The purpose of this paper is to examine instructional methods and procedures for teaching the drum set in junior and senior music programs. The reviewed methods and procedures are abstracted from instructional programs developed for diverse samples (young children, elementary-level students, high school and college students) in an effort to determine techniques that will work in most junior and senior programs. The paper ends with the formulation of a set of conclusions for implementing an innovative instructional program at the middle or senior high school level.
Instruction in the drum set can be approached both conceptually and instrumentally. For example, students' introduction to the drum set can begin with learning a few historical or cultural concepts regarding the use of the drum. Gaines (1996) points out that the importance of beginning instruction merely by talking to students about the multiple uses of drums, such as how drums have been used as a viable cultural voice for many West and Central African cultures. Such a discussion, Gaines reports, should emphasize the musical character of tonal languages, the function and use of music and language, and the role of the talking drum in the maintenance of archaic forms of (tonal) languages.
Another conceptual or beginning approach to teaching drums, according to Leto (1996), is to focus on rhythmic notation using percussion instruments such as timpani drums, tambourines and rhythm sticks. Leto recommends such an approach for beginning students, noting that it can operate not only to provide a foundation for learning the drum set but also to expose children to musical concepts and to inspire them to take an interest in music throughout their lives.
Leto's (1996) notions are part of the Montessori approach to music instruction. According to McDonald (1993), this approach to music instruction begins with silence:
Montessori began teaching children to liste...