08 May Drum Teacher Expert: An Interview with Julian Marsden
If you’ve ever considered learning the drums (c’mon – who hasn’t?!) chances are you’ve heard of Julian Marsden. Or rather, you’ll have come across his hugely popular and comprehensive website drumteachers.co.uk, one of the UK’s largest drum teacher resources. Julian runs this extensive database alongside his popular cymbal-sourcing website, Ecymbals. A tutor himself, he took time out of his busy teaching schedule to chat to North London Drums about the current drumming education climate.
Hi Julian, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Tell us how you started drumming!
I purchased my first drum kit just before my 20th birthday after spending four years air drumming. Although I started late I practiced a lot and took to the theoretical side quite well. I developed my drumming through regular lessons whilst attending many drum clinics in the UK and USA. Since then, I’ve played numerous gigs all over Europe as well as presenting workshops and drum clinics of my own. Since 1991 I have taught in many schools in the Merseyside area and the rest of the UK. I’m also the former Head Drum Teacher for Liverpool City Council.
How did your drum teacher resource website come about?
I always thought that the internet was the way forward from a business point of view. Once I had the idea for drumteachers.co.uk I was happy to see the URL was available and I never looked back.
You also run Ecymbals, an unusually personal service for acquiring hard to find cymbals. Why did you set this up?
This was another idea that was internet lead. I’ve always been supported by Paiste cymbals so it was a no brainer for me.
What do you think are the three most important qualities a teacher needs to consider when starting out?
1) If you are an excellent drum kit player that’s great but I think your job as a teacher should be to do your best to make sure that the pupil leaves the lesson inspired by what they can achieve rather than what the teacher can achieve.
2) Honesty. If you can’t teach something don’t pretend you can. For example, I’m no expert in big band drumming so rather than pretend I am, I’m happy to refer a pupil to another teacher.
3) Be professional. Always be punctual and make sure that you have everything ready – including yourself – for the lesson. A clean studio and a clean teacher are the best way forward.
How do you think the teaching landscape has changed in recent years? Does technology such as YouTube eliminate the need for a teacher?
Luckily for me, technology has made little difference to the actual teaching but items like a MiniDisc player, CD player, Tama Rhythm Watch and a good stool with a solid back rest have made life more comfortable since I started teaching back in 1991. However, technology has made a big difference to a lot of my pupils who enjoy electric kits and online session drumming.
And as a follow on, do you think music education within schools in the UK is enough of a priority at the moment? (We’re on the fence here…)
No and I’m sorry to say I cannot see that changing anytime soon.
What’s the main positive impact you’ve seen on pupils studying drumming?
For younger pupils in particular, I see a great development of their confidence.
And lastly, we’re always promoting the hashtag #PracticeMore. We believe that you should always to try and push yourself just that little bit further. (For example, if you’re practising for 10 minutes, why not go for 12?!). What’s your number 1 practice tip for anyone learning the drums?
Play slowly = learn quickly!
If you’d like to contact Julian for lessons in the Mersyside area or you’re after a hard to find cymbal, you can contact him at email@example.com.