How do you know when it’s time for a new drum teacher?

distantplanet

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I decided at 46 years young it was time to learn the drums, and I began in-person lessons with an instructor back in July of this year. I’m progressing through a couple of the usual beginner drummer books and I’m still enjoying it, although I find that I’m getting less and less “value” from my instructor. Don’t get me wrong— I still enjoy the instrument and I love playing everyday (practice and noodling around on the kit). There’s a part of me that feels like I’m reaching the plateau with my instructor, so I was wondering if this is a typical experience. At what point do you move on? What are the flags/signs?
 

Stickclick

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When you want a fresh perspective, a teacher with a different set of skills.
 

cruddola

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I decided at 46 years young it was time to learn the drums, and I began in-person lessons with an instructor back in July of this year. I’m progressing through a couple of the usual beginner drummer books and I’m still enjoying it, although I find that I’m getting less and less “value” from my instructor. Don’t get me wrong— I still enjoy the instrument and I love playing everyday (practice and noodling around on the kit). There’s a part of me that feels like I’m reaching the plateau with my instructor, so I was wondering if this is a typical experience. At what point do you move on? What are the flags/signs?
Have you consulted with your teacher about this? You should. I certainly would. Is there a direction you want to go from where you're at? There's always a great chance they can take you there. But you won't know unless you consult with your teacher.
 

toddbishop

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Give him a month before deciding. There can be slow patches where it seems like not a lot is happening. Or if you're not learning the stuff he's giving you-- it can be real slow if you're not keeping up your end.
 

JazzAcolyte

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If you started as a beginner, 4 months seems like a pretty short time to exhaust everything a qualified teacher has to offer. What do you mean when you say that you’re getting less and less value? Are there things you’d like to be doing like playing along to songs, learning different genres, or learning how to solo that your teacher might be able to help you with if you asked?
 

JimmySticks

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It happened to me.

My instructor was a great drummer, but he wasn't a true jazz guy, and I was beginning to see that and jazz was where I wanted to go. He actually moved and we tried virtual lessons for a bit, but I didn't like that and I just felt like his jazz well was running dry. I also felt I was getting "less value" and I decided it was time to move on.

Lessons are expensive and you really want to make sure you're getting your money's worth. IMHO, don't be afraid to pull the plug if you feel your not.
 

dcrigger

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Quick answer... probably around the time you start asking "How do you know when it’s time for a new drum teacher?" :)

Though I agree that you should probably talk to him about it - as you may have drifted out of sync - because of where you want to go, but also maybe, because you might not understand why he's having you do what he's having you do.

Or as others have said - it might just be time to move on.
 

distantplanet

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Thanks for your input so far.
Allow me to clarify something: It's been 2 months now where I've shown up for a lesson and what the teacher had to offer was nothing I couldn't get out of the books I've been using. I'm keeping up with the lessons and I'm learning a lot (mostly from following the books). When I ask about technique (like playing sixteenth note triplets), my teacher sits on the throne and plays a few bars and doesn't discuss how he approaches playing it. I actually got more "advice" from a Drumeo video; the video got me over the physical roadblock of playing the triplets consistently.
I do plan on talking to my instructor about this, but when I first started I told him that my goal is to be able to play with friends and family who play other instruments. After 6 months, we still haven't talked about learning a song.
 

Tornado

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Thanks for your input so far.
Allow me to clarify something: It's been 2 months now where I've shown up for a lesson and what the teacher had to offer was nothing I couldn't get out of the books I've been using. I'm keeping up with the lessons and I'm learning a lot (mostly from following the books). When I ask about technique (like playing sixteenth note triplets), my teacher sits on the throne and plays a few bars and doesn't discuss how he approaches playing it. I actually got more "advice" from a Drumeo video; the video got me over the physical roadblock of playing the triplets consistently.
I do plan on talking to my instructor about this, but when I first started I told him that my goal is to be able to play with friends and family who play other instruments. After 6 months, we still haven't talked about learning a song.

This sounds like the lessons aren't aligned with your goals.
 

JazzAcolyte

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When I ask about technique (like playing sixteenth note triplets), my teacher sits on the throne and plays a few bars and doesn't discuss how he approaches playing it.

I had a teacher like that in my teens. He would throw down a chart and say, “Make it swing!” without explaining how. And he spent a fair amount of time behind my kit during the lesson, which was fun to listen to but didn’t teach me much.

The much better teachers I’ve had as an adult break technique down so I know what I need to do. They also care about my goals and push me towards the goals they think I should have. After I’d been with one of them for 5 months he asked, “When are you going to start playing with people?” And when I said I didn’t know anyone to play with, he directed me to a local jazz jam, which has been an adventure.

So, yah, maybe time for a new teacher. :)
 

Loud

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It could be detrimental to stay with him. Your basic techniques could be faulty and if he isn’t good at explaining things, you could be practicing incorrectly. You could at least go to a free consultation session with another teacher and see where you are at and see how the other one approaches things.
 

Pat A Flafla

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Thanks for your input so far.
Allow me to clarify something: It's been 2 months now where I've shown up for a lesson and what the teacher had to offer was nothing I couldn't get out of the books I've been using. I'm keeping up with the lessons and I'm learning a lot (mostly from following the books). When I ask about technique (like playing sixteenth note triplets), my teacher sits on the throne and plays a few bars and doesn't discuss how he approaches playing it. I actually got more "advice" from a Drumeo video; the video got me over the physical roadblock of playing the triplets consistently.
I do plan on talking to my instructor about this, but when I first started I told him that my goal is to be able to play with friends and family who play other instruments. After 6 months, we still haven't talked about learning a song.
The most important thing is to find someone you want to play like, and the ask them really good questions if they don't do a good job of spoonfeeding the info at the right time. I took lessons from a supremely talented percussionist. Some others griped that he wasn't a good teacher, but being a good student allowed me to get the most out of our lessons. Granted, he was able to expain things--I just had to prompt effectively.
Stuff like:
"Could you watch my right hand here and diagnose the inaccuracy?"
"Your elbow is collapsing in."
Fixed.
"I'm hitting wrong notes on the descending white key pentatonic run in the Porgy & Bess excerpt. What do you think about when you're playing it?"
"My right hand is simply following the left/"
Fixed.
I suspect there were issues he thought were no-brainers that I had to ask about. Like it never occurred to him that information would need to be volunteered.

As for learning a song, that's the most important aspect of kit study, and I always try to get to that as soon as possible, even if it's something as simple as playing a 2-beat along with Love Me Do.
 

Cann_Man28

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I have found of my teachers by going to local shows and when I really like a drummer's playing, I ask them "do you teach?" Sometimes it's just one lesson, sometimes it's many. Because you are starting out, I think you should try to find someone who you really trust to get you off on the right foot. Sounds like you haven't found that.

Also, if you have some basic drum beats together, consider taking a few lessons with a bassist because you want to learn to play with others. At the lesson you two can play together. You could also invite a guitarist you want to learn to play with to those lessons and now you have a trio rehearsal with a pro on bass helping you out.
 

Tornado

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Also, if you have some basic drum beats together, consider taking a few lessons with a bassist because you want to learn to play with others. At the lesson you two can play together. You could also invite a guitarist you want to learn to play with to those lessons and now you have a trio rehearsal with a pro on bass helping you out.

This is really interesting. If someone had a lot of money, paying some good musicians to "rehearse" with you could really pay off musically. I once heard a tip from an engineer for drummers who want to gain studio experience. He said go make a record and pay session guys to play on it with you. That's money, but there are far more expensive ways to receive an education.
 

michaelocalypse

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I'd say talk to the guy, preferably with questions or inquiries into other things you want to learn. He may be struggling with what direction to go with your learning. If he's tapped out on things he can teach you, or just phoning it in, then try decreasing the frequency you take lessons with him and try other teachers to fill in the gaps. Maybe you'll find someone better for you at your current level, or maybe your teacher will be motivated to push you.

Or maybe the dude is going through some stuff and it's affecting his work. He might just need a little nudge to get back on track.
 

dyland

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This is really interesting. If someone had a lot of money, paying some good musicians to "rehearse" with you could really pay off musically. I once heard a tip from an engineer for drummers who want to gain studio experience. He said go make a record and pay session guys to play on it with you. That's money, but there are far more expensive ways to receive an education.

I run an adult band program at work where adults take lessons weekly, then meet with me on Tuesday nights for a rehearsal. Then we book them a gig with the other programs (we're part of a three school network) every few months. They get to learn from pros in their lesson, then play with pros in an actual setting. It's a good program.

Only problem is, one of the students is a drummer, so I have to play guitar... :puke:
 

Tornado

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I run an adult band program at work where adults take lessons weekly, then meet with me on Tuesday nights for a rehearsal. Then we book them a gig with the other programs (we're part of a three school network) every few months. They get to learn from pros in their lesson, then play with pros in an actual setting. It's a good program.

Only problem is, one of the students is a drummer, so I have to play guitar... :puke:

That's very cool.
 

distantplanet

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This is great advice — thanks, guys!
I’ll try to approach things a bit differently. I’ve been waiting for these Miyagi moments, but maybe I need to remind my instructor of my goals and continue to ask specific questions. There are weeks when I feel that I can work through the books myself because I get very little feedback.
 

Matched Gripper

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Thanks for your input so far.
Allow me to clarify something: It's been 2 months now where I've shown up for a lesson and what the teacher had to offer was nothing I couldn't get out of the books I've been using. I'm keeping up with the lessons and I'm learning a lot (mostly from following the books). When I ask about technique (like playing sixteenth note triplets), my teacher sits on the throne and plays a few bars and doesn't discuss how he approaches playing it. I actually got more "advice" from a Drumeo video; the video got me over the physical roadblock of playing the triplets consistently.
I do plan on talking to my instructor about this, but when I first started I told him that my goal is to be able to play with friends and family who play other instruments. After 6 months, we still haven't talked about learning a song.
There are great players who aren't great teachers. Not everyone is equally able to share their knowledge and skills with students. One thing you can do is tell him/her that you want to take a break from lessons, and then do some due diligence finding a more appropriate and/or qualified teacher.
 


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