There are many directions that drum lessons can take and there is much flexibility that I bring depending on my students desires and learning style. To develop a strong foundation I want my students to understand the importance of technical development, how their movement and physical approach to the drums effects not only the sound produced but technical ability. Likewise, I want my students to be able to analyze music both through musical notation and the learn-by-ear approach. Concurrent to the above aspects is stylistic development which includes songs my students know and like along with broadening their knowledge and understanding of the many musical styles from around the world.
Learning correct technique is primary and ongoing. Whether through listening to songs or observing myself or other drummers play, students often ask "how do I do that?". It is this ongoing question which propels development of one's technique. Frequently I will draw students attention to the look and feel of their movement, having them pay close attention to one or more limbs and the sound being produced. Next, we would closely compare how I'm moving and the sound I'm producing. Having the student mirror back what they see and hear, refining their movement, helps the student to stay focused on their technique and the resulting sound, an essential habit which will allow for self-learning into the future.
Another of my main goals when teaching is to help my students develop strong analytical skills as it relates to understanding musical notation. I want my students to be as comfortable reading rhythmic notation as they are reading the English language, where they can quickly read and comprehend a rhythmic phrase as they can an entire sentence. If I can lead my students to this level of understanding of notation then they will be that much more capable of self learning via the many great drum instruction books available.
Along with strong reading skills I want my students to be able to learn-by-ear. Essential to the understanding of both reading and hearing rhythmic phrases is the ability to count and to subdivide the count. Counting out loud is fundamental to connecting the mind and the body, to bringing awareness of the structure of a rhythmic or musical phrase; Counting provides a road map to what we are hearing or reading. If my students can confidently count and subdivide then they can successfully translate what they hear, or read, to what they play.
Alongside establishing the above mentioned aspects is for me to discover and nurture the musical interests of the student by finding out what music they like. Some students are open to just about anything while others have very particular tastes in music and I adjust the lessons for that. Beginning with easily accessible songs and progressing to more demanding ones I am able to lead my students through varying styles and the technical demands required. Once my student has gained good control of a song we make a video performance of the song, I've found that once a student gets a song or two under their belt, the fire has been lit; Success has been tasted and the learning accelerates.
This list includes some of the aspects of the above discussed approach to drum lessons. This list grows longer the longer I teach as it is obvious to me that while I'm teaching my students drums, my students are showing me how to teach; their continued interest, development and success points the way!