As drummers, we should always be learning. Knowing what type of student you are will help you determine which areas to focus on, where you’re weak, and where you’re strong.
There are at least five types of drum students, and there are always exceptions to the rules. None of these types are better than the others; we’re all unique and have our own ways of learning and doing things. But having self awareness about how you learn the best and where you want to go with your drumming can give you a lot of clarity in what you choose as your next steps.
What type of drum student are you? Do you fit in one category or are you a combination of a few of these?
Strengths: Good at planning, disciplined, prefers things you can measure. Strong teachers, good at taking the process of learning something and figuring out the steps to get to the end result.
Struggles: Improvisation, musicality.
What to do next: If you’re a Technician, try and focus on taking the techniques you’ve learned and try to find ways to use it without thinking about it. Many Technicians might play a groove, then go to play a fill and want to use finger technique (which might be too forced and not sound musical). Once you learn the vocabulary, you should be able to play it on the drum set without thinking about it. If you’re talking, you aren’t thinking about the spelling or order of words, right? Try to get there on drums.
Strengths: Improvisation, musicality, playing what you hear.
Struggles: Theory, planning, sometimes technique.
What to do next: As a Naturally Talented student, you likely grew up with a musical upbringing, exposed to music or drums at a young age. As a creative player, you might not have practiced in a measurable way like a Technician. Many naturally talented teachers are great at storytelling, but when they’re teaching someone how to develop a rudiment and use it on the kit in a musical setting, you might not think as much about the steps to getting there. Adding theory and technique into your practice routine can help to further refine your abilities.
Strengths: Experimentation, creativity, networking.
Struggles: Theory, technique, independence.
What to do next: You’re used to going at it alone, not necessarily following a curriculum, and you’re fine with that. Since you have a lot of freedom in how you approach drumming, you might also spend more time going to shows and meeting new people to see what happens. But by not having anyone review what you’re doing, it might be harder for a DIY Learner to push past ceilings in your playing when you hit them. Try to push yourself (like working with a band) or have someone push you (hiring a drum teacher) so you can get to the next level more quickly.
Strengths: Practicing, musicality, improvisation, learning different styles.
Struggles: Business ethic, networking.
What to do next: While you may have a strong practice ethic, you may not be focusing enough on what it takes to be a professional drummer outside of just ‘being a good drummer’. As a Wannabe Pro, you’re probably well on your way to making a living doing what you love. But if you want to make a profession out of drumming, make sure you’re developing your business skills as much as your playing skills.
Strengths: Great business skills, work ethic, theory, technique, teaching.
Struggles: Adapting to modern approaches and a changing industry.
What to do next: Pros still take lessons, and are lifelong drum students. But many can get a bit cynical, especially as the music industry changes. You may not like the new way of doing things and you may be set in your ways. Move forward by being open to learning new things, adapting to new technology, and welcoming new challenges.
Not sure where you fit as as drummer? Try the quiz!
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