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Should you push to learn how to read music?

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#21
CesarAguirre

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***UPDATE*** 

 

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I decided to introduce the basic rhythm tree and quarter note and eighth note exercises on the practice pad. The kid is abysmal at math so I had to get creative with explaining values. I want to get quarter notes and eighth notes solid before I move onto anything else.

 

I also realized that anytime the student was looking at the notation, he was able to play the exercises more comfortably than without any notation. And I found out he loves reading in general suggesting he is a verbal type of learner. So I think he will benefit from reading music especially when he is trying to learn something hard. 


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#22
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#23
hardbat

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It is SO much easier to learn a language when you're young.  I taught a couple hundred kids back in the day, and none of them had trouble learning to read, including complex material (especially complex material!).  I don't remember having to "push" anyone - it was just one of the things we did each week, along with rudiments, etc.  In a very short time, the issue won't be the reading, but executing the passage on the page.


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#24
hardbat

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The kid is abysmal at math so I had to get creative with explaining values. I want to get quarter notes and eighth notes solid before I move onto anything else.

 

Learning to read music might help him in math over time.


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#25
gwbasley

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***UPDATE*** 

 

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I decided to introduce the basic rhythm tree and quarter note and eighth note exercises on the practice pad. The kid is abysmal at math so I had to get creative with explaining values. I want to get quarter notes and eighth notes solid before I move onto anything else.

 

I also realized that anytime the student was looking at the notation, he was able to play the exercises more comfortably than without any notation. And I found out he loves reading in general suggesting he is a verbal type of learner. So I think he will benefit from reading music especially when he is trying to learn something hard. 

Try this:

1.  Start with a sheet of copier paper (8 1/2 X 11) and together you count to 4 and say "This is a whole note"

2.  Rip it in half and now you have two "half notes" that when put together equal a "whole note".

3. rip them in half........ok. you get the idea.

4. stop at 16th notes and tell them that that's all they need to know, ( not really, but it will take them a long way until they are even capable of 32nd notes ).

5. I hand them the 16 pieces of paper to keep.

 

It works...when they have something that they can hold and relate to they don't think about fractions anymore.


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#26
Jim P

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As someone who just watched Thursday my son play his senior recital as a percussion major at a major conservatory, reading is very important. He played a multiple percussion solo, marimba, vibes, a new contemporary snare drum solo which included playing with a spring door stopper and two tunes with a jazz trio on drum kit. Yes teach the kid to read.
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#27
Pounder

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Haskell Harr book One. Easy-peasy. and Harr gets them going through the rudiments as well. Translates easily to other drumset-books all that require reading. The kid is ready for jr. high and high school band as well. Yes reading is very important. He'll thank you later. Math skills aren't required in my opinion. An innate grasp of rhythms could be important because as you play through the simple and gradually-more-difficult stuff, the student will need to hear the teacher's competent playing of the material and try to copy what he/she hears, if there's any initial difficulty. 

 

Frankly--knowing what I know now garnered from my experience with lessons beginning at around age 10 or so--I would totally regret it if my teacher hadn't started out with reading in HH book 1 and moved forward with other books such as the Chapin book, The drummer's Cookbook, the Latham book, etc.. I would've experienced NONE of my band days in Jr. High, Highschool, and College. 

 

Furthermore when I hear and read interviews of drummers such as Steve Gadd, I only regret I didn't start drum lessons earlier. One can only imagine. The sky's the limit, so why limit your student early on???? They're going to limit themselves, probably, later. No, teaching reading is essential. I took some piano prior to starting on drums, and feel that helped when learning but even the lack of any previous formal music notation reading is a terribly poor excuse not to learn reading drum music, and a person could transition to melodic instrument music notation from learning (at first snare) drum music in the beginning. 

 

I have fond memories of my earlier drum teacher writing beats for drumset in my little half-sized spiral-bound staff paper notebook. I still remember him (and later myself) putting drum beats in that notebook. You can put markings for open-hihat, syncopation, and other drum/rhythm concepts in there much more easily than by relying solely on memory(which is important as well, this isn't an either-or situation) when utilizing drum/music notation. 

 

This opens up a huge world. I want to also point out that if your goal with a 7-year-old isn't to help the youngin' to SURPASS one's own drumming abilities, you're doing him/her a terrible dis-service.


Edited by Pounder, 16 March 2017 - 08:46 AM.

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#28
dcrigger

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Olderschool, of course you don't start reading charts as a beginner.  But, you need to develop those skills along with your others AT THE SAME TIME.   That's how I learned, and I believe that's a good way to. 

 

Maybe the kid will join the school band.  If he does, he'll HAVE to learn how to read music.

 

Also, how's the teacher going to convey what he wants the kid to practice if the kid can't read music

 

READING IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

My younger brother started playing guitar at 7 years old.  He started to learn to read music, AND play the guitar.  What's the difference?

The difference is that guitar music is different than drum charts.

Look, I read. I read EVERY week where I play (some level or another). But the OP specifically asked if a 7 year old was worth emphasizing DRUM chart reading over other skills. I say no....others say yes. If I was teaching a 7 year old Piano, guitar, etc... then my logic and response would be totally different. I would emphasize reading for sure. But the fact is for 99% of drummers, reading is not a necessary skill. Certainly not for a 7 year old.

Why? A drummer uses totally different skills and muscle dexterity. Our craft requires more physical coordination and muscle memory than guitarist or piano players (I know, I know they require some too but not as much as drummers). IMO, reading is not as important to drummers because drummers, in the norm, do not require reading skills (I'm sure the flaming will begin by those who do require reading and can't comprehend the reality that I'm discussing normalities and not oddities of those in our craft).

As an example, even to this day at my age, when I want to practice drums to a new song, I listen to the song and away I go. No drum charts are required. And 99% of drummers here are the same. Hell....you are probably the same. But when I want to learn a new song on the piano, guitar, or lap steel the first thing I do is print out the music.

So that's why IMO, I believe developing a 7 year olds rudiments and techniques far outweigh reading drum charts at his age if you only have limited time to practice.

 

I couldn't disagree more....  first the skills and muscle dexterity used to play drums are fundamentally NO different than any other instruments - certainly no more difficult to master.... and in many cases, far easier to master initially.

And the degree we do or don't use "drum charts" on gigs later on has ZERO to do with this as well.

Learning to read isn't about "learning to read" as much as it is about learning to count, learning to understand rhythms - what they are, what they sound like, how they are used to create the music of drumming.

Leaving this out - leaves nothing but simply.... mimicry.  Which, while a fine tool in itself, is far less useful when coupled with... illiteracy. Producing a student that a sense of what they are doing... but no true mastery... because they don't understand.

It's like a foreign language person memorizing an speech in English phonetically... they may be able to recite it fine... but they'll be unable to explain it, paraphrase it, draw on parts of it in other settings... 

This is what we get when simply teach drum students how to hit the drums and to mimic beats and songs...

5 year old piano students cope with hand to hand independence from day, multiple finger independence, note names AND rhythms... and they have for centuries with no problems whatsoever. Teaching a young drum student how to count, tap their foot, and play first broken 1/4 note, then broken 1/8th note rhythms on a single surface is not an impossible task.

I know so many drummers were not taught to count, to read, to understand from day one - and god bless 'em, were able to overcome that handicap over time. I feel bad they had to do that. And am glad that everything worked out OK for them. But... none of that is a reason to handicap future students in the same way. It just makes their journey longer and harder.

Young kids are at the perfect phase of life to master new math and alternative language skills - tying the physical aspects of playing to the rhythmic/mathematical aural and visual aspects ALL AT THE SAME TIME links it all together for the musician at the most basic, fundamental level - which will serve them well forever.

Every time I play reflects seamlessly to that first drum lesson... sure the feel of the sticks, but oh so much, that basic explanation of how rhythms work/relate... that grid, that showed how 1 whole note, 2 halves, 4 quarters, 8 eighths, 16 sixteenths and 32 thirty seconds take up the same space... music was from then on... a puzzle.... one that I had a tool for figuring out.  The game was on... and I wanted more.... then more.... and more.

:-)

Anyway - excuse the rambling passion... my 2 cents and all of that...


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#29
Olderschool

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Olderschool, of course you don't start reading charts as a beginner.  But, you need to develop those skills along with your others AT THE SAME TIME.   That's how I learned, and I believe that's a good way to. 

 

Maybe the kid will join the school band.  If he does, he'll HAVE to learn how to read music.

 

Also, how's the teacher going to convey what he wants the kid to practice if the kid can't read music

 

READING IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

My younger brother started playing guitar at 7 years old.  He started to learn to read music, AND play the guitar.  What's the difference?

The difference is that guitar music is different than drum charts.

Look, I read. I read EVERY week where I play (some level or another). But the OP specifically asked if a 7 year old was worth emphasizing DRUM chart reading over other skills. I say no....others say yes. If I was teaching a 7 year old Piano, guitar, etc... then my logic and response would be totally different. I would emphasize reading for sure. But the fact is for 99% of drummers, reading is not a necessary skill. Certainly not for a 7 year old.

Why? A drummer uses totally different skills and muscle dexterity. Our craft requires more physical coordination and muscle memory than guitarist or piano players (I know, I know they require some too but not as much as drummers). IMO, reading is not as important to drummers because drummers, in the norm, do not require reading skills (I'm sure the flaming will begin by those who do require reading and can't comprehend the reality that I'm discussing normalities and not oddities of those in our craft).

As an example, even to this day at my age, when I want to practice drums to a new song, I listen to the song and away I go. No drum charts are required. And 99% of drummers here are the same. Hell....you are probably the same. But when I want to learn a new song on the piano, guitar, or lap steel the first thing I do is print out the music.

So that's why IMO, I believe developing a 7 year olds rudiments and techniques far outweigh reading drum charts at his age if you only have limited time to practice.

 

I couldn't disagree more....  first the skills and muscle dexterity used to play drums are fundamentally NO different than any other instruments - certainly no more difficult to master.... and in many cases, far easier to master initially.

And the degree we do or don't use "drum charts" on gigs later on has ZERO to do with this as well.

Learning to read isn't about "learning to read" as much as it is about learning to count, learning to understand rhythms - what they are, what they sound like, how they are used to create the music of drumming.

Leaving this out - leaves nothing but simply.... mimicry.  Which, while a fine tool in itself, is far less useful when coupled with... illiteracy. Producing a student that a sense of what they are doing... but no true mastery... because they don't understand.

It's like a foreign language person memorizing an speech in English phonetically... they may be able to recite it fine... but they'll be unable to explain it, paraphrase it, draw on parts of it in other settings... 

This is what we get when simply teach drum students how to hit the drums and to mimic beats and songs...

5 year old piano students cope with hand to hand independence from day, multiple finger independence, note names AND rhythms... and they have for centuries with no problems whatsoever. Teaching a young drum student how to count, tap their foot, and play first broken 1/4 note, then broken 1/8th note rhythms on a single surface is not an impossible task.

I know so many drummers were not taught to count, to read, to understand from day one - and god bless 'em, were able to overcome that handicap over time. I feel bad they had to do that. And am glad that everything worked out OK for them. But... none of that is a reason to handicap future students in the same way. It just makes their journey longer and harder.

Young kids are at the perfect phase of life to master new math and alternative language skills - tying the physical aspects of playing to the rhythmic/mathematical aural and visual aspects ALL AT THE SAME TIME links it all together for the musician at the most basic, fundamental level - which will serve them well forever.

Every time I play reflects seamlessly to that first drum lesson... sure the feel of the sticks, but oh so much, that basic explanation of how rhythms work/relate... that grid, that showed how 1 whole note, 2 halves, 4 quarters, 8 eighths, 16 sixteenths and 32 thirty seconds take up the same space... music was from then on... a puzzle.... one that I had a tool for figuring out.  The game was on... and I wanted more.... then more.... and more.

:icon_smile:

Anyway - excuse the rambling passion... my 2 cents and all of that...

 

This is all great stuff but you are disagreeing with a pretense that wasn't made by me in the quote. You yourself agreed with my premise by saying "Learning to read isn't about "learning to read" as much as it is about learning to count, learning to understand rhythms - what they are, what they sound like, how they are used to create the music of drumming". I agree with this 100% but my argument against focusing limited time at an hours lesson to reading at seven was based on “reading drum music" not "counting” comprehension. But maybe I'm completely misunderstanding the OP's intent of what he is asking? Counting, or the associated skills involving, goes without saying is the basis for a drumming foundation and of course should be taught (probably before one even picks up sticks). But again....IMO, this wasn't what the OP was addressing.

 

As far muscle dexterity and memory being different for drummers than guitarist or pianist....well, I guess we will have to disagree. From my experience at playing all three, I can't think of any similarity between the muscles memory of fingering a guitar and playing drums. Piano......? The only similarity I can even relate is independence but to equate the two is a real stretch given one involves the muscle memory and independence of limbs and the other involves fingers. Sure, it all comes from the brain but the point is that a drummer, pianist and guitarist use completely different muscles and practice with completely different muscular exercises.

 

I believe like many threads, this subject has sidetracked into something more complicated than it was intended. My take was that the OP was asking about committing a good amount of limited time developing reading skills for a seven year old who is starting off with drums. Just because some people have evolved as a drummer where they feel they are more accomplished later in life because they can read drum music, IMO has little validation regarding the OP’s question.

 

In my mind, some of my validation regarding my reasoning on this subject is real life experience. I bet if one could take a poll from drummers across the globe, less than 1% would say that they were being taught to read drum music at seven years old. Hell….probably less than 10% can even read now. But ask the same question to players of melodic instruments (such as a pianist) the same question and almost all of them were taught reading (not counting) theory right off the bat. 

 

Having said all of that, the reason I posted the link to the article where different drum instructors are disagreeing on this very subject, was to show that our instrument is not like others and we can disagree with teaching foundations that would never be allowed with other instruments. All is good :)


Edited by Olderschool, 17 March 2017 - 07:43 AM.

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#30
bigbonzo

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Fortunately, the OP has decided to teach his student how to read.  Never too young to start.


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#31
gwbasley

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All this talk when it's really so easy.  I think the real problem is when the teacher himself views reading as hard...your young student doesn't.  He is a blank slate and a sponge just waiting to soak up what you have to teach him.  Assume that and just go ahead and teach him to read. Be ready for the questions like "Why do they use dots and ties?"...and "Why not just do this...?"     They will get ahead of you quickly so best be ready with the answers!


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#32
Pounder

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Olderschool, of course you don't start reading charts as a beginner.  But, you need to develop those skills along with your others AT THE SAME TIME.   That's how I learned, and I believe that's a good way to. 

 

Maybe the kid will join the school band.  If he does, he'll HAVE to learn how to read music.

 

Also, how's the teacher going to convey what he wants the kid to practice if the kid can't read music

 

READING IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

My younger brother started playing guitar at 7 years old.  He started to learn to read music, AND play the guitar.  What's the difference?

The difference is that guitar music is different than drum charts.

Look, I read. I read EVERY week where I play (some level or another). But the OP specifically asked if a 7 year old was worth emphasizing DRUM chart reading over other skills. I say no....others say yes. If I was teaching a 7 year old Piano, guitar, etc... then my logic and response would be totally different. I would emphasize reading for sure. But the fact is for 99% of drummers, reading is not a necessary skill. Certainly not for a 7 year old.

Why? A drummer uses totally different skills and muscle dexterity. Our craft requires more physical coordination and muscle memory than guitarist or piano players (I know, I know they require some too but not as much as drummers). IMO, reading is not as important to drummers because drummers, in the norm, do not require reading skills (I'm sure the flaming will begin by those who do require reading and can't comprehend the reality that I'm discussing normalities and not oddities of those in our craft).

As an example, even to this day at my age, when I want to practice drums to a new song, I listen to the song and away I go. No drum charts are required. And 99% of drummers here are the same. Hell....you are probably the same. But when I want to learn a new song on the piano, guitar, or lap steel the first thing I do is print out the music.

So that's why IMO, I believe developing a 7 year olds rudiments and techniques far outweigh reading drum charts at his age if you only have limited time to practice.

 

I couldn't disagree more....  first the skills and muscle dexterity used to play drums are fundamentally NO different than any other instruments - certainly no more difficult to master.... and in many cases, far easier to master initially.

And the degree we do or don't use "drum charts" on gigs later on has ZERO to do with this as well.

Learning to read isn't about "learning to read" as much as it is about learning to count, learning to understand rhythms - what they are, what they sound like, how they are used to create the music of drumming.

Leaving this out - leaves nothing but simply.... mimicry.  Which, while a fine tool in itself, is far less useful when coupled with... illiteracy. Producing a student that a sense of what they are doing... but no true mastery... because they don't understand.

It's like a foreign language person memorizing an speech in English phonetically... they may be able to recite it fine... but they'll be unable to explain it, paraphrase it, draw on parts of it in other settings... 

This is what we get when simply teach drum students how to hit the drums and to mimic beats and songs...

5 year old piano students cope with hand to hand independence from day, multiple finger independence, note names AND rhythms... and they have for centuries with no problems whatsoever. Teaching a young drum student how to count, tap their foot, and play first broken 1/4 note, then broken 1/8th note rhythms on a single surface is not an impossible task.

I know so many drummers were not taught to count, to read, to understand from day one - and god bless 'em, were able to overcome that handicap over time. I feel bad they had to do that. And am glad that everything worked out OK for them. But... none of that is a reason to handicap future students in the same way. It just makes their journey longer and harder.

Young kids are at the perfect phase of life to master new math and alternative language skills - tying the physical aspects of playing to the rhythmic/mathematical aural and visual aspects ALL AT THE SAME TIME links it all together for the musician at the most basic, fundamental level - which will serve them well forever.

Every time I play reflects seamlessly to that first drum lesson... sure the feel of the sticks, but oh so much, that basic explanation of how rhythms work/relate... that grid, that showed how 1 whole note, 2 halves, 4 quarters, 8 eighths, 16 sixteenths and 32 thirty seconds take up the same space... music was from then on... a puzzle.... one that I had a tool for figuring out.  The game was on... and I wanted more.... then more.... and more.

:icon_smile:

Anyway - excuse the rambling passion... my 2 cents and all of that...

 

 

 

In my mind, some of my validation regarding my reasoning on this subject is real life experience. I bet if one could take a poll from drummers across the globe, less than 1% would say that they were being taught to read drum music at seven years old. Hell….probably less than 10% can even read now. But ask the same question to players of melodic instruments (such as a pianist) the same question and almost all of them were taught reading (not counting) theory right off the bat. 

 

Having said all of that, the reason I posted the link to the article where different drum instructors are disagreeing on this very subject, was to show that our instrument is not like others and we can disagree with teaching foundations that would never be allowed with other instruments. All is good :)

 

None of the non-reading drummers you mentioned ever played in school band. The question isn't whether you should leave out reading because it isn't used in 95% of stuff, but rather the almost 100% that one can use reading to improve one's drumming while learning--and then later use it in the "5%" of drumming simply because the other 95% of drummers didn't bother to learn. The big difference being: "Can you read? You're hired!" "You can't read? Go listen to the records and play in a local cover band!" Whether using reading in the end result or not has nothing to do with using reading to develop a complete musical mind, and have versatility as well. It isn't an either or proposition. Take 2 kids, 7 year-olds with similar talents for drumming, teach one to read and don't teach the other. Later on, you will certainly notice the difference. Learning even rudiments is much easier when you can read the rudiments off of the page. One can play a new rudiment as written if one can read notation. One who cannot read needs a recording to mimic along with. Cumbersome at best.


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#33
CesarAguirre

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Olderschool, of course you don't start reading charts as a beginner.  But, you need to develop those skills along with your others AT THE SAME TIME.   That's how I learned, and I believe that's a good way to. 

 

Maybe the kid will join the school band.  If he does, he'll HAVE to learn how to read music.

 

Also, how's the teacher going to convey what he wants the kid to practice if the kid can't read music

 

READING IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

My younger brother started playing guitar at 7 years old.  He started to learn to read music, AND play the guitar.  What's the difference?

The difference is that guitar music is different than drum charts.

Look, I read. I read EVERY week where I play (some level or another). But the OP specifically asked if a 7 year old was worth emphasizing DRUM chart reading over other skills. I say no....others say yes. If I was teaching a 7 year old Piano, guitar, etc... then my logic and response would be totally different. I would emphasize reading for sure. But the fact is for 99% of drummers, reading is not a necessary skill. Certainly not for a 7 year old.

Why? A drummer uses totally different skills and muscle dexterity. Our craft requires more physical coordination and muscle memory than guitarist or piano players (I know, I know they require some too but not as much as drummers). IMO, reading is not as important to drummers because drummers, in the norm, do not require reading skills (I'm sure the flaming will begin by those who do require reading and can't comprehend the reality that I'm discussing normalities and not oddities of those in our craft).

As an example, even to this day at my age, when I want to practice drums to a new song, I listen to the song and away I go. No drum charts are required. And 99% of drummers here are the same. Hell....you are probably the same. But when I want to learn a new song on the piano, guitar, or lap steel the first thing I do is print out the music.

So that's why IMO, I believe developing a 7 year olds rudiments and techniques far outweigh reading drum charts at his age if you only have limited time to practice.

 

I couldn't disagree more....  first the skills and muscle dexterity used to play drums are fundamentally NO different than any other instruments - certainly no more difficult to master.... and in many cases, far easier to master initially.

And the degree we do or don't use "drum charts" on gigs later on has ZERO to do with this as well.

Learning to read isn't about "learning to read" as much as it is about learning to count, learning to understand rhythms - what they are, what they sound like, how they are used to create the music of drumming.

Leaving this out - leaves nothing but simply.... mimicry.  Which, while a fine tool in itself, is far less useful when coupled with... illiteracy. Producing a student that a sense of what they are doing... but no true mastery... because they don't understand.

It's like a foreign language person memorizing an speech in English phonetically... they may be able to recite it fine... but they'll be unable to explain it, paraphrase it, draw on parts of it in other settings... 

This is what we get when simply teach drum students how to hit the drums and to mimic beats and songs...

5 year old piano students cope with hand to hand independence from day, multiple finger independence, note names AND rhythms... and they have for centuries with no problems whatsoever. Teaching a young drum student how to count, tap their foot, and play first broken 1/4 note, then broken 1/8th note rhythms on a single surface is not an impossible task.

I know so many drummers were not taught to count, to read, to understand from day one - and god bless 'em, were able to overcome that handicap over time. I feel bad they had to do that. And am glad that everything worked out OK for them. But... none of that is a reason to handicap future students in the same way. It just makes their journey longer and harder.

Young kids are at the perfect phase of life to master new math and alternative language skills - tying the physical aspects of playing to the rhythmic/mathematical aural and visual aspects ALL AT THE SAME TIME links it all together for the musician at the most basic, fundamental level - which will serve them well forever.

Every time I play reflects seamlessly to that first drum lesson... sure the feel of the sticks, but oh so much, that basic explanation of how rhythms work/relate... that grid, that showed how 1 whole note, 2 halves, 4 quarters, 8 eighths, 16 sixteenths and 32 thirty seconds take up the same space... music was from then on... a puzzle.... one that I had a tool for figuring out.  The game was on... and I wanted more.... then more.... and more.

:icon_smile:

Anyway - excuse the rambling passion... my 2 cents and all of that...

 

 

 

In my mind, some of my validation regarding my reasoning on this subject is real life experience. I bet if one could take a poll from drummers across the globe, less than 1% would say that they were being taught to read drum music at seven years old. Hell….probably less than 10% can even read now. But ask the same question to players of melodic instruments (such as a pianist) the same question and almost all of them were taught reading (not counting) theory right off the bat. 

 

Having said all of that, the reason I posted the link to the article where different drum instructors are disagreeing on this very subject, was to show that our instrument is not like others and we can disagree with teaching foundations that would never be allowed with other instruments. All is good :)

 

None of the non-reading drummers you mentioned ever played in school band. The question isn't whether you should leave out reading because it isn't used in 95% of stuff, but rather the almost 100% that one can use reading to improve one's drumming while learning--and then later use it in the "5%" of drumming simply because the other 95% of drummers didn't bother to learn. The big difference being: "Can you read? You're hired!" "You can't read? Go listen to the records and play in a local cover band!" Whether using reading in the end result or not has nothing to do with using reading to develop a complete musical mind, and have versatility as well. It isn't an either or proposition. Take 2 kids, 7 year-olds with similar talents for drumming, teach one to read and don't teach the other. Later on, you will certainly notice the difference. Learning even rudiments is much easier when you can read the rudiments off of the page. One can play a new rudiment as written if one can read notation. One who cannot read needs a recording to mimic along with. Cumbersome at best.

 

It's true that if drumming will be your profession, your options will open up if you know how to read. It is not necessary but knowing how to read can put you ahead of a lot of the competition. 


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#34
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Olderschool, of course you don't start reading charts as a beginner.  But, you need to develop those skills along with your others AT THE SAME TIME.   That's how I learned, and I believe that's a good way to. 

 

Maybe the kid will join the school band.  If he does, he'll HAVE to learn how to read music.

 

Also, how's the teacher going to convey what he wants the kid to practice if the kid can't read music

 

READING IS VERY IMPORTANT.

 

My younger brother started playing guitar at 7 years old.  He started to learn to read music, AND play the guitar.  What's the difference?

The difference is that guitar music is different than drum charts.

Look, I read. I read EVERY week where I play (some level or another). But the OP specifically asked if a 7 year old was worth emphasizing DRUM chart reading over other skills. I say no....others say yes. If I was teaching a 7 year old Piano, guitar, etc... then my logic and response would be totally different. I would emphasize reading for sure. But the fact is for 99% of drummers, reading is not a necessary skill. Certainly not for a 7 year old.

Why? A drummer uses totally different skills and muscle dexterity. Our craft requires more physical coordination and muscle memory than guitarist or piano players (I know, I know they require some too but not as much as drummers). IMO, reading is not as important to drummers because drummers, in the norm, do not require reading skills (I'm sure the flaming will begin by those who do require reading and can't comprehend the reality that I'm discussing normalities and not oddities of those in our craft).

As an example, even to this day at my age, when I want to practice drums to a new song, I listen to the song and away I go. No drum charts are required. And 99% of drummers here are the same. Hell....you are probably the same. But when I want to learn a new song on the piano, guitar, or lap steel the first thing I do is print out the music.

So that's why IMO, I believe developing a 7 year olds rudiments and techniques far outweigh reading drum charts at his age if you only have limited time to practice.

 

I couldn't disagree more....  first the skills and muscle dexterity used to play drums are fundamentally NO different than any other instruments - certainly no more difficult to master.... and in many cases, far easier to master initially.

And the degree we do or don't use "drum charts" on gigs later on has ZERO to do with this as well.

Learning to read isn't about "learning to read" as much as it is about learning to count, learning to understand rhythms - what they are, what they sound like, how they are used to create the music of drumming.

Leaving this out - leaves nothing but simply.... mimicry.  Which, while a fine tool in itself, is far less useful when coupled with... illiteracy. Producing a student that a sense of what they are doing... but no true mastery... because they don't understand.

It's like a foreign language person memorizing an speech in English phonetically... they may be able to recite it fine... but they'll be unable to explain it, paraphrase it, draw on parts of it in other settings... 

This is what we get when simply teach drum students how to hit the drums and to mimic beats and songs...

5 year old piano students cope with hand to hand independence from day, multiple finger independence, note names AND rhythms... and they have for centuries with no problems whatsoever. Teaching a young drum student how to count, tap their foot, and play first broken 1/4 note, then broken 1/8th note rhythms on a single surface is not an impossible task.

I know so many drummers were not taught to count, to read, to understand from day one - and god bless 'em, were able to overcome that handicap over time. I feel bad they had to do that. And am glad that everything worked out OK for them. But... none of that is a reason to handicap future students in the same way. It just makes their journey longer and harder.

Young kids are at the perfect phase of life to master new math and alternative language skills - tying the physical aspects of playing to the rhythmic/mathematical aural and visual aspects ALL AT THE SAME TIME links it all together for the musician at the most basic, fundamental level - which will serve them well forever.

Every time I play reflects seamlessly to that first drum lesson... sure the feel of the sticks, but oh so much, that basic explanation of how rhythms work/relate... that grid, that showed how 1 whole note, 2 halves, 4 quarters, 8 eighths, 16 sixteenths and 32 thirty seconds take up the same space... music was from then on... a puzzle.... one that I had a tool for figuring out.  The game was on... and I wanted more.... then more.... and more.

:icon_smile:

Anyway - excuse the rambling passion... my 2 cents and all of that...

 

 

 

In my mind, some of my validation regarding my reasoning on this subject is real life experience. I bet if one could take a poll from drummers across the globe, less than 1% would say that they were being taught to read drum music at seven years old. Hell….probably less than 10% can even read now. But ask the same question to players of melodic instruments (such as a pianist) the same question and almost all of them were taught reading (not counting) theory right off the bat. 

 

Having said all of that, the reason I posted the link to the article where different drum instructors are disagreeing on this very subject, was to show that our instrument is not like others and we can disagree with teaching foundations that would never be allowed with other instruments. All is good :)

 

None of the non-reading drummers you mentioned ever played in school band. The question isn't whether you should leave out reading because it isn't used in 95% of stuff, but rather the almost 100% that one can use reading to improve one's drumming while learning--and then later use it in the "5%" of drumming simply because the other 95% of drummers didn't bother to learn. The big difference being: "Can you read? You're hired!" "You can't read? Go listen to the records and play in a local cover band!" Whether using reading in the end result or not has nothing to do with using reading to develop a complete musical mind, and have versatility as well. It isn't an either or proposition. Take 2 kids, 7 year-olds with similar talents for drumming, teach one to read and don't teach the other. Later on, you will certainly notice the difference. Learning even rudiments is much easier when you can read the rudiments off of the page. One can play a new rudiment as written if one can read notation. One who cannot read needs a recording to mimic along with. Cumbersome at best.

 

It's true that if drumming will be your profession, your options will open up if you know how to read. It is not necessary but knowing how to read can put you ahead of a lot of the competition. 

 

Knowing how to read was not the question though. It was learning how to read at 7 with limited time to teach a new drumming kid.


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#35
jmpd_utoronto

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There is literally no down side to learning how to read drum music (or any other music for that matter).  It doesn't need to be the focus to exclusion of any technical things, but introducing the concepts of reading and basic music theory (time signatures, note durations, how to count, etc) can only be beneficial in the long run.  If you end up doing gigs where you don't need to read, you still haven't lost anything by knowing the skill.


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#36
dcrigger

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***UPDATE*** 

 

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I decided to introduce the basic rhythm tree and quarter note and eighth note exercises on the practice pad. The kid is abysmal at math so I had to get creative with explaining values. I want to get quarter notes and eighth notes solid before I move onto anything else.

 

I also realized that anytime the student was looking at the notation, he was able to play the exercises more comfortably than without any notation. And I found out he loves reading in general suggesting he is a verbal type of learner. So I think he will benefit from reading music especially when he is trying to learn something hard. 

All great news, Cesar.

While he may indeed be a verbal learner, his affinity with reading would very much suggest that he may be a "visual learner". Which of course, tons of people are. 

Which brings up something that seems to be more of a modern realization in education in general, that traditional music education has always sort of got right.  And that is the idea of presenting kids with new information in ways that speak to as many of their senses as possible. As some people are extremely visual learners, others aural... and many in varying degrees in between. The idea being then to lock the knowledge in with as many experiences the student will respond to.

So with learning the basic concepts of rhythm and drumming, we've got the obvious touch/feel/muscle stuff along with the equally obvious aural stuff. By adding the visible approximation of music (in the form of notation) we give the student yet one more way to hold it in their head.

Some might say its unnecessarily adding something, but the history of musical training and now the bulk of education science really suggests otherwise.  As an example, your new, possible more visual oriented, student now has a way of more easily "holding it all in his head" - or more accurately, a way so that he doesn't have to. He's now free to focus on the element of playing that he needs to focus on now that he can use the notation as a source of visual prompts where/when he needs them.


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#37
dcrigger

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Haskell Harr book One. Easy-peasy. and Harr gets them going through the rudiments as well. Translates easily to other drumset-books all that require reading. The kid is ready for jr. high and high school band as well. Yes reading is very important. He'll thank you later. Math skills aren't required in my opinion. An innate grasp of rhythms could be important because as you play through the simple and gradually-more-difficult stuff, the student will need to hear the teacher's competent playing of the material and try to copy what he/she hears, if there's any initial difficulty. 

 

Frankly--knowing what I know now garnered from my experience with lessons beginning at around age 10 or so--I would totally regret it if my teacher hadn't started out with reading in HH book 1 and moved forward with other books such as the Chapin book, The drummer's Cookbook, the Latham book, etc.. I would've experienced NONE of my band days in Jr. High, Highschool, and College. 

 

Furthermore when I hear and read interviews of drummers such as Steve Gadd, I only regret I didn't start drum lessons earlier. One can only imagine. The sky's the limit, so why limit your student early on???? They're going to limit themselves, probably, later. No, teaching reading is essential. I took some piano prior to starting on drums, and feel that helped when learning but even the lack of any previous formal music notation reading is a terribly poor excuse not to learn reading drum music, and a person could transition to melodic instrument music notation from learning (at first snare) drum music in the beginning. 

 

I have fond memories of my earlier drum teacher writing beats for drumset in my little half-sized spiral-bound staff paper notebook. I still remember him (and later myself) putting drum beats in that notebook. You can put markings for open-hihat, syncopation, and other drum/rhythm concepts in there much more easily than by relying solely on memory(which is important as well, this isn't an either-or situation) when utilizing drum/music notation. 

 

This opens up a huge world. I want to also point out that if your goal with a 7-year-old isn't to help the youngin' to SURPASS one's own drumming abilities, you're doing him/her a terrible dis-service.

Sorry Pounder- I somehow missed this post  earlier.  Very well put.... and of course no more so than your first 4 words...

Haskell Harr Book One...

 

...from day one, lesson one.


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#38
nanashi

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I believe like many threads, this subject has sidetracked into something more complicated than it was intended. My take was that the OP was asking about committing a good amount of limited time developing reading skills for a seven year old who is starting off with drums. Just because some people have evolved as a drummer where they feel they are more accomplished later in life because they can read drum music, IMO has little validation regarding the OP’s question.
 
In my mind, some of my validation regarding my reasoning on this subject is real life experience. I bet if one could take a poll from drummers across the globe, less than 1% would say that they were being taught to read drum music at seven years old. Hell….probably less than 10% can even read now. But ask the same question to players of melodic instruments (such as a pianist) the same question and almost all of them were taught reading (not counting) theory right off the bat. 
 
Having said all of that, the reason I posted the link to the article where different drum instructors are disagreeing on this very subject, was to show that our instrument is not like others and we can disagree with teaching foundations that would never be allowed with other instruments. All is good :)
[/quote]

These threads have been right on point in regard to the OP's question. Again, you, as the teacher , have no idea what direction a child's life is going to take. If you consider, not just drummers playing in local or pop bands, but drummers and percussionist working shows, studios and playing in orchestras, and I must add, school bands and orchestras, the majority probably started reading from the very beginning, and if you asked the ones that did not, I will pretty much guarantee most wish they had. It is not a matter of the child being seven, the point is to give the beginning student a solid foundation and reading is an important part of that foundation and as David pointed out, will make the rest of that journey easier.
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#39
hardbat

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It's very strange to see people arguing whether seven is too young to learn to read music. Schools seem to think it is exactly the optimal time to learn to read words. And that is WAY more difficult than reading music.

Furthermore, if someone was giving anyone lessons and after 3 or 4 months they still couldn't even read, I'd consider that teacher incompetant. Maybe I'm a moldy fig, but I had at least a couple of students who learned to read music before they learned to read words. So much easier then than later.
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#40
Pounder

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It's very strange to see people arguing whether seven is too young to learn to read music. Schools seem to think it is exactly the optimal time to learn to read words. And that is WAY more difficult than reading music.

Furthermore, if someone was giving anyone lessons and after 3 or 4 months they still couldn't even read, I'd consider that teacher incompetant. Maybe I'm a moldy fig, but I had at least a couple of students who learned to read music before they learned to read words. So much easier then than later.

Yes.  Plus. the ability to read actually can multiply your learning, so the time spent at the beginning will translate to much time SAVED later, when said fledgling drummer wants to read down a chart, or even pick up a drum method book independently, and teach him/herself. No getting bogged down having to commit stuff to memory, just open the page, read it and learn some more.


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