Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lessons are a whole different thing

Metaphor for complexity.
It's easy to wonder if drummers online are giving away the away the entire store with all of the free video lessons, blog posts and whatnot. With such a massive volume of free information available, what do students need teachers for?

Plenty, actually. Ignoring the fact that most free video "lessons" frankly suck (and that most blog posts are golden), learning even a straightforward written exercise is a complex process of coordination, technique, reading, comprehension of rhythm, touch, general physical posture, dynamics, and tone production, for starters. Most students are aware that those are words, but do not know how to implement them and balance them with each other in practice. In helping a student find an entry into some materials, there is a lot of:

"Do this-- no, not that, this-- no, this-- not quite, fix this one thing... good, almost... take a second and work that out, but pay attention to this, not this... wait, there's something you're doing that's very subtly wrong, let's fix that-- good, now you understand it well enough to practice it on your own." 

That's when things are going well; often you can throw into the mix some:

"OK, this isn't working, let's take it slower--- no, slower--- no, slower. Right, you need to take this slower. Good, it's still not happening. Let's break this town a little bit-- that's not working-- try it this way instead... still no good-- try just this piece of it. Great, add one more note..."

Beyond that, there is the matter of placing the practice item in context: How and how much does should he practice it? What more can he do with it? How does it connect to other things? How does he integrate it into his playing? How is it going to turn up in real-world drumming?

It can take considerable knowledge and ingenuity, instantly accessible. Most self-teachers can't cope with the multiple levels of real-world uncertainty in the process. And no written item or video, no matter how detailed, can address all of things that come up. Even if it could, the student would have to be able to digest it, and accurately self-monitor all of this stuff. Both of which are highly dubious prospects.

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