Teaching drums seems like tricky business, having only really dabbled in it myself. It’s one thing to go over things with your peers, to compare licks, or even to learn from a teacher (or a video) something reasonably within your skill level…
But I’m talking about teaching beginners. Not necessarily kids – at least for me, because I don’t have any experience in it – but largely novice drummers.
There’s something valuable in getting back in touch with those roots, though, that makes you reevaluate the importance of your first rudiments, your first fills, of gaining those first few glimpses at independence.
For the educators out there, I’m sure this is normal – in fact, part of the joy of the job – but for those of us who don’t teach very often, it’s pretty eye opening. It’s all too easy to forget how complex this whole drumming world is, that the terms are almost foreign language. The instrument itself is made of a mass of pieces, each with their own name and practical (or sometimes impractical) use.
I’m used to talking shop, but when you have to strip it down – just for the sake of conversation – it’s a stark reminder of just how much there is to know, how much I still don’t know…
By explaining when and how to use a floor tom, you have to ask yourself the same question. Breaking up a simple pattern to play slowly puts your own playing under a microscope.
This goes for everything about playing drums. If you have to lay out, in granular detail, how and why something is done, it’s also an opportunity to review and reflect on your own habits (good or bad).
It’s a reason to check out how clean your own single strokes are at 40 bpm, to see if you can really explain how dotted 8th notes work… At every turn, it’s a reason to look back at the ground you’ve already covered, and to build some road signs along the way for the person currently traveling that route.
Who knew there was so much to learn while teaching?
Even if you’re not trying to make a job out of it, the insights gained just from my first attempts are incredibly eye opening. Getting back to basics is a reminder of how important they really are.
So, get in touch with your novice self – teach someone, teach a friend, teach your bass player…
It’s great, and you’ll learn some lessons of your own in the process.