As an educator, the development, awareness and joy of rhythm is my life’s work and my duty to pass on. 

Rhythm is innate; our hearts beat rhythm, we walk rhythm, we talk rhythm. I base my approach to both drum set and percussion on these basic truths. To build a foundation of rhythmic comprehension in my students, I simulate stepping (walking), vocalizing (talking) and clapping (heartbeat/pulse). Students will step in time, clap in time and vocalize rhythms, initially together, then against each other, to develop physical and mental independence, an incredibly important skill for drum set and percussion.   

The next step in the developmental process involves improvisation. As with language, a true sign of rhythmic comprehension is the ability to communicate fluidly, thus improvising is a key component to my teaching. Applying improvisation to each of the elements develops the mind and prepares it for the flexibility and reactivity required in many instances as a drum set or percussion artist.

In the proceeding phase, I apply specific drum set activity for the student – where feet stepped, they now play bass drum and hi hat - where hands clapped, they now play cymbals or snare or toms - where the mouth vocalized…well, the mouth continues to vocalize. I believe that counting out loud or vocalizing patterns is integral to developing strong time and rhythm as well as mental independence.

Once I've introduced movement/clapping/vocalizing and hardwired those skills through improvisation and drum set application, I move students toward functional playing. Functioning within an ensemble or band applies everything learned to this point and is the final piece of the puzzle. Knowing when and how much to play, how loudly or softly, is developed by listening, analyzing and playing along to music.

Rhythm is my business. As an educator, that means instilling a joy in my students through this natural process of developing rhythmic skill. Students take ownership of their education as they grow in their awareness of rhythm, body movement, time and function. The ultimate result of this process intends to instill a skill set that is hard to deny and a reverence and enthusiasm for the instrument that lasts.

 

Loose Curriculum:

Rudiments, Drum-Set dexterity and limb independence, Musical function and understanding of drum-set and its role, Development of styles and genres through listening and playing along.

 

Recommended materials:

Drum sticks / Brushes

Practice Pad

Metronome (Smartphone App is fine)

New Breed - Gary Chester