Laying the Foundation
My approach begins by establishing a base of fundamental skills and knowledge. That includes concept of pulse, good time keeping, rudiments, and basic notation. Those skills and knowledge form the foundation upon which all subsequent lessons are built. Material and skills are taught by demonstration and imitation.
Whenever possible, I incorporate a variety of media, from audio and video to printed materials and music software, to give students the fullest possible experience and best understanding. During this phase, I also help students develop a practice habit that best suits them. This is critical to making satisfying progress and ensuring that all accumulated skills stay sharp.
Once this foundation is established, my students are ready to make music! As soon as possible, I move toward helping my students learn specific musical compositions from a percussion perspective. Compositions can be from a method book, accompaniment to a recorded song, playing familiar melodies rhythmically on a drum, a part for concert or marching band, preparing for a gig, or just learning to play a song a student loves.
The pieces we use are appropriate to the student’s current skill level and are chosen for their clear and graduated uses of different musical concepts and percussion techniques. As we build upon the student’s foundation, he or she will develop a collection of musical pieces he or she can play—a personal repertoire. His or her repertoire will utilize, demonstrate, and hone those accumulated skills. This keeps things fun and exciting, and keeps the student ready for any playing situation!
Each weekly drum lesson generally follows a structure of:
- Reviewing previous material. The student will perform the assignment(s) from the previous week, as well as demonstrate retention of accumulated skills and knowledge.
- Presenting new material. This is focused on learning an exercise that builds upon the student’s repertoire.
- Utilizing the arsenal. This is a musical application of some variety.
It is absolutely essential to learn how to practice. I tell every student that the more they practice, the better they’ll be at the instrument, and the more fun they will have. Then they’ll want to have more fun, so they’ll practice more. It’s a positive cycle. I foster an appreciation for reaping the rewards of accomplishment that come from putting the time into practice. Practice is something that should happen every day – if you put time into it every day, you’ll get something back every day. I help my students cultivate mental focus and time management to make their practices efficient and fruitful. I help my students identify their own strengths and weaknesses so they can direct their efforts effectively.