Traditionally, there were two types of percussion classes, individual and group, but with new technological methods, there are now more choices for students. It is possible to get instruction through webcasts and other mobile device broadcasts as well as through compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs). Some venues for classes include private or in-home sessions and public venues, such as schools, music camps, and music store workshops. Amateurs and professionals profit from classes, which range from basic instruction to advanced focus on different music styles, such as jazz, folk, or concert, and various, often complicated, rhythm patterns.
In school or camp classes, often instructors teach beginning percussionists together in groups of two to four, depending on the number of students enrolled for class and the level of their talents. After students learn the basics, an instructor usually supplements the group sessions with some one-on-one training. As the students advance, they typically rise to a higher-level group session and increase the private lessons. Generally, students have one lesson per week, and the instructor assigns daily exercises and daily practice time expectations.
There are mixed reviews about the modern teaching methods that do not incorporate a tutor who can watch the student play the percussion instruments. Some professionals express their concerns about the quality of unsupervised lessons. Most teachers prefer to observe their students and watch for problems, such as improper stances, ineffective finger placement, and other problematic habits. Effective online instructors require students to use webcams to tape their percussion classes so that they can critique the student's technique. Good instructors can observe a player's problem areas as well as strengths and adjust future lessons to incorporate this information.
Frequently, free online classes lack depth, and many of these instructors use the free class to promote their fee-based classes. Prospective students need to research an instructor's credentials and reputation, especially any online instructors. Some instructors combine in-person sessions with electronic learning resources, such as CDs, DVDs, and online sources.
Percussionists usually learn more than just how to play an instrument from percussion classes. Often they learn important life skills. A good example of an important skill is taking directions accurately and civilly because directors expect their musicians to be an effective part of the music team. Group lessons frequently teach students patience and teamwork. Instructors generally find that learning to play an instrument well builds a person's self-esteem and confidence.
Music camps, school bands, and university-sponsored learning events generally allow students a wider range of percussion classes, such as timpani, marimbas, and vibraphones. These venues also allow percussionists to learn different styles of playing that students may not have explored on their own, including rock, blues, and international folk. While using different types of percussion instruments, a student frequently learns other skills, such as tuning an instrument as well as learning to play it properly. By combining different types of percussion classes, a student generally receives a well-rounded education covering all types of music, various instruments, and some different professional skills, such as teamwork.