taking a drummer off a part
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I have a 6th grade drummer that plays with a lot of heart and is a great kid, except he can’t play in time. I rotate the kids around the instruments so that they all get a chance–That said, this kid can’t play one measure of straight 8th notes or straight quarter notes when its doubled with half the band (African Portrait, Curnow) on his snare drum part. He tries hard, but just can’t get it. I hate to burst his bubble, but today I decided to switch him out with another player as we have a festival next week. Its a tough call. He’s trying his best. What are your thoughts? When do you balance the needs of the student to the needs of the group? We always hear, “Its the process”, but is really all about the process? Thanks for your input.
I’m with you! It seems like the worst musicians in my band are the percussionists. I have one student in particular who struggles deeply with academics but he’s fairly successful reading music-when he has someone pointing to each beat as it passes. Of course that can’t happen all the time. I teach elementary school so for me its really ALL about the process and most times I rehearse the band without percussion so the winds can listen to themselves and be more comfortable with their part. It’s a shame (to my ears), but as much as I wish I could remove one or two players from the band, I firmly believe every kid should get the opportunity to play in the band. There are plenty of advanced/competition bands for advanced players.
With sixth grade, a festival really shouldn’t be about a rating or even a particular performance. It should be about the process of preparing for a performance and the feedback the band will receive. As long as the students are all trying hard (like you say he is), who the heck cares if he’s not playing everything perfectly. He’s a sixth grader. There is plenty of time for perfection.
A solution I would probably consider for this situation is rewriting the snare part so the student could be successful at playing it correctly, simplifying and repeating parts that are more accessible. If the student plays with a lot of heart, pulling him off the part could be pretty crushing. Giving him an opportunity to be successful with the skills he has right now will pave the way for more confidence and learning in the future.
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