Percussionists are very incestual by nature.
Who do the drumline members hang out with in high school? Who do the college percussion majors spend the most time with? And, who do the young freelancing percussionists talk to and hang with? Who is reading this blog right now?
The answer is other drummers. Which is fine…to an extent.
I’m currently working a job where I’m the only percussionist around. In fact, I’m one of only two musicians in the entire building. I teach steel drums at a high school in a low economic community. There is very little musical support for me, but there is tons of experience and wisdom around in different areas of being a professional.
One of the best learning experiences I’ve had at this gig was a few months ago when I observed a math teacher who’s been in the same room for over fifteen years. It’s easy as percussion educators to get caught up in the next marching band competition, the next percussion ensemble event, the next spring concert or whatever. But, when I was watching this math teacher I saw a connection with her students. I saw students mature in just the thirty minutes that I sat there. I saw students learning who don’t necessarily have any other reason to be in school other than they trust their teacher. Educating can mean very different things to different people in different environments. However, to me, these ideas really hit home as the essence of teaching.
Of course, percussion education is going to be unique. Especially if you are in a situation where you’re the only one of your breed around. But, we should constantly be thinking as educators about what is most important to us…students. Professionals that are around us can sometimes be the best reminder of just that.
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