Most music schools require keyboard proficiency courses, but the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California will be the first to require drum proficiency in their new Roland Drum Lab.
Specially named the “Roland Technology Lab,” the classroom features eight TD-9SX V-Tour Series V-Drum sets for students. Boasting 50 kits and over 500 instrument sounds, the TD-9SX is loaded with fresh sounds, real-audio backing songs and a USB port to play along with student choice songs. The “Quick Record” and “Quick Play” features allow students to immediately record and play back solo drum parts.
A separate TD-9SX for the teacher is also fitted with Roland’s RCS 848 Conferencing System which allow two-way communication between students and teacher. Fast-paced instruction with immediate rehearsal increases the focus of learning, as the teacher monitors students with the touch of a button.
With this interactive system, the teacher can pair or group students for rehearsal and performance, listening and teaching without ever losing eye contact or moving from the teaching station. Creating ensemble experiences is easy with the simple Input for external sound sources like an iPod or MP3 player.
Intended for courses in its newly-created Popular Music Performance program debuting in the fall, staff members already anticipate the drum lab will offer the most popular classes for music students of all disciplines. Peter Erskine, Thornton faculty member and Roland artist explains, “The purpose of the class is not only to instruct students how to play drums, but also to provide a historical overview of the instrument, to explain its role in the development of popular music.”
That development will not only include drum students, but beginning rhythm and drum training for guitar students, vocal students and even orchestral students. This type of ground breaking education, Erskine says, enables musicians to understand the role of drumming from both sides of the kit, “What better way for a songwriter to effectively communicate song requirements than by having had the first-hand experience.” The lab will also be available, day or night, for student practice.
The Roland Drum Lab was made possible with the support of Roland Corporation, U.S., who helped USC acquire 10 TD-9SX V-Drums drumsets and the teaching lab conferencing system. What has long been viewed as the most effective teaching strategy for piano labs is now being recognized and implemented for percussion students. Roland Percussion Market Development Manager Steve Fisher remarks, “We’re proud and honored that USC chose to partner with Roland for this innovative program.”
Fisher comments that even as the lab was being set up, the staff was counting how many classes they could add for “various students” in the music degree program. Want some time on the new Roland drums at USC? I’m afraid you’ll have to get in line.