Can "feel" be taught or does it more likely come from within?


Platinum Member
Played a festival this past weekend with several bands. As I was sitting around watching them, one band in particular had a fantastic drummer, but the fills and even some of the grooves didn't "fit" that music that great. The band was playing your average "bar band top 100" music.

This led me to thinking about having a "feel" for playing certain music. I know for me, switching from playing rock and roll to country was more of a transition in "feel" than my switching between any other genre. I mean, I could play the notes with no problem when I first started, but it took me a while to begin to make the music feel right. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten away with not changing too much, but I really wanted to make the music I was playing sound the best that it could be, so I worked hard on changing my playing. I've come a long way to changing my feel to country music, but I still have a ways to go! When it comes to "feel" in music, I know I had to teach myself when it came to country, but I had NO problems figuring it out for rock-n-roll.

So my question is this: Can "feel" for certain music be taught or is it more natural?


Senior Member
Technique - the physical biomechanics required to play an insturment - can be taught. Feel is the result of deeper self-learning.

Other people can provide affirmation of progress, but I think feel is ultimately a self-taught aspect of music.

Ryan Culberson

Well-known Member
The “fantastic” drummer you mentioned doesn’t sound fantastic at all. He didn’t play appropriately, from what you described. He sounds more like a drummer who lacks the discipline to play what’s right for the job. I’d bet the farm that what’s appropriate would’ve been “boring” to him. That’s usually how it plays out.


Diamond Member
I feel that feel feels like a giant hole and trap of a thread because we will fill with it with our subjective feelings on topic of feel. And since it's subjective it will be different for many drummers who may feel differently in their feel of a song.
Wo-o-o feelings
Wo-o-o feelings
Again in my arms
Feelings like I've never lost you
And feelings like I've never have you
Again in my heart

Actually I equate "feel" with just good taste in playing to a song. Feel feels more like a blind man trying to find his way. Playing tastefully sounds like something I wanna eat. LOL. I've raised the question before "how do you teach a drummer to play tastefully" because you can have great technique and chops but if deaf to the feel of song it sounds off.


Gold Member
Yes I was never taught by a drum Instructor 'feel' maybe little things how my 1st teacher sat and spoke to me may have been an influence. Feel comes from parents and family and friends and just outlook on the local immediate life you're born into; Happy and sad, mad and elated both. And by time we've reached the drums many of us pre-teen or very early teen we are just flowing with emotions. I think we carry and add experiences to that. From that initial launch. Till the day we run out of gas. or G.A.S.
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Platinum Member
I agree feel can be learned, but it is harder to be successful at it it you are a) still concentrating on playing the notes and b) not listening to everyone else.

Too many drummers sound like they aren't really listening to the rest of the band. A great example: I once heard a guy play a completely straight beat on a shuffle tune where literally everyone else was swinging together. It not only sounded awkward it really made me wonder why the drummer couldn't hear what he was playing was wrong.


Well-known Member
I think it's both, a thing similar to confidence, that is based on actually knowing things, learning them, but also lots of experience applying said knowledge and the psychological strenght that may develop from those experiences, but could still be missing due to whatever else in life. I think creativity or tastefulness comes from feeling free to play what they want, trust themselves to know what is right at that moment - maybe from a broader understanding of music - and also having all the skills necessary to execute. The last one is probably the easiest to learn.

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
It comes from listening more than anything else, so one of the ways it may be taught is by listening to recordings, and discussing them.

Also you have to be aware that written music has to be interpreted.

I've seen students who had a decent feel, and kind of lost it for a while when starting to learn how to read.

When first learning how to read, most people will try to be too precise and place all the notes on a grid, which doesn't work most of the time.

When I teach someone how to hear the beats and their placement when listening to music, there's not much to be talked about. Just doing it together will do the trick. It's probably the same with feel.


Platinum Member
I think the best an instructor can do is guide the student, point out things to listen for, expose the student to new things and promote awareness of feel, but ultimately it is up to the student to learn it.

So, I guess my answer is yes, feel can be learned, but the student has to be the one to do it.


Gold Member
Feel comes from reacting
It's an internal digestion then regurgitation
If you got something in you you'll receive the input; and get it out in a conveyingly convincingly or not emotional way.
you're relaying digestive (!) emotions. that's feel.
I feel.
It's a Churn.

like "Wow did you see Ginger Baker

churn all those emotions last night?" May have been said in 1968
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Gold Member
Yea Feel can be put into a person. If he/she doesn't have any towards the subject jazz rock country classical .
A teacher a peer can feed. Surroundings also can feed. Just general life activity feeds


Senior Member
As others have suggested, I think feel comes mostly from immersion and extensive amount of both listening and playing. However, I do think it can be taught to a point. "Feel" is not black and white, so there isn't really a right and wrong like 2+2. There's no single exercise or book that will just sort out your feel if you go cover to cover. It's one of those things that you just know when you hear it or feel it (which again just takes a lot of time and experience). But a good teacher can help a student find those things to listen out for and help guide them towards discovering good feel on their own.


Senior Member
I know for me, switching from playing rock and roll to country was more of a transition in "feel" than my switching between any other genre. I mean, I could play the notes with no problem when I first started, but it took me a while to begin to make the music feel right.
This might be a slight hi-jack diversion but I would love to hear about the specifics of your changes in feel. I'm just recently making the same transition and am curious about your experience and what it might reach me about my own.


Gold Member
In my opinion it comes with both experience but more important also having the ability to listen.

A drummer may be experienced (ie skilled) but if they aren’t playing for the song, as you’ve mentioned, all the experience means nothing really.


Platinum Member
Sure it can be taught but the player has to be willing to listen. So many great players think they’re above any constructive criticism and refuse to learn from others. So they do great things but only on their home turf.