Posts Tagged ‘drum lessons’

The Lasting Benefits of Percussion Study

May 4, 2017

by Chris Eagles

Drum and Percussion Instructor at The Lesson Studio

As a music educator, it is unreasonable for me to expect each of my students to pursue music as a career. However, through regular drum lessons and a good practice routine, I fully expect to equip each student with a skill set desirable in every industry. Music serves as a practical means to learn these skills in a fun, and challenging environment.

Each of my students will learn music fundamentals, rudiments and practical knowledge when it comes to percussion, this goes without saying. However, problem solving is inherent to each of these topics. It is the single most valuable aspect of percussion study, and maybe of music studies in general. Students who learn to flex their problem solving muscle will inherently  have a great deal of perseverance. In an age where “googling” can solve most any problem, it is easy for students to get discouraged when faced with a difficult issue. In music study, there is no easy solution. It seems strange to say, but the study of music is a great way of realizing just how much of an effect hard work, and persistence, with this comes a boost in confidence.

 

Playing percussion is a physical endeavor, possibly the most physically demanding of any instrument (of course this could be debated). Percussion forces students to be mindful of their physicality, many lessons will start with light stretching, or simply by checking in to see if the student (or the teacher) is holding any unwanted tension. This often forces the student to be aware how they are using their bodies in their daily routine, not just while playing percussion. Bad physical habits that arise while playing, can often be traced to something that is non music related giving further insight into a better, more effective use of our bodies.

Compiling a full list of extra musical benefits to taking private lessons (with any instructor on any instrument) is a task far too great for a short blog post, these were only a couple. I encourage you all to ponder them and consider enrolling your child, or yourselves in lessons to reap the lifetime of benefits. You won’t regret it.

 

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Accented notes versus unaccented notes

October 25, 2014

By Ryan Sapp – Drum Set Instructor at The Lesson Studio.

Ryan Sapp

Ryan Sapp, Percussion Instructor at the Lesson Studio

In drumming, there should be a major difference in volume between accented notes and unaccented notes. Unaccented notes can be thought of as “the normal notes at the normal volume” or “just cruising along”. Accented notes are much louder and should really stick out and be discernable by even the casual music listener. Accented notes are frequently used as the backbeat (2 and 4) in rock music. They are also used to highlight accents in songs and other instruments. Accented notes are frequently used in fills and can also create a counter rhythm within a flow of notes.

Creating solid accents within the flow of the music and in a stream of notes is a worthwhile pursuit. It requires consistent practice over the course of time. The rewards of this practice are numerous and include superior hand and muscular control, increased dynamic awareness, and a musical sophistication that is noticeable amongst musicians and listeners alike. A qualified instructor will help you use the correct technique and guide you in your pursuit of musical excellence.

To begin with unaccented notes, you must place the sticks just above the drum in the “neutral position”. The tips of the drumsticks must be very near each other and be approximately 1/2 inch over the drumhead. Both sticks must be at the same height. This position allows you to drop each tip onto the drumhead at a lower volume. After either hand strikes the drum, remember to return it to the “neutral position” of 1/2 inch above the drumhead. Using a metronome and playing a steady stream of either 8th or 16th notes is highly recommended to help achieve evenness.

To play an accented note, you must also begin at the “neutral position”. This position allows for the easy use of playing either an unaccented note (which you just drop the stick to the head) or an accented note (which you simply lift the stick approximately 6 – 12 inches above the drumhead). Lift the stick with the wrist using a good pivot. When playing an accented note, do not lift the stick past a 90-degree angle or the straight up and down position. Using your wrist with a good pivot, bring the stick back toward the drumhead. After bringing the stick down and striking the drumhead, return your hand and the tip of the stick to the neutral position.

When bringing the stick down from the high, accented position, you only have to use enough power to bring the stick in motion while letting gravity take care of the rest. Think of it like dribbling a basketball: Once the ball is in motion, you just have to lightly flick it with your wrist to keep it going. The ball is doing the work for you. Thus, you do not have to be heavy handed while doing accents.

Stick height controls volume. Thus, the softer unaccented notes are only a 1/2 inch above the drumhead while the louder accented notes are approximately 6 – 12 inches above the drumhead. This significant difference in height between unaccented notes and accented notes should be at noticeably different volumes. In written dynamics, the unaccented notes should sound piano (soft) and the accented notes should sound fortissimo (very loud).

There are several drum method books that feature exercises and usable patterns to practice. There are also hundreds of songs that feature excellent use of accented versus unaccented notes. Notable famous beats within songs include The Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under The Bridge”, Tower Of Power’s “Soul Vaccination”, Toto’s “Rosanna”, and “Funky Drummer” by James Brown.

Using Audiation as a Key to Successful Musical Learning

March 12, 2013

by Will Smith, Drum instructor at The Lesson Studio

As a young man my father taught me an important lesson that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “Think before you speak.” These words were simply my dad’s way of preparing me for the real world. Lucky for us musicians a parallel exists in the music world so I can share with you a derivative of my dad’s advice. I’ll say to you “Think before you play.” I’d like to expand a concept called audiation to help you do just that, “Think before you play”.

Audiation is a musical tactic often overlooked by a vast majority of musicians even though they use it every day. Let me clear things up for you! Audiation is defined as a high level thought process involving mentally hearing and comprehending music even when no physical sound is present. Let’s give it a shot together, sing in your head, without making any physical sounds, the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Amazing! You have just used audiation. This is an excellent habit to begin using during your practice times because the beauty of audiation is that we can sing and move all in our brain without ever having to sing or move physically.

What does this mean to us as music educators?

1) We should first acknowledge the pioneer of audiation, Edwin E. Gordon who identified the key concepts behind the process of audiation and encouraged the adoption of this process into every music educators’ tool belt. Gordon suggests that in order to audiate while musicians perform music through imitation, they must be able to do the following: sing what they have played; play a variation of the originally melody; play the melody in a different keyality, tonality, or with alternative fingerings; or to demonstrate with body movements the phrases of the melody.

2) We should incorporate these strategies into our lessons even if at a minimal level to help our students become stronger musicians. I like use the old elementary P.E. basketball example. “Imagine the basketball going into the hoop when you let go of it.” This is exactly audiation in sports form… tell your students to “think the first phrase through from m.1 to m.9” then to play exactly what they were able to audiate. I promise you will notice an immediate difference in the confidence a student has in their ability to play that certain phrase.

3) We should use this process as a key for improvisation skills. As a music educator, I am always striving to teach my students to think on their own and on their feet! Improvisation is a great strategy to use with students especially when accompanied by audiation. Using audiation helps the students get to a level of achievement where they feel comfortable looking away from sheet music, but then remind them that the sheet music also exists in their mind, and audiation can unlock that musical manuscript.

I’ll conclude with a note from Gordon’s website (http://giml.org/mlt/audiation/): “Through development of audiation students learn to understand music. Understanding is the foundation of music appreciation, the ultimate goal of music teaching.”

Will Smith, Drum Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Will Smith

Winter/Spring Semester Registration Begins

November 12, 2009

On Monday, November 16, 2009, The Lesson Studio (TLS) will begin its Winter/Spring Semester registration!

The dates for our Winter/Spring Semester 2010 are: January 9 – May 21, 2010

TLS has instructors for guitar, piano, voice, drums, bass, violin, viola, saxophone, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, tuba, euphonium, ukelele, oboe, cello, flute, mandolin and banjo! We also offer music therapy, a free workshop series, and summer music camp. We have an in-store drop-off/pickup for instrument repair. Included with your semester tuition are weekly instruction with the teacher of your choice; supplies including weekly goal sheets, staff paper, CDs, and music charts; assistance from three administrative staff people; free Wi-Fi in the reception area; 10% off coupon for a local music store; and best of all, an end-of-semester recital! Our Fall recital is held at the Old Main Chapel at CU and our Spring recital is held ON STAGE at the Boulder Creek Festival!

If you are a current student, be sure to let our staff know if you prefer the same day/time or a new time slot for your music lesson. If you are new to The Lesson Studio, please call 303-543-3777 for your FREE CONSULTATION today!

As always, please visit http://www.thelessonstudio.com for more information.The Lesson Studio logo

Drum Practice vs. Rehearsal

October 21, 2009

Our drum studio is headed up by drum instructor Brian Loftus. Brian comes to The Lesson Studio with an education from Berklee College of Music.  Brian has toured nationally and internationally and has performed with many different artists in various genres, such as:  John Lee Hooker, Babatunde Olatunji, Huey Lewis, Glen Frey, Nicollette Larson, Jojo Herman, Eric Lindell and many others.

Tonight, Brian and I had a discussion about the difference between practicing drums and having a band rehearsal. Practicing drums involves working on your sticking patterns and independence skills.  While doing that on your own, Brian advises to start at slow tempos and then work up to comfortable speeds.  Rehearsal, on the other hand, is putting all of these ideas together in a musical sense that works with what other folks around you are playing. When you are practicing, break it up and do stickings for ten minutes, phrases for ten minutes, and then put them together for ten minutes. Your half hour is up before you know it! Concentrating on dynamics is critical in the practice routine especially. Bottom line is:  Practice at home, and bring your skills to rehearsal. Want to know more? E-mail Brian at thelessonstudio@comcast.net.

To learn more about Brian’s teaching methods and philosophies, visit his bio at http://www.thelessonstudio.com/teachersinstructors/drums.html

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