“Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, great to see you? Welcome to our drum class. I hope you are excited… I know that I am. Let’s begin.”
As I uttered this opening statement, I was looking into twenty-two sets of 4th grade eyes, sitting in twenty-two little boxes, staring back at me, eagerly awaiting the start of our newly created, highly anticipated Zoom drum class. Normally, I would be addressing a class of young musicians in person. Unfortunately, these past few months have been anything but normal.
If you are reading this article, it is more-than-likely that we share a common bond. Just as many of you, I am one of the numerous music educators who has needed to drastically change their approach to teaching due to the recent, yet necessary implementation of online learning. Personally, transitioning my students to online learning, (or eLearning), in both my elementary classes and college-level courses has been, to say the least, a growing experience. One filled with challenges, a few frustrations, learning curves, new discoveries, and plenty of rewards. At the start of my eLearning journey, one thing was clear. I knew that I wanted to “keep the drumming alive” within my students and within myself. To that end, I was faced with two essential questions: Why? and How?
The “WHY” was apparent. Even though we were learning at a distance, I wanted my students to continue to grow as musicians and have positive music-making experiences. Drumming is a powerful tool, with many uses. In my school, world drumming is not only an integral part of our music curriculum but a major addition to our overall school community. It offers many benefits to musicians of all ages. My students, young and old, love to drum. I believe drumming is a meaningful pathway to their continued musical growth. The challenging question then became, “HOW?” Despite being online…
• HOW can I make world drumming no less effective for my students?
• HOW can I give students a meaningful drumming experience while being devoid of face-to face teaching and learning?
• HOW, or for that matter, CAN I develop an engaging online drumming experience that builds upon the musical growth my students worked so very hard to obtain throughout the year?
• HOW can WE, (meaning the students and I), develop an atmosphere of learning that incorporates the feeling of community and connection; which group drumming so often embodies?
Of course, I found there to be no perfect solution. Whether in the context of drumming, or any area of education, each teacher must personally assess the needs of their students and tackle their “HOWS” in a manner that will best suit their particular students’ needs. However, I can share with you the structure of the online drumming class that I designed for my students. One whose components address each of these daunting, “HOWS.” I will also offer some additional strategies and resources that I believe will be helpful to you in both an online and face-to-face teaching setting….