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.

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?!

ADIDE: 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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