Admit it, many of us dream of having the skills to play a musical instrument; who doesn’t want to play the drum solo of Enter Sandman by Metallica like a pro right? With four years of teaching experience under his belt, we sat down with music tutor Zahar Hazim on his musical journey, what it takes to be a tutor and his words of wisdom to aspiring musicians
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: Hello Zahar, thank you for spending your time to sit down with us for this interview session. I have been told that you have been pursuing a career in the music industry as a tutor. Would you kindly tell us a little bit about yourself?
ZAHAR: Hello, Firdaus Mutalib! Please accept my appreciation for inviting me to participate in this interview! Honestly, this conversation is going to be exciting because I get to put my imagination and expertise to work as a teacher. Yes, I’m a musician and a teacher, however, most people just call me “Zahar” or “zahargerimis”. I’m 27 years old, and I’m a drummer and percussionist in a band. Since 2018, I’ve been teaching and working in the music industry with the band SpaceHawk, which I started in high school. Colin plays the bass, and Faisal is the manager of the band, which includes guitarist Aqmal Shah, keyboardist Anif, and vocalist Nabil.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: What kind of instruments do you play?
ZAHAR: The main instrument I play in orchestra performances is percussion, which includes the timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbal, triangle, and tambourine. But I also play the drums for a performance band and teaching.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: How long have you been tutoring your students throughout your musical career? And what’s your favourite aspect of teaching?
ZAHAR: I have been a drumming instructor for four years. My favourite part of my job as a teacher is getting to know my students and the first thing I tell my students is I’m satisfied when they understand and can become interested in playing. When I teach, I get to know individuals of all types, from different backgrounds, experiences and how they try to grasp their techniques, and I come up with creative solutions to assist them in achieving their drum lessons promptly.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: What made you interested in venturing into the music industry and becoming a tutor?
ZAHAR: I’ve always been interested in music and I get to explore the world of industrial music as an instructor. My passion for music started in primary school, when I entered high school my confidence in playing the drums improved, and I became a professional drummer. After graduating from high school, I studied for a Diploma in Music. From then on, I began to teach since I met so many outstanding musicians and observed how they practised and understood the music. These are my motivations for teaching and for instructing my students.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: How difficult is it to get a musical certificate? And what are some of the requirements that you need to get one?
ZAHAR: The qualifications for obtaining one are passion, commitment, and practice the concept of work smart rather than work hard. The difficulty of obtaining a musical certificate is totally dependent on you. It is not simple to achieve all you want in the world. You must challenge yourself and find out what you are interested in. I graduated with my Diploma in Music after three and a half years of study. I can and You can. However, you may also take the Rockschool Grade Exam, the Yamaha Grade Exam, and other exams.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: As we all know, the world is not the same anymore due to COVID-19, so how are you coping with transitioning into the endemic period? And would you mind sharing with us a little bit of your experience teaching students via video calls during the pandemic period?
ZAHAR: During COVID-19, it was hard for me as an instructor because things were different before and after the pandemic. Before the pandemic, it was easier for my students to understand how teaching was done but after the pandemic, it’s more important for them to know how the instrument works than how to play it. Teaching students through video is very challenging for me because not all of them have the right equipment to set up virtual classes but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create a virtual class. It is possible to have virtual classes, but students and teachers need to be able to understand what is going on. Skype is my favourite way to teach my students in a virtual class.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: Due to COVID-19, is it possible that there is a decrease in students in your opinion since people might still have a fear of sitting down for a one-on-one tutoring session and whatnot?
ZAHAR: Because of COVID-19, many students and teachers are still cautious about teaching face-to-face. Learning to play an instrument is the most sensitive to COVID-19 infection. Observing the one metre rule is tough because not many studios have huge areas. Secondly, in order to get students used to always sanitising it was difficult to get students to get used to always sanitising and donning masks, particularly younger students (those aged seven and under).
In my opinion, everyone needs to play a role, especially the teachers, parents, and students themselves. Constantly having equipment and hands-on sanitising, wearing masks and using their own equipment (like bringing their own drumsticks, for example) are just some of the ways to avoid the COVID-19 infection.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: Playing musical instruments can be a little difficult for some of us. What are some challenges that you notice from your students for them to grasp the tone of music? And what advice can you give to those who are struggling to master playing an instrument?
ZAHAR: Playing musical instruments is challenging, especially if we lack the basics and talent. However, taking music lessons may help you learn and develop your skills because the basics of playing music is simply needing time to improve. Every musical instrument, such as the guitar, piano, and drums, must be tried out so that we know what level we can play at and what instruments we can play. The selection of music teachers is equally important in order to facilitate our students’ learning.
FIRDAUS MUTALIB: Thank you for your time, Zahar. I hope that everyone that reads this understands what it means to be a music teacher. For those who would like to contact you, how can they do so?
ZAHAR: To the teachers and students who may be reading this, I offer my best wishes that what I have to say would motivate them to continue their studies of an instrument. If you don’t have enough money to join a lesson, don’t be afraid to learn because you can gain knowledge from YouTube or friends. When you are ready, choose a music teacher to help you improve. On the other hand, if you’d like to keep up with me, I’m on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Thank you so much for having me here today, Polaris Vega. I really appreciate it.