The first percussion students I taught were at Upper Darby High School in 1990. Since then - twenty nine years ago - I’ve worked with a lot of young people to perfect their musical skills and watched them go on to college/university and do great things later in life.
There is a core set of capabilities that students develop when they apply themselves to their practice and their pursuit of musical excellence. These are not just capabilities that young people develop, I’ve witnessed this in adult students also. Most importantly, and this goes without saying, these skills directly transfer to all other phases of life.
Self Awareness. Whenever you are studying a musical instrument, you are really learning about yourself. Your capabilities, your concentration, your tenacity. Yes, you are learning about mastering the instrument, but students are really learning to master themselves.
Discipline. The instrument won’t play itself, and practice does not happen without a conscious decision to pick up the drumsticks or mallets and go to work.
Achievement. Conquering a particularly challenging piece, or performing a piece well in front of an audience give one a sense of accomplishment like no other.
Empathy. There is no greater challenge than learning to play in an ensemble - especially one that improvises a lot like a good jazz combo. You have to learn the tendencies of your bandmates, and then anticipate what they are going to do - before they do it - and simultaneously play a figure that’s complimentary to what they are doing. For a good student to become a successful performer, a high degree of empathy is a must.
These are only four of the intangible qualities that are developed by a rigorous pursuit of mastering the drum set, or any other percussion instrument. There are many others. In future blog posts, we’ll talk more about this.
If you want to try a few lessons for yourself or for your son or daughter, please email me for more details.