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Becoming A Music Teacher: The Art of Sharing Your Talent

Lesson 6 of 13

Techniques of Teaching: Explanation and Retention

Mike Johnston

Becoming A Music Teacher: The Art of Sharing Your Talent

Mike Johnston

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Lesson Info

6. Techniques of Teaching: Explanation and Retention


  Class Trailer
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2 What is Teaching? Duration:25:35
3 Practicing Teaching Duration:11:39
4 Teaching Q&A Duration:26:33
8 Breakthrough Moments Duration:27:09
9 Branding Yourself Duration:39:22
10 Published Content Duration:22:09
12 Getting Clients Duration:18:57
13 Making a Living Q&A Duration:23:06

Lesson Info

Techniques of Teaching: Explanation and Retention

Let's talk about the next technique of teaching explanation and retention now for some weird reason the world just stops on that first one explanation they explain it and it's like boom I'm out piece nailed it crushed in educator of the year but they never asked did you get any of that? Do you even understand it and that's like such a big part of all of this if you can't not only explained but if you can't like, look for the retention your students eyes and asked them to demonstrate it for you then it's not going to happen and people need to understand you know whether it be a lie one a half hour private drum lesson that drum lesson is not the work that is not the lesson the lesson is the next six days that I don't get to see all I'm doing is the first part I'm just explaining it to you and I have to make sure do you understand this? I don't care that you can't do it, you know I couldn't do it either when I first signed it so I don't care that you can't do it I cared to understand it a...

t all and if you do then you have six days to work on it before I see you again and when I do drum camps I have seven days to explain a year's worth of material to you guys and then you have, you know, three hundred and forty nine days to practices that even right less than a week is that's one week shy of a year you have fifty one weeks to practice, all right? So that's what it's all about is like, ok, I explained it, but if you can't retain the information that I explain, then you won't be able to practice for the next year and all of this money and all this traveling all of this time is for nothing because I didn't do my job of making sure you retained it and that's like the scary part you're the educator you teach you feel like you've done your job and then you have to say, do you understand it? And the students like yeah, and then you have to push and we like, prove to me understand it and that's the part that we never do and you know what? It's not I don't want to get into a school system, you know again there like a big old thing but that's really hard to do with thirty five kids to say johnny and you understand it? Nope, sweet jessica, you kind of whatever you know like it's hard to do that in a big group, but when you're one on one and that's, what this course is about is a lot about one on one private instruction for musicians you can do it you can say did you get any of that and like yeah like I did you know like I'm hoping that you know jack I'm hoping that you understand the importance of learning your polyrhythms now just for me spending five minutes explaining it you know now I'm not going to make you explain to me why right now on camera but retention is extremely important and so when it comes to finding out did your student retain the information have them recite the information to you asked them hey so what are you going to practice when you get home and that that moment where they go uh the lesson that's not enough that's a sit down and then it's like no, this is what you're going to do these air the steps this is how you're going to it now what am I expecting for you next week and if they can say it like like nicole came in and said ok, you want me to work on shuffle variations that involved my left foot it's like yeah that's kind of it nickel go do it and I can't wait to see what you come up with and I hope you come up with something cooler than I did because your success doesn't threaten mine so I want you to be better than me and we'll see if you retained any of it the next thing is expression and expression nobody really quick do you mind if I ask question on way had one we had a couple but one that I like to read here it's very easy to be obsessive with practicing or teaching one thing over and over when is it time to be happy and move on to the next thing? So how do you how do you analyze the student and figure out whether they actually do know it? And then also I will add on to that and ask the kind of opposite how do you know when something isn't working? That's a really good question, so as a private instructor, you know, unfortunately there's money involved, and if you're if you're a musician and you're counting on your private instruction income to pay for something important, like eating, you need to eat that's important or or your house, you know, your apartment or whatever it's really hard to be very honest with students you're so scared to lose them. And it's it's hard to tell the parents like do bill is not practicing because you're scared that the second you say that the parents going to people that I'm not paying for this and it's like, oh no, oh no, we can't have that now, so that's a scary thing, but you have to be honest with the student and say like here's what we're gonna do so we'll talk about russia's questions is saying in the first question as far as how do I know when it's time for me to move on or it's time for my student of on well sound is a big key doing something like I showed that shuffle with no sound, no feel no group just a white black pdf well you're not ready to move on you were playing it correctly but doesn't sound good so I've always told my students you know that you're ready to move on when you feel like you could come into the recording studio and record this specific thing that I taught you as the example of how the world should learn it when you feel like now I feel like I could be the example of how this should be this is the end product I can do it that's when you can move on you know? And so when I look at like a book that I studied like crazy future sounds by david garibaldi I thought I nailed it I really did I was like fifteen I want to take my first lesson with david garibaldi in the bay area and I was in my head I was like, this book is a joke this is so easy took it to him he was like, so you worked on future sounds was like, uh I own future sounds a crushed it came with the blue audio cassette tape, which I didn't even listen to because I just crushed the music so hard so he was like, cool play number one for me. I did. He laughed, and I was, like, what's up he's like, did you pay attention to any of the dynamics? And I was like, you mean, the little greater than less than symbols? No, they screwed me up. They make it way harder. I don't do those and he's like, yeah, this whole book is on ly about that that's like, oh, and then he played the stuff for me and my soul melted, and I realized I'm the worst storm that ever lived ever in the entire planet and he was very encouraging. He didn't make fun of me, he's like, just so you know, that's what it's all about. So all you did was something that's a simple is yes or no. Just check mark how you did it. But did you make it feel good? Did you groove it? Did you fellowship with it? Did you spend time trying to work on variations? Did you pop this? I had to to bring the snare drum down, and the answer for everything he said was no no, I did not know I did not I didn't do any of that so how do you know when it's time to move on in my mind when when you get to that point we were like I think I could be the example in the back of the book of how to do this then it's then it's like you got this man the other thing you can do is start to feel we're back into teaching techniques now I'm gonna give you an analogy think about how you feel when you play your basic rocky right all of us can play this if we've played drums for more than a couple weeks well the way you feel when you're doing this like I'm talking to a camera right now while doing this that relax station that you have do you feel like that when you play that shuffle so when the coal sits down to player shuffle and she goes from this let's slow this down a little bit so I can shuffle it and she goes and it's stiff it's like now it's not the feel you had you had this face was relaxed your job wasn't tight you didn't look like something smelled bad everything was good now if you go in your shuffle and go and it feels the same you're ready to move on now as far as teaching when is it ready to move on with the teaching it's the same thing when you feel like your student has it cool now it's okay to say, hey, look, we I know you want some new stuff, so I'm gonna give you some new stuff, but we can't leave this. This is not done yet, and this is applicability to your goals as a drummer. That's definitely something that we want to talk about, too is finding out the students goals first, but this is applicability, your goals and drummers to know we can't move on, but I will give you something new to work on your practice pad to develop your hand to russia's question when do you know it's time to just kind of say, look, this is not happening. It's never time unless what you're working on doesn't relate to their goals. Now, if you're working on jazz freedom, you know, building up jazz independence because you you were taught it and it's important to you that's fine, but they want to be a metal drummer, and this just isn't happening guess what, this just isn't going to happen because they don't care about it. They have no care. We're back to passion, there's, no passion for it so it's like all right it's up to me to find something that can accomplish the same goal that I'm trying to get through jazz independence in something that relates to something you love so, you know, it's like but if it's if they're saying like, look, I want to get better jazz it's like, ok, well, I don't want to tell you did I don't know how to get better and jazz without playing jazz, I'm not going to teach you a bunch of double bass metal stuff to improve your jazz drumming this you want to get better jazz, we're going to work on this and at some point it's I've never seen effort not be the key to all of this, right? I mean, if you think about like what you're really good at, like, I'll use jack and the reason I keep calling jack is he's been the multiple drunk camps, those laszlo and I know both their drumming pretty well, but let's say that you know jack is playing, you know, a dance beat and it's amazing and then I asked him to play like tomb about with his feet and then a three or four paula rhythm with his hand it's a train wreck? Well, why how much effort has he put into tomb bow with a three over for power in his hands? None ok, well they're probably pretty bad at it how much effort you put into gigging well jack gigs all the time and he gives any dances like a madman and I'm not kidding if I play a beat that has four on the floor you will see a whole different world show up with that guy he's holding a bag right now even me stomping on the ground is making feelings the dirty bird so it's like well why are you so good a dance beats because he's practiced because he's done them so if my students struggling it's something it's like did you've never worked on this you're totally you're allowed to struggle at this this is fine we're going to keep chipping away at it and it's it's really rare that I see someone it's like I've put in four hundred hours and I still suck it this it's like no come on something's going something's weird so I think the most important thing rest answer question is what you're working on doesn't relate to their goals as a musician or as anything they're working on and if so if it's directly related you can't move on you know or you have to revisit it later and let them know all right? I'm gonna give you a break but we're coming back to this thing next oh yeah so my question is about young students sure all right so you said that you need to be passionate to teach and we are passionate teacher we want teach and you've got a passionate young student he shows up and I want to play iraq and you know how it goes and then you sit down to a drum set okay I show your simple rod beat but it will not play this you need to start for their party or something like that and right away or try to learn learning from you how to heat the trump's properly so his or her life is completely ruined because this is not what I wanted to look right so how do you keep the passion how you keep them interested also um so what what do you show them first like how you keep their interest in drum sure sure I mean and I think that that's yeah that's a really common thing which is like okay when a kid signs up for drum lessons they didn't sign up because of a practice pad or the cover of ted reads syncopation book with some old dude playing a snare drum they signed up because they saw a rock star more than likely more than likely somebody turn them on so depending on the generation you know it could have been buddy rich and gene krupa it could have been keith moon it could have been john bonham could've been tommy lee travis barker whoever we have all of these great drum ambassadors that cause us to want to play the instrument in the first place and those people never get enough credit because they get too much credit and I think that's that's wrong you can put them in the same categories as our masters like dennis chambers and dave we'll be in calcutta but when I see like when I think about the amount of business that we all have as drumming educators because of travis barker lars ullrich you know pert those guys have brought us so much so you have to understand that right away your student came in and he has that in his head his travis barker you know, tattoos, sweat going bananas and then you bring out a rubber pad and he's like no, I want to do that and it's like so first of all I don't bring out the rubber pat I think it's I can't make you eat your vegetables until I've shown you the desert you know, that's really important to if I was like oh, we're gonna have dinner brussel sprouts the kids like all I think we're good I'm going to go upstairs but if it's like hey, we're going to have dinner tonight chocolate cake and really only guy let's just see these vessels were taking what we get and then I go oh yeah whatever dot you know I don't have a son, but if I did that's my dog does he gets like this and the needs the chocolate cake so you you can't show them the vegetables first it's going to go bad for you so the first thing that drum teachers usually skip and music teachers in general what's your favorite band you know? And if it's really young he might not have a favorite band yet because a lot of us don't get our favorite until we're kind of you know, nine or ten but you might be I don't really have one well, who have you seen play drums? Oh my dad really likes led zeppelin so we end up watching a lot of john bonham videos cool man and then it's like you better be able to relate to that person immediately so you need to be able to go don't ose counts so don't does things like I know that song and so yeah, I bet I could teach you to play a song by the end of the day and immediately like, ok, whatever you say, whatever you say, I'm hooked and that's where the passion comes in is like it's like all you like led zeppelin well, this is a parent it'll what the kid's like wait so how does this relate to leads up when oh it does I don't know how, but it does it's like did you just teaching me because of what was talked to you? You can't you're not teaching me now you're just regurgitating what was talked to you but if you treat me like an individual or you treat the student like an individual and say we're going to form a plan on ly for you this is not for the kid before you it's not for the kid after you this is just for you you like led zeppelin and your dad is going to lose his mind when you come home and play when the levee breaks like that is so important or when you play a blink one eighty two song because your sister is a huge travis fan, you know or you come home and play one by metallica because, you know, your mom loves him tackle all moms over metallica, so I think it starts with that getting them hooked and then from there what I would teach them first is what makes if this is the group from the head over the kid let's say I have a beginner never played drums in their life, but I'm thinking he said something about led zeppelin some thinking all right, what about this? Well, what makes that possible? There's elements that created that and there's elements that can be taught that our africa ble to lessons that you can feel good about there was eight notes on the high hat so immediately I think ok I'm going teacher what eighth notes are t j you don't have to teach quarter notes so now my lesson plan is forming in my head in the first five minutes I've ever known this kid I'm thinking coronets anything it's ok we're going to do that and I can do that on a white board and I have a pdf to give him to take home some oxygen corn nuts and a things now what else was happening? Two and four on the snare ok but those going to fall in the eighth notes one and two and three and four and so if I can get him to say one and two and three and four and dude you're killing billy killing it now every time you say two and four I just need you to bring that left hand down and hit the snare drum one and two yes and three and perfect awesome now if you can't do that totally fine then I point to the first note billie hit the first note one really hit the second tower and what's the third no billy too perfect what's the fourth note and keep going three yeah and one more for last on and perfect let's do it again and again and again and finally we get here so it took fifteen minutes who cares took me an hour so we get there now that based on part doing too there's no way that kid's going to be able to go do doing independence wise and not have a script right hand but is that second base from really that necessary for him to play this song and have fun at seven years old and have his dad freak out? Is that really necessary? No. So where did it land don't don't don't do it lands on one in three, so I write it on the big white board I make a giant I don't do little tiny pds where the kid can't even see it have a white board right next to the drum set big notes everything is easy to understand all right, billy hit the first note perfect second note you're killing a pro third note incorrect come on, bill you about and that look at that! We've got high hat that's the acts and then the snare drum exactly fourth note you're doing it he goes all the way through it ten minutes later I got him right here dude, you're awesome and then since I have a p a in the room boom, I hit when the levee breaks, when we start playing together and the kid loses his mind and then the big payoff and this will relate to the business aspect the big payoff is I bring in the dad and I'm like I'm like alexander that's billy's dad's name alexander caminero click and I'm like you ready buddy and the kids just beaming with pride every kid loves making his dad proud and we play when the levee breaks and I will have that kid for the next twenty years like I will I will keep him forever because of that moment and imagine that same half hour spent on the practice pad I don't know if you come back for the second lesson we're going to get to the practice pad we're going to get to you know theory and rudiments and all that stuff but not until we play when the levee breaks by zeppelin you know? Yeah, but if the kid I'd a kid like that physically cannot hold a stick and it's constantly having issues and I'll try to approach it this way when I was teaching him ah but cannot hold the stick what did body do when when you need first like how do you teach them tio hold the drumstick o r I wouldn't know what do you play because because of physical ability like you cannot kind of call to stick and what we can't hold the stick at all like you can't you can hold it but it's the whole thing is falling apart and so are you have the u s is falling apart in the beginning that's the problem that they're trying to you know we as teachers try to make them be us now and if I could see me at five my technique was was a wreck and so it's like I was probably playing upside down you know who knows I might have even been playing open hand x I didn't know any better so it's one of those things where you have to determine do we get to this next week I can't teach you anything until I've captured your excitement there you won't pay attention to me so it's like if my student was on his first day sticks upside down and right foot backwards and going but he was in time with led zeppelin I did I tackling like I love you and then I really get up a little biscuit get back on the drums and do it again next weekend big oh by the way your foot you go this way you know and then like two weeks later and be like oh just so you know your problems probably shouldn't face the ceiling he's like really like yeah it's been three weeks he hasn't developed any legitimate habits it and then it's like I just turn him over make your problems face the ground he's like that's really uncomfortable all right we'll turn over a little bit it's better cool man and that's that's it you know you have to think about what's going to capture this child's imagination and this adult imagination like I said young drummer means how long you've played it doesn't mean your age adults get it gets worse and worse as they get older because they're like no no I know what I want I will be neil peart by tomorrow it's like ok er rough morning for you tomorrow when you wake up and realize you're not and then you don't have rehearsal with getty later tonight and uh you know but so yeah, I think I understand we're going through it's just it's so hard to be that patient as an educator and say okay, I'm actually gonna let this one go this isn't the time to bring it up you know, kind of a choose your battles type of thing and be like right now what is important this kid getting excited so I'm going to do it even if the techniques hurry, you know, but it's it's hard I mean, I go through to where I'm like you're killing me, you know? I'm not gonna say anything I just let it go I'm gonna handle this tomorrow so the next technique, his expression and I think if you haven't noticed my expression when I teach me when I'm talking tio, then you know you're missing out on a key part of teaching I'm not teaching you looking at the ground, I'm making eye contact with you I'm letting you know how excited again I mean, if you think about what I just re enacted when I thought about tackling billy that was legitimate I had chills and I really thought about tackling billy on and hopefully not getting sued for it tackling gently we have soft florists, not hardwood, not gonna just direct the kid's knees so you know, expression is key because then you can sell like this guy's like, really into teaching or for me when I you know, did my stuff in in college and it was my first time actually taking in information, you know, I had history classes at economics classes, but I had econ economy taught by people that actually got a degree in economics and love this stuff, and they were pointing to a board that just had numbers on it and they were like, do you see that? And I'm like no, but you d'oh and that's awesome. So I'm in count me in man so expression is key and you can practice that you, khun totally practice that all you have to do let's find a camera so I'll use this camera for now so if you find a camera and just record yourself with that camera and say any word that has expression to it without the expression and then say that same word with the expression and learn how to do that and learn how to interject that into your conversation. So if I say the word exciting, or if I say exciting, those things seem stupid and you're going to laugh at yourself in the in the mirror, but I promise you it will engage your student by expressing yourself. You have to show that you're happy through smiling, you have to let a smile creep into your speech and then be able to bring it back down when you get serious, and if you don't show that on your face, student will never be able to connect with you because they will think you want to be somewhere else. They will think as soon as you get offered your favorite to where you're going to leave them in that room, but you have to show them no, I'm going to tell the secretary tell sting, I can't go right now, I'm teaching and I love this, and if you show that in your face and in your body movements and you get excited, I've been in a room with jack where he's struggling, struggling, failing, failing, struggling and then it clicks the moment happens, and I mean, I yell, I'm like, whoa, you know, freaking out and, you know, like, dude you know, when I get all excited like this and leg, huh? And jax, I doubt and he's feel like, yeah, I think I did it. I'm like, yeah, yeah, coast were like, expletive cuss word expletive you have got you did it. You know what he's like, oh, you custom, we got when I'm not on youtube. Ye I cuss a lot with this excited menu crush that that was amazing. And maybe even that may be him like, for the first time ever hearing me say, you know, a little potty mouth word he's like, wow, you must be really excited not suggesting you cuss. I'm just saying that it's ok to express yourself, it's ok to practice expression and that's what it's all about showing emotions through teaching something that it's like, I don't want to go to trump lessons. They're so boring. It's like now in my teacher, man, my teacher gets excited. My teacher shows that he's excited through his face and so show it why not? And like I said, you're going to feel stupid doing it in the mirror or in a camera practice teaching. We talked about that at the beginning practice teaching why's that embarrassing that you're practicing something you want to be great at everyone else is allowed to do it. You go ms one hundred free throws at basketball practice, it's, ok, you're practicing, you go screw up, you know, fall on your face at hockey practice, it's. Ok, you're practicing, why can't we practice teaching and it's important to practice your analogies, your expression.

Class Description

For someone who lives and breathes music, teaching it can be an awesome way to earn money doing what you love. In Becoming A Music Teacher: The Art of Sharing Your Talent, award-winning educator and founder of, Mike Johnston, will show you how to get started.

Teaching music is a great way to monetize your musical knowledge, but it takes a lot more than raw information to effectively guide others. In this class, Mike will teach you the art of delivering information in a concise, actionable way that makes complex ideas easily digestible. You’ll learn techniques for engaging students and presenting information in a way that holds their attention while helping them actually retain what you teach them. You’ll also dig into the business end of teaching. Monetizing teaching is more complex than hanging up a sign in your local guitar center – Mike will cover how to find and keep paying students.

If you want to share your passion for music with others and make money while doing it, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn how to do it the right way from world's #1 online drum teacher.


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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.