Kids with Sticks
Kids with Sticks
Kids with Sticks is a drum book that uses colour to assist in understanding musical notation with songs designed to put into practical use what has just been learnt.
What I had been doing teaching music for three years prior was simply not working and it wasn’t because of what I was teaching. I knew what I was teaching sounded great and was great but the concepts weren’t getting through to the students. And that was due to the language barrier of music notation. To really understand the concepts you had to understand the language first and that takes time and you have to really want to learn the language.
I also realised that the book I had been using was intimidating – 70 plus pages and you felt like you weren't getting anywhere or not good enough because there are so many pages that you were never going to get to. And then there was always my knowing that there is so much that can be done with simple basics done well. Most books present a lesson, then move on to the next and then the next and then the next etc. and really don’t provide the space for absorbing, utilising and enjoying in full what has already been presented and learnt.
A book for children should be bright and fun. Who doesn’t love a children's book? They are a lot more fun than a plain information-based subject book. The illustrations are to keep it light and simple and to express that the language of music is easy to understand and not something to give your power away to because you don’t know all the symbols. It should be a joy to read. The characters Jack and Thelma represent names of rhythms and were designed by my wonderful illustrator Désirée Delaloye. The other illustrations explaining the music concepts were designed by me and brought to life by Désirée to show what is being played. The colours highlight the concepts and make them fun. Each page ended up being an illustration with the music as part of it. Just because I know and can see what I am talking about doesn’t mean my students do and the colour aids in understanding the concepts.
There is so much that can be done with two simple rhythms on the drums and this is what Kids with Sticks is all about. Volume 1 and Volume 2 (not yet published) only use two rhythms and you learn nine songs, providing you with the experience to explore what can be done with what you already know and how the basics are good enough without the need for what’s next, when there is so much to learn and enjoy in just the fundamentals.
The Charts Book offers the songs as complete charts i.e., the songs in music notation. Charts is a Jazz reference for music notation. Once the songs have been learnt from Kids with Sticks, understanding how they have been constructed, you use the Charts Book to go from song to song and simply play. I use the Charts Book a lot in my classroom to review the songs learnt as a warm up at the start of the lesson and when you learn a new song.