thanks so much for the great responses guys!!
i DO believe that "feel" can be learned and, today, i'd like to share an approach i take with students that helps to increase feeling in their playing. i will offer some more in days to come.
one major discipline i assign is practicing certain "beliefs". One idea i impress is: "art is life and life is IMPERFECT"
as artists we're supposed to be telling the stories of life and i feel if we strive for perfection we are missing the point! "perfect" playing seems to lack the dirt and drama of life. furthermore, i believe the mind that strives for perfection holds the drummer's heart and soul hostage, preventing the drummer from ever achieving that "it" that makes us go... holy sh#t, dig that!!
instead, i say GO FOR GRACE! i have found that when students 'allow' for grace to happen, a certain amount of precision will happen, too - but it will be imbued with a joyousness vs. a sterility.
this is simply a thought discipline. we are what we think most often so if you want to be grace-full.... practice it.
thanks again guys!