Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peter Erksine and The Future of Drumset Pedagogy

A interesting couple of clips here of Peter Erskine demonstrating some concepts with the help of some Roland electronic drums:

I can't say that I've personally had much experience playing electronic drum sets, however I'm impressed that Erskine teaches a very innovative drum set proficiency course at the University of Southern California that involves these instruments being used on a classroom level with large groups of students.

I've long been an advocate of any sort of class or curriculum at the college and unversity level that deals with not only the teaching and study of rhythm but actual drum set pedagogy for non-drummers as well. With piano proficiency being standard fare in Jazz studies programs, I've long argued that some sort of drum set proficiency course be offered as well. There is a long list of accomplished Jazz instrumentalists that also play the drums (for example: Dave Liebman, Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Don Thompson, Brad Turner, Kelly Jefferson, Peter Apfelbaum and Michael Brecker just to name a few...) and the development of at least a few basic Jazz drumming concepts and coordination goes a long way in helping non-drummers develop their sense of time and rhythm.

A number of years ago I wrote a paper for my Jazz pedagogy seminar at McGill University during my Masters Degree that argued just that. However, the reality of how to implement the logistics of such a course was quickly pointed out to me by my advisor Kevin Dean. A classroom full of drum sets likely wouldn't work (unless you could afford a budget to accommodate a large sound proof lab with enough drum sets and an unlimited supply of earplugs!) I think that a classroom that used electronic drums (at the very least in a group situation) would be the ideal solution to teaching such a situation.

I'm impressed that Erskine and USC have taken such an initiative to implement such a course. Who else is going to step up to the plate ?

1 comment:

  1. Jazz is a mixture of African and other non Western rhythms and Western harmony. Colleges often focus too much on (in my opinion) the less important harmony part and don't focus on the rhythm part. Maybe making more piano/ drummers rather than the other way around might solve that problem!