Award winning teacher and designer of the award winning JamPod™ program, Dan Jones, takes a look at this potentially intriguing new resource…..
On opening the box you might find yourself a little underwhelmed. You are greeted with a large cream egg, not the chocolate kind, shaped plastic sounds brain. This is where the built in speaker is housed, where you connect any associated peripherals, along with all the controls you need to operate this electronic drum set. Hold on a minute, if this is a drum kit where are the drums or pads for us to hit?
Thats the USP of this extremely affordable unit, RRP £118.80 inc VAT, it doesn’t have anything to hit! It is in essence an electronic drum kit without any drums. Whats the point of that I hear you cry? The point is this, you can turn anything and I mean anything into a drum kit. Take a classroom desk for example, attach one of the three supplied clips and you have a drum. One that operates with tremendous flexibility! I found every area of the table produced a sound out of the adequate in built speaker. This is perfect for short term full class music making without the need for any instruments at all.
You could even take it one step further and attach the other two clips that are supplied and attach them to a near by chair and a plastic storage box. Now I have a hi-hat, tom tom AND a snare drum. If I pop down the pedal under my right foot, its a whole drum kit! In practice the effect this has on students is unbelievably profound. I tried it out in a large class of year 5’s, some of which are a little unruly and everyone of them was mesmerised.
The internal brain contains eleven different sets of sounds, they were perhaps not quite as extensive as I would have hoped, many containing subtle variations on a similar theme. But in practice I found the two percussion settings, giving me access to world music drum sounds, were absolutely perfect for what I was trying to achieve. We made sounds that emulated west african, taiko and samba and then with the flick of a switch we could take the same patterns but make them sound like a drum kit. It really did provide a crystal clear picture to all the students I worked with of the relevance of the rhythms we studied.
Where this product really starts to sing though is when it is used with practice pads. I used to deliver wider opportunities percussion programs to primary schools and in pretty much every program we spent the first term using pads. This would allow us to focus on technique and develop our students musical ‘ear’ without the distraction of the drums. If you add the ClipHit to this learning environment it turns something you may use a little, into something robust enough to deliver long term, meaningful music lessons. When using the ClipHit in this setting I also opted to take an audio feed from the headphone out on the side of the supplied brain, into the schools hall PA system. The effect we achieved was staggering! Suddenly the real quality of the sounds shone through.
I believe this unit provides a tremendously cost effective solution for schools wishing to empower their students either as a full class or as singular drummers. When we tested my full class approach, many students expressed an interest to learn more. So we tried a lunchtime club where we pulled together three pads, attached the ClipHits sensors and popped the pedal down under the students right foot. I then gave him a drum kit lesson using the inbuilt speaker. I left the gear there for a week and while I had been away a group of students had continued practicing ‘drum kit’ using this approach. They had also made no sound though as they had connected in headphones. All this for much less than the usual investment of pads and drums with the added value of being able to apply the schools investment in more than one educational setting.
We have now developed a curriculum which works superbly with the ClipHit, it also uses the Korg Volca’s which we will cover in a later blog post. This allows us to deliver percussion and then introduce melody in a really exciting format. If you would like more information about this curriculum, we are launching it at the Music Education Expo on Friday 13th of March at the Barbican in London. I will be delivering a session demonstrating its application practically, so make sure you come along ready to play!
Following the Expo we will launch the curriculum and the hardware to purchase as a package which we will taylor to your needs. Please do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.