I have been reworking on my lessons. It has been a very long process. It has taken a lot of effort, a lot of thinking and a lot of work, but I am extremely happy with the results. More importantly, the students are very happy.
Let’s take a style like Bossa-nova. If you know a bit about that music, you know that there is a soft but constant Boom-Chi-Boom boom-Chi-Boom boom going through the music. That what gives it its signature. This pattern is usually played between the bass drum and the hi hat on a drum set. In itself it is not very complicated to understand. But it’s not easy to play if you’re coming from the Rock world. Especially if you have to do a straight eighth notes line on the ride cymbal and some variations on the click of the snare drum. If you don’t know any of these terms, it doesn’t matter, just know that the world of Rock and Latin feel very different on the drum set.
I used to start with people wanting to learn Latin by making them do that Boom-Chi-Boom boom on the feet and build it from there. It was fun but pretty difficult. I could see that they were struggling. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a new way to go about it. Instead of giving them the complete pattern all at once, I break it down into smaller bits. Instead of taking the steepest route to climb that mountain, I take the more scenic one. I also have more music to propose with that style. I took some jazz standard and orchestrated them to make them easy to follow. These are song everyone has heard at least once in their life.
It has been 6 months now since I’ve been trying these new pages of Bossa-nova. The results have been great. People don’t sweat at the idea of learning that style anymore. The music attached to the written material helps make the learning more immersive and fun. They are playing the style in situation and with the correct orchestration. I also include some references to the creators of the style, in this case Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto.
I must say that this new approach has afforded my students to be more relaxed, which makes me more relaxed during the lesson. The learning curve is more progressive but more enjoyable. The challenges proposed are not painful, they’re exciting. And, of course, once they are able to get the new exercise, the new concept, the reward of playing along to a song specifically designed for it bring a smile to their face. And although I am here to teach people how to play the drums or the piano, I’ll tell you a little secret: I’m working for smiles.