Saturday, March 19, 2016

New Drum Lessons

In a former life I was a musician and studied Music Education at the University of Missouri. At some point around 2002 I became burned out, left the program, and switched to business. Although I haven't played much in the past decade I still remember enough to be dangerous. Now that my son is coming of age I've decided to teach him to drum.

A little background:
My son seems to have some natural musical ability. at a very young age he seemed to pick up on tones and rhythms. So about a year and a half ago my wife and I put him in piano lessons. We pushed him to practice hard for the first year, but for the past six months we've left it more up to him to practice and be prepared for his lesson every week. Now he wants to learn to drum in addition to piano.

3/19/16 Piano Homework
My approach:
I began a few weeks ago by setting him up with a real feel drum pad and a basic snare book "A fresh approach to the snare drum" by Mark Wessels. I've established three rules: 1) I will only teach him as long as he can control his attitude, 2) I'm not going to tell him to practice (like piano), 3) if he's not ready for a lesson I'm not going to move him on to the next. After about three weeks we finally made it past the first lesson. I've spent quite a bit of time with him on grip, using his wrist and fingers, and his stroke in general.
Real Feel pad and Lesson book (lesson 1)
I've considered that this approach will allow him to develop individual technique, but it will leave gaps in his overall ability because he is only play solo. To give him an opportunity to get some ensemble experience I am working to put together a non-profit youth percussion ensemble similar to the Louisville Leopards. In the meantime I've decided to try a different approach by incorporating the PlayStation 4 game Rock Band.
Rock Band 4 Drum Pad
Why I think this will work:
I am betting on adult learning theory on this one. Although this is unorthodox, it is supported by Edward Thorndike's Theory of Identical Elements which states that learning is more likely to occur when it's as close to the actual performance as possible. Second, Social Learning theory states that learning transfer occurs better when the desired performance is modeled (me playing too). Third, immediate and specific feedback. If he's out of time the system will tell him immediately. Fourth, gamification. He can start on easy mode and work his way up to hard. He can learn songs he wants to learn. Ohh, and I can play the guitar too so it'll be fun at the same time.