The Value of Not Being Self-Taught - Why It Took Me Years To Embrace Taking Drum Lessons
March 15, 2016
I've been into drumming and percussion for as long as I can remember. My siblings would compare me to Animal from the Muppets since I was usually being loud and - by their account - somewhat unruly. My favorite part of Sesame Street was when they had segments of Stomp performances. Those segments got me jazzed up because it showcased the rhythmic potential in everyday items and places: keys, basketballs, stair railings, card tables, and of course their iconic use of trash cans.
Years later, I finally got an opportunity to see Stomp perform live. I was in middle school and it was one of my first live music experiences that I remember really sinking my teeth into and being inspired by the performance. Riding home from that show, between annoying the hell out of everyone else in the car with the Stomp drumsticks I had gotten, I read in the program about several of the members of Stomp that were self taught percussionists and I immediately felt really self-conscious about being in drum lessons.
I'm certain no one regretted me having these on a 30 minute car ride.
At that point, I had been taking lessons on and off for a couple years and it had pushed me to a level that I would not have been able to reach on my own. Though I couldn't articulate it at the time, that made me feel like I wasn't as good since I had to take lessons. As a 10 or 12 year old, that communicated to me that I'd never be at the level of the Stomp performers or that other people had some self-starting edge over me if they hadn't had lessons. I felt that way for years before realizing there's no right or wrong way to get better as long as I was improving.
I came to terms with having taken lessons, but it wasn't until recently that it became something that I took great pride in.
In one of the interviews I was working on for The Learning Leader Show, the guest mentioned having a public speaking coach. The guest was a big time speaker, but he made the point that you will only get so good on your own. He also cited the example of even the best athletes in the world having coaches because there is always value in having another set of eyes and ears or another mind working to push you to be better. People who are self-taught still amaze me all the time at how well they are able to progress through their own initiative, that's just not my path and I grew more by having taken lessons.
That's one of the functions of this blog is to dig more into drumming and music from a perspective I haven't explored much before. And I'm inspired now to continue pushing to get better as a drummer and a musician, both on my own and eventually through lessons again.