Teacher Spotlight: Tim Connolly
1. Where are you located and where do you teach?
I currently teach out of my home drum studio in Hamilton, Ont, Canada. I have been teaching out of my home for 6 years. I have also taught at various music stores and schools in the Hamilton to Toronto area.
2. How many students do you teach and what is their range of ability levels
I currently teach 3 days a week and have 30 students. My teaching style is very interactive and encouraging. I work hard on improving hand technique and rudiments, which I feel in turn leads to better feels and phrasing.. I teach all styles but lean strongly towards Rock, Funk,pop, Latin and jazz fusion. Ages range from 7-63. so a huge variety of ages. Mainly teens, but also some moms. I also have a mom/son combo that come in for ½ hr each back to back. Abilities range from absolute beginner to heavily gigging drummers. I obviosly have different approaches depending on the student.
I utilize a fair bit of technology. I use a drum machine as a metronome for myself and students as well as computer websites, including Hudson Music, youtube, myspace, facebook and drummerworld plus many others. I also use tv/dvd which is set up close to drums to view dvd material as applicable. Finally I have recently added an ipad to the drum area for quick acces to youtube, websites etc. I have found these media sources invaluable in my teaching.
4. Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes from your teaching
I have taught drums for 18 years -first starting in music college and then continuing after that. I have built a reputation for myself that has kept my teaching thriving. I currently have a waiting list of students and I may be expanding to a 4th day due to demand. I have many funny stories of lessons, but one comes to mind that is more inspirational than anything. I was teaching at a music camp in Oakville, Ont, Canada. I had worked with this one drum student on trading 4 and 8 bar phrases. He was struggling with not only playing in time/correct phrases but also with feeling the 4 and 8 bars. He struggled all week and he was getting frustrated. He was from Paris France and English was also his 2nd language. I don’t speak French so it was as you can imagine a challenge. He had to perform at the end of the camp on the Friday. Up to the very day of the performance he struggled. On the day of the performance I encouraged him to relax and do what what felt best for him. I also said play simple phrases and focus on time. Right before his stage appearance in front of hundreds of people at the camp (plus parents, friends etc) he was very nervous and was considering throwing in the towel. I encouraged him to not quit and just do his best. Without either of us knowing, his parents arrived from France at this moment and was in the audience eagerly awaiting their son’s performance. Finally he went on stage, played the tunes, nailed the 4 and 8 bar trading and played like the true star I knew he could be. After the show he realized his parents were in the audience. His audulation and joy brought tears to everyone around. While this story is not a hilarious story it’s a story of determination, guts and drive. I was very proud and it made me very happy to have taught him and made me realize the effect teachers do have on their students.
5. What are your general thoughts on the future of music, teaching, etc?
I am a firm believer that while modern technology is truly incredible, the art of one on one or group lessons cannot be replaced. You really need the interaction that only human contact can give. I took many many lessons over the years myself and would not trade any of the moments for anything. I feel that the future is bright for students and teachers. Drumming and music are wonderful things and should be encouraged to all. I love teaching the kids but I also enjoy teaching a 40 year old guy that hasn’t played for 10 years and is getting back into it. Music has an overwhelming positive impact on people wether you play an instrument or not. I feel that the future of music and music teaching looks bright and look forward to continuing in my teaching and also in enlighting people of all ages to not give up their dreams. I started out small as we all do but after years of practice and learning I have developed a great understanding of teacher /student interaction. Always be nice and always give encouragement. No matter what never say you suck or give up to your student. Most of all HAVE FUN!
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