In-Depth 2022 – Blog Post #2!

My mentor, my dad, was able to gain experience in both a learning/school environment and a more experience based environment. By being involved in school music, he was able to gain percussion skills in school band, jazz band, stage band and even in a jazz combo. During school and stage band, he was able to learn from a teacher in a traditional learning environment, all the basic skills and knowledge that he needed to progress. In a more advanced jazz band and combo, he learned different ways/styles he could apply the skills he acquired while also working more closely with other people. After being in a school environment, he progressed his learning and fine tuned his skills in a band with other people outside of school and as an adult.  

Throughout his music experience in high school, my dad really enjoyed improving his skills. The advantage of being in music programs in school was that he was with a lot of likeminded people and had access to resources and opportunities to showcase and build on his skills. He says that he loved working on his drumming and seeing his progress in the accomplishments he shared with other members in his bands. To this day he remembers going to Ottawa with his school jazz group and winning their category when he was in high school. On the other hand, he sees the experience he’s had with his band now a lot more of a social, fun and relaxed way to  develop his expertise. He really enjoys the songs that they played, and the performances that they had gave him goals and something to work towards.  

One bit of wisdom that I gained from my mentor was the role of the drums and that in relation to other instruments. He talked a lot about how the drums lead a band in music, similar to the bass guitar, and how it includes a lot more improvisation than one might think. He shared that learning how to drum starts with very basic skills, and that working up to more advanced sounding beats takes time. He believed in letting the learner choose and direct the learning so that it was more enjoyable for them by asking what I wanted to learn next and letting me choose songs that I want to play. It was also very cool to see how he taught by stacking skills on top of one another so that I could learn each as a whole and better understand them all in unison.  

One facilitation strategy that my dad used was giving the mentee a structured choice. This way when the mentor is delegating, the person still has a straightforward path that they’re following, but is able to make it more personalized to them. Related to this, he also gave slight homework or practice to work on. Having sheets with practice problems or rhythms was really helpful in improving until the next meeting. He also didn’t just sit at the drum kit and explain the drums to me, he let me sit down and learn as we talked. I found this to be very helpful because I was engaged and able to learn by doing. One aspect that he set before the meeting even began was having hard start times and schedules to have our meetings. This way we were able to both be prepared and in a learning mindset before starting the session. One last important strategy that I noticed he used was making sure I was following along by making time for questions. This was extremely helpful as falling behind is the worst feeling especially if the mentor is already two steps ahead.  


My Progress So Far…

This week I learned a lot of cool and interesting new skills! After talking with my dad a bit on the goals of the project and what we both wanted to get out of the project, we talked a bit about the drums as an instrument and its role in music. He taught me how to hold a drumstick and that the hold you want on it has to be loose yet controlled so that you’re able to hit the drums with force. I also learned about the different ways you could hit the drums, I didn’t even know there were different ones! He told me about the different ‘beats’ that you can use when playing, for example the simple rock beat that I learned. I found that I had to ask questions to understand what was going on or how to do a skill, for instance when I was learning how to play the rock beat. I found that it was easier to learn by stacking the different drums on top of each other. I would play the 16th notes on the snare first, then the bass on the 1 and (a) 3 beats, then the snare on 2 and 4. We dug through my brothers old beginner sheet music and found a sheet that I could practice on for the week. The sheet had the different and simple beats (quarter notes, eighths, triplets and sixteenths), and all the different stickings to practice (Right Hand, Left Hand etc.). After that he also told me to choose a song for next week that included the simple rock beat that we could work on next time.


Image of the practice sheet 

Video of the Basic Drum Beat. Uses snare, high hat and bass drum.