The following is part of a series of posts relating to starting students on snare and mallets.
The first day with instruments is a very exciting day for young students! They have all this stuff, they’re about to play music with their friends…THEY HAVE ALL THIS STUFF! But, that excitement can easily turn into chaos if there is not a clear plan that follows a logical path outlined by the teacher.
After helping with many Start-Up clinics over the last 12 years, here are some of my (and my wife’s) thoughts on the process to help as you start your student’s off right on snare drum.
Before the Start-Up Day
Before the start up day the students need an understanding of pulse, meter, and musical notation.
Pulse: They should understand that music happens in time with a steady beat known as the pulse. They should tap their foot in time with the steady beat (played by a metronome). Then they should clap their hands while tapping their foot in time with the steady beat. Then they should say the number “1” while they clap their hands and tap their foot in time with the steady beat. (This is laying the groundwork for the process of tapping, counting, and clapping rhythms which is a great practice to get in the habit of doing.) After they have done that for a while ask them, “How many beats do you think we have clapped and counted?” Of course no one will know. But it makes a nice transition to introducing meter.
Meter and Measures: Meter is when you group collections of pulses together so that you may more easily keep track of them. Have the student’s tap, clap, and count “1 – 2, 1 -2”. Have them do this for four groups. Ask the students if anyone knows how many beats went by. Someone may know the answer! If not, do it again but prompt them to keep track of how many times they count to two. Tell them that we’re going to refer to these groups of beats as measures. Repeat this process for three letting them know that now there are three beats in our measures. Then do the same thing for four.
Musical Notation: Illustrate how the music you’ve been performing may be written down with notation. Draw a staff and explain this is where we write music. Draw four quarter notes and explain that these symbols represent the rhythm that we have been clapping. Since they have already heard the term measures, draw bar lines and explain to them that these section the music off into measures.
Armed with that information the students should be ready to take on the Snare Start-Up!