Being a teacher is a mindset, not a skill set.
The skill in teaching lies not in the craft the teacher has developed but more in the mindset and outlook on how they are trying to teach. Now, this isn’t to say that any individual can teach any subject, I couldn’t teach you how to become a chess champion or how to be a brain surgeon. What I mean by this is I have an intention when I’m teaching. That intention is not only to relay information but to also give the understanding and the skills needed to master playing the drum kit. Again this does not mean I am trying to say I am a master on the drums nor am I a master teacher. What I am saying is that I believe in creating a drive in students, a thirst for knowledge, and some basic building blocks to move forward as a drummer.
At this point I’d like to make you aware that I believe we are always a student and should always behave and act as if we are in the early stages of learning. This idea comes from Martial arts. In karate achieving a black belt is not necessarily seen as the highest achievement one can reach but rather the beginning of the next stage in a students learning process. I love this analogy as often I struggle with what to study or practise next and to a certain extent, it almost doesn’t matter. This is because all knowledge is useful. Some more than others of course and topics should be studied in context or be relevant to a given situation.
This is especially important in music as there are often grey areas and/or exceptions to rules.
When we were learning basic human behaviours like walking or talking, we would be more than happy, even elated at small improvements. The joy on a toddler’s face as they take their first few steps is one of pure happiness. They are not concerned that they can’t run yet or haven’t achieved the highest honours, it’s just enough that they are getting from A to B. If we adopt this attitude with drumming, then we retain the pleasure and innocence in just playing and making small steps at a time. The keyword here is PLAY! Moving from A to B, B to C and so on, starts to feel enriching and can bring a great sense of achievement and contentment. Trying to get from A to Z too quickly can leave us feeling inadequate and drain our valuable practise energy.
I know for myself, working in small chunks can also really help with some of my anxieties about ‘not being or doing enough’ as when I look back at the day, week or month I can see a clear improvement. Big or small, it’s there. Using a practise diary is a crucial element in seeing improvement over time. I will do a separate post with my suggestions on how to make, use and keep a good practise diary. One of the biggest lessons I took from attending drum school was how to practise properly. I have adapted and improved on this over the years but the foundation was laid firmly and I am truly grateful for the teachers I had showing me the way. One of these was Darryn Farrugia. I have been studying with Darryn again recently via Skype and I am starting to feel the fire burn as it did all those years ago! I’ve left a link to his youtube channel so you can check out his lessons for your self.
If you’re a more advanced player, I’m sure you can remember a time when you would hammer out your favourite songs or pieces of music without a care in the world. I know I certainly do! My first drum room was an empty barn in rural New South Wales, Australia. I could play as often, as long and as loud as I’d like as, let’s just say, there weren’t many people close enough to annoy when my neighbour’s driveway was a couple of 100 meters down the road. Man, these memories are sacred to me and they will never be forgotten. Pure innocence, even naivety but mostly utter, utter joy!
With all this, what I’m trying to say is that I believe we should fall in love with the drums first and foremost. There’s no way I would have traipsed all the way up to that big barn had I not loved what I was going to do. Not to mention the spiders that were in there!!!!! Even now, with crazy tour schedules and long, long, long drives a huge part of me still continues to play because I love it!
Here’s to many more years of loving playing the drums!!!!!
I hope I touched on some topics that resonated with you and feel free to respond with any thoughts or ideas you may have or if you’d just like to continue the conversation further.
Al Darryn Farrugia – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX8QuB9vhtFUjkLQT44HMQA