Out with the melody, in with the groove: High school students will find their beat this fall

Music classes will look a bit different this year at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School. One music teacher has a plan to make drumming the focus of his class.

Students will be taught rudiments and other drumming techniques

Bryan Malito's music classes won't look like the one shown in this photo, but he has a plan to make drumming the focus of his Grade 9 class. (Submitted: Bryan Malito )

What will music classes look when students return to class during the pandemic? 

For students at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School in north London, they'll be drumming up a new beat. 

Music teacher Bryan Malito has shifted the focus of his Grade 9 class from wind instruments to drumming.

"With the limited time that I do have with them and with alternating cohorts, I find that this might be the best experience for the Grade 9's," he said.

Malito said by using this approach, students don't need to worry about removing their masks or sharing instruments. 

Excited to explore new format  

In Malito's class, students will learn drum rudiments, such as single strokes, double strokes and other techniques.

Each student will be required to bring their own drumsticks and copies of music, which will be provided online. There will be around 15 students in the classroom at a time, with proper social distancing and masks being worn at all times. 

His upper-year music students will be completing the performance component of their course from home as they already have a good grasp on how to play their instrument . Students will then be asked to submit videos online to be graded.

Drumsticks were handed out when the Juno Awards were hosted in London in March, 2019. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

Malito's change to the Grade 9 course comes after singing and wind instruments were deemed to be high-risk, given their potential to spread the coronavirus through airborne droplets. Despite having to make these exclusions, he said he's excited to try out this new format. 

"Class music education is very important within our schools and it does develop students in many different ways," said Malito.

Especially in creative ways, he added. "Which is what we need in society today."

The drumming program also gives students the opportunity to explore their artistic abilities, said Malito, adding this could lead to them developing a lifelong passion they can share with their community. 

Writing a book for drummers

When Malito wasn't busy reconfiguring his class for the upcoming school year, he used his time to work on a new book. 

He started the book years ago while teaching at Regine Mundi Catholic College in London, but was unable to finish it. But when the the pandemic hit, he found himself with ample time to resume the project. 

"Since I had this time, I developed it into a complete methodology for beginning drummers, intermediate and advanced drummers," he said. 

The book titled Rhythm & Rigor is a complete guide to drumming and will include tips like how to hold drumsticks and how to approach the percussion instrument with good posture. Malito said he is finishing up the final edits and hopes the book will be available soon.

In the meantime, some of the book's content will be put online to assist students taking his drumming course this fall.


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