Bill Bachman is a world-renowned educator with twenty-five years of teaching experience, including more than fourteen years in online education. He specializes in hand technique and rudimental drumming.
MD: What came first, providing online content or offering online lessons?
Bill: Online lessons. When Skype was in its infancy, a guy from New York would mail me videotapes and then I’d type out my feedback and direction, much of which actually morphed into Stick Technique, my first book for Modern Drummer Publications. Typing all of this out took a long time, so before long he introduced me to Skype and it grew from there. Drumworkout.com followed in 2013 as a way to organize my entire process via the “Extreme Hands Makeover” and provide play-along workouts.
MD: What was the catalyst for you to pursue teaching virtually?
Bill: People from all over were seeking me out for help with their hands, and Skype made it possible. As for Drumworkout.com, I knew that the play-along workouts would be extremely effective in helping people with their hands and that there was nothing else like it, so it made too much sense not to do.
MD: What percentage of your career or how much of your daily energy is centered on your online instruction?
Bill: I teach a few hours a day and add updates and additional workouts to Drumworkout.com as I gain insights and improve strategies.
MD: How is the core of your teaching philosophy either enhanced or hindered by the online environment?
Bill: I prefer playing together with students in lessons that we can’t do online, but their opportunity to play the Drumworkout.com exercises along with me from very slow to very fast as I coach them is the next best thing.
MD: What’s the best way for a prospective student to approach distance learning with you?
Bill: The Extreme Hands Makeover on Drumworkout.com is the place to start. It’s a twenty-six-step process to build or rebuild your hand technique from the ground up for maximum natural and musical mechanics, of which chops and speed are natural byproducts, and prevent injuries. For those who want online lessons, I have them also subscribe to Drumworkout.com since it saves them time and money. They can get the lesson and do the workouts there, and then we’ll refine in the lesson, where I’ll also assign the next workouts.
MD: What insight would you share with a novice drummer who’s looking to explore online learning? How might that insight differ for an intermediate drummer? An advanced drummer?
Bill: I don’t differentiate between drummers of different levels, since every issue that drummers have goes right back to basic fundamentals. Drummers of all levels get tripped up right off the bat as holes and deficiencies in their technique are exposed. There’s a logical progression to get the results as fast as possible as you master each step in the makeover. Some get through it faster than others, but once you’re “done” you’re really just ready to do it all over again at the next level, since it’s all fundamental.
MD: How do you manage student accountability in an online format?
Bill: With Drumworkout.com I don’t, since I want people to go at their own pace and intensity. However, progression is inspiring, and the improved bell curve in results keeps people motivated. Most people practice wrong their whole lives and are forever frustrated; my goal is to remove these barriers.
In addition, when Drumworkout.com subscribers sometimes check in for Skype lessons, I’m consistently shocked at how many mistakes they’re not making. Getting information is one thing, but getting the tangible results in application is an entirely different matter. The play-along workouts with my coaching make all the difference. I’ve had many subscribers say, “How did you know I was making that mistake? It’s like you were watching me!” In twenty-five years of teaching hand technique, I’ve seen virtually every error out there, so I know the tendencies and am able to close the wrong doors ahead of time.
With Drumworkout.com I choose to focus purely on hand technique. Many drummers spend their lives working on grooves, fills, and independence, but they never achieve the musicality and flow they’re looking for due to deficiencies in their hand technique. I want to help drummers get out of their own way and sound as good as what they hear in their head.
MD: Technology is always advancing, and with that it’s becoming easier and more affordable for amateurs to have professional production value. However, that doesn’t equate to an increase in quality of the actual drumming content. How do you approach balancing quality of educational material versus quality of the production value?
Bill: I’m all about substance and results, so the quality of the instruction is the focus.
MD: How do you see the online drumming education landscape shifting over the next five or ten years?
Bill: I believe that we’re just about to the point where we can truly play together online with no lag and legitimate clarity. For online lessons, this will bring it to the next level.
By David Ciauro