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Programs: Private Lessons

PERCUSSION:  African Drum

This course will explore an accelerated scheme in identifying the properties of African drumming as it is demonstrated in the Djembe orchestra. This includes but is not limited to refining the foundational skills of the instruments in the orchestra, as well as exploring the language of the drum. This process will incorporate this understanding as it is relevant to traditional and contemporary djembe music. Each student must demonstrate an improved understanding of the intricacies of the music in the Djembe orchestra individually as well as with the ensemble.             

Throughout the duration of the class, students will be engaged with information that stimulates the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor interest with a universal appeal to a limitless demographic of students. The goal of the African drumming class is to engage the student's interest in the drum from a fun and educational perspective, while maintaining a respect and reverence for the cultures that are represented in the music of the Djembe.            

There is a exciting and comprehensive method of instruction that has been designed to affectively communicate the complex language of the djembe into phrasing that can make a capable djembe player, regardless of a student's natural aptitude. This method is process-oriented, give students the satisfaction of accomplishment throughout the journey of learning the rhythms designated for the class. This method of phrase accumulation is rooted in the traditional method of learning the drums of the djembe ensemble. This traditional method has been combined with a unique and contemporary system of note recognition and patterning that is both easy to learn and fun for all groups. 


Percussion--Steel Drums and Drums

DRUMS AND STEEL DRUM: weekly lessons are offered for 30 minutes for beginners, 45 minutes for intermediates (when the student begins to learn simple music literature), and 60 minutes for advanced students (who are playing more difficult literature). However, high achieving beginners or slower learners may wish apply for more time than allotted here. In other words, you choose the length of time of your lesson. Tuition is paid by the time, not the level.

Drum classes (55 minutes with 5 or more students) or private lessons (30, or 45, or 60-minute lessons) are offered for Drum Set, Hand Drums of various countries, as well as bells (glocks) for the learning of reading notes.  Students are expected to own their drums for daily practice (or schedule practice at OMS till their drums arrive), but they do not have to bring the drum set or congas to lessons as those are already there.

Steel Drum 55-minute classes for 5 or more students once per week and private lessons (30, 45, or 60-minute lessons) are offered weekly.  It is mandatory that students practice daily between lessons and classes.  So students can purchase their drums and pans.  Also, students may schedule private practice at the Ottley Music School until their own personal drums arrive.  The pans can be purchased from Trinidad through the OMS for about 30% discount from the USA prices.  They come with stand, mallets, and a carrying case complete with fortification for travel.

Teachers write the assignment for each week in the student's Assignment Notebook, and students are expected to write in the time they spend practicing on the Practice Record page for each week, children 12 and under have the practice record signed off by a parent.

Drum students of all ages are taught the drum rudiments first, using drum sticks and a snare drum or drum pads or actual steel drums for practice. For snare drums, students can purchase a drum pad. The books used in the Ottley Music School are:

  • Modern School for Snare Drum with a Guide Book for the Artist Percussionist by Morris Goldenberg
  • Rubank Elementary Method--Drums by Paul Yoder
  • Rock Drums for beginners--An Easy Beginning Method by Pete Sweeney
  • Hand Drums for beginners--An Easy Beginning Method by John Marshall
  • Beginning Steel Drum--a concise method for learning to play lead or tenor pans, by Othello Molineaux or by Liam Teague. 








Mrs. Lydia Laidlow, teacher of Paint Branch Elementary school had a dream that the children who were "challenged" could do well in school. So in the summer of 2006 she approached the Ottley Music School about teaching her afterschool children steel drums. Since there was no county assistance in this pilot program, Mr.Adjahoe, and Mrs. Ottley decided to join Mrs. Laidlow in this venture, to go and pick up the students, and charging them a fraction of the cost, they brought them to Ottley Music School once per week, in the summer, and throughout the school year for steel drum classes taught by the college senior, Anwar Ottley. The following summer they played not only in Ottley Music School recitals, but also in concerts at their school and at the Bladensburg Waterfront Concert with Ottley Music School under the auspicies of Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Commission, OMS rented a truck to transport the instruments to the various sites.


The principal and parents were so impressed by what the students had accomplished, that they with the parents with the teacher and others supporting them raised funds to purchase their own steel drums. The following year, as Mr. Ottley had to go to Michigan to work on his Master's, Mrs. Laidlow hired another teacher and continued the lessons, teaching them music of the classics, music of the Caribbean, and also as per the choice of their teacher, Mrs. Laidlow, sacred and gospel music. Their band is called "Tropical Breezes", and their uniforms are tropical shirts for casual and tuxedos for formal events. They are the first steel band in the Prince George's Public School System, and were taught as a pilot project by the Ottley Music School.  More recently, Tropical Breezes performed under the auspices of the Prince George's Board of Education, for the National Educators National Convention in Washington, D. C. and were so well received that they were given invitations to perform in several of the United States, in the Caribbean and in Europe.   The students moved up to Principal's list, and went on to high school and college as A students.  Samples of their performances as Ottley Music School students can be found on youtube. 







PHONE:  301-454-0991    FAX:  301-454-0298

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ADDRESS:   University Town Center, 6525 Belcrest Road, Suite G-20, Hyattsville, MD 20782

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