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Practicing Teaching

Lesson 3 from: Becoming A Music Teacher: The Art of Sharing Your Talent

Mike Johnston

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Lesson Info

3. Practicing Teaching

Next Lesson: Teaching Q&A

Lesson Info

Practicing Teaching

Let's talk about practicing teaching so when it comes to practicing teaching I don't think a lot of people do that to be honest, I don't think I've met more than a handful of people that have ever practiced teaching and what I mean by that is I don't mean teaching like teaching is you're so in the moment especially if you're nervous doing it you're not practicing at all you're just doing it but you need to practice it and that means like in the mirror or into a camera you need to watch other people do it and think like a man that was an awesome way to explain that I'm going to do that from now on you know somebody at a clinic probably was at this thing called drum days in ohio and this guy came up to me he said man I've watched you forever and I have a friend that's an author and my friend wrote these books and I want to give them to you and I'm trying really hard not to be rude but generally it's like did you know heavy my backpack is already like I do not need to more books to take o...

n a plane like and like cool man that sounds fantastic so it gives me the books and you know there were about being an artist and and I read them on the way home he told me he's like look there's lots of pictures huge words, it's, you know, not to read much like, ok, I'm pretty good at that. So I read these books. They're like coffee table books, and they're about the art of teaching, and they are not the art of teaching you the art of being an artist like and really kind of how do you become an artist? And the one thing that I got out of this, you know, in the first ten pages was dividing everything in your world into two categories, and one would be steel or not to steal and that's it. And that was a real big breakthrough for me, because I thought, yeah, like, I can steal that astrophysicist way of teaching, and by the time it mixes with who I am and all of my previous teachers and all of my influences, it won't be that I won't be stolen anymore. It will be an influence in new influence, and so you know, when you're thinking, when you're watching somebody teach something, you're watching a ted talk you're watching when these classes on creative life. You should watch the way that someone's delivering the information, but study it and then practice it, watch what they did with their hands will be super conscious of my hands now watch, you know, their facial expressions. Now, I can't stop smiling. All of these things are really important when it comes to teaching and it's okay to steal them and be like, I'm going to do that, that guy, you know, that guy, that girl uses this really well and explains things really well, so practicing teaching is really important, so I'm gonna go over to the drum set and practice teaching for you guys real quick. So, jack, love give me a subject to teach, and we haven't just so you guys know, at home, we have not talked about this way haven't oh, well, I'll try to pick one that you have a passion for, make it easier for you, ok, so how about some basic independents? Basic independence? Ok, so what you want to do to practice teaching is you want to sit down at the drum set I want, if that cups like right in the line side of that camera would be awesome, so you want to sit down at the drum set and start thinking about ok how would I teach independence and what is independence? The word itself has a definition so you want to start going through that in your mind independence independence each limb is independent of the other each limb can do its own thing this khun go down while this goes up thiss khun go down while this goes up this can go down and this could go down at the same time or independently of each other and then I started thinking about the independence all right so let's see if we could get all four limbs doing something at the exact same time so I'll start with a simple samba which I played in my drum solo earlier so my feet are going to play this now what am I going to do? Because if I just demonstrated and go glad to carry but dad dad taking big bad ticket to pick it back back to game but took it took a gangplank to contain you do it that's not teaching we talked about that in the beginning that's just demonstrating all I did was do it and then say oh let me slow down but you do get get should get a big you do but it's still not teaching all I'm doing is slowing it down so it's like all that stuff I'm singing with my mouth what allows that to happen subdivisions patterns rudiments accents go suit teach the thing, make a bigger topic out of all of this so if I get my students to play quarter knows one, two, three, four and they do that okay, good let's move on to the next thing I'm gonna play the ease with my right hand so I've got one eight and two and three eight and a forty and up now the student goes one their lips shake a little bit there little fizzle fizzle down here little and nothing happens, ok, it's time to teach because now we've gotten to something that you can't do, so you have to think ok, why can't the student do this? The foot goes one okay, so the e comes right here one e and, uh to eat and uh so nicole, where is that e landing? Is it landing with the base is aligning with the hyatt, if it's one e and, uh to he it's leading in between him it's landing in between and it goes with nothing. And if you can't tell the student that you think they're going to figure that out on their own while they're trying to make this foot go down and this would go down and then you do two and then you do one and then you do too, and this is supposed to go on the there's no way in h e double hockey sticks that they could possibly be able to do that, so you have to do it for them and say ok, uh, jack what's, my students named today mark jones, mark jones. Awesome first thing that populated that's awesome. So now is that's one word mark jones. Okay, last name is smith. Mark jones smith. All right, so m j to the s let's talk about this body here's what we got to do we've got this happening now after you hit that bass drum, but before you close the high hat, you're going to hit the right hand and it goes with nothing. So you have base right hat base base, right base now here's the teaching part I would do that for an hour with that student until they get it, and most importantly, I would let them know, dude, don't don't say you're sorry you're doing fine. This took me a month to learn and it's taking you five minutes. I'm not wishing you would learn this any faster. This is totally cool and we're going to keep doing it and then if they couldn't it be like I just can't do it don't worry about it, bro, you just do the feet, I'd let them do the feet right and while they're doing that were doing that together, I'd say I'm gonna put this in now whenever you can try your best to get one of them in and if it fails reset and I just go on uh, two, eight, three, eight, four, eight o one too and as they tried that and they start to get that down, I can't even explain to you how excited I would get going all the way back to the beginning of today's class about passion because I'm reliving the journey I have my own timeline, right? My timeline is me starting the drum set, it's you starting the drums that we all must have started at some point in time, so that's the drumming timeline and then from there we all try to get better. We'll try to get better and at the end we have buddy rich and we're all in the middle somewhere and so there's no, better or worse, you can't possibly be better than me that's not one of the possibilities you can on ly be later than me and that's. Awesome! I get to look forward to where I will be someday if I practice as hard as you do and you can't ever be worse than me, that is that it's just a horrible term you could only be earlier though so if I'm here and you're here in your earlier than me, you are exactly where I used to be and that's not a bad thing, and I don't understand why that gets treated like such a bad thing they're like, oh, that guy sucks that's a terrible word. That guy doesn't suck. Do you know the whole story? What if that guy's only been playing for two weeks? Well, then, he's pretty darn good. Well, ok, so isn't it all relative? The guy or the girl is just where they are that's just it like. So when I watch jack play, I never judged jack against other drummers and ever judge him against myself. I judge him against himself, I've seen him play before, I know how he plays, and I know whether he's grown forward in the timeline or if he's regressed backwards and either way I don't care, we're going to move forward, but that's all it's about, and so when you're sitting down with a student, remember when you were at that exact point that they're out right now that distance between you and them remember where you were? Remember what your limbs felt like and just go go through the process with him, I let my students know all the time, like, hey I'm probably gonna laugh a lot during your lesson I'm not laughing at you I'm laughing at the memory of me struggling with the same thing I let him off the hook right away like dude, whatever you whatever your whatever struggles you're having trust me they were way worse for me I was having a rough go in all of this and I think if you guys start to sit down and think like I'm going to practice something today you know I'm gonna practice explaining time signatures you know, that's something I practiced nonstop and one of the ways I did that was just by saying ok, I'm going to actually do this in clinic form so I'm going to get up in front of hundreds of people and say this is how to understand time signatures knowing that I did not know how to understand them myself but that forced me to learn them and then to think, well, how would I tell somebody else? How would I told a seven year old how to understand time signatures and because I'm on the internet and we'll talk about the marketing side of all of this stuff eventually when when you're teaching something and you're practicing it's really about sitting down and doing it out loud and I know that could be embarrassing to do in front of a mirror so then just do in front of a video camera and think put the pressure on yourself to think I'm going to upload this to youtube, I'm going to I'm gonna let the world see this lesson. I was talking to one of the engineers here today and he was he works here like all he does his record content for educational channels like I'm gonna do a lesson I'm going to teach how do something that I know how to do it shouldn't be that hard and he was like, I don't understand it is soon as we're recording I don't know how to explain what I already know how to do and that's the hardest part guys is realizing that if you're a natural it's something, you're gonna have a rough time teaching it because you didn't go through the step by step process that a non natural would have to go through and that's what students are most of the time every once in a while I get the you know, the brilliant genius that khun just do whatever I say it's very frustrating for me because I'm like, come on, man, that took me like nine months how are you possibly able to do that right now? But that's, everyone saw mostly it's it's, somebody that's struggling with just two like I said, make this foot go down with this hand and in those types of situations it's really important to go back in time and think, like, did I know what you're going through? Man went through the same thing. I spent one entire summer learning this beat, but that's loud on the microphone. Sorry, I spent a whole summer learning that groove at a higher tempo for ah, johnny, b, goode or barbara, and some song that was playing in fourth grade, and I couldn't get it down. So whenever you're struggling with a phil it's like I'm with you on this journey.

Ratings and Reviews

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Mike is such a great educator. He is well versed in all aspects of teaching and also branding and making a living with it. He is a passionate and truly dedicated teacher. I also really liked that he made it clear that teaching is not a plan b for him but his true calling and it can be such a rewarding experience. I got a lot out of this session and I truly recommend it to anyone who is interesting in taking this path.

a Creativelive Student

Mike, thank you for your wonderful teaching. I have been a performer and vocal educator for over 20 years and I've learn so much today to add to my own personal instruction. These teachings are so transferrable and your passion is simply awesome. I see you and I see a reflection of myself. I'm going to study you some more by purchasing this session. It's been awesome to watch. Thanks for the inspiration!


This is the most brilliant class. There are so many great points in here, it is an information overload; but explained it such a simple way. I watch one of these videos almost every week, just to top up on what I should be giving my students - it serves as a good reminder and an even better teaching aid. Mike; time and time again, he releases great media that everyone must see. I can't speak highly enough of this.

Student Work