Teaching High School without previously Marching DCI/WGI

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AZdrumma Offline
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Teaching High School without previously Marching DCI/WGI

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:43 pm

I was just wondering if there is anyone out there that currently instructs a high school drumline that has never marched DCI or WGI. I played in the bass line in high school and have been keeping up with my chops, as well as learned traditional grip since then. I wouldn't consider myself perfect, but after being taught by a PR bass age out I feel like I have a lot of advice to give. I've already missed the time where I could march.. So long story short. If I wanted to teach somewhere, am I automatically out of the running because I've never marched anywhere?

schorsquatch Offline
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Re: Teaching High School without previously Marching DCI/WGI

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 8:24 am


I would expect that experience helps, but I don't think its nearly as important as having the ability to connect with students, motivate them, and explain/demonstrate concepts in many different ways depending on the student. The best performer is useless as a teacher if they don't have those skills. On the flip side, you kinda need to know what you're talking about (just a little), so it's impossible to teach a concept you don't understand.

If you are confident in your skills, and think you are up to the challenge, then there is nothing standing in your way. Besides, at the end of the day, being an instructor is about them not you. If you can't earn their respect by being a good teacher, then your resume is not gonna get you very far.
Without a metronome its not drumming, its just hacking.

iWatch Offline
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Re: Teaching High School without previously Marching DCI/WGI

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:20 am

DCI/WGI is not at all necessary. As mentioned above, it is all about your ability to teach. One of my best percussion instructors (mallets) was a saxophone player and never touched a percussion instrument in his life, yet he taught mainly through metaphors and analogies that clicked. I've seen people who marched multiple years of drum corps not be able to teach well at all. So yes, experience is helpful of course, but you need to know how to use it.

That being said, if you haven't marched drum corps, more experience wouldn't hurt. Never having marched drum corps myself, I'm in my second year as a tech at my former high school, and I've learned a ton working under the main instuctor there (who, by the way, also never marched drum corps). I've even recieved job offers for main instructing positions with other compeition bands and I've done percussion "consultations" just based off of the experience I've gained as a tech. So take it from me, it's definitely possible to become an instructor without drum corps experience. It's all about how well you can teach and how open you are to learning, because you'll learn a lot as an instructor and you'll need to adapt as you learn.

I am looking to go to DCA next year. I'm also past the age limit for DCI at this point, but DCA provides a similar experience on a much less demanding schedule (only friday-sunday). Despite all I'm learing as a tech, I'm eager to go learn more. I highly recommend, if at all posible, check out DCA corps around you. That'll build experience quickly. Just make sure you make an effort to not only improve as a player while you're there, but to also learn how to instruct. Pay attention to techniques and methods. I tend to think of it as sort of a school for future music instructors to learn from some of the best in the world.
High School
'06 - Xylophone and Marimba
'07 - Snare and Co-Section Leader
'08 - Snare and Co-Section Leader
'09 - Snare and Section Leader

'13-Present - Percussion Tech

joe356 Offline
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Re: Teaching High School without previously Marching DCI/WGI

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:55 pm

There are two different questions to address here.

The first is: is it possible to be an effective teacher without DCI/WGI experience?

That answer is simple. Absolutely. DCI and WGI are not the only two places to get the experience necessary to teach those concepts. You DO need the knowledge though. Depending on the level of high school program you came from, how much you've learned on your own, etc you may already have it. High school kids aren't dumb though. If you're trying to teach a concept that you don't understand, they will see right through you.

The second question (and the more complicated one) is: is it possible to get a teaching job without DCI/WGI experience?

That answer is a little more complicated. Its a question of credibility. Having DCI or WGI on your resume gives you a certain level of credibility if you've never taught before. Its the resume builder that results in recent age out who have never taught before at upper level programs. If you don't have that resume builder, then you'll have to get your credibility through proving you can do the job well. It may mean working your way up through some smaller programs, or building a program from the ground up.

As someone mentioned before, the key is to never stop learning. Don't be afraid to try new things, and abandon things that aren't working. I've been successful as an educator because I've never considered myself to be done learning. I'm constantly reviewing my methods, and talking shop with colleagues. I try to learn from everyone I come into contact with in the activity. I keep a running list of things I want to get better at in my own playing and teaching. I'm constantly sending videos to colleagues to get their input. There's a huge community around you to learn from if you're willing to do the homework.

Hope this helps.

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