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Should you push to learn how to read music?

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#41
Alan_

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I think teaching a kid learning ANY instrument to read is invaluable. Having that visual relationship with music can help a young brain to conceptualize ideas they wouldn't be able to grasp otherwise. 

 

Also: the younger one starts learning to read music, the easier the skill is to absorb. I started taking piano at 5 years old, and have been grateful for that early exposure to reading and basic theory ever since. 

 

I don't see drums as being 'different' in this respect. 


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#42
freddycharles

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Pushed no, suggest sure. Reading will definitely increase your marketability and resume, but is not the secret sauce. Any pro musician needs to have at a minimum a general understanding of theory and basic reading.
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#43
dcrigger

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Pushed no, suggest sure. Reading will definitely increase your marketability and resume, but is not the secret sauce. Any pro musician needs to have at a minimum a general understanding of theory and basic reading.

 

 

I can't imagine taking on a beginner with reading off the table.  For me, it wouldn't be an issue of pushing or suggesting - but outright insistance. 

No matter if the intent is to be a pro or an amateur - I can't teaching drumming within the context of playing music without teaching counting and basic rhythmic concepts. And refuse to waste any students time (as well as my own) trying to implement some sloppy, half-a** method of teaching those basic skills and concepts that avoids music notation just for the point of avoiding music notation.

So no for me, it is simple insistence. 

 

Frankly, I don't really get how music lessons - unlike virtually all other forms of study - or music teachers have come to feel that these sort of negotiations should play any part of the process of playing drums.

 

I know for many this is a hobby activity - but do Little League coaches entertain such requests.... "Our little Billy really wants to play baseball, but he doesn't want to do any drills or anything like that... he just wants to play and have fun. And so we support that... and think you should to..."  

Really? What Little League coach would be OK with that? Hmm... maybe none??

And yet, drum lessons are actually a step up from that... private instruction from an expert. More like taking lessons from a pitching coach.

So no... my response is simple... you came to me to learn to play the drums, because I can teach you how to play the drums. And this is how we begin... No? You don't want to begin that way? You want to learn this part? But not that part of playing the drums?

Sounds like you know what you are doing and have no need for my expertise after all. Great! Have a nice day!

 

Just like every tennis, baseball, football, swimming, baton twirling, painting, sculpting, fencing, karate coach on the planet.

 

:-)


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#44
Pounder

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Yeah what Crigger said. I instantly look at the opinions and figure anyone who isn't about teaching the kid to read has no business taking money from him in exchange for lessons. First off, reading is merely a prerequisite to learning many of the things taught on drums that are facilitated much easier when the kid can read the exercise. This is merely a start of being professional. And I had a blast learning so even though you might consider it a waste of valuable teaching time (because we all know 7-year-olds have issues with time management) this is  just a fundamental. Like what are you going to teach the kid that isn't wasting his time after you refrain from teaching to read music? Probably a whole lot. If you're lucky the kid will like you as a teacher. Maybe he'll believe he has been taught correctly? When he serendipitiously enrolls in band and can or can't read, and the band director asks who his/her teacher is, and the kid answers, and this band director will immediately refer the now-12-year-old to a competent drum teacher who will waste the kid's time a-new with lessons on how to read. Meanwhile, the other less-talented kid in the corner who took lessons from a real pro will get all the juicy snare, drumset (stageband), tympani parts that are offered in the band and the other kid goes out an starts a cover band with his/her other 12-year-old friends, never realizing what may have been....

 

Because it's all about POTENTIAL. If you the teacher aren't working on maximizing the potential, then you're doing the opposite: you're merely limiting the young person. 


Edited by Pounder, 15 April 2017 - 12:28 PM.

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#45
hardbat

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Pounder & dcrigger... I totally agree!
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#46
nanashi

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Can you imagine a kid going to study martial arts and being able to pick what'simportant to learn?

After a trip to the ER, after a spar, he may at least get the message.
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#47
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Didn't read through all the comments, but where I have started with my daughter who is 8 is to make her count, 1&2&3&4& while playing the hats then told her kick on 1 snare on 2.... she had a beat going fairly quickly this way, unfortunately she doesn't have the attention span for me to really get her to listen and learn much more at this point.   Also I started piano lesson at 8 so yeah not really too early to learn at 7 for sure.  If they can read words they can read music and like a few others said young kids learn fast because they want to.


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#48
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There's the issue of pushing that I don't subscribe to. Is this a half-hour babysitting session or an actual drum lesson? If the former, who cares? If the latter--and the student is myself back when, eager to learn to play--no pushing involved at all. I'm eager to learn and learning to read music is part and parcel of it.


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#49
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There's the issue of pushing that I don't subscribe to. Is this a half-hour babysitting session or an actual drum lesson? If the former, who cares? If the latter--and the student is myself back when, eager to learn to play--no pushing involved at all. I'm eager to learn and learning to read music is part and parcel of it.

Did you or any others here start reading drum music at 7? Not being sarcastic...generally curious.


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#50
dcrigger

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There's the issue of pushing that I don't subscribe to. Is this a half-hour babysitting session or an actual drum lesson? If the former, who cares? If the latter--and the student is myself back when, eager to learn to play--no pushing involved at all. I'm eager to learn and learning to read music is part and parcel of it.

Did you or any others here start reading drum music at 7? Not being sarcastic...generally curious.

For myself, it was 10. But on that same day my seven year old sister started piano lessons - and like my drum lessons, reading was involved. Why wouldn't it have been?

Seven year olds are more than capable of learning basic language and math symbols. And the entirety of music notation as a language is less complicated than they are grappling with in the 2nd grade.

So 7 or 17, the task at hand for every beginner is getting handle on counting, basic rhythms and basic mechanics. I can't imagine how this work at all without notation. Besides understanding the concepts and struggling to implement them with yet undeveloped technique - we then would expect a 7 year old (or any beginner for that manner) to hold it all solely in their head??!!?? How could that possibly make things easier?
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#51
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David....I think we are not all agreeing on what constitutes "reading" drum music. To answer your question, go back and read my earlier comments. In summary....it's not "counting". 

I believe there is a huge difference of importance in the ability of reading staff music for a melodic instrument like piano (just because you mentioned it) and drum notation. Maybe that's the confusion...I dunno.

I'm pragmatic by nature. This pragmatism cannot allow me to get past the point that most drummers do not read drum notation nor is it even available for them to work. That is not true for the instrument you make a comparison too.....the piano.

I ask again.....and it would probably make for an good poll....how many working or gigging drummers here require the skill of reading drum notation? Sure there will be a few but I bet over 90% do not. I read and play music every week on stage but that's not as a drummer. When I switch to the drum chair, I don't need it nor is it even available. Hell....have you tried to find drum notation for most songs that modern drummers use?

So instead of asking "why not" the better question is "what is the return on the investment of time and effort"? Most of the arguments here are based on the premise that a 7 year old is a great age for learning reading, etc....which is obvious and hardly deserves mentioning. IMO, I simply believe that at age 7, many more things are more important to that same young sponge instead of throwing drum notation at them that if you play the odds...they will never use. To me....the most important thing is enjoyment at that age. Make the instrument fun. Teach them rudiments, songs, independence, etc...and get them grooving. Then if they still like it after a few years and they are serious that sponge is still empty enough at 10 to easily suck up drum notation.


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#52
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David....I think we are not all agreeing on what constitutes "reading" drum music. To answer your question, go back and read my earlier comments. In summary....it's not "counting". 

I believe there is a huge difference of importance in the ability of reading staff music for a melodic instrument like piano (just because you mentioned it) and drum notation. Maybe that's the confusion...I dunno.

I'm pragmatic by nature. This pragmatism cannot allow me to get past the point that most drummers do not read drum notation nor is it even available for them to work. That is not true for the instrument you make a comparison too.....the piano.

I ask again.....and it would probably make for an good poll....how many working or gigging drummers here require the skill of reading drum notation? Sure there will be a few but I bet over 90% do not. I read and play music every week on stage but that's not as a drummer. When I switch to the drum chair, I don't need it nor is it even available. Hell....have you tried to find drum notation for most songs that modern drummers use?

So instead of asking "why not" the better question is "what is the return on the investment of time and effort"? Most of the arguments here are based on the premise that a 7 year old is a great age for learning reading, etc....which is obvious and hardly deserves mentioning. IMO, I simply believe that at age 7, many more things are more important to that same young sponge instead of throwing drum notation at them that if you play the odds...they will never use. To me....the most important thing is enjoyment at that age. Make the instrument fun. Teach them rudiments, songs, independence, etc...and get them grooving. Then if they still like it after a few years and they are serious that sponge is still empty enough at 10 to easily suck up drum notation.

 

Because skipping the reading part doesn't make it more fun... it just makes the process harder and more confusing. Everything about teaching rudiments, songs, independence, beats and grooves is made more difficult without the aid of visual symbols.

In all my years at MI, the Grove School and private lessons did I ever run into an intermediate student that started the way you suggest that wasn't plagued by significant holes in their rhythmic vocabulary and that didn't struggle greatly with fixing those problems.

Why? Because they had ended up trying to retrofit basic rhythmic comprehension on top of years of playing using whatever half-assed method they had concocted in their heads to try and make things in the absence of someone just explaining it to them and helping them apply it from day one.

And I saw it over and over and over again - and the back story ALWAYS described the path you are suggesting.

Beyond that most of my reply to this post would be the same as it was back in post #28.

One last thought - you keep referring to "drum notation"... are you meaning "drum set notation"? Because if so, then that isn't at all what I'm talking about regarding teaching beginners to "read music".  IMO "drum set notation" has little to nothing to do with teaching beginners. Again IMO the most important thrust of beginning drum instruction is single surface hand to hand playing - again as others have suggested...think Haskell Harr Book I.

Until a student is a ways into Harr, all drum set activities are really little more than "fooling around". Again... IMO


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#53
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David....I think we are not all agreeing on what constitutes "reading" drum music. To answer your question, go back and read my earlier comments. In summary....it's not "counting". 

I believe there is a huge difference of importance in the ability of reading staff music for a melodic instrument like piano (just because you mentioned it) and drum notation. Maybe that's the confusion...I dunno.

I'm pragmatic by nature. This pragmatism cannot allow me to get past the point that most drummers do not read drum notation nor is it even available for them to work. That is not true for the instrument you make a comparison too.....the piano.

I ask again.....and it would probably make for an good poll....how many working or gigging drummers here require the skill of reading drum notation? Sure there will be a few but I bet over 90% do not. I read and play music every week on stage but that's not as a drummer. When I switch to the drum chair, I don't need it nor is it even available. Hell....have you tried to find drum notation for most songs that modern drummers use?

So instead of asking "why not" the better question is "what is the return on the investment of time and effort"? Most of the arguments here are based on the premise that a 7 year old is a great age for learning reading, etc....which is obvious and hardly deserves mentioning. IMO, I simply believe that at age 7, many more things are more important to that same young sponge instead of throwing drum notation at them that if you play the odds...they will never use. To me....the most important thing is enjoyment at that age. Make the instrument fun. Teach them rudiments, songs, independence, etc...and get them grooving. Then if they still like it after a few years and they are serious that sponge is still empty enough at 10 to easily suck up drum notation.

 

Because skipping the reading part doesn't make it more fun... it just makes the process harder and more confusing. Everything about teaching rudiments, songs, independence, beats and grooves is made more difficult without the aid of visual symbols.

In all my years at MI, the Grove School and private lessons did I ever run into an intermediate student that started the way you suggest that wasn't plagued by significant holes in their rhythmic vocabulary and that didn't struggle greatly with fixing those problems.

Why? Because they had ended up trying to retrofit basic rhythmic comprehension on top of years of playing using whatever half-assed method they had concocted in their heads to try and make things in the absence of someone just explaining it to them and helping them apply it from day one.

And I saw it over and over and over again - and the back story ALWAYS described the path you are suggesting.

Beyond that most of my reply to this post would be the same as it was back in post #28.

One last thought - you keep referring to "drum notation"... are you meaning "drum set notation"? Because if so, then that isn't at all what I'm talking about regarding teaching beginners to "read music".  IMO "drum set notation" has little to nothing to do with teaching beginners. Again IMO the most important thrust of beginning drum instruction is single surface hand to hand playing - again as others have suggested...think Haskell Harr Book I.

Until a student is a ways into Harr, all drum set activities are really little more than "fooling around". Again... IMO

 

David....you yourself started the way I am describing. You implied that you didn't start reading until 10 (unless I am mistaken). I have yet to find anyone that started at 7 (although I'm sure that someone probably did). So how can you claim "in all my years at MI, the Grove School and private lessons did I ever run into an intermediate student that started the way you suggest that wasn't plagued by significant holes in their rhythmic vocabulary and that didn't struggle greatly with fixing those problems."  I guess this is on me because for the life of me I can’t understand where this confusion comes in. Again……the issue is not reading.  The issue that I understood was the OP original posted was about the importance of a new student at age 7 jumping straight into reading drum music when he has limited time.  

I think (I may be wrong) that people are using the term “reading” incorrectly and maybe if the definition was clear then we would probably be more in agreement. Way back in the thread, about three times, I was clear that the “reading” I was referring to was in fact what “reading” means……drum set notation. That’s what the 7 year old is starting to play….a drum set. I’ve never heard anyone refer to “reading” as anything but drum set notation on a staff. Not “counting” principles that I assume many here are talking about. To me…… counting isn’t reading. Counting is only a small part of reading. That’s why I mentioned over and over about the problems and scarcity of drum notation for 90% of music most play where other musicians rely on it every day.

Look….I’m not trying to win an argument, I get it. Most here will expect a teacher to start off right away with drum set notation at the early age of 7 to a new student who has never picked up a pair of sticks. I’m the odd man out and would not pay $50 an hour for that right off the bat. But what I can’t quite come to grips with is that everyone seems to stand firm on this but hardly anyone started this way or uses it daily now.


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#54
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Olderschool - 

 

Again - I'm not talking about DRUM SET notation - and the OP didn't say DRUM SET notation either.  He said.... reading music.

And you're calling "the way you started", you seem to be basing entirely on age. Where I'm referring to actual methodology. Which yes, might have to be adapted to a fit a seven versus a ten year old.... but then I've always found it usually ends up needing tweaking to accommodate different students of any age.

But regardless the basic components - the necessary build blocks of skills simply don't change at all - just how you are able to get through them with each student.

Which brings us to beginners and the drum set....

Again IMO - anyone that starts a beginner solely on the drum set... and is not primarily focusing on the hand skills/reading/counting etc. type lessons found in a basic snare drum book like Harr... is not teaching someone to learn to play the drum set....

... they are simply entertaining a kid at the drum set for money... which will indeed be fun.... for a bit. And then the boring frustrating glacial pace of the speed improve will set in... likely sucking the life right out of the fun.... And severely limiting that beginners chance of playing the best they might have been able to.

So again, drum set notation serves little purpose whatsoever for beginning drum instruction - IMO. But the basic foundational lessons (like going through Harr #1 & 2) - introduced at the earliest possible time in the student's path - is virtually essential for success.

Again - in my experience - with later life intermediate students - I've rarely seen this to be proven false.

But again - not talking about drum set notation... just regular drum notation.

 


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#55
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Olderschool - 

 

Again - I'm not talking about DRUM SET notation - and the OP didn't say DRUM SET notation either.  He said.... reading music.

And you're calling "the way you started", you seem to be basing entirely on age. Where I'm referring to actual methodology. Which yes, might have to be adapted to a fit a seven versus a ten year old.... but then I've always found it usually ends up needing tweaking to accommodate different students of any age.

But regardless the basic components - the necessary build blocks of skills simply don't change at all - just how you are able to get through them with each student.

Which brings us to beginners and the drum set....

Again IMO - anyone that starts a beginner solely on the drum set... and is not primarily focusing on the hand skills/reading/counting etc. type lessons found in a basic snare drum book like Harr... is not teaching someone to learn to play the drum set....

... they are simply entertaining a kid at the drum set for money... which will indeed be fun.... for a bit. And then the boring frustrating glacial pace of the speed improve will set in... likely sucking the life right out of the fun.... And severely limiting that beginners chance of playing the best they might have been able to.

So again, drum set notation serves little purpose whatsoever for beginning drum instruction - IMO. But the basic foundational lessons (like going through Harr #1 & 2) - introduced at the earliest possible time in the student's path - is virtually essential for success.

Again - in my experience - with later life intermediate students - I've rarely seen this to be proven false.

But again - not talking about drum set notation... just regular drum notation.

 

Ok...then I get it and we are having two distinctly different conversations. From the beginning of the thread my entire point has been in the context of the OP's specific question of his students age and his new introduction to a musical instrument. My opinions were targeted to specific circumstance and not broad normalities.  Also....I guess my definition of "reading" is different than most others. I wasn't aware that there was any other meaning attributed than "drum set notation" in the context of a new young student of the drum set being taught "reading". When I started reading for my drum set it was "drum set notation". I guess I'm asking what is the difference between "drum set notation" and "regular drum notation" that you are referring to? Are we simply talking time signatures, tempos and counting principles? Thanks David. 


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#56
hardbat

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I have yet to find anyone that started at 7 (although I'm sure that someone probably did).

 

I took my first drum lessons and went through the Ludwig snare drum method book in the second grade, when I was 7 years old.  Later, when I gave lessons, my youngest student  was 5, and yes I taught him to read music right out the gate (he's now a professional).  I couldn't write down descriptions of what to practice because he couldn't read words yet.  But reading music was easy.

 

I stand by my assertion that teaching beginning music without teaching reading music, ESPECIALLY when the student is young and at the age where learning a language is easiest, is nothing short of educational malpractice.


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#57
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Ok...then I get it and we are having two distinctly different conversations. From the beginning of the thread my entire point has been in the context of the OP's specific question of his students age and his new introduction to a musical instrument.
 
My opinions were targeted to specific circumstance and not broad normalities.

But in fact so were mine.
 

Also....I guess my definition of "reading" is different than most others. I wasn't aware that there was any other meaning attributed than "drum set notation" in the context of a new young student of the drum set being taught "reading". When I started reading for my drum set it was "drum set notation". I guess I'm asking what is the difference between "drum set notation" and "regular drum notation" that you are referring to? Are we simply talking time signatures, tempos and counting principles? Thanks David.


Drum set notation versus "regular drum notation" - or I guess, I might have better called it - "basic drum notation"

Drum set notation is actually fairly complex - even in its most basic form. Almost always containing 2, 3 or 4 separate independent rhythm parts to be played concurrently. With each separate part requiring the ability to read it - before the student can begin approaching performing it all simultaneously.

In it's full blown practical form - drum set notation is yet even more complicated - possibly THE most complicated form of notation period. Why? Because it often freely mixes it's multi-part, independence challenging style reading with the ability with all manner of subjective, interpretive and improvisatory aspects as well. At one moment requiring to accurately play some some multi-part independence workout, then asking the player to entirely make up what to play in a section based solely on what they hear around them (with only slash marks provided visually). Then have to read cues of what other players are playing and musically incorporate their part into the drum part without at all being told how to accomplish that.

No other reading instrument really has to do all of this at the level that drum set notation requires.

So you're right - drum set notation isn't for beginners.

But regular notation - for a beginning drum set student, any decent beginning snare drum book is essential.

Because playing the drum set well - isn't JUST about stringing beats together. One absolutely must be able to execute the single rhythmic lines - that make up beats, but also make up fills, marches, and train beats, and disco hi hat parts and unison figures with the band.

Which requires any good drummer to have the language of rhythm down COLD - not just sort of know it - but really be able to hear it, understand it and execute it.

Think of all the threads here on DFO where guys are confused with trying to figure out some fill, or accent pattern from some recording.... something with pushes, or irregular accents, or whatever... and 90% of the - the examples are simply not that complicated. But the struggle stems from the lack of really owning the basic rhythmic vocabulary that is contained in most beginning snare drum books.

This is the reason for EVERY beginning drum student to learn to read music - because it is by far the easiest, quickest and most successful way to teach that basic rhythmic vocabulary. Without which that player will be handicapped throughout their entire playing life.

Whether that student ever goes on to confront a proper drum set chart couldn't be more inconsequential. Because prepping for drum set setting is the LEAST important reason for that beginner to be taken through that basic snare drum book. The least important reason.
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#58
bigbonzo

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CesarAguirre - How is it going with your "new" student?


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#59
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There's the issue of pushing that I don't subscribe to. Is this a half-hour babysitting session or an actual drum lesson? If the former, who cares? If the latter--and the student is myself back when, eager to learn to play--no pushing involved at all. I'm eager to learn and learning to read music is part and parcel of it.

Did you or any others here start reading drum music at 7? Not being sarcastic...generally curious.

 

I took piano at 7 years. The notation is largely the same for music whether you're playing drums or piano. The note values are the same. Started drum lessons at 10, Haskell Harr book one day one. It is pretty simple. Had I started drums at 7 it certainly would've been just as easy to learn note values as it was to learn the notes on the staff, bass and treble clefs. Honestly, this isn't brain surgery!


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#60
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There's the issue of pushing that I don't subscribe to. Is this a half-hour babysitting session or an actual drum lesson? If the former, who cares? If the latter--and the student is myself back when, eager to learn to play--no pushing involved at all. I'm eager to learn and learning to read music is part and parcel of it.

Did you or any others here start reading drum music at 7? Not being sarcastic...generally curious.

 

I took piano at 7 years. The notation is largely the same for music whether you're playing drums or piano. The note values are the same. Started drum lessons at 10, Haskell Harr book one day one. It is pretty simple. Had I started drums at 7 it certainly would've been just as easy to learn note values as it was to learn the notes on the staff, bass and treble clefs. Honestly, this isn't brain surgery!

 

See post #53......

 

BTW, IMO...piano music and drum set notation are not the same...not even close. Neither is the application. The difference between the importance of reading when it comes to melodic instruments and drum sets is huge. 


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