WORK: Power & Gadgetry

As a drum teacher working in various schools, I’m frequently faced with the need to power gadgets of various kinds: from the guitar amps I use, to bring backing tracks, metronome etc, to a level that competes with the drums, to iPhones and iPads for the apps and music, and so on.

I‘ve gradually switched from ‘hard’ (paper!) copies to PDF files for a good deal of my teaching materials, over the last two or three years. It lightens the physical load. But it can be bad if devices conk out, and power can’t be sourced.

This latter point also raises the spectre of the online connectivity issues. Schools often make it harder for visiting music peri’s and the like to access online services than for their own full time staff, with changing visitor passwords, and sometimes blocking sites or apps that music lessons might benefit from access to.

My view from my off-kit teaching position.

Anyway, I very rarely post on’t blog about work. Indeed, this might be the first such occasion!? I thought I’d put on record, for my own benefit, an unofficial summary of how I’m doing such stuff at this point.

The accompanying pics are from a school that’s only recently been built, and as yet only has pupils from year groups 7, 8 and 9. So it’s a new and growing institution.

When I first started teaching here, I was in a tiny boxy music rehearsal room. Par for the course. But not the best space for drum lessons (far from the worst tho’, either). But as of Sept’ ‘21, I’ve been giving my lessons on the swanky stage of the shiny and pristine new theatre/auditorium. Nice!

I supplied a rug, to stop the kit sliding around.

It’s a bit echoey – big space, very high ceiling, reflective surfaces – but softened a little by hooooge curtains. And all black. So very ‘pro stagecraft’ in look and feel. Esp’ with the fancy lighting rigs over-head.

The little extension pictured above now travels with me to all my schools. It would be a bit better, if it had a rather longer lead. But it does bring three ordinary plugs and two USB type (?) connections closer to me, wherever I may be sat.

For amplification I have three options, of which I will generally always have two: first, a Bluetooth ‘boom-box. This is good for listening to stuff when not actually drumming. It’s not quite loud enough to compete with an acoustic kit, however.

I got this power supply hub type extension from Amazon.

The other of the essential pair is a guitar amp. I have a Fender 15W and a Roland Cube 15W. They both play up a bit here and there. And they also have different aux inputs: the Fender has a phono pair, L and R, whilst the Roland just has a 1/4” stereo jack socket. Both are fed audio via either an iPad or iPhone, via a (?) stereo jack.

Both amps can be unwontedly noisy, and both are, especially with loud music and heavy hitters, only just loud enough to work well when teaching drums on acoustic kits. All the kits are I teach on are beginner level quality acoustic sets. I’m soooo glad none of them are cheapo e-kits!

I far prefer acoustic drums and cymbals to electric gear. The only e-kits I’ve tried and liked are the very top of the range ones from Roland, in the £3-5,000 area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *