Playing with other musicians.

I just finished about an hours’ worth of piano practice, rehearsing 2 mandarin songs. Boy are these songs tough! The average tempo of the tunes are between 140-160bpm. I’m preparing these songs so that I can jam with my students on their next lesson.

Students come in often, requesting for songs that they would like to learn. So, what I usually do is, listen to the song, get it notated, present it to the student, and they play along with the song track. However, some student needs are slightly different. For instance, students would like to learn a particular song so that they can jam that particular song with a band, like in church. Now, this is where the learning gets a bit tricky, because now, instead of playing with a machine, the student has to play with other human beings. Let me elaborate.

When practicing with a track, the track is the leader, dictating the tempo, pulse, feel etc., and the student’s job is pretty simple: follow the track. When a student has to play with other people, the roles are reversed, now everyone follows the student, since he/she is the drummer. I find that a student plays very differently when playing with a track, compared to playing with another person/ a group of musicians; The student is now in charge of the whole dynamics of the performance (pulse, feel, volume, intensity) and this throws them off, and they are unable to play as well as they would like to.  Students can get too dependent on playing with song tracks.   

To all aspiring drummers, it is good to practice with tracks, take exams, put in the hours of drilling rudiments, but nothing beats constantly playing with other musicians. So, if you have the opportunity to jam/ perform, please don’t hesitate to participate! The benefits that you’ll reap from a single performance can surpass the value gained through countless hours of drum lessons and self-practice.  

~Teacher Joel~

~Private Drum Teacher from Pasir Ris, Elias Road, Singapore~

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