Being a drummer, percussionist or rhythmic artist has a lot of perks. You get to have the entire spotlight on your talent, be seen as the center of the band or the raging force in the drumming community. You are the greatest thing since music was first heard and your skills on that djembe, the congas or behind the drum set are unparalleled. Then, someone comes along and asks you to teach them how to be just like you.
What do you do?
If your first answer was something like, “no way you’re going to steal my mojo, son,” then you probably don’t want to be a drum teacher… or a teacher of any kind, really. But, if the idea of imparting your percussive wisdom into the minds and bodies of others seems to strike a chord (or, well, crash a cymbal) in your mind, then, maybe you should start teaching drums.
If you are well-versed in the instrument you play, and can explain how you do what you do to others, teaching drums could be your next adventure. Most music teachers, whether in a school setting or former member of a band have experience with their instrument of choice, of course, and there aren’t a lot of musicians who have only experienced one type of instrument. Having a vast range of knowledge to choose from can only enhance your own ability to teach. Plus, if you can clearly explain all of that to someone else, you’re on the right path to teaching.
A person who asks to learn from you deserves your respect. That respect comes in a lot of different ways, from your attitude while teaching to your support of their accomplishments (that could overshadow your own). You should also keep in mind that your ability to communicate and explain concepts in drumming and rhythm are part of respecting your student. Also, the more you respect them, the more respect you’ll get in return.
Learning to share is important… for the teacher (and the student). There are times when we are all a little greedy with our drums, percussion instruments, sticks or mallets. Teaching shouldn’t be one of those times, unless you have supplies for your student or they have brought their own. In your position as a teacher, you might want to accept that a student is going to want to see, touch and play what you see, touch and play. Sharing is caring, and maybe your student will share something you’ll be just as excited about.
Teaching can be, and is, a learning process. You may have more experience, years and instruments than your student, but, you need to be ready to learn, too. Drumming and rhythm are both creative activities that help forge bonds between people, including teachers and students. This relationship not only allows information to flow from a more experienced musician to the student, but, the student’s accomplishments, questions and reactions can help the teacher learn about teaching and so much more.
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. There are thousands of people who try teaching drums only to discover that they’re just not teachers. Just like there are students who discover they’re not drummers. There’s no harm in putting away your teacher’s credentials for other ways to express your rhythm, and in the end, if we’re all drumming, we all win.
Effectively teaching another person how to play the drums or any other instrument is more than having experience or an education in music. A drumming teacher is the intersection of the heart of a drummer, and that of a teacher. When the two collide in harmony, there’s a whole new generation of rhythm to be shared, encouraged and given to the rest of the world.