For the teachers: your first lesson...what do you teach?

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
So a post in another thread made me think about this:

What do you guys teach in your very first lesson...like the first half hour you have with a student? How do you get them "into the boat' and ready to be pushed off?

for me,

- I do my "spiel" about how to hold the sticks- you know, fulcrum, wrist motion etc....then they do 8 on a hand to get that going
- I start them on my rhythmic subdivisions sheet for reading purposes
- then we learn paradiddles

so they leave with a first weeks assignment of 8 on a hand to work basic motion, the Rhythmic sheet to learn basic counting, and paradiddles; I also give them a list of Youtube videos to watch for inspiration, and tell them that we will discuss the videos in the next lesson

interested to see what people do!!
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It's mostly centered around reading, very little about technique unless they do something that's going to be an immediate problem. Or if they specifically want to talk about technique.

With total beginners I explain how notation works, and get them reading and counting quarter notes and quarter rests as quickly as possible, filling in the details of reading as they need them.

If they can read and can play at at least an intermediate level, I give them a broad outline of my approach, explaining the Reed-based method in a little detail, especially in re: why I think it's the best, easiest way to learn to play and improvise in all styles of music, and whatever other explanations seem relevant. Maybe I'll demonstrate the concept by working them through my basic rock beats practice method, using the 8th notes pages from Reed.

If they've played some drums, but can't read music, I give them a quick reading lesson using the quarter note, 8th note, and 16th note portions of Syncopation. And give them a brief explanation of what I do with Reed, and why. If they're up to it, maybe I'll do the rock beat thing with them, to impress them that not only can they now read music, they can read the way professionals read, making a drumset interpretation of a sketch or melodic part.

If they're more advanced, we'll get directly into the real stuff-- I still give them my pitch for the Reed methods, because usually people only do jazz stuff with it-- I use it for everything.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
yeah...I definitely adjust if they come to the table with prior knowledge...but in my situation, that is not usually the case...

even my older students usually come as a blank, or a "poorly written" on slate
 

MG1127

Well-known member
Every student is completely different

We spend some time talking about goals and music.

What we do next depends on that conversation, their age and ability level.

I have everything from kids who have never held sticks to guys who make a living playing who want to brush up on things and everything in between.

My approach with beginners is similar to what you mentioned in the OP

8 on a hand using a free stroke to get acquainted with rebound.
Some combination patterns using syllables they find easy to remember.
That's usually quite enough for the first lesson with a beginner.
Just get the sticks moving in a way that feels comfortable and can eventually be musical.
A week of that well practiced sets a good foundation of what is to come
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
It varies, of course. But nearly always I include slow-motion strokes. Like, slow motion camera speed. German grip, from stick vertical to horizontal to vertical, smooth, straight stick path, using the wrist only. Reps on each hand for 2 minutes. We begin the next 4 or 5 lessons or so this way, or until the stick path looks good and smooth.
 

NickSchles

Junior Member
What I teach on a very first lesson is dependent on the student. Are they a beginner? What are their interests, etc. The most important thing as a teacher is to understand the student.

I spend a lot of the first lesson trying to understand them as people, their tastes, motivations, etc. This really helps start prioritising what's important.

If, for instance, the student is a total beginner, the very first lesson (let's say 1hr) will include a chat (as I've mentioned), and lead it towards them playing a simple quarter note beat. This is because they need to get a sense of achievement, and that even if they think they might not be able to do it, that it's possible.

If you'd like to have a chat about how I teach, perhaps drop me line. Happy to share experience. Have a look at what I do here: www.nickschlesinger.com/drum-lessons, and perhaps check out my blog, so you get a better idea of my approach to things.

;)
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I beat them up to give them a taste of what it's like being a drummer.

I'm not a teacher and that was a lie.

I was going to say something like, "I'm going to have a sound tech come in and yell at the student about how he's too loud. If the student doesn't cry, we can proceed."


More seriously, I would talk about the student's goals. I would not only use the time to assess the student's goals, but I would also be assessing myself to see if I could meet the student's needs as well. For example, if the student is interested in jazz, reading sheet music, metal and/or double-bass drumming, then the student needs to find someone else. I feel I have my strengths, but it's not any of those.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I beat them up to give them a taste of what it's like being a drummer.

I'm not a teacher and that was a lie.
I was going to say something like, "I'm going to have a sound tech come in and yell at the student about how he's too loud. If the student doesn't cry, we can proceed."


More seriously, I would talk about the student's goals. I would not only use the time to assess the student's goals, but I would also be assessing myself to see if I could meet the student's needs as well. For example, if the student is interested in jazz, reading sheet music, metal and/or double-bass drumming, then the student needs to find someone else. I feel I have my strengths, but it's not any of those.

hilarious!!!! I would also have some guitar players, singers, and violinists come in and yell at them for having bad sense of time too

and actually for me, the very first lesson is all talking, previewing the activity, getting to know the student, talking about expectations etc...so we don't really play until the 2nd lesson
 

timmdrum

Silver Member
So a post in another thread made me think about this:

What do you guys teach in your very first lesson...like the first half hour you have with a student? How do you get them "into the boat' and ready to be pushed off?

for me,

- I do my "spiel" about how to hold the sticks- you know, fulcrum, wrist motion etc....then they do 8 on a hand to get that going
- I start them on my rhythmic subdivisions sheet for reading purposes
- then we learn paradiddles

so they leave with a first weeks assignment of 8 on a hand to work basic motion, the Rhythmic sheet to learn basic counting, and paradiddles; I also give them a list of Youtube videos to watch for inspiration, and tell them that we will discuss the videos in the next lesson

interested to see what people do!!
For clean-slate beginners, pretty much this, using the basketball bouncing analogy as the goal for how smooth the downstroke and upstroke should look. I also make sure they're not holding elbows out, lifting shoulders, slouching, etc.

Most kids and even some impatient adults would get their excitement dampened if I spent the entire first lesson on reading and didn't have them moving drumsticks. That said, I do stress the importance of reading, even if a student seems to pick things up better by ear, because I firmly believe that solid reading facilitates understanding what he/she hears (and vice versa), therefore the development curve gets steeper. So, even if no reading is covered in the first lesson, it's not long after. For those old enough to understand it, I explain that even if he/she never ends up in a situation where reading is required (isn't playing in school band, nor in any group with members being handed charts or lead sheets), being able to visualize or even jot down a particular tricky rhythm will assist understanding it faster. I also stress the importance of learning the language of music (not just visual understanding of notation) even if sheet music isn't involved in musical situations, because it's better to be able to communicate with bandmates who speak it. Conversely, if the student learned to speak it but bandmates didn't, then there's no harm in having learned it. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
 
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