Student-made Rock After School

Using donated instruments, students in our after-school program at Preclarus Mastery Academy charter school in St. Louis learn what it takes to play rock music the hard way – by throwing them in the deep end.  Guided by Making Music Matters volunteers, the students are beginning to find their way into rock, pop genres.

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Here we hold steady the rhythm as a guitar newbie tries to switch between two chords within a given amount of time (measured foot taps). The student shown here finds it helpful to prop the instrument up using a bongo drum as a stool 🙂 and using drop-D tuning, power chords are an easy shape to fret.

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While figuring out how to play their instrument, we talk about listening to each other and locking in to the group as a whole.  During this session there was expected disregard for rhythmic considerations  relative to each other.  While easy to hear and play along with the beat as defined by the drum set, sympathy to other instruments and the ability to adapt one’s own playing to changing dynamics or rhythmic elements are not yet of concern to these beginners.

20120208-083833.jpgThis student (and most beginner guitar students in general) finds it necessary to lay the bass guitar across his lap in order to see the fretboard easier. Because of this, the reaching distance of the fretting fingers  is compromised and hand strength is impaired.  Thus, the improper technique of using his thumb to fret the notes.

Usually after playing guitar and bass for a significant amount of time, students stop to look at their finger tips and marvel at the indentations the strings made on them kind of like checking out their battle wounds.  I always ask them to show me and I show them mine too.

While each student takes turns on every instrument, the drums remain a popular choice – despite it’s difficulty to a beginner.  At one point, there was success with team-playing: one student keeping the beat on the high hat, and another playing the beats on alternating kick drum and snare.

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While each student takes turns on every instrument, the drums remain a popular choice – despite it’s difficulty to a beginner.  At one point, there was success with team-playing: one student keeping the beat on the high hat, and another playing the beats on alternating kick drum and snare.

Proficiency on this particular instrument is vital to the success of a group interaction at this early stage.  It’s valuable role of providing the foundation for other members of the band is a self-less realization that I hope we can embrace, as we hopefully learn so much more than how to make a chord sound good.The Count-Off

Mid-Jam

Making Music Matters is a non-profit volunteer-based Music outreach organization in St. Louis, Missouri.  If you’d like to gift your talents or resources please drop us a line @STLMakingMusic on twitter or visit www.makingmusicmatters.com

Author: aarondoerr

Owner of Fellow Musician LLC, a small music education business specializing in outreach and private study. I'm guitarist for musical theatre and production assistant at St. Louis Public Radio.

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