As the saying goes, "This ain't my first rodeo." For the 3rd time in 5 years, I left home in June and embarked on a 25,000 mile circus they call The Van's Warped Tour. Although the sponsors have changed, the names on the line-up have come and gone, and new faces stand in line with tickets in hand, many things remain the same year after year. This year on the Warped Tour was, however, very different for me. I had a list of names on a piece of paper who were enrolled to take drum lessons with me. As I would come to find out, the 45 minutes I spent under that blue tent away from the noise and chaos of Warped Tour was the best part of my day, everyday.
Matt Halpern, the drummer for Periphery, called me early this year and asked if I was interested in teaching drum lessons all summer long on Warped Tour. He explained that he had started a new company called The Entertainment Institute, which aims at providing education and insight in the broad and beautiful world of music performance and business. I agreed and began putting together a curriculum back in May.
I am a mostly self-taught drummer. I spent a lot of money (and time) over the past decade attempting to find a drum instructor who could push me to be better at my instrument. All I found, time and time again, were instructors who were teaching from a template, they weren't teaching subjectively and looking at my strengths and more importantly, my weaknesses. That was the case until I met a man named Clyde Lucas. Clyde played drums at the church I attended as a kid. My mom brought to my attention that he was teaching lessons in Lancaster and encouraged me to call him and give it a shot. I called and spoke with his wife who helped me set up a time. I'll never forget getting to his house, descending the stairs into his basement, and sitting down at that antiquated dinosaur of wood he called a drum-set! The drum heads must have been a decade old and the cymbals were so 'loved' that the logos were worn off of them. Clyde asked me to start playing and walked back up the stairs Little did I know he was listening to me from afar and taking the pressure off of me by not standing right beside me. He was letting me play my instrument the way I do naturally. He walked down the stairs, said "FANTASTIC" like he always did about everything as it pertained to drums, and began breaking me down.
Clyde slowed the metronome down to 80bpm on his 90s keyboard and began teaching me control, feel, and groove. Clyde gave me in 1 minute of that 1 hour lesson more than any instructor had ever given me. I took a total of 4 drum lessons with Clyde, visiting him in between tours. I even helped him transport his drums to a church where he had a jazz gig. He was up there in years and was too weak to do all the work. It wasn't long after before I heard the news that Clyde had passed on and was now singing "FANTASTIC" in heaven and was free from all the pain.
So, how do I teach drums and why was this summer on the hot Warped Tour a different experience for me? I thought of Clyde almost every single day I taught my students. Here I was, traveling the U.S. and Canada and in each and every city there was a little "Matt Greiner" who had strengths and weaknesses that made him the drummer he is today. I had the opportunity to resemble Clyde and his teaching style and encourage them to face their weaknesses and challenge their strengths. I had the opportunity to teach seasoned drummers as well as day old beginners. I taught so much and I learned that, in the end, teaching teaches yourself.
From home in Lancaster County, PA.,