Nanaimo School Group Drops Wind Instruments and Dedicates Only to Drums Due to COVID-19 – Nanaimo News Bulletin


A Nanaimo High School music teacher adapts his class to COVID-19 by playing only the drums.

John Barsby High School music teacher Russ Der said music teachers have turned to new solutions to provide safe lessons for COVID-19, such as covering the ends of wind instruments and provide computer programs for students to play along with a piece of music at home. But none of these options appealed to Der.

“I didn’t want to go down this route, and in fact, in a way, I’m pretty glad I didn’t,” he said.

Instead, after speaking with drummer Mike Harrison at Long and McQuade, Der decided to solve the problem of students playing wind instruments by revamping his lessons to be entirely percussion, inspired by the fanfare model. American. He said the music store helped by offering a discount on rentals because the school didn’t have enough drums for an entire class. Der said he normally had about four percussionists in a class.

Der said the school is backing the change as well, with Barsby Bulldogs coach Rob Stevenson passing on funds normally allocated to football as the sport is not taking place this year. Der also received funding from the thrift store across the street, Deni’s Dynamite Deals.

Drum lessons started in November. Der said due to the cohort system he had students who didn’t want to take music, but they quickly returned. He said the battery is “universal”.

“We started with the basics and the basics and as things went on everyone really started to understand,” he said.

Grade 10 student Nico Suitor normally plays the trombone with the band. He said it was “a bit of a weird fit” at first and that he hoped there would be other non-wind instruments available, like piano and guitar. But as someone who played the drums, he was soon on board.

“As we started to do this I started to get used to the drums again, because I took a few years’ hiatus just to make other instruments,” he said. -he declares. “But then I started playing drums again and it just clicked.”

The pretender said playing in a drum ensemble wasn’t something he thought he would do, but he appreciated that “for once I’m not the one doing it all”.

“With drums it usually takes a lot of independence because you have to focus on three things at the same time: the bass drum, the snare drum and a cymbal,” he said. “And doing it with other people has been very interesting.”

Der’s drum lessons led him to create a drum line with some of his students. He said it’s a project he hopes to survive the pandemic and that his students will eventually be able to perform at sporting events.

“I can only watch it get bigger and bigger,” he said.

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