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Learn to play percussion like playing video games

Author: Facundo Alvarez, Percussion teacher and Facilitator

Several of my students used to think that learning to play percussion was a serious an difficult process that requires a lot of effort and sacrifice to achieve the skills needed to learn to play a percussion instrument.

Because of that, also some of them procrastinate around the idea of starting their learning about in percussion.

When they told me how they felt about it, I was absolutely surprised because I cannot seem to tell you the opposite about the process of learning to play percussion.

As I said, to learn to play percussion, you had to go through a path that is pretty similar to the usual path that you can find in most of the video games in which:

1) You’re going to face several challenges
2) You’re going to play game and sort riddles, both musical
3) You’re going to have a lot of fun playing the percussion instrument that you love.

Let’s take a closer look at the similarities between them.

Games have levels from easy to hard, from simple to complex.


Well, the same happens in percussion learning. What I mean is when you’re starting your learning path in percussion, you’ll begin learning the simple stuff first at the beginning, and then when you start moving forward along your learning path, you are going to go through different stages and levels in which you will learn increasingly more complex content and skills.

The first level of the game help you to get into the gameplay, giving you the basic skills, tools and ability to move along the game. 


So when we start to learn to play percussion, we mostly do it from scratch, with any knowledge or experience on the instrument, we want to learn to play. So that’s first steps or stages are very important because in them were going to acquire, on one side, the skills that we need to start playing and making sound the instrument  correctly, and, on the other, we learn the basic knowledge to understand music and  start expressing ourselves musically.

At the beginning you’re able to do the basic stuff, but once you move forward, each new level will unlock new abilities and tools. 


In both cases, the idea is the same: to acquire new and better skills, you have to go through a learning process in which you have to try and challenge yourself, and in which “trial and error” is the basic method to improve your performance.

Progress in the game is a matter of moving forward, step by step, gaining small achievements

In percussion learning happens the same because to be able to play complex rhythm first you have to succeed in playing the simplest one. So in these initial steps you’re going to acquire the knowledge and skills to move towards the following. In this way, these first steps are going to become the foundation of the more complex ones that comes after.

Each new level poses new challenges for us, for which we have some of the answers, while the rest, we have to find it in each stage

In most cases, each time we move on into a new stage or level, we face new challenges that require us to acquire new knowledge and the skills to be able to overcome them. So to move forward, you basically have to solve different situations through trial and error. What that means is that you’re going to make many mistakes before being able to move forward and jump into the next level.

In games, if you made mistakes you die, metaphorically speaking, but immediately you come back to life to try it again.

Again. Trial and error is the basic method to move forward.

So, relax the pressure on you around making mistakes and embrace the idea that if you don’t make mistakes, you won’t learn!.

Actually, mistakes are the means to learn because they show us a problem that we have to resolve in order to move forward. So going back to the metaphorical speaking, a mistake is anyone’s death, on the contrary, it’s an opportunity to learn and improve our knowledge and skills.

At the end of the game, you’re going to see clearly and understand things that at the beginning you couldn’t get.


That is because at the beginning you start from scratch. What I mean is with zero experience or knowledge. Thenaong the learning path you are acquiring and improving all the wisdom and skills to master your playing craft as a percussionist.

So when you finally get to the end of your learning route, you’re going to be able to see clearly understand the whole picture.

Last, you have a lot of fun during the process


There is nothing more satisfying that, challenging us on achieving step by step the goals that we set up for ourselves. And if you do that in a playful and relaxed way, the fun doubles.

So this approach allows us to see the process of learning to play percussion in a different way in which:

1) challenges are good.
2) Not knowing stuff is expected
3) Making mistakes is needed.
4) And most important of all, learning to play percussion is a path that each one of us travels is it own time and way.

So this is the end of the video. I hope you find it useful and entertain it.

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Learn to Play Percussion: Bongó, Conga, Cajón, Djembé, Timbal Brasilero

Percussion Online Classes

In the Online Percussion Classes, I offers individual and face to face classes for you to start learn to play percussion from scratch and learn to play and make music with the percussion instrument you like – Bongó, Cajón, Conga, Djembé or Timbal Brasilero.

Percussion Online Courses

In the Online Percussion Courses I offer you different options for you to start to play percussion from scratch, develope as percussionist and learn to play and make music with the percussion instrument that you like: Bongo, Cajón, Conga, Djembé or Timbal Brasilero 

Activities suitable to all ages and levels

You don´t need to have previous knowledges of music or percussion to get started.

percussion facilitator

Facundo Alvarez
Percussion Facilitator

For 20 years I´ve dedicated myself to develope educational and recreational materials and experiences, with the goal of facilitate access to percussion learning to people of all ages

In all the projects I work motivated by the premise that "Percussion is for everybody" and that "Everyone can learn to play percussion".

My main goal is to help, as many people as I can, to live the unique experience of making music with percussion instruments.