Instructing new students: Speak/play first or read first?

mrfingers

Senior Member
Not to hi-jack this thread, but are we talking just drum notation or song-music charts? l only ask this because I can see using drum notation as being useful for learning drumming but more general, song charts more useful for playing the drums to music, songs, etc.

I don't think Zappa handed out drum charts to Colaiuta not did Dream Theater hand out drum charts to Minnemann for his audition.
 

martianmambo

Senior Member
Not to hi-jack this thread, but are we talking just drum notation or song-music charts? l only ask this because I can see using drum notation as being useful for learning drumming but more general, song charts more useful for playing the drums to music, songs, etc.

I don't think Zappa handed out drum charts to Colaiuta not did Dream Theater hand out drum charts to Minnemann for his audition.
I meant drum charts that you play along with the song note for note.

Thanks everybody for the great discussion!
 

FFFF

Senior Member
I'm glad you brought this up! Being from and having taught in Malaysia and Singapore for almost four years now, I definitely know what you mean with the whole academic culture thing, for talent must be quantified in grades and numbers, so student's ability can be compared.

I don't think it really matters if you start with note reading or playing by ear first, provided you cover both aspects evenly throughout. There are no right or wrong here.

Given their strengths in academics learning, I like to always start with notation first. I find it easier for the students here to learn notes first, and most of them are able to catch up quickly.

But as for the musicality (sense of feel) part, this is where, like most of the other suggestions, you must approach holistically: interpretive reading, ear training, etc.


Here's my take on the issue:

What I find to be the cause of this problem is the lack of appreciation towards musical talent. Without being culturally disrespectful, historically people here in Asia are usually discouraged from pursuing artistic careers(though this may change within a few decades, I hope) and artistic careers are shunned upon.

This shapes people's perception of the arts; music in this case. There's a lack of understanding and appreciation towards music here. Musicians are what us Chinese call "cold door" jobs, AKA jobs that cannot feed your family.

It's because of this, the majority of music centres adopt graded syllabus systems like Trinity Rock and Pop, or Rockschool (the ABRSM equivalent for contemporary drums). This is the best method to attract students because they can actually be graded for what they are learning. Furthermore, the ministry of education here recognises these certificates and allow students to have additional merits.

I find this to be the problem because the students are usually only taught to play the exam materials in lessons. What is worst is that there is also a lack of understanding that home practice is essential, so students here pretty much practised in their lesson, once a week.

Not to mention the competitiveness in the culture here, where sometimes parents force their children to take 2 graded exams a year, or jump grades. This is where the teachers undergo the pressure of preparing them for exams, and are forced to omit the other elements (like improvisation, especially improvisation, rudimentary exercises, etc.)

The result is that the students can only play their exam songs, nothing else. I'm fortunate enough to work with people who realise these issues, and we've even analysed the students' exam results. Generally speaking, the students always do well in the repertoire section ( since they have been learning those three songs only the entire year), but in the technical part of the exam, you'll notice that the median score is much lower in this section.

What is worst is that these students, when thrown in a real gigging situations, they can't cope. They'd be so intimidated to even go up the stage to jam random songs. They must at least know what songs are to be played in advance, look up for the score on the internet, and study it first before playing anything.


Apart from educating the parents what benefits music have on children, I like to introduce my students to other musicians. Sometimes I even assign them to check an artist on Youtube. The reason they are so score-reliant is because they have not consumed enough music themselves. I always tell them "You cannot open an Indian Cuisine restaurant if you've never ate any Indian food before."

Of course, this must be done with consideration. You cannot simply introduce them to Casiopea, or even Buddy Rich, for these may be too much for them to digest. It must be done in steps, starting out with pop songs they are comfortable with like Ed Sheeran, or for people in Hong Kong, start them out with Beyond, or even Mayday. Once they learn to appreciate music, then slowly introduce them to the vast genres of music.

Let them play some of their songs. Maybe tell them play interpretively once they copied the original version not for note (I like to do this and I just love the kids' reaction when I tell them to play something different from their notes).

In short, the people are not very exposed to music in general. Expose them to music, and make them appreciate it, then they will find the interest to learn more.

I hope this puts the environmental challenge you have more into perspective. I could probably go on and on, but of course, I, by no means are trying to condemn the people here. Despite the issue with music education here, you can still find some very good hidden talents around the local scene.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
The point of my post:

Do you think learning to read music too early can hinder one's ability to listen to and feel the music, because of the inherently academic/analytical nature of reading music? Should music in general, and drumming in particular, be taught the same way one learns language as a child--that is, learning to speak (i.e. play) and listen before learning to read? Or do you think it doesn't really matter, as long as equal weight is given to both listening/speaking and reading?


Perhaps I'm missing the gist of the question, but my answer to this question is - NO.... There is no correlation between reading music "too early" and lack (or not) of feel.

Feel comes from countless years of listening to music, seeing live established players working together and getting involved in playing with others. We all grow the more we do this.

Reading provides the path of learning without barriers. If you can read then there is almost no end to growth - unless it's self imposed by desire or something else that interferes. Delaying this process only delays progression.

In my mind, this would be the equivalent of telling a young child that it would be more beneficial if you listen to someone else read a book to them and not learning to read in order to better understand expression from the written book. Isn't this done simultaneously? The way a 1st grader expresses themselves reading a book will be different from when they are in 12th grade.
 
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Alex Sanguinetti

Silver Member
FFFF,

Excellent description of a problem I´m very aware of.

It´s important to understand ´though that everywhere else is the same in different degrees of intensity (conception of "cold jobs", etc.), and also how far is average people from musical education in general. Most countries (more than 99 percent for sure) don´t have band playing like it happens in the US at any level (Primary school from University). But even at the US you can see (most forum memebers are from there) that there is a big FANTASY (to use a word) about how everything works in music ...

I have two students currently from there (on-line, Malasia), good students!

Take care, and again, excellent post!
 
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