Learning to play an instrument is like learning to speak. How you approach the process has a direct impact on your depth of understanding, clarity, strength of voice, how quickly you gain fluency, and the success with which you make yourself understood. Do you start with vocabulary? Rules of grammar? Phonics? Cultural immersion? In fact, all of us as toddlers begin the process the the same way: watch, listen and repeat. It is an extremely well tested method for which our brains are uniquely programmed.
As soon as we sound out our first words and start to punch them together into simple sentences we crave more, because we have more to say. Our desire to be better understood drives us to expand our vocabulary. We learn to read and write, and the speed with which we absorb information grows exponentially. Eventually we study the intricacies of grammar and syntax in order to deepen our understanding and refine our voice. Finally we are fluent and communicate effortlessly without thinking, letting our emotions guide us. This sequencing allows for a beautiful unfolding of ideas and fosters natural curiosity and creativity. At each step we experience the subject fully, gradually widening the horizon and deepening our experience.
So, technique, reading and writing, coordination and rudiments are only valuable insofar as it contributes to a drummer’s ability to communicate. Lessons are designed to address the various physical challenges of drumming, with the goal of nurturing a fluent and artistic voice on the instrument. This allows the world of music and rhythm to unfold in the most compelling way.
A lesson can be organized in a number of ways, and much of what happens depends upon you. My only agenda is to create a comfortable environment for learning and to help manifest your musical aims. The atmosphere in my studio is casual and relaxed. I believe this is the most useful way to approach any type of creative learning. Although there are an endless number of possibilities to explore, by approaching the complexity of drum set performance with simplicity and ease many of the most frustrating obstacles to mastery fall away.