The Compositional Drummer

The Compositional Drummer

Information for the career minded drummer and musician

Sometimes You just don't know

The Not So Helpful Help


When I was a much younger musician I often followed the advice of my peers. Some were better musically, a few had a deeper theoretic knowledge than I, of music which I suspected was the key to better musicianship (and going to music school confirmed that notion) .  During those years of wandering, wondering and struggling I learned something about myself that might help you. You've got to know what you want from music early on in your musical life and no one can decide that for you. Is it just a hobby? Do you want a career?  These assessments must be made by you, for you and you only. 


I've discovered that people you know, who might mean well… or not, are prone to giving blind, vague or less than helpful advice, sometimes disguised as being genuine.  What do I mean? Here's a story or two for you.  A young musician I know was impressed with an organist whom he heard practicing in the church he attended. He approached the organist with one question too many about how to get a particular sound from the instrument.  The organist,  immediately closed the top of the organ and reset all of the drawbars so that the younger musician had no opportunity to "copy" his settings. That's "less than helpful" and extremely selfish. Or how about another young musician whom when impressed by another more advanced musician being told "You just need to practice":-( not what to practice or how and why just… you need to practice.  ummm..."Empty advice". 


I was told by one of my mentors "A fool has himself for a teacher". Youtube might do it, but nothing beats sitting at the feet of a person gifted in the art of teaching music. Keyword here is "gifted".  Be familiar with your weaknesses. Embrace them and think of the long term progress you will make by taking just one step at a time.  Find an instructor and absorb as much information as possible. Be very specific and particular about the areas you are trying to improve in. I will repeat that again, BE VERY SPECIFIC AND PARTICULAR ABOUT THE AREAS YOU ARE TRYING TO IMPROVE IN! It will help you in the long run. 


One instructor I had once said  "Everything I teach you might or might not benefit you. Each student is different and the needs are unique from one to the next. It's up to you to eat the meat and spit out the bones."  Truer words were never spoken to me in life.   


In conclusion, inevitably "it is" up to you to devise a plan for your musical success. A plan that will afford you the best way to navigate that path in effort to attain your goals.  


I’ll leave you with this video of gifted music instructor Madame Nadia Boulanger. This woman has taught everyone from Quincy Jones & Leonard Bernstein to Aaron Copeland. She's proven that anyone can hand you a map... It is still up to you to drive the car to your destination.




Share your experiences with me in the comments below






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