Teacher Spotlight: Jim Farey
I live in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands of England in the UK. I teach in the city of Nottingham at Paul Hose’s MLC-Academy (www.mlc-academy.com) and have variously taught in schools throughout the area alongside other MLC-Academy staff, previously at Nottingham Drum Centre and privately at home and in students’ homes.
How many students do you teach, and what is their range of ability levels?
For the last several years now I have had around 40 to 50 active students who I see either weekly or fortnightly.
What are your favorite teaching materials?
I would have to say a drum kit! Seriously though: I love books such as Syncopation by Ted Reed and Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone and all sorts of different play-alongs -from Tommy Igoe’s Groove Essentials books and DVDs to Steve Houghton and Dave Weckl’s books. I try to find musical play-alongs where possible and I like series such as Big Phat Band Play-along by Gordon Goodwin. I also do the whole pad work thing and enjoy watching DVDs with my students including Jim Chapin, Jojo Mayer, Buddy Rich. Youtube is a huge part of it for inspiring students with footage of their favourite drummers and I couldn’t live without high speed internet as a teacher I think. I use acoustic and electric kits depending on whether the focus is playing along and recording/reviewing performances or on dynamic control of a real kit. I also wrote my own book which I use quite a bit.
How are you incorporating new media (DVDs, Mp3s, Internet, etc) into your teaching?
I am currently using all sorts of tech in my lessons and trying to include more by research into more technologies which I don’t yet have a handle on. A great way to do this is watch YouTube and attend panels at events such as PASIC. I use DVDs to demonstrate legends playing certain styles and techniques which we are learning about; MP3s are great because I can dump them into programs like Soundforge (Sony) and Audacity (free, for students) and slow them down with drag and drop functionality. I’m always building loops and slow versions of tunes for things we’re working on in lessons
I use Spotify, which is an instant streaming music service (yet to be released in the US I think, but google it) which means I can pretty much bust out any song at high quality instantly for play-along! (I guess if you can’t get this in your country try lastFM or sim.). I also use webcams and digital cameras to record parts of lessons for various comparisons at a later date, uploading to YouTube, giving to students on memory sticks etc. I use Capella to notate exercises or create worksheets and all sorts of stave variations for students if needed and if they need similar things I point them to blanksheetmusic.net. I try to give students a free online way to do all the things I can do in the teaching studio, whether it be metronome websites or recording software.
Do you have any funny anecdotes or stories from your teaching?
Although every lesson is pretty insane and there is lots of falling off stools etc, the only anecdote which I still can’t believe is the fact that my first ever teacher when I was 15, a man named Ken Hall, used the same analogy as I later heard Jim Chapin use: “Imagine you’re holding a small bird which you don’t want to squash and kill, nor release so it escapes.” I was amazed that this had transcended the pond so early, or perhaps had not even originated in the USA. Ken had not taken a lesson since around 1948 by my reckoning and he said Frank King told him this in London. But then Chapin’s Mom was English apparently, so he spent plenty of time here I imagine.
What are your general thoughts on drumming, teaching, music….?
Generally I think that the world of music education is an amazing placeto be right now, and it always has been amazing. As Vic Firth says, the impact we have on our students is immeasurable so that responsibility is huge and it motivates me to always do my best for the student, regardless of my personal mood or anything. Working with a diverse age group from 4 – 64 helps me keep my eyes open to the world and helps me to understand people better both as humans and students.
I love music and I am ALWAYS amazed by the interrelatedness of styles. I come from a basic Jazz and rudimental training with the usual modern rock angle my teacher put on it, later getting into shouty Punk and Prog Metal. I guess I just really enjoy that no matter what skills I build up, I can always hear something that makes me think “how can I adapt my playing so that I can sound like that”. I love that music is a language that transcends all social barriers, whether they be age, race or class specific. Music helps make me more human I guess.
That leads me to my final thought on music generally. Be prepared to accept anything! I know I am echoing advice from everyone from Steve Smith to Gavin Harrison when I say this, but if it wasn’t true I wouldn’t be making a living out of it. Get the reading and the listening down and then you can end up in a Prog Metal band, cover for a Queen-esque avant-garde rock band and a hardcore Punk band, play traditional Brass Band competitions/performances, 1930s and Ballroom/Pop gigs, play weddings and club nights with full volume riotous 1950s covers bands with ridiculous names and generally have a lot of fun in between. I think being a “Yes Man” and having enough skills behind you to pull it off is a great opportunityand reward all at the same time.
Contact Jim at any of the following websites:- www.JimFarey.com, www.YouTube.com/JimFarey, http://JimFarey.blogspot.com, http://twitter.com/jimfarey, www.DrumsetForBeginners.com http://community.hudsonmusic.com/profile/JimFarey