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By Patty N. - Houston Drums Teacher
As a percussion instructor and teacher of Houston drum lessons, I have seen firsthand how learning percussion affects other areas of education. The skills needed to read percussion music are also needed in reading, rhythm, mathematics, and many other areas of "everyday" education. My students have all improved their reading skills, and in turn their grades as well.
When I start teaching my students percussion as part of their Houston drum lessons, the very first thing I work on is counting and reading ahead. In order to keep a steady tempo, lead a group of musicians, and play with musicality and dynamics, a drummer needs to be able to read ahead and know what is coming in the next few measures. This transfers directly into their studies. When reading a story or even a history lesson, reading one word at a time would not make any sense. You read a sentence or a paragraph to understand what the story is about. In percussion, you can't play one note at a time; you have to play measures, phrases, and stanzas.
The next area I work on is counting. In each measure, there is a certain amount of beats, and many ways to fill those beats. Drummers have to be able to add to 3 or 4 beats in many different ways, including fractions such as quarters, halves and eighths. This is not just basic math; it goes into algebra, geometry and more advanced math as well.
The biggest improvement I see in my percussion students as a result of their Houston drum lessons is their general reading skills. My students WANT to read. They enjoy reading everything from newspapers to new books from the library. They look forward to picking up a new story, and most importantly, they enjoy reading new music. The look on my student’s faces when they sight read a new line correctly (without my help!) is priceless. The pride my students get from being able to play an instrument is very rewarding and makes teaching music more than just a job; it turns it into a hobby and a great way to spend my free time!