Friday, March 4, 2016

From the High School Lesson Book - The Fine Art of Percussion

From the High School Lesson Book - The Fine Art of Percussion on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A link-up for all things related to homeschooling through high school!

In our state and homeschool group, a full credit in Fine Arts is required for graduation. Just one credit shouldn't be a big deal, and it sure isn't for students that enjoy art or already take music lessons of some kind. But for kids that don't naturally gravitate to art museums or piano recitals, choosing Fine Arts coursework can be more of a challenge. It's a challenge we've faced a couple times, and thinking just a little outside the box has helped us figure it out.

Almost a year ago, we started working on a review of DrumsWithWillie, a program that we hoped would be the ticket for Landon to earn the required credit in Fine Arts. Drum lessons aren't usually the first thing someone would think of when looking to fulfill a Fine Arts requirement, but it certainly is an option, and thankfully, it's one that has worked out well for us! You can read our full review ofr this course at Playing DrumsWithWillie (A Schoolhouse Crew Review).

Playing DrumsWithWillie - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew  @

A little background: DrumsWithWillie is an online program for drummers of all abilities, beginner to advanced, with three levels of lessons available, so students can learn the basics of drum technique and how to read music, and move on to improvisations and composing music of their own. The lessons focus on technique, rhythm, ear training, reading music, playing songs, and improvisation. The instructor is Mike Marble, who has taught drums privately for over twenty-five years, has been published in "Modern Drummer" magazine, and is one of the busiest session players at Berklee School of Music. DrumsWithWillie is part of the JazzEdge family of websites founded by Willie Myette, which also offers piano lessons (We got to review HomeSchoolPiano a couple years ago - see: Jazzing Up Our Piano Lessons With HomeSchoolPiano), theatre and performance CDs.

JazzEdge  Review 

Customized Education and Electives (part of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Well, when that opportunity to try out some high-quality drum lessons came along, Landon was more than willing to give it a try. He had started playing drums already, at first just fooling around with rock music video games, but also learning a little from drummers at church. He quickly went through the basics in the CoreDrums introductory part of the course, and since then has been working through the rest of the lessons and is doing great! We download the video lessons and he views them on his iPod or a tablet, and practices on an electronic drum kit here at home. Say what you will about electronic drums, but we appreciate that he can practice hard without deafening the rest of the household! He's learning to read music, and some pretty cool technique too.

Playing DrumsWithWillie - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew  @

There's a bunch of reasons why this is awesome. Most importantly, Landon is getting a required credit and is really enjoying the course! If there's one course in which I know I don't need to bug him to make sure the work is getting done, it's this. Mind you, I haven't checked on his progress lately, so I'm not sure exactly which lesson he's on, but still. He can work at his own pace, and 'attend' lessons whenever it's convenient for him. This is one of those programs that's kind of a life-saver for a guy that needs that Fine Arts credit, but isn't interested in piano lessons or painting and water color. It's different, and sometimes different is really good. I'm one of the worship leaders at our church, and our worship team is benefiting as well, because now we have one more percussionist in the pool. The past couple weeks Landon has played with my band, and on his debut Sunday, he received lots of compliments and many people (including the accomplished drummers that already play in our bands!) were impressed with how well he played, especially since some didn't even realize he was taking lessons. The established drummer for my band also has congas, which he's played while Landon plays the kit, and it's been working out very well. Again, something a bit different!

The next test is coming up in a couple of weeks, when Landon will start practicing with a small group of the students he is graduating with. They have put together a band that will accompany a couple of worship songs at our homeschool group's commencement exercises. Should be quite something to see him playing drums in his cap and gown! Oh yes, there will be pictures.

From the High School Lesson Book - Back to the Books - a homeschooling through high school link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @

Is Fine Arts where your high schoolers shine, or is it a creative endeavor just to come up with Fine Arts coursework? Leave a comment and let me know, and link up your posts about homeschooling high school here. Visit your neighbors and leave some encouraging comments!

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Jen Altman said...

I don't know if my nerves could handle this, but my kids would love it!!

FlyMama Di said...

Thank you for the prompt to link up! I meant to link up before but either got distracted or couldn't find the right button to link up.

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

Today's technology is such a blessing for homeschoolers! My daughter took keyboard lessons online, and has far surpassed what I could have taught her myself, without the expense or inconvenience of traditional piano lessons.

Annette said...

what a great way to do your fine arts requirement. Good way to think outside the box.

FlyMama Di said...

So... I entirely didn't see that our state requires a credit in fine arts. Obviously I need to go read COMAR and revise my above-linked high school plan... ::sigh:: I knew it would change, but I didn't expect to find changes needed within a week of posting the plan...

Kym Thorpe said...

Di - well, better to find out now than the week before graduation, right?! Still, that's frustrating to think you've got a plan all worked out and almost immediately realize you need to change it. BTDT!

Kim Mills said...

That's a great creative way to do a fine art credit! Online lessons have been such a blessing to us as well.

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