What Does a Percussion Teacher Do?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
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  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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A percussion teacher is an instructor who teaches students how to play percussion instruments, such as bass drums, snare drums, timpani, triangles, and xylophones. Such an instructor may give private lessons to individuals and small groups or might work in the music department of a school. A percussion teacher often needs to prepare and teach percussion parts for various performances, particularly for small school band programs. There is a significant variety of different instruments that fall into the category of "percussion," so teachers need to be proficient in many different instruments. Being able to perform is not always sufficient, though, as most percussion teachers are expected to have at least some knowledge of music theory and composition so they can teach their students how to be better musicians overall.

Many percussion teachers prefer giving private lessons to working for larger music programs. Offering private lessons gives a teacher much greater control over his schedule, but such an arrangement offers little job security or consistency. In some cases, a private percussion teacher can enter into an arrangement with a music store in which the store finds people interested in lessons and the teacher provides them, often at the store. This type of arrangement makes it easier to find students and offers a location for the lessons, but music stores usually take some percent of the cost of the lessons for themselves.


Though the positions can be hard to come by, many educational institutes at a variety of academic levels employ percussion teachers. A percussion teacher at such an institute is generally responsible for educating all of the percussionists in the music program. A percussion teacher in such an arrangement has much less freedom in terms of scheduling and teaching material, but tends to have better job security and consistency. A teacher in this situation, particularly in a high school band, may also need to instruct percussionists in marching, as percussionists play an important part in marching bands.

An effective percussion teacher must be proficient in more than just percussion performance. Many students learning percussion instruments wish to learn general aspects of music theory and performance as well. A skilled percussion teacher, then, will be able to use the specifics of percussion performance to illustrate general aspects of music as a whole. Such a teacher will, for instance, teach students how to read music and will instruct students on the basics of music theory.


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