Students enjoy beat of a different drummerIn addition to looking incredibly cool, drummers play a vital role in a band. If the drummer is off, it can throw off the whole band.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
In addition to looking incredibly cool, drummers play a vital role in a band. If the drummer is off, it can throw off the whole band.
“Any band – concert, rock, jazz – the drummer can cause them to speed up, slow down, be irregular in tempo,” said Jeff Cherne, band director at Cloquet Middle School. “Drums are very important.”
On Tuesday, percussion students at both the middle school and high school in Cloquet got a chance to listen and learn from guest drummer Cullen Horne, whose been drumming professionally for over 30 years.
Horne started drumming at the age of 15 as a hobby to help with what he called a nervous disorder, fell in love with the multi-faceted instrument – “I was obsessed,” he told CMS students Tuesday afternoon – and made drumming a way of life ever since.
“Developing a sense of rhythm, keeping time, keeping the beat steady, that can help anyone,” Cherne said, noting that other musicians can learn from listening and learning more about the drums. “I always tell the kids: Get big ears, listen to everything.”
They were all ears for Horne.
“I want to tell you some of the things drumming helps with,” he said. “Coordination – if you’re falling over your feet – math, even reading. If you’re in martial arts, it will help with that. Drumming helped me get better at Kung Fu, and Kung Fu helped make me a better drummer.”
Although the group of a dozen or so sixth- through eighth-grade percussion students were quietly interested when Horne talked – about different drum strokes, the different parts of his very impressive drum set and the importance of being focused – they were rapt when he played two songs along with music from his MP3 player.
They watched in amazement as Horne made it look effortless creating music from a combination of eight different drums, close to a dozen cymbals, cow bells, wood blocks, things that make alien-sounding noises and even something called a cross crasher that was made of two pieces shaped like a Celtic cross with a tambourine jingle in between.
For Cherne, it was an opportunity to inspire his students and it came at the right price – absolutely free.
“The kids were talking about it after school, about some of his cool cymbals,” Cherne said. “He’s got the kind of drum set that you accumulate over 20 or 30 years. And it really motivated the kids to hear someone play as well as he played.”
Although the percussion students make up only a fraction of Cherne’s approximately 110 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade band students, Horne’s visit was a treat for more than the drummers. He joined in with the eighth-grade band, doing a solo in the middle of a song they rehearsed with their visitor toward the end of the class.
When Cherne doesn’t have a classroom full of band students, he works in small groups or individually with his students. They each get approximately 23 minutes of lesson time per week.
“Sometimes you can’t do as much as you want to as a teacher,” Cherne said. “Having someone come in can really give you and the students a boost.”
The band director said he will usually try to bring in a couple guest musicians a year. He said he was as impressed with both Horne’s ability to connect with the middle school students as he was with his drum playing.
“There are teachers that think it’s all about them, feeding their ego,” Cherne said. “Not this guy. He knows what it is to teach.”
Indeed. Horne has been teaching drums almost as long as he’s been playing them. And now he is teaching at Hamlin’s Music Academy and Schmitt Music.
That’s a part of the reason his visit came with no price tag attached. The other part is that Cherne said he’s trying to get his name out to schools in the area. He moved here from an area in upstate New York with about 35 schools in a 50-mile radius; he said part of the reason he and his wife chose to move here is the fact that there are closer to 155 schools within 50 miles of the Twin Ports area.
“He said he was interested in coming out and he spent almost his whole day here in Cloquet,” he said. “He’s willing to come back too. I’ll take him up on that.”