I have had since the beginning of my teaching a few students who do not practice and yet, they always are prepared for their weekly lesson. The first time I encounter such a person I asked them how they did it. Most of them replied that they would be drumming in their car. They would have a pair of sticks in the glove compartment they were ready to whip out as soon as they started the engine. After that, rush hour on the expressway or long traffic light cease to become a bane. Instead, every time the car stops, tagada-tagada! they would be banging on the steering wheel or the dashboard (Although the steering wheel seems to be more popular). And, if they commuted an hour a day, it added up to a substantial amount of practice by the end of the week.
But these are not the students I want to talk about.
There are another kind of students. I should say there is another student who didn’t need a drum set to improve his skills week after week. He would come to the lesson having not touch a pair of sticks during the whole week and he would be able to play the assignments I had given him. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t marvelous, but he had understood, even sometimes digested the basics of the challenges I had proposed.
How did he do it?
Well, this is where it becomes weird: he thought about it.
He said that he would sit down and close his eyes.
Then he would take a pair of imaginary sticks. He would feel the weight in his hand, the roughness of the surface. Then he would start to move like he was on the drum set. Not imaginary move, really move. He would be tapping his feet while crossing his hand to have the correct position and he would be thinking about the beat, the tempo, the dynamics, the sounds, because while he was doing all that, his mind would supply the sounds his actions created! I must say, if he hadn’t demonstrated week after week that his method was working, I wouldn’t have believed it. You know, it’s not because someone visualize themselves flying in the air that, all of the sudden, they start levitating.
But I must say, ever since I’ve had that student (He eventually moved away from Chicago), I sometimes think that I can learn a lot with just what I’ve got in my head. Now, I do not recommend this method to every one. As a matter of fact, I don’t recommend it to most people, they would have to first train their mind to do a simple task in imagination before they would be able to learn an instrument that way. Plus, I can guarantee that almost everyone closes their eyes on a comfortable chair and they go to sleep.
But, I must say,to tackle all odds and discover the world in this manner: one closes his/her eyes and go explore his/her own possibilities. Just one word: Wow!