Lessons. Many of us have studied with private teachers, whether in school, or on our own. As drummers/percussionists, we may have studied drum set, marimba, timpani, etc. with another drummer/percussionist. Our lessons were probably filled with rudiments, scales, and rhythm. I’m all for that. I think studying can only help us to improve our musicianship. In fact, many professional/famous drummers continue to study with a teacher. Oftentimes this sort of older student/teacher relationship is more that of a mentor, or coach. But it is still studying to improve yourself.
Studying with a fellow drummer/percussionist is great and can really help us get our technique and all the little details nailed down, but it can also be a bit myopic. That’s where studying with someone who doesn’t play drums can really help us. All that drumming stuff we like to obsess over is great, but when you have to play in a band and react to what other instruments are doing, that stuff doesn’t matter as much. Do you think the bass player cares about your 5-stroke rolls? Probably not, unless you can’t play them in time.
Think about the other musicians you work with, how much does it really matter to you about all the little bits and pieces of what they do? Probably not much. What matters is that they are in tune, in time, and know the music.
It’s time to think outside of the percussion box.
Look for another instrumentalist who you can study with: guitar, sax, piano, anything else. The idea here is to not study the obvious rudiments and technical things, but to study the music. A big advantage is that we can get a totally different perspective from a non-drummer. They can often see thing we can’t because we always look through percussive eyes. Someone else can give us insights into how to play with other musicians, how to fit into a band situation, and most importantly, how to be more musical. Unless you strictly play alone at home, you have to be able to work with other musicians. All the drum technique in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t swing/groove or play in time with other people.
And this process doesn’t necessarily have to be weekly/monthly lessons. It can be more informal get togethers now and then, or even just discussing music, without even playing any instruments, with a more experienced musician. Not all the things we need to know are in music books or in the music itself. Having a mentor to help coach you can be invaluable.
Keep on learning!
Articles Origin: Taking Lessons From A Non-Drummer