Give the Student Something Positive to Remember About Drumming

brown_jim

SKF NOTE: Thinking the last few days about my boring first drum teacher. A nearby music store employee, I don’t remember his name, but he and I were sitting in a closet size room with a drum pad. “You need to buy this drum rudiment book. Here’s how to hold the drumsticks. Let’s start with the single stroke roll.” TapTapTapTap.

How disappointing. I was thinking, “I want to play drums, not drum pad. I was anticipating sitting at a drumset, not a square of hard rubber.” The teacher was bored and uninspiring. Okay, I was a 14-year old at his first drum lesson. Maybe I was that teacher’s tenth first drum lesson student that day. I understand. Everybody has bad days.

The real lesson for me that first day — which I realized only years later when I was teaching drums, or writing about drummers and drumming — is this: Bad days notwithstanding, when drummers are in any kind of teacher/student relationship, we should give the student something positive to remember about drumming.

I started to say, drummers in teacher/student relationships are obligated to give the student something positive to remember about drumming. That’s true for me. I don’t know if it’s true for all drummers.

Some of my greatest drum teachers were neither drummers, teachers, nor even musicians. But I found inspiration in at least one part of how they went about their life’s work. Something as simple as watching furniture designer, Jim Brown, penciling cut lines on a piece of oak destined to be a beautiful dining room table.

Jim’s career is designing and building wood furniture. He’s done this thousands of times, but with each pencil line Jim repeats one of his favorite reminders: “Measure twice. Cut once.”

Jim learned that, he tells me, from “an old carpenter.”

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