Educational Heuristics

The initial drumming experience.


Take what is already known (rhythms picked up when drumming on tables, etc.) These are the rhythms people do most naturally and, although they may lack clarity, it gives them the opportunity to experience drumming instinctively.


Encourage lead drumming by example.


At this juncture students will have experienced the full round of a simple drumming environment. Since the source rhythms are limited to the students' exposure to drumming, the student will soon become ready to move on.


The first lessons.


Comfortable drum playing posture. People enjoy drumming most instinctively when the drum is most comfortable. Introduce drum tuning and maintenance; drum belts, proper height of chairs and hand care.


Explore, explain, clarify and expand on the rhythms used in the jam sessions. Show the instinctive concepts behind them. Reference them to identical traditional rhythms. Show improvements that make them simpler to play. Show variations.


Show drum tones that will enable them to get more clarity from their rhythms. Emphasize that they should not dwell too much on getting the tone exactly right at this point; dwelling too much on refinement is counterproductive to instinctive experience.


Initiate experience with other rhythms.


Start with simple solo rhythms. This allows one to experience new rhythms without the distraction of trying to align with others.


Introduce rhythms that allow for and encourage variations and creativity. Special open pattern rhythms that maintain momentum with few notes and allow additional space for other notes to be added creatively.


Arrange various learned rhythms into a group piece. Allows group playing experience without the distraction of trying to learn a new rhythm at the same time.


Lead drumming. Since lead drumming is spontaneously creating new rhythm in the midst of other rhythms and is not easy for the beginner, the following method is used: Have each drummer in turn stop and listen. Point out and/or sing the most distinctive pattern of the rhythms or combination of rhythms being played by the group. Play a simple figure that works with the pattern several times and have the student imitate it. Do variations.


Introduce the foundations of the principles of rhythm.


One cannot expect students to play traditional rhythms as comfortably as the rhythms they have instinctively made up. New rhythms require new ways of thinking about rhythms. Since most rhythms share basic fundamental principles, it is best to start by outlining these as new rhythms are introduced.


Basic notation. Rhythmic ideas that can be seen as well as heard are easier to comprehend. Written ideas can also be taken home and explored at leisure. Talk about drum languages.


The underlying structures of rhythms. Pulse, beat, iteration, length and meter.


The terms used to describe the structure of a rhythm. Binary, ternary, duple, triple, etc.


The comparison of rhythm to speech. A rhythm can have letters (tones), words (measured by beat), phrases (rhythmic statements within a cycle), sentences (the whole cycle of the rhythm), and paragraphs (when the lead figure covers several cycles).


Projecting different rhythm orientations. Communicating the nature of a rhythm clearly. Projecting beat, syncronicity, fluidity, and/or depth.


Hand patterns. How different hand patterns may increase creativity, beat, efficiency, etc.


Part alignment. How rhythms can have different orientations when played together. Shifted, doubled, crossed, counter, hockett, etc.


Distinctive whole rhythm structures. Brisk simple, fast complex, hypnotic, switching polymetric, switching statement, slow evolving, tempo switch, multi polymetric, etc.


The different types of lead drumming.


By teaching the geometries and nomenclatures of rhythm while introducing new rhythms, each new rhythm becomes easier to learn until the student can pick up on new rhythms as naturally as understanding a new sentence.


Additional topics to include while teaching.


Distinctive drum types; big, two headed, frame, variable toned, etc.


Practice techniques.


Odd time, anthropologic and geometric rhythms.


Techniques of creative composition.


The concept of rhythmic patterns as geometric patterns.


(I would say that the majority of the above topics have been touched upon in various postings. I'm still looking for the completed manuscript. Luis)


Course Outline.


• care of instruments

• creative recreational rhythm

• rhythm notation, drum languages and study techniques

• beginning composition anthropologic rhythms and hand

• patterns geometric rhythms and hand patterns beginning

• lead drumming dancer perception basic polymetrics

• popular world rhythms intermediate composition

• intermediate lead drumming basic rhythm classification

• basic transformation odd meters distinctive drum types

• deep polymetrics advanced world rhythm advanced lead

• drumming advanced composition the classification group

• applied combinations the transformation group


Jim's Notes: A Course in Drumming