I have been playing since the early 70’s and a lot of that time has been spent studying. A lot of that time was also mucking around. It took me a while to begin to get it together and realize that I did not know anything and I needed to study. I am so glad I finally figured that out, (with the help and encouragement of others). Today, now.. I would like to insprie or at least encourage others to find a teacher and to study about the drum.
In the last 40 years, between living, studying in cuba, brazil, west africa and after studying with Bolokada Conde and several other teachers for several years I was so filled with information that I thought i would not need another teacher this lifetime. There is so much info to go through! Still. I am way backed up. There is always more. And the great part is I documented so much of my classes I took. I hope you do as well.
I want to share that in my experience, having an active teacher on a regular basis can really pull you into the present moment and give you the challenge that you need right here and now. I know when i do my yoga at home and I do it in a class it is completely different. I do not push myself like in a class.
The class helps you to go further. But you still need to practice on your own as well. Both!
When I train in the gym with a trainer its completely different then when i do it by myself. Often practicing we are not really practicing, we are repeating what is comfortable to us. Many people do not realize this. But i do see friends that have been playing a while and not improving. When I tell them to practice more they say they do.
However, when I see what they are practicing, if they show me it is usually not what they need to be practicing. That is why they are not improving. It’s simple. You have to practice the right exercises and techniques. Teachers, the right teachers know how to show you these.
Often I see beginners trying to get advanced soloing techniques like roles or long phrases and they do not have basic accompaniment parts yet. Or, practicing but not focusing on their playing technique.
If you keep practicing hitting the drum wrong, it does not magically get better. This is why we have teachers. To show us and point us in the right direction. To push us and help us grow. Having a teacher is like having a trainer to push as as well. And the bottom line is the more you learn the more fun you have and the easier it becomes. Learning does =fun!
I am currently learning new material that i would have never come up with on my own in this lifetime. There is no possible way. This is one of the many gifts a teacher can give you if you are ope to them. They can show you things you would never come up with. I wish everyone could feel this on the inside. What it is like to learn something so uncomfortable and then make friends with it. To “own it” if you will.
I think if more people realized this, if the people who knew could share this, then the people who are so against learning, studying and growing on the drums would actually choose to learn. It is such a strong, comfortable, fun and magical feeling to “get it”. to get parts, to have it lock in. Sometimes when the pieces of a rhythm come together for me there is a feeling like completeing a puzzle, of a key in a lock turning and the door opens! And then the magic really happens.
To receive this fact, this information and music you do indeed need to be open, humble and surrender to the fact that indeed there is more outside of us that can be brought in, rather then the new age thinking that gets stuck on drumming that “you have it all inside”. Hey that might be true, maybe you do, maybe we do. But if so ya gotta get it out. And I have not seen it yet in an untrained drummer..ever..in over 40 years.
Finding a teacher can be a challenge in and of it self. It is a journey and it takes a commitment to find a great one especially if you do not live in an area where there are many or any living. If learning how to play well and correctly is your goal, then please consider these facts when planning your mission of learning.