What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far? Why?
I think that the most difficult mentoring challenge for me so far has probably been communicating properly during our meetings. I find that during my mentor meetings, I feel the pressure to have to fill up every silence or keep the momentum going to the point where I’m overcompensating. Whether it be talking too much and not letting my mentor speak, or stumbling over my words and not making sense, it doesn’t really make for a productive conversation or meeting. The problem with this is that the more I do it, the more I get nervous about it, and speaking from experience, it’s pretty hard to learn when you’re nervously trying to keep someone occupied the entire time. I also think that the mindset that I have wherein I think it’s completely on me to keep the other person going so that they feel that their time is worth it is also a little bit harmful. I’ve learned that a mentorship is very much a partnership and not everything is up to one person. In the end, I think that it’s just a matter of calming down a bit before or even at the beginning of a meeting with small conversation (even if it is my dad, the mentoring ‘atmosphere’ of the meetings make me nervous). A lot of it is just in my head so I recognize that slowing down and taking the time to think isn’t going to hurt or disappoint anyone.
What is working well? Why?
On part of the mentor meetings that I feel is working pretty well is practice sheets that we’re working on. A big concern that I had at the beginning of learning the drums was how I was supposed to practice. When my dad and I dug through my brother’s old drum sheets and found a series of exercises, they were life savers! Not only do they help me practice getting on the drums, but they also help out a lot with learning how to improvise and building your own rhythms. I also really like how they give my mentor and I a place to start off at the beginning of every meeting. A lot of the easy rhythms are basic and give us a direction to point the meeting in whether it be me needing to work on something, or an activity/song that includes a rhythm that I really enjoyed playing. Having a recurring starting point that can vary meeting to meeting is really handy for getting the conversation flowing.
What could be working better? How can you make sure this happens?
I think that we could definitely get better at having goals for each meeting that we have. I have very vague goals that I set for myself for sections of In-Depth, but even that I feel isn’t enough. By having a specific goal set for each meeting, the direction is clearer, and we have almost a set destination that we know we want to work towards. I also think that making goals with your mentor and discussing what you might want to work on or learn that day is really good because it brings both of you onto the same page. It is much easier to learn when both partners know where they are headed. Whether it be learning a new song or fill/rhythm, my goal setting could definitely be improved. To make this happen, I can easily set goals before I have my next meeting and discuss them with my mentor and my plan for goal setting. By telling my mentor, both of us can then remember it for future meetings.
My Progress So Far…
There were a few challenges with meetings these past few weeks. My dad’s asthma had gotten pretty bad which caused us to have to delay a lot of our meetings. However, using the practice sheets and playing around on my own, I was able to still learn a lot even by just talking with him outside of meetings about the drums. Communication outside of meetings has really been key the past month or so because of my dad’s breathing, and I think us working together to be more talkative and transparent really helped
This week and past Spring break has been a lot of experimenting with the drums! After learning the basic drum beat to a song and seeing how it fits with the Rocky theme, and then practicing all the smaller rhythms on the practice sheets, my mentor and I discussed just experimenting with music that I liked and playing along using what I’ve learned. At first, it was pretty strange just listening and improvising music on the spot, but I found that it was a lot of fun! During spring break, I put on a few of my favourite songs and tried playing along and making up my own fills. I thought it was the coolest thing! Below I took a video of a song that I had tried once before, and used made up fills using my practice sheet, and a sort of messy modified basic rock beat from the Rocky song before. My playing is still pretty all over the place but playing along to one of my favourite songs made me so happy I didn’t even notice.