NURTURER: That’s what I am. Be patient and create a successful environment.

A studio that practices together succeeds together. Practicing in close quarters allows for human contact. We can ask each other interpretation questions- perform for each other. This dialogue is healthy and necessary for musicians to grow together. Also, remember to always be a role model. Students are motivated and influenced by the actions of their teachers. If you won’t, they won’t. This growth is slow to show itself at times, so wait for it and trust in the process.


PROTECTOR: Help guard them against themselves and others.

Students often shy away from opportunity. They need you to help guard them from their weakness. They also need tough love. Honesty and trust must prevail, so tell a student when they’re screwing up, even if they’ll hate you now. They’ll thank you for it later. And don’t let them fall victim to screw ups.


CHALLENGER: Help them push through comfort levels. Make them uncomfortable.

First one in, last one out. This is the motto every student should have. And it’s certainly the life of a successful percussionist. If they’re used to practicing 2 hours a day, they need pushed to 4 hours. “Learn to love the grind.” Get them playing as many gigs as possible, even if they have performance anxiety. “Learn to enjoy anxiety. It’s part of the game.” As Cal would say, they’ve been successful thus far on only 75% effort. Imagine their successes with 100% effort.


TEACHER: Help them create within themselves a love of learning and growth.

Again, learn to love the grind. The process of improvement should be as enjoyable as the game. Students know when they’re getting better. Be your own teacher. And be the teacher that grows with them. Be a role model and be a lifelong learner. Read. Write. Ask questions. If you do it, they will, too.


PROMOTER: Put them on a stage. If we lose, it’s on me. If we win, they get all the glory. Players First.

Give students as many opportunities as possible. Get them out there playing in an art gallery. Encourage them to organize a hospital or nursing home show. Play as many concerts as a studio as possible. And bring in artists to attract a perhaps greater audience and get the studio visibility.


A FATHER: Give them unconditional love at all times.

Honesty and trust are the pillars of a successful program. Transparency in communications with students will empower the student. If the student has something they must improve “outside the practice room,” tell them. And give them the best guidance you can. Through success or failure, they need to know you care and they are important.


These quotes come from John Calipari’s inspirational book (“Player’s First, Coaching from the Inside Out”) on leadership as the Head Coach of the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team.

John Calipari and Michael Sokolove, Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out (Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition edition (April 15, 2014).