Welcome to the third instalment from drum tutor and guest blogger, Michael Hutchinson, on how to teach Rockschool Grade 2 Drums.
You and your student are on a journey and have both reached a significant milestone in moving on from grade 1. We are now focusing on genre-specific education, and we should now be seeing the student leaning towards a specific style they enjoy playing, although this will be heavily influenced by family, peer groups (dependant on their age), and of course you, their teacher. I will be covering motivational factors in a separate article based around music psychology for more insight into what motivates music students, so look forward to reading that one.
What to teach in Grade 2?
Grade 2 is all about genre-specific studies and technicality.
You should be focusing teaching technique on:• Linear systems – 8th and 16th note linear high-hat placements • Pedalled high-hat – playing independently while the high-hat is pedalled on the quarter note if the student grasps this then move on to pedalling on the 8th note and then independently between the quarter note and 8th note. • Ostinatos – introduce an ostinato (repeated pattern) to the student and then start with a three 16th ostinato on the high-hat as below and allow the student to gain comfort and independence on this by adding bass drums on the 8th notes. • Development and Fills – You should be aiming for your student to develop a groove while varying the pattern slightly (cont sim) and applying fills in a genre-specific manner. • Flams in quarter notes – Flams should be introduced using the 3 variants of flams: military flam, bounced flam, and power flam. • 8th Note Triplets – Introduced in all sticking patterns, including double strokes, to prepare the student for higher grades.
The student will be able to identify musical notation from grade 1, so allow them to navigate through the chosen piece by themselves, with guidance from you if needed; however, there is some new notation within grade 2 you need to explain.• Fermata symbol – sustained note/held note (Georgia On My Mind, Bar 36, sustain cymbal ring for the count of 4 or 12 ) • Time Signature – compound time signatures such as 12/8 • Accents and dynamics including – piano/soft, mezzo-forte/moderately loud, forte/loud.
Music theory to reiterate
Always get in the habit of asking students questions based on music theory learned to date. You could put in a monthly quiz or offer lessons that just cover theory for those students who struggle to grasp music notation. One idea is creating music theory flashcards, which you could randomly break out at the beginning or end of the lesson. Focus your teaching on the individual student’s learning needs, and ramp this up when you are in exam preparation.
Moving students online
With today’s struggles, as a music teacher, moving your students online can be daunting. However, open yourself up to all platforms, including, but not limited to Skype, WhatsApp, Instagram, FaceTime to ensure that you cover all your students’ technological needs.
Ensure that you’re following the advice given by the Musicians Union including the safeguarding advice found HERE.
You’ll need a computer/phone with a camera or external webcam positioned, so the drum kit is seen by the student. A microphone, either internal or external USB style.
Once you have everything in place, then you are ready to go. Try and keep your lesson structure the same as you would in a face to face lesson and ensure that you are setting realistic goals for homework, and compliment the student's home-school music lessons by encouraging the student to practise at the beginning or end of the lesson if time allows.
I like to give all my students a drummer of the week prize, which can be earned through either outstanding practice, or the student finally getting something they were struggling on, or something like always bringing a smile into the lesson. This is something that I have carried on in lockdown, so you may consider adding something like this into your lessons, just to let your students know that you are thinking about them in these difficult times.
About the Author:
Michael Hutchinson is a drummer, educator, and music psychologist from the North East of England. He runs Triple-T Drumming school of drums and has been teaching privately for 12 years. He is currently researching drumming from a psychological point of view studying with Sheffield University, music psychology in education performance and wellbeing and his main interest is drumming and its effects on working memory.