The following thoughts are in no way a critique or judgement of any specific person’s character, creativity, or career. I do not have mutual personal problems with anyone and I intend to keep it that way.
These thoughts are solely coming from a scientific, biomechanical standpoint, from the the hope that we can all hear and play more, and ultimately, for the love of the drums and the love of the music.
Some of the worst advice you can give another drummer who looks up to you, when they ask you questions regarding how to develop their skills is to respond by saying “you just have to practice.”
Practice WHAT? You are assuming that they know what to do with that answer. You never assessed their work capacity, technical ability or biomechanics. If any of those are severely compromised or underdeveloped, then them applying your advice to “practice” could not only exacerbate the problem they’re dealing with, but likely will lay the groundwork for injury. In fact, this is the most common way I’ve seen injuries arise among drummers.
If someone wants to develop dexterity, control, and power in the fingers of their left hand, but they have very poor/underdeveloped biomechanics and hand technique in comparison to their right side, the solution is absolutely NOT to just do the thing that they’re already doing MORE.
If someone wants to learn the open-close technique, but has never trained for mobility or concentric/eccentric strength in the back two fingers of the hand, the WORST thing you can do is practice open-close with your hand in that condition, especially for hours on end.
If someone wants to develop their left foot, and they have severely limited ankle flexion, little to no consistent nervous system control of the proper muscles to perform specific techniques, and no trained strength in those muscles, they may then compensate by moving up the chain to create the left foot motion only from their quads, from the hips, and/or, from the glutes, which at that point, becomes more about keeping the left foot from sliding forward on the pedal, which puts excess stress on the lower back.
Practice SHOULD NOT BE passively doing the wrong thing for so long that you eventually can do it well/with a high accuracy rate.
At that point, you have conditioned yourself into bad form.
Bad form in the gym leads to injury. It’s no different with drum set playing. This is an athletic endeavor.
Most drummers only understand practice in terms of volume (amount) of work and not in terms of quality of work. It makes sense to me! People want to use the number of hours they spend in the practice room as a trophy to convey discipline and dedication.
However, you can’t argue with this: doing the wrong thing for eight hours a day vs. doing the right thing for three hours a day - which do you think will yield a better result?
The other ethical implication with telling someone to just “practice” is that they likely haven't developed the capacities or real-time physical awareness to know the extent of their technical and biomechanical problems on the instrument, which means that for them, the solutions for their problems are currently unknown and unexperienced. All they may know is how to do the wrong thing, but they don’t even know how wrong it is, because their nervous system's only conception of what playing the drums feels like (and should feel like) is the way they're already playing and moving. They literally may have no current embodied framework to understand how to do something else than what they already know, and their ideas about what practice should consist of may be just as vague.
If they injure themselves from taking your advice to “practice”, does that make you liable?
A non-specific answer to a specific question, applied by someone who is motivated by that non-specific answer to implement a type of skill building that is disembodied by default is not the answer to a technical problem. We have to address the real issue: a lack of training.
Often times, the feeling behind the questions of what someone needs to do to develop their skills is their knowing that whatever they’re coming from and whatever they’re currently doing is not working for them, and they want to understand what has worked for you.
Truth is: you may not even understand what worked for you - you just kept playing.
You (for many reasons) may also be just as unaware of how your body moves through space to generate the sound while you’re playing. Your motion abilities may be as critically underdeveloped as that person asking you for advice, but you’re just able to play more with that incorrect technique. I would not be impressed by the fact that you can perform well with bad form. I would be concerned for you. I want you to have as much longevity as possible. And I want you to believe that that’s important.
If you don’t have clarity on how you developed your skills, answering with "practice" tells me everything about what you actually understand about your own playing and long term development.
Unless you are intentionally withholding information from someone, that response is a failure on your part to be able explain what you intuitively know about how to play.
The point is not to explain the feelings in words - trying to would be antithetical. And I am NOT saying to give away the secrets to untrained people. Even if you did, they wouldn’t know what to do with that information. Additionally, if that's your best answer to a private student, then what are you working on with them and what are they paying you for?
There is a world, unseen and unknown to most, in how we physically do what we do when we play. Your level of awareness will create your reality. What are you not in contact with?
Young advanced players, we have immense power! We must support those who admire us in a more constructive way. This is up to us.