SEEKING TIPS FOR TEACHING A KINDERGARTENER

CC Cirillo

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The child in question is my son. I want to get him started, but must acknowledge my attempts with him relating to rudiments, etc., have failed. He’s five. He will be homeschooled for at least the first part of the school year due to Covid shutdown here.

He has showed interest in kit playing and songs in general. I have a micro kit coming in which I’ll outfit for low volume with him in mind.

Can anyone suggest any youtube teachers who focus on younger students so I can get an idea of methodology and approach?

Any advice will be digested, I assure you. I want to be his initial teacher but teaching one’s own child is always more challenging.
 

hardbat

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Back when I was giving lessons I had a 4-year old student once. He took to reading music REALLY fast. He learned to read music before he could read words. I don't know if all little kids are like that, but he was so easy to teach. That was 40 years ago and I think he's still playing.
 

Seb77

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Kids like to imitate. Their minds are still in the language-learning mode, so I would approach drumming from that perspective: listening, speaking&singing rhythms, then transferring them to drums. As soon as basic meter and rhythm is established, let the kid introduce his/her own ideas. Make music together from the start. If reading comes easy, why not do some as well, but it shouldn't be the main medium to introduce music at first.

Concerning pedal use, basic hand/feet coordination: in order to work on the skills mentioned above, I think the motoric skills should be kept easy at first, hence playing with hands (also without sticks!) is preferable. Separately, you could do some easy exercises playing the limbs in unison and alternating, later fuse these two areas together.

With coordination, some kind of graphic representation might help early on. That depends on the individual student; 4 years might be a bit early for that. Dot-in-a-box notation is also how I introduce reading music later, maybe with 7-8 year-olds. Using this system before moving on to classical notation, I also have the student listen and transcribe simple patterns themselves.

Other than that: make sure the stick size fits his/her hands/arms, Same with instrument size, seat height etc.
 

CSR

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I would think the Suzuki Method for teaching small children violin and piano would work. My daughter did this at 4 or so. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_method

“In the beginning, learning music by ear is emphasized over reading written musical notation.
Suzuki observed that children speak before learning to read, and thought that children should also be able to play music before learning to read. To support learning by ear, students are expected to listen to recordings of the music they are learning daily.“

start with this Wikipedia overview, then google “Suzuki Method” and go from there. See if there are Suzuki schools in your area and talk to the teachers.
 

Trilock_Gurtu

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At that age, just keep it fun. Aim for small victories. Your expectations will be higher then his. This will be more about you adjusting your mindset, then him. Try different things, see where his interests perk up...or if they do, at all.
 

CC Cirillo

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I would think the Suzuki Method for teaching small children violin and piano would work. My daughter did this at 4 or so. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_method

“In the beginning, learning music by ear is emphasized over reading written musical notation.
Suzuki observed that children speak before learning to read, and thought that children should also be able to play music before learning to read. To support learning by ear, students are expected to listen to recordings of the music they are learning daily.“

start with this Wikipedia overview, then google “Suzuki Method” and go from there. See if there are Suzuki schools in your area and talk to the teachers.
Excellent idea about Suzuki. Ironically, I also have a son in his early 20’s who went through that method and did quite well with classical music. I hadn’t thought of applying to drumming. Why not!
 

dcrigger

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The child in question is my son. I want to get him started, but must acknowledge my attempts with him relating to rudiments, etc., have failed. He’s five. He will be homeschooled for at least the first part of the school year due to Covid shutdown here.

He has showed interest in kit playing and songs in general. I have a micro kit coming in which I’ll outfit for low volume with him in mind.

Can anyone suggest any youtube teachers who focus on younger students so I can get an idea of methodology and approach?

Any advice will be digested, I assure you. I want to be his initial teacher but teaching one’s own child is always more challenging.
As I always suggest for every beginner - and x1000 for a young one - don't worry about the drum set (IMO it's unfortunate that one is even there) - focus on learning rhythm, counting.... the basic fundamentals that are incredibly essential - and for a little one... amazingly fun. That is - if their teacher can see it that way (too many can't - and preconceive it as "the not fun stuff") And yet IMO what could possibly be "un-fun" about unlocking the secrets of music.... facing simple challenges - like basic snare drum studies... that the fledging student can actually accomplish... not just sort-of accomplish - which is the end result of every "too soon" attempt at the drum set.

At ten years old - and just starting out - I couldn't have made anything sound as it should on the drum set - but after a week I was able to absolutely NAIL the page of the Haskell Harr book that I'd been assigned. Nothing like incremental Success!!! I couldn't wait to take on what was next.

And I was 10.... your little guy is five. Itsy bitsy bite size piece would be the order of the day.

That all said - I'll just add, that (again IMO) remember Kindergarten is about working on embracing the structure of learning - not necessarily learning any specific thing. As you're probably well aware, his passing interest in the drums might not be any more than what he's shown - or he might try it for 10 minutes and go "Nope, not interested". And IMO when it comes to learning an instrument at five, that should be his prerogative.

Because starting so young can be fine - if it works. But if it doesn't it can sour the prospect of trying again later at a more appropriate age.

And while I'm putting the whole two-cents out there, there's one last question (and I don't know you, so I don't at all know the answer) - are you able to be a good teacher to a five year old music student? I only ask - because most players aren't. Heck, most music teachers aren't. And (for different reasons) most parents aren't as well. (Though I get after writing this - that Covid could tie your hands with this at this time).

Now finally all of that said - I think it's great that you are hoping to assist/support your son in experiencing all that music - and music study - can bring to his life. Children learning to play instruments. Learning to understand music - reading, practicing, performing is a fast track to a more successful general education... math, reading, etc. And that's something I don't have to stamp - IMO. As study after study has proven it.

Anyway - best of luck to you and your son.
 

hardbat

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I agree with dcrigger... don't assume that rudiments and reading won't be fun to a 5 year old. At that age they haven't developed much cultural awareness yet, and instead they crave little puzzles and learning languages. If they can stay focused, they can learn fundamentals scary fast.
 

TRstix

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I’ve taught a bunch of five year olds, or I should say, I’ve taken on a bunch of five year olds as students. I’ve been teaching for over 20 years and I’m still learning how to teach these young children.

For me, the most important thing to keep in mind is to do no harm. Don’t make music a chore. Don’t turn off the child to the idea of learning music. Many children love to hit drums. They love the sounds. Some will follow you in learning as long as it is fun, but in my experience, at least half of them get tired of it - the fun wears off and they’re ready to move on to something else.

As a teacher, for a number of reasons, I like to see students every week. This doesn’t always work for the child, though. The child isn’t always ready to learn every Tuesday at 4:30. In this regard, having a parent as a teacher can be a good thing. When your son is ready to hit the drums, watch, pay attention to what he is doing and interject some ideas - “Try it this way” kind of ideas. His drumming might be playtime, but you can interject learning into it.

If you want to add more structure - and who knows, all kids are different and some may like the structure, just remember to not turn him off to learning music - I have found a few things that work.

Patterns are fun. Kids like to play copy-cat. I’ll play a simple pattern, and ask the child to copy it. Then I’ll vary it a little, and see if he can do it. I’ll ask him to play one for me to copy. Often a child will play a long complex, rather random pattern. So I’ll ask him to repeat it. If he can, great. If he can, then I can, and I’ll repeat it. If he can’t, I’ll ask him to make it shorter. I’ll tell him it’s too hard for me to follow. I’ll have him copy his own pattern, too. Copy-cat is fun.

You can also ask him to create two patterns and alternate between the two. You may even get him to play an AABA form. Most often, though, I’ve found this to be a little too complex for a five year old.

Many five year olds will surprise you with an ability to read up to a certain point. Most can get basic quarter note exercises. I’ve found many don’t need a different “child type” of reading, they can read regular notes and rests. I do have some exercises for those who can’t and usually the child easily progresses to traditional reading. Some can read eighth note subdivisions, but bail out at eighth rests. But they like reading the quarter note stuff, and enjoy being challenged to go faster, and love it when everything falls apart when it gets too fast! It’s fun! You can have him play the same rhythm on diffieren drums. Again, don’t push. If he’s having fun with this, let him do it as playtime for however long it holds his interest. Interject something new when you feel the time is right.

The key to good drumming is rhythm. See if he can count the beats in a favorite song. Get him to try playing just a backbeat. I have also found that coordination can be very difficult. I don’t push too much on grip. If he gets it he gets it. If not don’t sweat it. Try again another time, but don’t pester him with it. Like coordination, the fine motor skills may not be there yet. You have to find out what he can and can’t do. Give everything a try, but don’t worry if none of it works, as long as he’s having fun. Since coordination is tough, I often teach a groove using the floor tom to play a bass drum part. A basic groove, bass drum on one and three, snare on two and four, can go a long way. Play as many songs as you can with that groove. Another groove is bass on one and “three and” - snare on two and four. Or try the “We will rock you” groove. Kids love that. Try any groove you want but remember he’s five. You can also try to get him to play one of his patterns along with a song. Or play a simple quarter note exercise with a song.

I wouldn’t worry about rudiments too much. A paradiddle, only as a sticking exercise, not as a compilation of motions, can be fun. A press roll can be fun, too. Again, try whatever you want, but pay attention to his reactions. Is he interested? Does it look like fun, or is it a lesson?

Many young children benefit from general music fun, more than from learning a specific instrument. Sing with him. Let him play on a keyboard if you have one. When the time comes when you can go to a concert that’s appropriate, go.

Always keep in mind: do no harm, rhythm is the most important musical thing, fun is the most important human thing, and he’s five!
 

CC Cirillo

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Thanks so much, TRStix!
Very good advice, with some excellent ideas and perceptions.

Earlier in this thread I mentioned my much older son who was my first student, at around six. By seven he gave up drums for classical music. He was the sort of child who responded very well to coaching, so teaching him a groove was easy. He followed right along, very open and earnest, interested in rudiments, etc.
This little one now is entirely different and will be more of a challenge. I tell him we all have jobs, and his is to grow and learn and have fun…and I try to present them each in a way that they are all fun.
So, yes, do no harm. Words to teach and live by.
 

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I don't get into reading at that age until they learn some beats, can follow a pulse and songs consistently. "Drumming The Easy Way" by Tom Hapke has worked wonders for me. Large print, minimum text, easy to follow and achieve early success.
 

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MAYBE simple rudiments (single, double, flam, paradiddle)

I started at four. It was pure pleasure. If someone would have forced me or maybe even suggested? Who knows. I dint start serious lessons until 5th or sixth grade. By then I was hooked.
 


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