Update: 13th June 2018
Since I began my professional journey as a drumset educator in 2007, I constantly reviewed my approach to teaching the instrument and how this approach was relevant to the student’s world and the world of music that he/she will get into. The music industry as a global whole has changed drastically in the last 15 years. Music these days is made with not just acoustic instruments but a whole plethora of electronics. The drummer of today and beyond has to master the integration of analogue and digital technologies including how we make music with others, how we record our instruments, how we promote ourselves as artists, and so on…
It is with the above in mind that I had to revamp what I include in my lessons and leave out. Ultimately, I work with the student on where he/she wants to go with drumming, and I gradually establish the idea in the early learning stages that the student is in control of the direction of the learning journey that he/she wishes to pursue. When I reflected on how I developed as a musician, it was exactly the same process. It makes no sense to me therefore to deny my students that process.
With that said, drumming fundamentals such as good technique; a deep knowledge, awareness, and sense of time and feel; achieving a good sound out of the drumset; fluid movement and smooth co-ordination; a good grounding in the essential drumming rudiments (i.e. single stroke, double stroke, paradiddles, flams..the ABC of drumming); and a good grounding in rhythmic theory, are non-negotiable. I may not introduce the rudiments right away at Lesson 1, but I will get to them as we go along. You have to be ready for it and be in the right mindset to receive these skills. You are actually going to play a rudiment right away before I tell you anything about rudiments – single strokes. Trust me, you will be a much better drummer for having learnt them.
The following outline of what my drum lessons will cover is only a template for learning organization and progression, but can always be customized to better fit the student’s needs. The student’s concerns and challenges will always be top-priority to me in the learning environment. Please take your time to read through and I will be happy to attend to further enquiries at the trial lesson:
I. BEGINNER STAGE (minimum 6 months):
1) Sight-read up to 16th note rhythms and play in the following meters: 4/4, 2/4, 3/4 using a top-rated Snare Drum Method titled “Alfred’s Drum Method”
2) Play basic rock beats and fills in 8th notes and 16ths notes. Relevants parts of the book “Total Rock Drummer” by Mike Michalkow will be used.
3) Fundamental Stick Control: Rebound (or Free Stroke), Controlled Strokes (for playing accents and non-accents), Controlling stick heights for different volumes (dynamics), Wrist and Finger Control. The Alfred’s Drum Method and other supplementary exercises will be used.
4) Embark on a journey to developing great time-keeping using the metronome, drum machine, or electronic music loops
5) Introduction to the basic rudiments of drumming: Single Stroke Roll, Double Stroke Roll, and Single Paradidle using the Beginner level warm-up routine for the hands from “The Lifetime Warmup” system by Sonny Igoe and Tommy Igoe along with supplementary exercises, leading to the exploration of their applications on the drumset.
6) Bass Drum Control using the “Heel-Down” technique. Printed exercises will be given to the students.
7) How to achieve smooth co-ordinaton between all 4 limbs using fun and challenging exercises
8) Learn how to read and perform professional drum charts using the excellent award-winning “Groove Essentials” play-along package by Tommy Igoe, and fully notated drumset pieces from actual songs and exam pieces.
9) Develop listening skills necessary for building one’s musicianship.
II INTERMEDIATE STAGE (minimum 8 months)
Besides being technically ready to expand on what they’ve mastered in the Beginner stage, students in the Intermediate stage should also be ready to begin the life-long process of finding their individual niches as drummers. In this stage, they will:
1) Learn and master Triplet rhythms, and meters such as 6/8, 12/8, 2/2. as well as the ability to execute 32nd note rhythmic ideas. The Alfred’s Drum Method, The Total Rock Drummer, other supplementary exercises, and lots of musical examples for referencing and playing-along to will be used. .
2) Expand on their fundamental stick control to achieve more finesse, more speed,and more power, with the emphasis again on efficiency of execution and tension-free hands.
3) Be exposed to a wide variety of technically challenging musical styles from R&B, Funk, Jazz, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, to other types of “World” music, using the “Groove Essentials” system by Tommy Igoe along with supplementary material such as actual songs and exam pieces.
4) Expansion on the rudiments covering Flams, Drags, and the Press Roll using the Intermediate Level of “The Lifetime Warmup” system and supplementary exercises, leading to the exploration of their applications on the drumset.
5) Bass Drum control using the “Heel-Up” technique. The highly effective instructional system titled, “Bass Drum and Hi-Hat Technique” by Michael Packer and Jojo Mayer’s Secret Weapons For The Modern Drummer II will be used for studying different variations of this technique.
6) Co-ordination exercises whenever necessary to help them meet the technical demands of the above-listed styles of music covered
7) Rhythmic phrasing incorporating Odd Note Groupings and their applications on the drumset
8) Introduction to Polyrhythms: 3 over 2, and 4 over 3, as well as their applications on the drumset.
III. ADVANCED STAGE (minimum 6 months)
Advanced Learners will embark on some new concepts and also get the chance to embark on a more in-depth study of drumming styles listed below:
1) Introduction to Odd Meters using exercises from The Total Rock Drummer, Groove Essentials, and actual songs.
2) Expansion on Polyrhythms
3) Coverage of the Advanced Level of “The Lifetime Warmup” routine
4) Optional: Basic Double Bass Drumming as applied to Rock, Heavy Metal, and Fusion.
5) Linear Drumming as applied in Funk and Fusion. The book, “Future Sounds”, by legendary drummer and drumset educator, David Garibaldi will be used.
6) Soloing with Foot-Ostinato patterns
7) In-depth study module for Jazz, Funk, World Rhythms, Rudimental Snare Drum. A set of method books will be prescribed for the student’s choice of study. I will advise the student where to get the books
NOTE: Throughout a student’s learning journey with me, I will incorporate the element of improvisation. The aim is to allow him/her to build his/her own ideas of whatever drumming concept imparted during the lessons. This is an excellent tool of empowerment.
From time to time I receive requests from students who do not wish to learn sight-reading and only want to learn by ear. I can accommodate such requests and can tailor the lessons to teach the fundamentals through show and tell. However, from experience, many of these students eventually realize the benefits of sight-reading once they start advancing in their playing and gain exposure performing with other musicians.
Preparation for Trinity/Guildhall and Rockschool Drumset Exams. All Grades welcome. More information on this can be provided during the trial lesson.
I may hold from time to time focused workshops on specific drumming concepts or sight-reading and it will be catered to specific age-brackets.
I hope to hear from you soon and I look forward to helping you with your drumming goals!
In my next post, I will be covering some frequently asked questions concerning beginner students.