Gave My First Music Lesson

It started simply enough. I have wanted to get back into a regular band, and (only partly) to that end, I have asked a few close friends, all non-musicians, if they would be interested in learning to play anything.

I’m a good drummer and singer, and I know enough guitar and keyboards to teach someone the basics. I was willing to start someone off with something.

After another declined, my friend Glenn was very interested but completely skeptical if he could learn. He and I are on the verge of turning 50 years old, and he said, “Isn’t it a little late for me?” and “I don’t know how to read music.” This is especially surprising in his case, as he is basically as young-at-heart as I am, and besides, extremely physically fit. He’s no slouch.

My approach was to sit Glenn down, spend a few minutes discussing music in general, and then walk through a song.

  • Roles of the musicians.
  • Rhythm, harmony, melody, lyrics.
  • Song form. Like a story, like a poem.
  • Basic drum notation; some standard notation.

Walking through a few mainstream rock songs and covering the ‘intro,’ ‘verse,’ ‘chorus,’ ‘bridge,’ etc., became a real eye-opener for him.

I gave him a live demo of me playing for quite some time, explaining everything as I went along. I used a bit of my handy binder of carefully organized practice material. Then, it was Glenn’s turn. I discussed 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way independence and emphasized that this would be like learning to ride a bicycle. He could immediately see that.

We discussed the importance of using a metronome (no matter what kind of musician you are!). I demoed several of my metronomes, the Korg TM-40 and the Boss DB-88.

Finally, we walked through some catalogs of drums, acoustic and electronic, practice pads, and practice pad kits. We walked over to the shelves I had laden with my music books, mentioning that “this is a lifelong activity.”

Quick stop – we went back to the basement for a quick demo of my V-Drums, where I mentioned that if it weren’t for them, I would never have been able to practice quietly. Hint. Hint. Hey, there are relatively cheap ones now!

I taught myself to play the drums using the “Ultimate Beginners Series” on VHS. It was a great way to get over the basics. A year later, I got a good teacher and took regular lessons for a few years.

So, after we spent about two hours, I had a box ready for Glenn with all of my “Ultimate” books, disks, and videos. On permanent loan…

Any similar teaching experiences? Who wants to be next?!

Aside: This is technically not the first music lesson I’ve given. I’ve been teaching my son Rocco music on and off for a few years now. Of course, it’s an entirely different dynamic. Neither the teacher nor the student is intimidated. We adults can be so weird!

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