How to Give Enlightened Drum Lessons

So many times I see drum instructors pushing the basics without an end goal. In nearly a decade of private drum instruction, I have begin to develop an “enlightened” methodology that I use in getting a student on the path toward success and efficient learning as a drummer and a musician. I try to pay more attention to genre and specialty of my students. There are four basic steps in my methodology, and they are listed as follows:

  1. Find your own personal voice as an artist/musician. What style of music attracts you the most? What artists/albums can you listen to on repeat? What genre of music and style of drumming are you most naturally drawn to. We will find an answer to these questions over a short period of just 2-4 weeks, so long as my instructions are followed. Listening to music is just as important as playing when it comes to being a musician.
  1. Study basic technique/rudiments/coordination and independence exercises to build endurance, fluency and facility on the instrument. This will allow the student’s voice to develop and grow.
  1. Practice 3-4 way coordination, by working through a series of books and exercises of my choice, focusing primarily on the “core” of the drum set: Bass drum, snare drum, and hi hat. This is my study of the “groove” element of the instrument; the portion of the art that is dedicated to the music, and not to the instrument itself. In this section, we will apply a series of “beats” and “grooves” to music of the students choice – learning how to flow with other musicians, listen, and have an overall awareness of song form and shape.
  1. This is the step where we apply our study of technicalities. This is where we study soloing, improvisation, and alertness as an improvising musician. This is the last step because it is applied in conjunction with all of the other steps, and cannot be achieved without at least a fundamental understanding and application of the previous steps. This is where the student learns how to express him/herself as an individual musician, but in an appropriate and tasteful fashion.

<strong>These steps are not really to be “completed” per say, but my guarantee is that if a student follows these steps, takes at least weekly lessons with me and follows my instructions as closely as possible, I will have them playing confidently with other musicians within a month. </strong>

A student’s own personal voice on the instrument must be allowed to develop, and his/her creative intuition must not be smothered. Playing an instrument is fun, and is an outlet for personal expression. As a teacher, I vow to treat it as such and to convey every ounce of my own passion to my students. In every lesson, I will do my very best to touch on technique, music reading, music listening, creativity and most importantly music playing.

Posted on April 27th, 2015 by Sam Ward.

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