I'd been looking for an instruction book for very young children with not much luck when I came across a notice for Andy Ziker's book, Drumset for Preschoolers. Intrigued by the introductory videos he made available online, I ordered a copy and, let me tell you -- this is one terrific product.
The book is subtitled “A guide for parents/teachers of 2-6 year-olds”. Kids can be a tough market, as the extremely young usually can't read. So the book is targeted to adults who then can work with the student without the child having to read.
The book follows the traditional drum book format, with sections on drum hardware and music basics, but with a difference. The drum illustrations are just that: illustrations that don't complicate. The music basics section presents just enough to get going. Then it's on to the ‘concept’ and the exercises.
And it's the concept that I find so marvellous. Ziker has integrated the popularity of the video games 'Rock Band' and 'Guitar Hero' by adding the same colour codes to the drumset and to the exercises. For example, the snare drum is represented by red, as is the snare in Rock Star. While the exercises appear in standard drum staff notation, they are colour-coded as well, so the student who is inclined to follow just the colours can still grasp the lesson. To facilitate set-up, Ziker includes an ample number of coloured stick-on dots so you can code your teaching set to the book.
As if that wasn't clever enough, the lessons are actually based on tunes. What a wonderful way to get students to equate drumming with making music from day one! It's a rare child that won't have fun picking out 'Old McDonald' on the drums. And because the exercises are written in standard notation as well as colour coded, the child is also getting exposure to proper reading. As a long-term teacher, I readily saw the wisdom of pairing the familiar with the new, and calling upon different aspects of cognition and memory to give the student the maximum potential of 'getting it'.
I can hardly wait to start using this method with very young students. I also think it will help me, as I will have to orient myself to working with simple musical interpretation rather than focussing on abstract theory and technique.
You can order the book from most on-line bookstores and Jamey Aebersold’s jazzbooks.com. You should also see if your local book or music store has it or if they can order it for you.
Drumset for Preschoolers: A guide for parents/teachers of 2-6 year-olds