Reply To: Percussion class help

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As a percussionist, I grew to hate band in general and did more homework and napping then actual playing so I appreciate the effort you are making to get your students motivated. It may be a good idea just to ask them what kind of percussion they would like to play (hand drums, drum set, keyboards…and so on). If you can give them a chance to pick what they want to do then that could spark some motivation. I don’t believe it is necessary to just go down the line of what is usually done with a percussion section. Band parts are typically boring, rudiments out of context are not very exciting either. Since these kids will most likely not go into a future of music, it is better to give them a chance to do something they enjoy rather than have them leave school with a terrible musical experience. I have not had a chance to try any of my own ideas but heres a few suggestions of things you could try.
1. Try a hand drumming ensemble (this may require a percussionist but can be very basic). Students can learn basic sounds and patterns. This can also turn into a percussion ensemble piece. There are a lot of pieces for hand drumming groups that are taught entirely by rote. Just having a break from trying to play notes on a page can be really refreshing. For some reason, students enjoy this much more than typical concert percussion and its a good skill to have.
2. Have a percussionist come in and work with them. (I know this could cost money but somebody like me, a poor college student, would love the opportunity and would not be very expensive).
3. Try arranging a popular song for percussion ensemble. Sometimes it can be hard to enjoy the music written for percussion ensemble, especially at this age/level, and it will be easier for the kids to get used to the idea with something familiar. We played a mash up arrangement of Michael Jackson songs for percussion ensemble when I was in high school and it was a huge success. All the students loved it, the parents loved it, and even better, non-band students came to the concert and truly found it enjoyable. You could have the students try to work out some of the parts by listening to whichever music they want to play as an ensemble. If they are in charge of making decisions, the ensemble will become more important to them.

As I mentioned before, I am answering this as a percussionist but I have not had the chance to try any of these things with a class. If you try any of these things, please let me know how it goes!

I also read your other post and I hope things are going better for you. I plan to become an administrator so I can fix problems like the ones you have. All classes, groups and clubs within the school deserve respect and you deserve the right to teach your students music!