Teaching a 5 year old

tkav1980

Member
The music school I work at recently gave me a very young student. 5 years young as a matter of fact. They thought that because I'm the youngest teacher, I could connect with him more (no joke, haha).

The first lesson went okay, but I feel like I'm going to be running out of ideas incredibly fast with him, and his parents have paid for lessons for a full year.

Basically, we worked on counting. As in I give him a number to count to (ie, 4) and when he hits that number, he starts switching hands. So starting on the right: 1 2 3 4, then switch to the left (1 2 3 4), rinse, wash, repeat.

Then we went into moving that around the kit, where he would count to four and everything he started over he had to move to a different drum.

Aside from that, I got nothing. The kid can't read music, and I have no idea how to go about teaching him how to read it because he barely knows his alphabet. Help me out? PLEASE?!
I was about the same age when I started. My dad started me out right away with a book. It was Haskall Harr(sp?). I dont know if it's still out there, but I do have a copy I may be able to scan and send you.
 

kinsjon

Junior Member
Hey gang,

Wow, I got an email today showing a response to this thread, wow, it's been nearly a year and a half. I hope Groove has found success with his 5 year old.

Last time I was here, Emily was using my color coded system to learn basic beats and had finished her first video, Back In Black. She is now reading standard notation and has completed 8 video's. She has received notice and communications from the band Collective Soul with some very exciting developments.

She keeps rockin and the best thing is, she's having fun.

Here is her page:
http://www.youtube.com/user/kinsjon?feature=mhee

Later gators and Merry Christmas.

Dad
 

kinsjon

Junior Member
Thanks a lot for all the suggestions, guys. I really think this is going to help a lot. Kinsjon, that idea about colour coding the drum kit is genius, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself since I play guitar hero so much!

mrchattr, I actually asked the parent to leave last lesson because I thought it was going to make things awkward for the kid. I never thought that the parent would be able to help in that sense, I just brought her back in for the last 5 minutes of the lesson to show her what her son had been working on. When I saw her face light up when he started counting the beats, I just got so excited, I knew I wanted to keep teaching the kid.

So again, thanks for all of your suggestions, but please, keep them coming! Every little bit helps, and I'm sure there are other people on this forum who can use this as a valuable resource to help them out as well!

Hey Groove, I've sent you an email with 5 pdf's of the colour coded practice sheets and the entire Back n Black song for you to use with your 5 year old. Pretty simple to figure out but if you have any questions, email me. Good luck and have fun.
 

groovemaster_flex

Silver Member
Thanks a lot for all the suggestions, guys. I really think this is going to help a lot. Kinsjon, that idea about colour coding the drum kit is genius, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself since I play guitar hero so much!

mrchattr, I actually asked the parent to leave last lesson because I thought it was going to make things awkward for the kid. I never thought that the parent would be able to help in that sense, I just brought her back in for the last 5 minutes of the lesson to show her what her son had been working on. When I saw her face light up when he started counting the beats, I just got so excited, I knew I wanted to keep teaching the kid.

So again, thanks for all of your suggestions, but please, keep them coming! Every little bit helps, and I'm sure there are other people on this forum who can use this as a valuable resource to help them out as well!
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I teach a couple 5 year olds, and a few 4 year olds. The truth is, just like every person at every age, each student is different and needs to be taught differently. The one (who is 5 now, but I started with him at 4) is very mathamatical. I taught him how to read beats, etc. One, who is 4, is very slow, even for his age. We have lots of "play a fast drum solo" moments, just to keep him from getting bored, and haven't even started counting yet, a month into lessons. It's a lot of "copy what Mr. Jon" is doing patterns just using hand drums right now.

The best way I have found to discover how a child learns is to ask the parent to sit in on the lesson. This can feel awkward, but you would be amazed at how well most parents know little things about their kids. For instance, with the four year old I mentioned, the idea of "playing near the edge," or "playing near the rim," or whatever, didn't make sense to him, but his mom said "play by your belly button," and suddenly the kid plays in the right position every single time. Go figure! Also, by having the parent sit in, they can see what you are asking the kid to practice, and then help with that. I let the parents of my young students have a lot more say in their education than I first would have expected myself to, but I have found that it pays off very well.
 

Grace :)

Senior Member
I've only had one lesson with him, and the one lesson we had went very well. He picked up on the concept faster than I was expecting. I was simply looking for ways to convey the concepts in a way that he would understand, that's all.
I know how frustrating it can be, my cousin came round to my house so i had to 'teach her to play drums'. and after repeating the phrase 'tea. coffee. tea. tea' (i was hoping to get her to play it on the snare, then on the toms and so on) after 10 mins of me repeating the phrase constantly (no joke) she couldn't say it back to me. -so i just had to change my approach and let her play 4 beats on each hand on a different drum.

It sounds like we're in similar situations...kind of. I'm 17 and teach part time. I haven't actually ever tought a child so young (i think 7 was the youngest I've ever taught). And I tried a couple of things, saying a beat and trying to get them to play it back
if the child is struggling a bit, how about just starting them off on snare? I'm sure you could find a book, you may even own one already with a simple snare piece or two in, basically starting with just quarter notes, then adding in eighth notes, then rests.
I recently started teaching an absolute beginner (aged 9) and started this way and 2 months on she can now read kit music.

It just depends on finding what the child enjoys and what works for them. Theres no point in doing something if you're not enjoying it and they're not. Do you have any percussion instruments where you teach? that could be a good alternative to mix things up every now and then and teach some basic rhythms. just an idea
 

kinsjon

Junior Member
Teaching a child can be challenging but really fun. Get them started with a basic money beat to get them interested. I taught my daughter and did this. Pick an easy song. I choose Back in Black. Break it down by the riffs. I think there are 21 different riffs in the song. Transpose the riffs into single measures and color code each instrument. Black for kick, red for snare, x for hit hat and blue for tom. Have them practice each riff starting with the easiest (money beat) until they get each one down, then move on to the song. I also put the entire song (drum part) onto a drum machine and after we moved to the song, started her out at 70 bpm gradually moving her up to 98 bpm. The song is played at 93 bpm. After she mastered playing with the drum machine, I moved her to playing along with the song. She has been playing for six months. While practicing the song everyday, we also learned some basic rudiments as well as reading and counting with snare and kick drum patterns so we were not being completely repetitive. Here is the result:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdT9wgMmNsI
 
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wy yung

Guest
With that attitude you will do it. Thanks so much for the kind words.

Really, I am just a clumsy typical Aussie male who blusters through with fingers crossed hoping I wont eat my foot. As you will have noticed on this forum, I dine on feet quite often.

As for teaching the child? Mate just have fun. That is what the kids respond to. Give them a little each week and do not be afraid to cut the class short if the child gets restless. The parents will understand that the child gets tired.

I always intersperse these lessons with "Go Crazy" solo moments for the kids. They love to have a bash around.

And as I mentioned earlier, I have a lonely telephone. The only people I talk to are students and parents and occassionally family. So if ever you have to talk about a difficulty, I can afford to call and help you out.

Good luck.
 

groovemaster_flex

Silver Member
Very sorry again. Sometimes I suffer from the 'stuck indoors practice sessions lack of social skills syndrome'. Too focused on drumming, not individuals.
Haha, it's all good.

I just respect you deeply as a drummer. I've read a lot of your thread and posts and really like the ideas and thoughts you were presenting and were hoping you'd reply to this, as I know you're a respected teacher (a lot of the guys here talk about taking lessons from you, I understand). Just trying to better myself as an individual, teacher, and performer.
 

groovemaster_flex

Silver Member
Honestly, you need to tell the school this student needs someone more experienced. No offense to you but he needs someone who understands 5 year olds. I am an elementary teacher and it takes a special type of personality to teach Kindergarten as opposed to 5th grade.
I've only had one lesson with him, and the one lesson we had went very well. He picked up on the concept faster than I was expecting. I was simply looking for ways to convey the concepts in a way that he would understand, that's all.

Did not mean to hurt your credibility. Was not my intention. Sorry.
No problem. Just frustrating.
 
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wy yung

Guest
Did not mean to hurt your credibility. Was not my intention. Sorry.
 

groovemaster_flex

Silver Member
Give the guy a break. We all need to begin somewhere.

Having said that, the OP poster has often posted rudimentary questions regarding subjects a qualified teacher should know. And it seems he may be a gifted student who has yet to qualify as a teacher. E.G. I recall a question about jazz players who did not seem able to play jazz that he was playing with.

OP. How long have you been a pro'? Are you a pro'?
Recently. I quit my job, and started gigging and recording as often as I could. I picked up two teaching jobs at different schools, and started university for drums and education last year (to teach high school). I've only worked with older students (over 14) thus far, and am having difficulties translating to younger students as I've never had to work with them before.

I make my living and pay for school playing drums. I teach 4 times a week, and gig 4 times a week. The rest of my time is spent practicing, studying, or going to school to learn even more. This is all I do. I'm 18 if that really matters to you and I have been a very serious player for a long time. I decided to make the transition for hobbyist to pro because I can't see myself doing anything else. I'm new at this and am trying to make some headway. Clearly I'm going about this the wrong way. I'm young, and I'm learning. I've only been doing this for a short time, but I've done very well for myself. If that's not pro, then I don't know what is.

What do you consider pro? Someone who no longer takes lessons? Someone who's graduated school for music? I'm constantly getting phone calls and emails from people asking me for my services. I do clinics in schools and churches, and run my own drumming business from home. I was appointed head drum teacher at one of the two schools I work at, and am working in collaboration with a few other local teachers on a book about incorporating all drum styles into one. I think that is enough to consider me a professional, don't you think? I can play a number of styles pretty competently, even well, I think. Of course I understand that I need to learn more, which is why I post here asking for help and other points of view on ideas that I have, or concepts that I've only read about. You can't honestly tell me that you've done the same.

I post here to learn from people who are better than me and have more insight onto certain subject matters than I do. Like teaching this 5 year old for example. My intention was not to come off as a know it all, or as being pretentious. I was sharing my knowledge and ideas on certain subjects, routines and exercises that have worked for me, and personal experiences that may or may not help someone out.

There are some things I'm new to, and some things I'm not. Even as a professional, we're all still learning. I was having difficulties with something, as I'm sure we've all had some point, and I posted here looking for other points of view. I had a game plan in mind, and was looking for more ideas so I can give this kid the best education I possibly can. I know there is no definitive answer to drumming. Sure, there are basic patterns that everyone should know and understand, but after the understanding, we need to flesh out ideas.

The point is, my credibility has been under attack recently, and it's frustrating because all I've tried to do here is help out. There's no need to try and call me out in front of everybody. I'm young, I'm new to this, and all I'm looking for is help and to help others.
 
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wy yung

Guest
Honestly, you need to tell the school this student needs someone more experienced. No offense to you but he needs someone who understands 5 year olds. I am an elementary teacher and it takes a special type of personality to teach Kindergarten as opposed to 5th grade.
Give the guy a break. We all need to begin somewhere.

Having said that, the OP poster has often posted rudimentary questions regarding subjects a qualified teacher should know. And it seems he may be a gifted student who has yet to qualify as a teacher. E.G. I recall a question about jazz players who did not seem able to play jazz that he was playing with.

OP. How long have you been a pro'? Are you a pro'?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
I would agree with Bigd. Sounds like you were thrown into the fire. Teaching like drumming takes experience, and to try to keep a 5 year old interested takes some talent. And if nothing else get the kid some 7A sticks.
 

bigd

Silver Member
Honestly, you need to tell the school this student needs someone more experienced. No offense to you but he needs someone who understands 5 year olds. I am an elementary teacher and it takes a special type of personality to teach Kindergarten as opposed to 5th grade.
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
I had planned to go over quarter note bass drum beats (4 on the floor, hats on 1-4, and snare on 2 and 4) and variations on that, it's just, he's young, he can't read or write, so I guess my problem is how to convey these ideas to him.
I think at the stage he's at, just explain how to count it, play it, then have him mimic. You can introduce the concept of reading sheet music a little later, but lay the foundations of the concepts now.
 

groovemaster_flex

Silver Member
have you overlook the rudiments? and 8th note drum beats? or have you already covered that stuff, if you have then that would be good to start with.
We talked about single strokes and double strokes. His single strokes are actually very good considering how big his hands are vs the size of the drum stick. Rudiments are boring to practice, haha, and I want to keep his attention.

I had planned to go over quarter note bass drum beats (4 on the floor, hats on 1-4, and snare on 2 and 4) and variations on that, it's just, he's young, he can't read or write, so I guess my problem is how to convey these ideas to him.
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
have you overlook the rudiments? and 8th note drum beats? or have you already covered that stuff, if you have then that would be good to start with.
That may or may not be a good idea with someone so young, they tend to get bored :p It depends on the kid.
 
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