Gave My First Music Lesson

It started simply enough. I have been wanting 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 decent drummer and a decent 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 in fact very interested, but completely skeptical if he could actually 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 in addition extremely physically fit. He’s no slouch.

My approach was to sit Glenn down and spend a few minutes just discussing music in general and then to 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 though 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. Used a bit of my handy binder of carefully-organized practice material. Then it was Glenn’s turn. I talked about 2-way, 3-way and 4-way independence, and really emphasized that this was going to be like learning to ride a bicycle. He could immediately see that.

N.B.: I’m way out of practice. I motivated myself here!

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

Finally, we walked though some catalogs of drums, acoustic and electronic, as well as practice pads and practice pad kits. We walked over to the shelves I have laden with all of 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 would 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. I was a great way to get over the basics. A year later I got a good teacher and took regular lessons for a good few years.

So, after we spend 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?!


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 a completely different dynamic. Neither the teacher or the student are intimidated. We adults can be so weird!

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