people playing piano with sheet music

The Avocado Jams! Gets Schooled

Over the past few days, we’ve had some discussion in various threads about teachers and their ability to both inspire and discourage. I’ve had a variety of music teachers over the years, and I can say that I’ve encountered a bit of each. Mostly, I’ve had very positive experiences, but I’m still a bit peeved at my junior high band teacher, who determined that there were enough percussionists in the world (well, in the marching band at least). My parents, wary of buying me a new instrument, gave me my brother’s starter saxophone (which I had zero interest in)…not joining the marching band simply wasn’t an option for me. I spent two years in the last chair position, and there were large sections of the march that I was not allowed to play. I ended up basically hating everything about marching band, and was relieved that I no longer had to be in band once my family moved to another city during my 8th grade.

I did convince my parents to let me take drum lessons at that point, and my excitement soon dissipated as my teacher focused only snare drum technique. Eventually I moved to another teacher and lessons on the full kit, but at least I had some of those rudiments drilled into me. I had a decades-long stretch without even picking up a pair of sticks, but once I did, I found that I could still perform a passable double stroke roll, and my paradidles are as good as they’ve ever been. (Actually, they’re a lot better, because I’ve learned how to phrase them musically instead of just pounding them out).

Several years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to actually play the guitar, instead of doing…well, whatever I was doing with it. I hired a teacher who taught me some scales and helped my basic technique a bit, but something never really clicked and I only had a handful of lessons from him. Then arthritis struck and it seemed like any ambition that I had to be a guitar player was out the window. But eventually I saw that the producer I had worked with back in 2012 was looking for students, and I mustered up the courage to ask if he would take me on. After that first lesson, I left his apartment feeling like I had made the best decision of my life. I had been really nervous because he has worked with a lot of big names, but he’s also very down to earth and super easy to work with. And I keep my practice up because I don’t want to disappoint him or waste his time. I feel super lucky because I don’t think there is anyone else who could inspire me to keep pushing the way that he does.

So how about my fellow musicadoes? Have you had a teacher that pushed you to new heights, or one that made you want to throw your instrument out the window? Or is being self-taught more your style? And I’m really interested to hear from any of you that teach music! Do you find it mostly rewarding, or do you want to throw your students out that same window?

(Don’t forget that our first Songwriting Challenge wraps up next week! I’m not sure if I’m going to finish this thing I’m working on or not, but I’ll give it my best shot, and even if I don’t finish, I’ll cheat and share something.)

And as always, feel free to talk about whatever you’d like…I really like hearing about what my fellow musicians are up to!

Photo by Alena Darmel from Pexels