A lot of young percussionists aspire to teach drumlines. Most high school, college and drum corps percussion staff members are made up of recent graduates or age-outs. It can be really attractive as a part-time job, a summer experience, as part of a music education curriculum or just because you want to stay involved in the percussion activity. This article touches on a few considerations that can help set you up for successful teaching down the road.
Observe Your Instructors
One of the best parts about being a good teacher is that you do not necessarily have to be the best player. Sure it can help, but never believe that you have to be the best snare drummer or keyboardist to be a great teacher. What you need to have is knowledge and a way to convey that to others. For starters, really pay attention to every teacher around you. What works and what doesn’t? What helped you figure out a particular rhythm or fix that left-hand slice?
We all adopt so much from the environments that we are in, and it is really critical to understand what parts of those you want to take with you when you are teaching.
Get Exposed to Camps and Clinics
Secondly, get exposed to as much as possible. Go to drum corps or WGI camps. Attend a clinic in your area. Watch some other drumlines warm up at a show. Visit other rehearsals. Don’t just pay attention to the beats but rather how the staff and members interact, and see what you can take with you.
Try Different Environments
Finally, throw yourself out there as an instructor into new environments, and you’ll learn much more, much faster. It is very comfortable to envision graduating and teaching the same program you grew up with, but try and get a foot in the door at neighboring programs, and you will experience totally different techniques that you can adopt and adapt over time. Seek out respected instructors in your area and become a sponge for their know-how. It might not be the sexiest position or pay the most, but it might set you off on a long-term path to success.
About the Author
Lane Armey is the battery percussion coordinator for Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. During the past 10 years, he has worked with various groups including Northwestern University and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.