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Some Tips for Percussion Students From John Lawless

During his interview for Percussion Magazine, John Lawless (Director of Percussion Studies, Kennesaw State University) shared some tips for students.
john lawless percussion tips students

What practice techniques do you use for your students?

I don’t have a practice technique that everyone follows. I have huge expectations, and they know it. Each of my students brings a notebook into their first lesson. In that book, I record our goals for the term at the beginning and then keep track of every lesson. Midway through the term, we look back to day one and see how things are going. This allows us to stay on task with our original goals. These books follow my students through all four years and are absolutely full by the end of their time with me.

Are there any technique books that you recommend?

For snare drum, I love the French etudes. Jacques Delécluse has a good number of books that I enjoy teaching out of; they are quite complex and work many aspects of snare drum playing. There is a wonderful timpani book that I use for ear training with my students. Friese/Lepak’s The Complete Timpani Method is one of the best books to prepare students for orchestral timpani playing. There are a host of mallet technique books that I use in the studio, as well as excerpts on all the orchestral instruments in the percussion family.

What advice do you have for students?

Our musical world is quite small… NEVER BURN A BRIDGE! Stay nice and just do your job to the best of your ability.

What advice do you have for teachers?

Never stop learning. The moment you think you know all that you need to know is about as far from really knowing as you will ever be. If you are a great learner, you will probably be a great teacher!

External link: John Lawless profile at KSU website

Full Interview: “No One Wants to Hear You Say How Good You Are; Just Play!”

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