Scope & sequence for your drummer?

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    Hi all,

    I have a small jazz combo of good students – this is will be my 3rd year with them and I am always kicking up the theory required. However, what can I do with my drummer? He’s a team player, but his instrumental knowledge is beginner level. I’m going to let him sign out a classroom piano to work on the basics of theory at home, but what is your scope and sequence for drummers?

    He already swings very well, and last year we explored compound time and latin beats a bit. This year I’m thinking I can put it on him to learn:
    A bossa nova beat
    Funk & jazz-fusion

    What is your differentiated/individualized scope and sequence for the drummers in your jazz band?


    If I’m reading your question correctly here are my thoughts. In regards to what I ask my drummers to understand in terms of theory (i.e. chord structure, keys, scales, etc. and keep in mind this for MS and HS kids) I admit I have them learn only the bottom basics unless they have prior exp on the piano, guitar, etc. I have all my non-drummer students learn all their Major and minor scales with jazz tonguing and 1-3-5-8 arpeggios. In addition, I have them learn all their Maj7, 7, and -7 arpgeggios, as well. From there we go onto the dorian and mixolydian modes.

    As for the drummers, I want them to have a basic understanding of tertian harmony, but I’m more concerned with them focusing on independence exercises, basic grooves, etc. Ex. for our daily warmups I have the horns run down several of the scales/arpeggios while the drummer works on independence exercises – usually something from the John Riley book or Tommy Igoe’s Groove Essentials.

    Past the independence exercises I have them listen to specific listening examples in an effort to help them to better their understanding of not only the role of the drummer in a band, but what that might sound like. It’s not that I don’t think they need to learn the theory, but I want my drummers to focus on drumming first and foremost. If they have the capacity and time to learn additional theory, then great!

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