stick (both matched and traditional), the names of the different drums and equipment, the basics of drum heads and tuning, and some drum history. These are good things to know before going into actually playing the instrument.
3. Stress the rudiments.
Make sure you tell your student the importance on the different rudiments in drumming. Give them some solid examples of advanced grooves and fills they could eventually play if they mastered their rudiments. Of course this would mean that youíd have to be proficient as well. Start off with some rudimentary exercises on the snare drum with single strokes, double strokes, and paradiddles. This is never fun to start off with, but itís definitely necessary. Have your student practice this every day.
4. Use a metronome.
Keeping good time is crucial for every drummer. Developing a good habit of using a metronome from the start will help your student to be steady from the get go.
5. Donít be so biased.
As a drum instructor, youíre entitled to your own ideas and beliefs as a drummer. However, donít push these onto your students. Instead, tell them how you feel about something but give them all the options so that they can try things for themselves and form their own drumming style and opinion. For example, if youíre a fervent believer of playing the bass pedal heel down, then let your student know. However, also tell him or her that other drummers play heel up for more power and that he or she should try it to see which they prefer. Every drummer is different so make sure you cater to their needs.
6. Donít just teach drums, teach music.
Too many times, drum instructors teach their students drumming technique and exercises but never how to apply the things they learn into music. I think that this is crucial for every drum teacher. Take a break from the drum exercises once in a while and play along to a song with your student using some of the techniques and drum theory you are covering.
7. Reading music is important too.
Speaking of music, teach your student how to sight read sheet music. This is an invaluable skill and will also help the student pick up things more easily later on.
8. Choose the right environment.
Choose an environment that is great for learning. You donít want to be distracted by anything in the middle of a lesson. At the same time you donít want to be teaching in a dungeon so choose your lesson place wisely. Usually a basement or a practice room works fine.
9. Be strict, yet encouraging.
Know your student and show that you care about his or her drumming development. Plan an agenda that will be challenging and fits what the student is trying to do. If the student is interested in becoming a rock drummer, teach him or her basic rock beats and venture out into jazz as well to expand skills and versatility. Ultimately, youíre working for your students.
10. Give examples, but donít showboat
Your students arenít there to see you put on some kind of show. Give a demonstration when needed but never do anything excessive. This may discourage the student. Instead, break things down slowly and give praise to the student when he or she is making good progress.
So those are just some pointers on being a drum instructor and giving effective drum lessons. Itís nothing to take lightly. You are in fact training the next generation of drummers.