Most of the percussionists in this world spend at least a part of their professional life educating. I think there are three vitally important questions that all percussion educators need to frequently be asking themselves. What are you teaching your students? Why are you teaching it to them? And, when/how are they going to use what you’re teaching them?

Why do high school percussion students need to learn how to march around on a painted tarp while playing really hard drum beats? Why should they be playing single hand strokes where the point is to look exactly like the person next to them? Is it really helping them to put in countless hours over the course of two separate marching seasons? Do students need to know all of their four mallet permutations? Why do college students need to play the absolute most technically and musically demanding marimba solos to graduate? How will any of this help them in their lifetime?

I’ve spent a lot of my time convincing my students that there are lessons wrapped up in these activities that can be applied everywhere in life. Skills such as leadership, cooperation, working as a part of a unit and striving for excellence are all things that can be learned in a percussion classroom and applied for years in countless different environments.

But, is that the message that we send as educators? That the point of teaching them is to help them mature, grow and learn? Or, is the message they receive as students that we want a regional or national reputation. Or, we do things this way because we’ve always done things that way around here.

Whatever you want your main message to be, make sure your students understand it as thoroughly as you do.

Dave Gerhart

Dave Gerhart

Dr. Dave Gerhart, Product Manager, Percussion for Yamaha Corporation of America and Lecturer of Percussion at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU, Long Beach, is a nationally recognized performer, composer, and educator. Dr. Gerhart, originally from Fairfield, California, holds a D.M.A. from the University of Southern California, M.M. in Percussion Performance and Instrumental Conducting and a B.M. in Music Education from California State University, Long Beach.
Dave Gerhart

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