Drumming A Beat

We chat to GEMS Music Hub drum teacher Samuel Jones, who has been tapping out a beat since the age of nine.

Samuel Jones is from New Zealand and has been playing the drums since the age of nine. In high school, he performed with various jazz big bands, including the Christchurch School of Music Jazz Band. Sam studied at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology Jazz School to develop his performance abilities. He went on to teach privately at high schools in his hometown and has performed on several New Zealand variety television shows, including Showcase and Star Factory, plus he has taken part in numerous tours around New Zealand and Australia.

In 1997, Sam commenced work at the Hard Rock Café Beijing, which led to further employment at the global chain’s Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen locations. From there, he was employed by S.L. Feldman, a Canadian company specialising in entertainment circuits throughout the world. Since moving to the UAE, Samuel has played with some of Dubai’s most in-demand acts and has played many large-scale events. Sam is proud to be part of the GEMS Music Hub team and is committed to helping students find their rhythmic feet on the drums.

How did you develop an interest in the drums, and how long have you been playing?
Like many young kids, I tried several different instruments before I settled on the drums. One Christmas, when I was around nine years old – there was a drum kit under the tree. You couldn’t take me off it — I was
totally hooked.

What inspired you to start teaching? How long have you been with GEMS Music Hub?
I started teaching right after I finished my music studies. Most of my time was taken up with touring internationally with various bands while teaching in-between. Over that time, I gained knowledge and experience that I felt I could pass on. I have been with GEMS Music Hub since 2013.

What is the best part about your job?
Seeing the students pass their Trinity exams and successfully participating in concerts always makes me happy.

How do you organise, plan, and execute your work? What techniques do you adopt or adapt in order to teach students?
I like the students to start straight away with the Trinity College Rock & Pop programme. This method teaches the students co-ordination exercises, rudiments (stick control), ear training, and learning to play in time. We learn independence, which in drumming terms means getting each limb to work independently of the others. I’m also a huge fan of improvising, and part of the Trinity programme is called session skills. This is where the student plays along to a backing track while coming up with their own part on the spot.

How do you coach or mentor a student? What improvements do you see, and how does it help their knowledge and skills?
It is imperative that the student finds my lessons fun. I do stress the importance of practising, and the students know that great playing doesn’t happen overnight. Honestly, I feel the real magic happens at home with a solid practise routine. I can tell straight away if they have been practising, and if they haven’t. The skills that directly benefit from practice at home include control of the drum kit, tempo, and reading.

How does learning to play the drums benefit a child?
I would say confidence, co-ordination, communication skills, and an improvement in fitness. Playing drums can also relieve frustration and stress. Lastly, it’s fun.

What’s your favourite Music Hub event?
I really enjoy the recitals, or Drum Show as we call it. It’s a great time for the kids to come together and show off their abilities to the other students. It’s a great motivator and the students always have a blast.

How do you weigh your success as a teacher?
I still feel I have a lot to learn as a teacher, but it does bring a smile to my face when a student passes their exams or joins their first band. Whether they are playing drums as a hobby or they want to pursue music as a career, I’m happy to help them on their way.