Dave Lombardo: 'Music Lessons Were a Waste of Money for Me'

"I didn't start using metronome until 1996," the drummer adds.

Ultimate Guitar

Discussing his musical beginnings, former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo pointed out that in his case, music lessons were a "waste of money."

Chatting with Guima Drum, Dave explained how listening to music turned out as far more crucial during the learning process. He also admitted that he didn't start using a metronome until as late as 1996.

Noting that his parents couldn't afford to pay him music lessons, Lombardo stated, "The small amount of music education I did get was from school - I think I took one week of lessons, but I felt it was a waste of money because I was learning more by listening to music than by a teacher telling me what to play."

Remembering his drum practice habits, Dave stated, "I practiced a lot with a band, I didn't really practice much by myself."

Prompted to comment about the mentioned metronome matter, the drummer added, "No, at that time, no. I didn't start using a metronome until... '96, '98. That's when I started using a metronome, it wasn't really a part of my routine."

Asked about how many Slayer albums he recorded without using a metronome, Dave replied, "All of 'em. Except for 'World Pained Blood' or 'Christ Illusion.' We used a metronome for four to eight bars, and then they'd cut the metronome and I'd continue on my own."

Elaborating further, Lombardo noted that recording without a metronome allows better expression of certain dynamic nuances. "I like recording [without a metronome], that way you capture the spirit of the band and the emotion. When a guitar riff becomes intense, the speed goes up just a little bit, it's like a crescendo in classical music, it just builds.

"'Cause in classical music, there's really no time signature, it's just what the maestro conducts," the drummer concluded.

Halford guitarist "Metal" Mike Chlasciak recently discussed the "lessons vs. self-taught" matter, explaining how no musician is actually self-taught. Details here.

In related Lombardo news, the new Philm album "Fire From the Evening Sun" is due out on September 16 via UDR. Details here.

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23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Like I Is
    "Classical music has no time signature"? Embarrassing.
    that line made me cringe haha. i love dave, and support him over 'slayer' (the cover band). but that statement is highlariously incorrect
    Hmm It's okay if you manage without but don't say musical education is a waste of money. You will never learn as much by yourself as when you get taught. You can learn how to play existing songs, and use the things you hear in your own way but you won't learn any theory by that. And as my teacher once said: If music is like poetry, then music theory is like a vocabulary.
    He never said that they were a waste of money for everyone else, just that for him it wasn't the approach he wanted to go for.
    Woah,weird.I tottaly made that poetry-music theory comparison today on a conversation with myself.(I tend to do that a lot )
    The best way to learn, as it has been told to me many times, is to play with other people. In the few months I was in a band, twice, I remember getting past my learning block in that time frame.
    Pretty sure in classical music there are time signatures.What changes regularly is the tempo.Maestro is there so the whole orchestra can act like one person and follow changes in tempo like ritenuto and accelerando .
    I have a drummer friend, who although has phenomenal chops and speed, he simply cannot get the timing to my songs right because he is too institutionalized with the metronome. He thinks he can just muscle his way through anyone's music by dazzling everyone with his obnoxious fills and machine-gun speed snare rolls. I'd rather have a drummer who's a tad sloppy but plays in a way that serves the song rather than trying to tell my whole band we're out of time for not playing every song in 4/4. BORING.
    At least he didn't say that music lessons are all bad or wasteful. He just didn't like the experience he had with one teacher during one week of instruction... That's not saying much
    I'd take this a bit more seriously if it wasn't the drummer of Slayer.. who is known for some of the most bland drumming in the business. Solid and fast, yes.. but that's about all you can say about it. I do agree with what he says about listening to music as a form of learning. I can't personally listen to my favourite artists anymore without trying to break the song down and how the music comes together with the individual components of the band. But, again, lessons are fantastic if you utilize the teachings and get the groundwork laid out. Trying to teach yourself these days with YouTube and the countless amount of material that a beginner (or even intermediate/advanced) musician can be hugely over-whelming for some people if they don't have someone saying "Look, that stuff is not important right now. We can learn it eventually, but why don't you try and learn this stuff so you can build yourself up to it?"
    If you listen carefully while reading the article, you can hear the worlds of some "formal music training only" elitists crumble.
    I wouldn't say that music lessons are a waste of money but given the amount of FREE information online, you'd be short of silly to pay for any lesson, IMO.
    There's something to be said for 1:1 instruction with a human. Videos are great, tab is great, hell RockSmith ain't a bad program for learning guitar but a human can listen to what you can do, hear what you WANT to do, and help you make it happen in ways that youtube is not going to be able to accomplish.
    The problem is that all that information could easily flood you,not knowing what to learn first.And personally,before I started taking lessons,I used to overestimate myself and jump to the next topic without really doing a good job on previous one.A teacher is there so he can guide your way through all that information and not lose precious time
    Reminded me of Dave Lombardo's isolated track for Raining Blood (look it up on youtube).. It's not perfectly executed but you can hear and feel the rage.