New Media Brings New Benefits To Music Education

tip-logoThe innovation of new forms of electronic media such as DVDs, CDs, MP3s, video recorders, iPods, computer software and the Internet brings a greater diversity of choices to music teachers and students. At the same time, the integration of new media with existing forms provides an unprecedented opportunity for the advancement of music education.

Hudson Music recently sat down with a group of leading drum teachers to assess the state-of the-art and learn from their experience…

How is the new, electronic media changing drum education?

Michael Beauclerc

Michael Beauclerc

Michael Beauclerc: Students have more and easier access to world-class musicians and teachers than ever before. This allows them to progress further and faster and helps keep their interest as they develop.

Dom Famularo: This is an incredibly exciting time for music education. It is a complete paradigm shift from how I was taught. Drummers today have the advantages of a faster, more complete and deeper learning process. Plus, the new media is available to teachers and students from every corner of the globe. I can only imagine how far today’s players will push the art.

Skip Hadden: The new forms of media dramatically change drum education for the better. They allow me to communicate more information to my students more clearly. For example, I can easily slow down and repeat patterns so that students can break the rhythms down, see and hear how they are put together and then build them back up at their own pace.

Tom Nichols: I no longer have to spend countless hours in search of musical examples and excerpts for my students. Thanks to electronic media, amazing performances by the greatest musicians on the planet are literally a click or a disc away.

What do you see as the advantages of integrating new media into drum education?

Michael: The introduction of new media gives students more ways to understand new concepts, and helps them to develop faster as musicians. It also makes learning more interactive and fun.

Dom: The new media adds an element of excitement and fun to the lesson. I make each student listen to CD’s with me so that they’ll learn how to listen. Hearing it is the first step. Then, I’ll inspire and motivate the student by watching a video or DVD. It is so great to have the top drummers in the world available to assist me in each lesson with every student. Also, every lesson can be personalized for the student’s specific abilities, needs and desires.

Skip: Let’s remember that the goal is to create better musicians. New media allows students to experience a variety of performances (often with the same material being performed by different players), then analyze, interpret and put their own spin on it— all in a completely musical context. I see a big advantage of the new media in giving students the ability to see and hear how something is created in addition to reading it from a printed page.

Tom Nichols

Tom Nichols

Tom: I definitely agree that the new media has created unprecedented opportunities for differentiated instruction. I come across all types of learners every day and the new media gives educators a wealth of options in illustrating a point or explaining a concept.

What are some specific examples of electronic media that you use in your teaching?

Michael: I always have my laptop and iPod in my lessons. My iPod has all the CD’s from the method books I use, as well as my entire personal CD collection. After a student has successfully learned a new groove, I call up a popular song on the iPod with the same groove. I have a headphone splitter so we can play along with the iPod together at the end of every lesson. This makes the lesson more relevant and always ends in a positive feeling.

My laptop has drum videos, but we also have wi-fi at the store I teach at, so I can log on to youtube and other websites to access more content during the lessons. I also show the student how they can find these sites at home. For students who are studying marching percussion, I have all the exercises and pieces my ensembles play on the laptop, too.

Skip: Here’s just one example of an integrated lesson plan on the subject of Funk Drumming I’ve used in the past…




I’ve found that video taping the lesson or practice session is really helpful in the learning process, too. Students can watch the teacher and themselves and critique and compare their progress. Many times this can be a humbling experience but better they see it for themselves than hear about it from their peers or potential employers.

Dom Famularo

Dom Famularo

Dom: Recently in my teaching practice I had three lessons with different goals. The first wanted to explore Latin clavé rhythms and how to approach the drums with them. I put Horacio Hernandez’ “Conversations in Clavé” DVD (Alfred Publications) on my laptop so we could see and hear Horacio explain and demonstrate these ideas.

A second student wanted to work on hand technique so I put on Jojo Mayer’s “Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer” DVD (Hudson Limited) and went to the chapter where Jojo demonstrates the Moeller whipping motion. Then we slowed it down and watched it one frame at a time.

The third drummer needed to learn brush technique for a band he just joined at a top hotel in New York City. To illustrate the fundamental brush patterns I put on “The Art of Playing with Brushes” DVD by Adam Nussbaum and Steve Smith (Hudson Music). This was the perfect way for the student to see what he needed.

He was glued to my laptop! I then mapped out a plan for him to practice and prepare for our next lesson.

I use video cameras in my studio with a TV monitor for the student to see. I record part of each lesson for them to review and practice. When we use a book, DVD or CD I suggest they purchase it for themselves.

Tom: Groove Essentials by Tommy Igoe (Hudson Music) is the mainstay of drumset instruction with my private and public school students. For me, it is the epitome of both integrated and differentiated instruction. The system includes a DVD, Book, CD and wall chart and it offers students a variety of options for gaining musical knowledge. In addition, the multimedia makes it possible for a student to take a lesson with two teachers— me in person and Tommy Igoe on the DVD— while the play-along CD allows students to perform and record with some of New York’s finest musicians right in my basement. This is a “win-win” situation.

What has been the impact of the new media on your students and how can you measure it?

Michael: Students leave me with more information, excitement and inspiration. My students have more fun in their lessons since I first implemented these methods and the lessons are more fun for me too. For two years now I have had a waiting list of students at Soul Drums.

Dom: Learning is a life-long process and it should be a fun journey. Now, with all this new media, the future has finally arrived! The success of this approach has been easy to measure as my teaching practice has grown to over 700 students from over 20 countries.

Skip Hadden

Skip Hadden

Skip: My students are able to learn and progress more quickly; reading, watching, listening to a diversity of media and developing into more complete drummers and musicians. At the end of the day, the new media makes teachers even more important to students because studying with a media-integrated teacher offers so many more benefits and advantages to the whole process of music education.

Tom: The impact of new media on my students has been incredibly positive. There’s no rubric for this, but I can say that I see kids learning at a much faster pace at a much younger age and I believe that this is a direct result of the new multi-media approach. I have sixth graders who know what it’s like to play Rock, Funk, Jazz and World grooves in a band, yet their drums have never left their houses. Most importantly, I think that this method of learning is just plain fun for teachers and students. And, if the goal is to get kids playing music and developing into solid musicians, that’s a very good thing.

Michael Beauclerc is a private drum instructor at Soul Drums in Toronto, Ontario. He is also a published author, drumline instructor and artist-clinician for Yamaha, Sabian and Vic Firth.

Master-drummer and world-traveler Dom Famularo is one of today’s most renowned and respected drum artists, clinicians and teachers. He is an endorser and educational consultant for Mapex, Sabian, Vic Firth and Evans.

Skip Hadden is a professor of percussion at Berklee College of Music and has written several drum books. He has performed and recorded with Weather Report, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Smith and others and endorses Yamaha, Zildjian, Vic Firth and Evans.

Tom Nichols is a certified, full-time music teacher with a Masters degree in education who teaches percussion and technology courses at a public (K-8) school in Cranbury, New Jersey. He is also a private instructor and freelance musician.