=782= Word: Rapport

Recently, a close friend of mine said, “if one doesn’t connect with his/her students, he/she won’t get further with teaching.”

Honestly, it has never crossed my mind that a connection with my student would be so important. I have always been a relational person. I value connection for sure, but I never thought that it was that important.

What is rapport? What is this connection that is so vital? Is it possible to not have rapport and still be able to teach? I thought of all the times when I had a lecturer that reads off slides. They are simply fulfilling a job. Was I still learning? Yeah of course, but I did not enjoy the learning process. Compare that with someone passionate about the subject. They way they present the content is different. The way they teach is different. You feel excited learning this module.

Is that all to it? Passion? Of course not. One can be passionate and you can be swept up with his/her love for it, but it is still possible to talk about something you love to someone without rapport with them. I can talk about sound, drums and music, but because it is something so close to my heart, I am baring a bit of my soul to people. I am showing people what I love and hoping that people would love sound, drums and music as much as I do. Unknowingly, I would make myself vulnerable to connect with my audience.

I thought about another thing that good lecturers do. They would say things like, “this part is really tricky, do take some time to try and understand this.” Or things like, “let me teach you guys an easier way to remember this.” Or, “very confusing right? Just remember it is a and not b.”

When a teacher does this, you will know two things. Your teacher understands how difficult it is to learn something and that your teacher cares.

This is totally different from being passionate. This is going the extra mile to simplify something for people. It isn’t, I receive a problem, I propose a solution; a teacher isn’t just a problem solver. A good teacher is someone that not only explains clearly, but simply.

I also pointed out that there is a difference between teaching and coaching. Teaching is from ground up, giving you information and correcting you when you are wrong. Coaching is a different job altogether. If you have been in a field for long, you will understand that there are many ways to do one thing. Not only that, certain things that your teacher once told you not to do are actually not wrong! :O

For example, during my first drum lesson. I dug my drum sticks into the drum pad. My teacher corrected my stroke because letting the stick bounce is what I should be doing 99% of the time. After playing for a while, I realised that digging your sticks into the drum could be used to give a different sound and effect. It is there if I want to use it, it isn’t wrong.

A coach is someone that is experienced and gives not only solutions, but suggestions to make you better at the craft. You would often hear a coach say, “What you are doing is not wrong, but I think you can achieve a better result if you try this.”

A coach is someone that can help a good player become great. For a musician, it is a person that helps shape one’s music choices and stylistic decisions. For a sport, it is a person that helps one do something more efficiently.

I think that I have gone a bit off topic. Back to rapport.

Having rapport with your student is so important because you will know what your student wants to achieve and you will help your student get there much faster. Not only that, if you have rapport with your student, you will encourage your student to do something even though they feel what they do is not up to standard. Having my teacher say, “it is alright, try again!” Has encouraged me to continue to do what I love even though I might not be good at it.

Once you go past the incompetency stage into the competency stage, teachers with good rapport are the ones that inspire greatness. I will never be where I am today if KL did not share his love of audio with me. I won’t play as well as I do now if C and J had not helped me through my journey. Sure, when I see Chad Smith play, I get inspired to play and sound like him, but without the encouragement from and rapport with my teachers. I doubt I would continue with what I do today.

I think it would be very sad if a person with all the passion for something, lost their interest for it because they met a bad teacher. I hope no one loses their passion for something because of me.


=781= Word: Words That Make People Feel Good

Perhaps because of how I was brought up, I never had the habit of saying things just to make people feel good. I am not one to do that.

Of course, I do give out compliments. However, it has to be sincere you know. I never want people to feel as if I am just saying something because I want them to like me.

However, as I grow older, the more I feel the need to present yourself in a proper way. I have always been more relational. I want to build a relationship with you before teaching you. However, being hired in a school that pays you to teach. It is a different ballgame. I have to maintain a professional image for the brand of the school. I have to gain my students’ confidence in me with the short time I have with them. Certain things I say will cause bad implications even if I don’t mean it.

Sometimes I don’t think about what I say. I just say things. I don’t mean any harm, but being a professional requires you to be confident, to know what you are saying and doing. It is honestly more important than I thought.

Instead of saying “oh wow, you have played piano before, I have never played piano in my life.” I could have said, “did you know that many people that play piano pick up drums really fast?”

It is a different way of saying things, but it is one that makes someone feel better.

Sure, quality does speak for itself and of course quality is important, but I think that quality packaged is definitely better.

Hopefully I become a person that is both genuine and good at packaging myself. I think it is necessary.


=780= Word: Making Every Note Count

As a drummer, my role in music has always been the skeleton. To keep time, control dynamics, cushion transitions and basically make every musician in the band comfortable. As a result, I always try to play simple so that musicians in the band can follow. There are times where I had to play much straighter to support the band.

I always talk about emoting your playing as a drummer. A drummer is also a musician. By expressing your emotions on the drumset, you serve the music better and you will learn to appreciate music much more. However, I have never thought about making every note count before. I guess that is because the notes I have has to be repeated.

This is a concept that I learned from my CCA mates. It has been part of their training. They are pianists that have been playing for so many years. They relate to music so emotionally. As a result, they kept pushing me to do things out of my comfort zone.

A comment that was given to my playing was, “that was very nice, but is it possible to make it less regular?”

That was really difficult. My role in the band is to offer stability. To repeat a pattern so that other people can add stuff without being afraid that it would clash. To ask a drummer to be less irregular is really difficult because being regular is our job.

Making every note count. That is such a big concept. Every snare hit I do, has a purpose and I should understand why I do what I do. When I do a flam on this note, what am I doing? For what purpose am I playing a crash here? Is there a purpose to playing this beat as opposed to the other beat?

When you actually obsess yourself with every note you play. You start to play stuff that you would never imagine yourself playing. Being challenged to play something that you never would is a sign that you are growing as a drummer.

Will I ever reach a point in time when I actually do make every note count? That every note I play has a purpose of making the audience or congregation feel something? Would there be a day when I play a certain snare hit and that snare hit makes someone feel emotional? Wouldn’t that be something?


=779= Reflections: Prayer

There is an epiphany I had recently. The Israelites never had ‘church’ until after Jesus came.

So how did they have a relationship with God? There are celebrations set in place. There is the Sabbath set aside to rest. There is a temple to sacrifice something to atone for sins.

I realised that prayer is probably the most important thing keeping the Israelites believing in God.

In a world where reading is a privilege, they had people to read the scripture out loud. In a world where we put verses around us and we can read. We forget what a gift it is to read.

I realised that a big difference between before and now is my praying. I used to talk to God so often. Nowadays, I compartmentalised my life so much that I stopped what I have done before. It is such a tragedy.

Lord, help me to talk to you more.


=778= Reflections: Power and Authority

I have been reading this Webtoon, Unordinary. It is really good. It questions classic shonen manga concepts. In most shonen mangas, power equates to the position or authority you hold.

In Naruto, the Kages are regarded as the strongest characters in the series. It was as if strength was everything. Unordinary questions this concept. What if there was a person that has strength but not the aptitude or stability to take on the role of authority?

Indeed just because you are powerful doesn’t mean that you can take on a role of leadership. This is very true in the real world.

Results doesn’t determine everything. Just because you have the best grades doesn’t mean that you are suitable to be head prefect. We all know this. Just because someone is the fittest in a unit, doesn’t mean that he can lead.

I think there is a need to realise this. Power doesn’t equate to authority.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have power but no maturity to lead? The person leading will misuse his/her power to bully people. Is such a leader honourable?

Perhaps we should pay more attention to mental capacity than results.

Lord, change me. Help me be a better person.


=777= Word: Authority of a Man

If you guys know me as a person, you would know that I am a person that really dislikes conflict.

Very often, I would be the one to reconcile. I honestly have no qualms about saying sorry even though I wasn’t in the wrong. I think that a relationship is more important. I never thought of the implications really. Only recently did I realise what it has the potential to affect.

When you say sorry when you weren’t in the wrong, you condone the action that wronged you. When you do that, they will learn that it is alright to do certain things to you.

I think there is a need to change.

I need to learn to approach this issue with a different way. I need to get the point across that I want to reconcile, BUT there is a need to tell the person that the action is wrong.

Telling someone they are wrong is never an easy thing. Even in sound engineering, when I correct people, I risk offending people. No one likes being told they are wrong. -sigh-

The authority of a man. How will I earn that?

The authority of a man is to be gentle with love and yet firm with truth. Truth never changes. Help me to be firm Lord. Help me.