When Do I Stop Lessons?

This post is aimed at clarifying (hopefully) this often asked question by students who have been learning the drums for some time, who seem to be going nowhere, and are contemplating of quitting lessons, but are not sure if they should do so?

Note: Although this post is aimed at the drumset student, it is also applicable to any other music student.

I have thought for some time about what I would do if I were in the shoes of such a student, and I came up with a list of questions I could ask myself, in order to derive at a conclusion, and hence a decision to either continue or cease lessons. I then explain some possible reasons. Please note that this list is not necessarily a complete one, but I hope it serves as a springboard for the other relevant questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Am I able to continue committing time for lessons?

Sometimes, a temporary or indefinite break from lessons may be needed. If so, let your teacher or the school you take lessons at know. Be sure to check the lesson termination policy with your school, or if you are a private student, directly with your teacher. This, in fact, should have been communicated to you before you embarked on lessons.

2. Am I struggling to find time to practise?

Oftentimes, our other commitments at work, school, and even our social and family lives pile on, and we have lesser and lesser time to practice. If this were to happen to me, it is only reasonable for me to stop lessons for awhile, so that I can hopefully free up some time to catch up with practising the material I worked on in past lessons. Of course, it is still your prerogative as a student. If you do not mind continuing lessons because you may enjoy the therapeutic benefit that comes with them, continue by all means. Who is to say you are wrong?

3. I have been taking lessons for awhile now, but I am still not sure if the drums are still for me as a musical instrument?

This could be due to a number of factors including, but not limited to, the following:

A. I am struggling with co-ordinating my limbs to play the instrument.

Yes, for some students, psycho-motor co-ordination on the instrument, can pose a big challenge. But as I have mentioned in my FAQ a couple of years back, this is precisely why you take drum lessons. I say it is important to have a teacher who is willing to go at YOUR pace, and break things down intelligently so you can manage it. Please speak to your teacher and ask him/her for help in this area if need be.

I may even be so bold to suggest that if your budget and time allows for it, do take some dance lessons – hip hop, swing, latin e.t.c. – and learn to loosen up your body in order to GROOVE…You may want to do dance lessons first, then take drum lessons later.

B.  The lessons are not very motivational or inspiring…

Ah….this one goes a number of ways. Either the problem lies with the teacher – who might be boring or unmotivated to teach – or the rapport between yourself and your teacher is not happening. Like in a counselling session, where if the relationship between the counsellor and the client fosters conditions for positive changes with the latter, so too does it apply to a teacher/student relationship.

It could also very well be that you are just not feeling a connection with the drumset, and that is fine. There is a likelihood that you may connect better with a stringed instrument or a brass instrument, or a woodwind instrument. At least, you gave the drums a shot, and you are the richer for it for having gone through the experience.

C. The lessons are ok, but I just do not like to practice on my own at home.

I had students like this many times. All teachers can relate to this. Some students may have the false impression from other sources that you can learn AND master a drumming technique or concept within the lesson itself. There is no need to follow it up with individual practice to further refine the technique or concept. This is obviously not true. If one aspires to play at the level of the Pros that he/she looks up to, then individual practice time is a non-negotiable element in the game of progress.

Some students just take drum lessons to take their mind off possible stressors in their lives. Hence, they see lessons as a form of therapy. As a teacher for many years, I have gotten better at asking the right questions to the student at the trial lesson, to clarify WHY he/she decided to give learning the drums a try. A competent teacher should be able to help draw out the answer from within yourself as to your motivation to learn drums in the first place. Then, it is up to you and your teacher to see if you can both come to a mutual agreement to either continue with the lessons or not.

Again, I emphasize, speak to someone about any concerns you have as soon as it affects you – your teacher (naturally), your parents, a friend (preferably someone who has the same background in the instrument you are learning), or even a counsellor. Doing so will help you clarify your thoughts and hence make an informed decision. Insight into why the lessons are not going the way you would like them to is very important to gain.

Sometimes, it could be a personal insecurity or fear that is hindering your progress with your learning. Perhaps you have a fear of making mistakes and being judged for it. You fear being scrutinized for every note you play on the instrument. You may feel that if you do not learn things as quickly as you would like to – perhaps you are comparing yourself to similar others you know – you are inferior to others. In such cases, do seek professional counselling as teacher or even the music school, may not be professionally equipped to help handle these deeper psychological issues.

With all this said, I assert that full insight into why you have arrived at a point where you are doubting your abilities to learn the drums and contemplating on quitting lessons will help you make a much more informed decision.

I hope this post sheds some much needed light on an issue that I find is not addressed enough in the music education field, but one that is every bit crucial.

 

 

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Manfred Mann and The Manfreds Live in Singapore, 24th March 2019

Manfred Mann SG

Happy 2019 to everyone here.

On 24th March 2019, I have the pleasure once again to be part of The Revival Band. This time, we will be collaborating with a local music veteran, Max Surin (Tokyo Square), and opening for legendary 60’s British music legend, Manfred Mann, and his band The Manfreds. The Manfreds also feature the original singer in Manfred’s hit-making 60’s group, Paul Jones.

Side note: Paul Jones was part of a band called The Blues Band, of whom my family owned a couple of their LPs. Great band too. Always loved their track, “Noah Lewis Blues.”

What an honour!

See venue, time, and ticketing details above for the concert! I hope to see some familiar faces at the gig!

Christmas Fiesta High Tea Dance 2018

Here’s a clip from the recent Christmas Fiesta High Tea Dance 2018 that I did as part of The Revival Band:

Video taken by a member of the MoCa Ukes Group (Ukelele group).

Special thanks to

The Revival Band – Martin, James, Ricky, and Peter

The Kallang Theatre Management for their warm hospiltality during rehearsals and the performance.

There is another big gig coming up with The Revival Band next year. Details to follow at an appropriate time.

Gig with Revival Band

Hello all,

Just a little announcement that I will be reuniting with the Revival Band to do a little concert performance at Kallang Theatre on 9th December 2018, 2pm to 5pm.

Also on the bill is local music veteran, Max Surin (of Tokyo Square), and the concert is hosted by another veteran of the local music scene, Jerry Fernandez of Jerry and the Neu Faces, who will also play the show.

Classic Rock n Roll music galore to be expected!

I will post a follow up with details of ticketing.

Cheers!

In Depth Review: Two Drumkits under USD 800.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbO1VW6juRw

This review by Drum Center of Portsmouth (US) is probably one of the best I have seen on YouTube comparing similarly priced drumkits of different makes.

Having owned two Tama kits in the past and currently a Ludwig, this review hit home for me.

I like the Ludwig sound better, which is why I decided to play Ludwig drums for life, but Tama is by no means a slouch in the quality and great sound departments. The Ludwigs, however, that certain “snap” that I do not hear in other brands. The response and sensitivity is so immediate with a Ludwig kit, even at the entry level.

Both kits reviewed go for under USD 800. Swee Lee music in Singapore carries these two brands – for those looking to upgrade from their entry level kits, or even for the uninitiated looking to invest in their first acoustic drumkit and are willing to fork out abit more cash for a kit that you will have no qualms about using it for live gigs.

The Gift of Drums..and Time…

Hi all,

This post will be brief.

It is because just a few minutes before I decided to author this post, I had an amazing realization that I have never ever fallen out of love with the drums despite having to juggle work, study, gigs, and some personal matters.

This is actually a time for me to do a complete overhaul assessment of myself, my personality, all of my actions, all of my words, all of my thoughts, and all of my beliefs, hence, the purpose of my going back to school to pursue a degree. It is a time of commencing the slow process of healing the few unresolved past hurts that have caused anger, sadness, and resentment. It is also a time to build a future where my potential expands and is fulfilled beyond what I originally thought I was capable of. That is…beyond music.

Despite having to take on a heavier load, I still have not stopped practising (albeit, it’s usually 30 minutes to 60 minutes these days, ALMOST daily), pushing myself as a performer, maintaining my professionalism, and listening to new music (the new Jazz stuff out there, and obscure British Jazz artists have been catching my ears lately). As a matter of fact, I was quite amazed at some of the stuff I am pulling off these days – whether it is a complex layered funk groove, a fast chop with fast single-pedal double strokes on the bass drum, or a certain Latin groove/feel for ballroom dancing.

I am also amazed at what discipline, organization of personal time, and deep focus can do for you. 24 hours is truly enough…more than enough, in fact.

I am seriously thinking of participating in some group yoga classes in December and seeing if it is really for me. If not, I will hit the road for long brisk walks and the gym for toning up. I am also progressively cutting down my carbohydrate intake in an uphill struggle to lose weight and get back to my army days shape. That dreaded mid-30’s paunch is bugging me immensely.  I recently looked at an old photo of me wearing the “No.1” ceremonial military uniform at the 2006 SAF Day parade and thought to myself, “No way, I look as good with my current shape in that uniform!” It was embarrassing, to say the least.

I look forward to providing more details of my progress (or lack thereof…) in the coming months. Hopefully I can share things like a better physique, better energy levels, a better mood..

 

 

 

 

 

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