Training for drum teachers

Teach drums? Or thinking about teaching drums?

Musicians often start giving lessons without training as teachers and without much idea of what they're doing - I know I did.

If you’re wondering...

-where do I start?

-why don’t my students practise?

-where can I find new material for my lessons?

-don’t I have to be brilliant at everything first?


...I may be able to help!

Over the years I've had several drum teachers get in touch, partly because they were looking to improve as players but it usually turned out that they were also fishing for ideas to use in their teaching. I don't blame them - I'm always on the lookout for more ideas myself.

For example, we could look at:

- the first lesson with a complete beginner

  1. -how to get people listening, and playing in time

  2. -‘scaffolding’ learning

  3. -how to introduce notation, and why

  4. -teaching by ear vs teaching by sight

  5. -making home-made charts

  6. -fun stuff for 7 year-olds

  7. -and much more...

I realised pretty early on that just because you can play doesn’t automatically mean you can teach! I would say part of the reason that teaching is so interesting is that no-one really knows how to do it - there’s no formula for success. People who come for music lessons are very different in terms of their background, abilities and ambitions, so the same approach simply doesn't work with everyone. As a teacher you're always thinking on your feet and - to some extent - making it up as you go along. The only way you get good at teaching (a bit like playing) is by actually doing it.

Having said that, getting training and advice from other more experienced teachers can really help. This is sometimes called ‘sharing best practice’, also known as ‘seeing a good idea and nicking it’. Wanting to improve my own lessons, I did a teacher training course with the Associated Board in 1999 (CT ABRSM). This was great for my teaching, but it also gave me a taste for studying. I went on to do a year's training in the Kodaly method of teaching singing (not exactly  about drumming but interesting and fun), plus I took an ATCL in music education. Then I went for the big one, and started a part-time PhD at Sheffield University about 'how popular musicians teach' - this involved reading approximately a million books about teaching and learning, plus interviewing and filming a bunch of teachers to see what they were doing (just me being nosy really). I finished it in in 2010, so now I am Dr. Tim. You can read it here (though be warned it’s very, very long!).

So I don’t mean to brag but I’ve ended up being highly qualified and have loads of experience. I can't pretend I have a 'complete teaching system' or whatever that will turn everyone into brilliant players, and personally I wouldn’t believe anyone who says they do. However, I have an approach which on the whole does actually work, and I've accumulated a hefty collection of teaching material, as well as some neat tricks up my sleeve.

If you could use some advice or just a chance to talk about what teaching is like, please do get in touch.