Teaching: how much new knowledge in each lesson?


Pioneer Member
Question for all you teachers hanging around here: How much do you teach at each lesson? Is it pretty much the same quantity of info you’re giving to each student, or do you modify things quite a bit from student to student?

I really wish I had detailed notes from my student days (many years ago). I can barely remember how much my teacher(s) gave me to work on each week.

So, for instance, if you’ve got a beginner and you’re going through Stick Control as written, how many lines would you have the student work on for one week? The first 8 patterns? The first 2 full pages? Less? More? How many lessons do you give before you move on to something beyond Stick Control? Do you also work on e.g. basic beats in the same lesson?

Another example. You’ve got an intermediate student and you’re working on reading in a swing context using Syncopation. So hi-hat is 2 and 4 with the foot, and ride is spang-a-lang. Would you limit a lesson to feather the bass drum and read Syncopation as written with the left hand and that’s it for the week? Or do you also maybe add cross-stick on 2 and 4 and bass drum reads as written? Or more? Or less?

How do you know if you’re giving too much or too little work for a single lesson?

I guess I can sum it up like this: How did you learn to teach, and how do you know how effective your methods are?

Students: what’s your experience re methods and volume of work?


Platinum Member
WARNING: I'm not a teacher...I just play one in my head...

I would say it depends on the student.

Start where you know the student will have sucess then increase from there...using the students level of enthusiasim as a guide....and continually adjust.

...at least thats how I teach myself...


Platinum Member
My first teacher was very systematic. So for example Stick Control would be one page a week. Swinging Syncopation would be a week just playing the snare, then the next week with the bass drum (clicks on 2/4) and then the following week we begun with short and long. This method worked well with me since I was just starting out and I didn't have a clue about anything jazz related.

My current teacher is more open, he'll focus more on the concepts and will let me work on the more specifics details or he'll assign a bunch of pages for me to work on. This approach can be dangerous because a student can have so much material that he'll end up not doing anything. I really like it because it forces me to organize myself and develop healthy practicing habits. I view it as getting ready to practice once the pressure of a drum class isn't there.

Anthony Amodeo

a lot of this of course depends on the student

each case is a completely individual one for me

from the very beginning I like to ask the student first what experience they have then what they expect to achieve from these lessons ...just so I can see where their head is

I have some students that are working on very simple stuff.....simple stickings using some practical techniques .....maybe applying those same sticking around the drums ......I like to enforce some memorization from the very beginning thats why we may work on the same piece on the pad that we apply around the kit ....working on two separate aspects of drumming with the same piece

the reason for encouraging memorization is that when so much of your attention is focussed on paper that is on the music stand the drumming itself suffers......so when a piece is memorized they can take that focus to their technique and voicing on the kit .....plus it strengthens their musical mind in preparation for things they may encounter as a musician later in life

I also have students working on more complex things....such as jazz coordination, comping using Syncopation , soloing tastefully, playing to play along tracks and being creative..

we may work on the same thing for weeks at a time...chipping away at it like a block of ice that will soon be a swan sculpture .
a lot of that time we may be just talking.... about the approach , musical ideas, things that other drummers have done when dealing with this situation ...we also get into the very history of the music we are studying and listen to many examples that they can pull from to help them develop their own ideas

each of my 55 students has pretty much their very own tailored curriculum ... catering to their weaknesses which we focus on turning into strengths

i tell them all the time.....we do one thing and one thing only in here...we expose your weaknesses and make them strengths ....thats it .....and in turn you become a better musician for it

as to how much of Stick Control I would work on or assign.....that also depends on the individual...
how much they are willing to practice, and so on

I find that the younger students get easily bored with very old teaching methods and respond much better to a challenge
I make games of things and add a points system ...they get a certain amount of points if they come back next week and can play the exercise using the correct techniques .... this can go on for weeks and get amazing results

this works great with teaching them to read as well

I've been told by many parents that I tapped into something when introducing the challenge

with the older students ...I feel that once you help them tap into the potential that is hiding inside they become very motivated and things move quickly

I know my method are affective because I see results every week......I hear great things from parents.....I have to turn away students that contact me who heard of me from either parents or students themselves because I simply don't have the time.......I currently have a couple ex students who I taught from day one attending Berklee, one on scholarship ........but most of all the students respond

hope this helps at all
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Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
For young beginners I follow a really good Norwegian book called Virvel 1-2 (Hit & Roll in english, but not really available)

I follow the lessons as they are in the book. We do the etudes alone, with me playing a shaker, conga or whatever and then with the play-a-long. We don't just do exercises, We try to make music with those quarternotes and quarternote rests right from the first lesson. The student also has to write his/her own piece for each lesson which I play and then discuss with the composer(student).

There are exceptions and with more experienced students I just try to identify and slowly work on their weaknesses. At this point, I have material on my shelf for just about any situation. Personally, I feel an obligation to expose my students to a wide variety of styles and different types of percussion. The area I live in now is really starved for music teachers with true knowledge and experience, so I try to do as much as I can with that. I guess I feel more obligated to keep things strict for the private students as they pay many times more for my services than the students in the highly subsidised music school, but it's still important to change things up. Do group lessons, listen to some music, watch a movie or something. Things being as they are today I'm a bit vary of doing too much for free, but at the same time it's good advertising and good for the general growth of musical culture in my home town. Just today I was asked about bass lessons by a trombone player in the schoolband I'm conducting. Already a good reader and someone who relates to me as a leader, that should be a cool student to have.The world needs more bass players.

I follow Tommy Igoe's way and I have a warm-up that we start each lesson with that I slowly expand upon.

I used to have guitar players and bass players as well, and working ina public school, I messed with the shedule all the time to create different ensemble situations depending on what we were working on.