Be a Musician, Not a Drummer – Part 2

drummerEarlier this month, Brooklyn drum teacher Dylan M.   shared some of the best advice he’s received throughout his music career – be a musician, not a drummer! So how exactly does that translate to your drum lessons? If you missed the first part of the article, click here. Then read on for 3 additional tips from Dylan…

Be Patient
Great players aren’t born, they’re made. As cliche as this sounds, the truth is it takes time, along with diligent practice, to become a well-rounded musician. It would be nice to wake up one day with the ability to perfectly play along to old Art Blakey records or be able to transcribe Dave Weckl licks. But in the real world, becoming a mature drummer means becoming a patient drummer. We recognize this by developing a good practice regimen and setting realistic goals. This is also a great example of discipline. Day by day your goals will be met, and after time, those jazz records on your playlist will be no match to the skill level achieved.

Be Influenced 
A personal priority of mine is to collaborate with as many different artists as possible, which can have an invaluable benefit for a musician of any caliber. By mixing things up you force yourself to adapt to the soundscape around you, feeding off the other influences and styles. Often times we get stuck in a “rut” with our playing, and this is one of the best ways to break out of it. You’d be surprised how adaptive bringing new players into the mix will make a drummer. It shows an expression of solid listening skills, unbiasedness, and good work ethic. Which leads me to my last principle…

Embrace Mentorship 
There is no room for ego. We are all teachers and we are all students. After 16 years of playing I still learn something new, in both contexts of collaborating and instructing. All groundbreaking players had mentors, and their mentors had mentors, and so forth. Embracing this can strengthen the these five practice concepts, as well as build humility for yourself and respect for other players. Seek out and surround yourself with great artists. Absorb their experience, emulate their practices. You will open doors both creative and professional.

These tenets have personally coached me throughout my career, musically and personally, helping me set and achieve goals and get better gigs. I’ve become a more honest and well-rounded player, and have been able to keep a better practice regimen while staying balanced behind the kit, at home and on the road. I’ve sketched out some good guidelines here, but it comes down to determination and focus. Don’t hedge your bets. The opportunity is out there for the picking. It just depends how badly you want it. Listen, express discipline, establish approach, be patient, be influenced, and embrace mentorship. This is how to be a musician, not a drummer.

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You might also like…
Overcoming Drummer Stereotypes – Part 1
Awesome Music Apps for Drummers
Drummers: How Many of These Silly Things Do You Do?


Brooklyn drum lessons with Dylan M.Dylan M. teaches drum and percussion lessons to students of all ages in Brooklyn, NY. His specialties include stick control, syncopation, brush work, independence and linear exercises and technique, covering many styles including jazz, funk, rock and R&B. Learn more about Dylan, or search for a teacher near you! 


Photo by BastiTasti – ihm seine Fotos

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