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Let the Kids Peck

The term “pecking” tends to have a negative connotation in our activity. It’s commonly associated with students drumming when they’re not supposed to. But is there ever a time pecking okay? Sure there is! Let’s dive into 3 times an instructor should be okay with pecking.
Prior to Warming Up
Starting your drum warm up can result in many “cuts” if the drumlines hands are not ready. Sure, 8 on a hand is used to warm up the hands. But most instructors would agree that it’s also supposed to be played clean. If we are truly always performing for clarity with everything the drumline plays, then the students hands need to be ready to go even on the 1st exercise. This can be simply done by letting the students peck for 5 minutes prior to ensemble warm up. Each player may work on something different to make their hands and ears right before starting. It may be noisy, but can be very efficient especially on those cold evenings in the fall.
Learning New Music
Every instructor has had a rehearsal where they go measure by measure with the students while learning the music. At times, we the instructors can get frustrated at how slow the students may be learning. At those moments, it can be beneficial to let the kids peck the part for a couple of minutes so they can focus on the part that they are messing up. Repping the parts with the instructor, especially large chunks, may be too much for the student to handle. Therefore, pecking can let them move at their own pace to absorb the information. It also gives the instructor a couple of minutes to rest her or his voice and grab a drink of water.
When focus is lacking
This point may sound counterintuitive, but I found it effective especially with my younger students. Your students can only have a 100% attention span for a certain amount of time. The brain is like a muscle.  It can only be flexed for a finite amount of time before it becomes fatigued. The younger the students, the shorter the attention span usually. When the kids look like they are burnt out or tired, let them peck around for a couple of minutes whatever they want. This gives them a chance to relax their brain and explore their own creativity. After a couple of minutes of pecking the kids tend to be ready to focus again and do work. This also gives the instructor a chance to show off and remind the students that drumline should be fun. There you have it, 3 points when pecking can be beneficial during drumline rehearsal. Students, make sure you stay focused on rules and goals from your instructor and only peck when permitted. Instructors, remember how much you loved to peck when you were a student and make sure you give that opportunity back to your students. It can be a useful tool for learning when used appropriately. Let’s drum smart. Author: Matt Regua
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