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ESTA MA Music – Percussion

About the course

The instrumental teaching profession demands constant reflection and improvement from its practitioners. This course will help you to validate your personal development and formalise your academic qualification to teach.

Our programme of study is designed to enable you as an instrumental or vocal teacher to progress from the stage you are in your career and to take a fresh look at the way you approach your teaching.

Your studies will be online, engaging with tasks including webinars, meetings with your mentor, taking part in discussion groups, reading, making videos. You will reflect on and develop your teaching focusing on the context in which you work. This will help you to question things you may have taken for granted, explore work with and without notation and develop a holistic approach to your teaching.

You will be assigned a mentor who shares your specialism (e.g. brass, bowed strings, piano, voice, woodwind, percussion, plucked strings) and your mentor’s job is to guide you through the course, lead study sessions and feedback on your work and progress.

Being a student on this course is all about developing as a reflective practitioner, someone who is willing to stand back and look at their work and contemplate changing aspects if both you and your students will benefit. Your course leader will provide an overview of the whole course, lead study sessions, and also make assessments of all students’ work to ensure fairness.

To gain the maximum benefit for your investment in this programme of study you should plan your diary carefully to make sure you have all the deadlines for completion and submission of work highlighted – and then please take notice of them.

This programme is delivered by ESTA and validated by the University of Chichester.

Who is it for ?

Moving on from the ESTA PG Cert in Teaching, the ESTA MA (Percussion) Practical Teaching provides students with the opportunity to reflect more deeply and demonstrate the application of learned theory in their own personal teaching setting.

The instrumental teaching profession demands constant reflection and improvement from its practitioners. This course will help you to validate your personal development and formalise your academic qualification to teach.

Participants will:

  • Develop practical skills in teaching musical and technical material, fostering an engaging and student-appropriate approach to music learning and performance

  • Foster an investigative and inquisitive approach to teaching by developing skills in both research and reflection

  • Actively develop communication skills to enable effective teaching

  • Develop skills in curriculum planning that are highly relevant in the profession.


Who teaches the course


Head of Department – Percussion


Musician, Educator, Author, Composer, Ethnomusicologist and Teacher Trainer

A Musician, Educator, Author, Composer, Ethnomusicologist and Teacher Trainer. He has over thirty-five years’ experience as a professional Musician and Educationalist.

As a Drummer and Percussionist Andy has played with some of the leading Recording Artists and Orchestras in the world for Film, Television, and Recording Sessions as well as many West End Shows. As an Ethnomusicologist, Andy has travelled widely around the world especially in Africa, South America, South East Asia and India playing and learning about music of other cultures and regularly lectures on the Music of Diverse Cultures.

Andy Gleadhill is internationally acknowledged as a leading authority on teaching World Music. Andy has had many papers and articles published on World Music and Music Education topics and his books have been published on African Drumming, African Drumming Book Two, Indonesian Gamelan, Brazilian Samba, the Music of India, Caribbean Steel Pans, Composing with World Music, Classroom Percussion and Percussion Buddies. He wrote the chapter on Music for the recently published academic book “Popular Culture, Pedagogy and Teacher Education in Education” (Routledge 2014). Andy has worked at every level of music education from Early Years settings to Post Graduate teaching at Conservatoires and Universities around the world. For over ten years he has been, and remains, a visiting lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Bath Spa University where he teaches on the specialist secondary music PGCE course.

Andy was for many years the head of Bristol Arts and Music Service and the director of the Bristol Centre for Music and the Arts which he built into a leading music support service and where he pioneered the introduction of world music styles for class instrumental teaching, setting new standards in accessibility and inclusiveness. He went on to establish and become the first head of the Music Education Hub “Bristol Plays Music”. Andy has also served on the Music Hub Advisory Group for Arts Council England. He is a member of the Royal Society of Musicians and serves on the Executive Committee of the British Musicians’ Union. Andy has recently delivered workshops and lectures to the annual conferences of the Music Masters and Mistresses Association, the National Association of Music Educators, the Federation of Music Services, Music Mark, Music Learning Live, the Schools Music Association (ISM), the International conference on Innovation and Creativity in the Hands of the Young (Iceland), the International Conference on Arts and Humanities (Hawaii, USA), the Second International Conference on Popular Culture in Education (Hong Kong), the Schools Music Association (Incorporated Society of Musicians, U.K.), the Scottish Association of Music Educators (SAME) and Music Learning Live Asia (Singapore). Andy also works as a consultant to the Ministry of Education in Singapore, the Government of Malaysia and the Ministry of Defence Service Children’s Education (UK). He is active as a composer having had his music recorded and published as well as broadcast by the BBC. Andy has also worked as an examiner for the Guildhall school of Music and Drama and Trinity College London, has co-authored the Trinity/Guildhall Drum Kit examination syllabus and has been retained as a consultant to the ABRSM. He is currently a consultant to RSL Awards (Rockschool).

Andy now balances his work as a professional musician and Education consultant with delivering World Music Workshops, Training and Professional Development to Schools, Colleges, Universities and both music and generalist teachers around the world through his unique intensive training and bespoke mentoring schemes.

Course content by unit

Unit 1: Teaching percussion instrument technique to children and young people learning percussion instruments 

  1. Posture/Playing positions

  2. Grip

  3. Independence

  4. Balance between hands

  5. Encouraging the tone from percussion instruments

  6. Mallet technique

  7. Rudiments

  8. Warm up exercises

  9. Orchestral Percussion

  10. Tuned Percussion

  11. Timpani

  12. Drum Kit

  13. World Percussion

  14. Studio technique

  15. Working as a section member/Playing as part of an ensemble

  16. Care and maintenance of instruments

Unit 2: How children and young people learn to play percussion instruments

  1. How learners learn

  2. Simultaneous Learning

  3. Learning spiral

  4. My learners now

  5. Understanding, assimilating and consolidating.

  6. Skills, knowledge and understanding

  7. Learning music musically

  8. Developing aural awareness/perception and acuity

  9. Pupil/teacher relationships

  10. Learning scales and studies

  11. Starting a lesson

Unit 3: Teaching strategies for percussion teachers working with children and young people

  1. Understanding my teaching now

  2. Preparation for teaching

  3. Expectation of teaching outcomes

  4. Diagnosis of learners’ needs

  5. Audio-Visual-Kinaesthetic learning

  6. Aptitude for learning

  7. Motivation for learning

  8. Simultaneous learning

  9. Assessment

  10. Exams/Festivals/Competitions

  11. Tutors/methods

  12. Teaching whole classes/small groups/individuals

  13. Proactive and reactive teaching

Unit 4: Developing a percussion teaching curriculum for children and young people           

  1. Understanding what is meant by a curriculum and a syllabus

  2. Preparing and implementing schemes of work

  3. Short/medium and long term planning

  4. Personalising learning

  5. Becoming a reflective practitioner

  6. Communicating as a musician

  7. Playing and performing

  8. Chamber music

  9. Special Needs

  10. Schools of Brass playing

Unit 5: Teaching Individuals

This module covers a solid base of teaching and learning theory and introduces students to core concepts in psychology having to do with learners as individuals, self-belief, motivation, and thinking processes. The structure of a private music lesson and methods for engaging learners as creative individuals are presented. Students explore various traditional and innovative music teaching methods and consider how these can be adapted for a range of learners.

This module challenges students to focus on the differences present in individual pupils. Students consider their choice of repertoire and how that relates to their critical approach to teaching each individual student. Topics to be covered include:

  1. Skills in written communication when articulating and planning teaching content

  2. Collecting and organising musical materials to support targeted strategies for teaching different learners

  3. Comparative analysis of learners’ progress over time

  4. Scholarly presentation and referencing

  5. Experience with private teaching in a variety of settings

Key Skills

  • Autonomous learning required for managing complex tasks

  • Psychological, imaginative, and intuitive understanding

  • Development and sustaining arguments to solve problems

  • Use research and extend current teaching methods to broaden understanding

Unit 6: Creative Repertoire

Throughout the semester, students explore various core pieces of technical and performance repertoire for their instrument. The focus is on the learning concepts in these pieces and how to address these concepts by engaging students and incorporating elements of creativity and fun.

Students are assigned pieces of music to examine and identify other pieces as models from within their traditional teaching and performance repertoire. They then create new purpose-designed repertoire for teaching using various structures and styles.

This newly created material can include adapted versions of existing material, use theme and variations, include duet or multi-player parts and /or be interactive repertoire. Students will explore creating repertoire in diverse styles (other than the original) such as using pop, jazz, blues, and classical models.

Key Skills

  • Autonomous learning required for managing complex tasks

  • Creative problem solving

  • Use of research tools in extending knowledge and understanding

  • Skills in music arrangement / composition to address musical and technical learning

  • Awareness of the needs of individual learners (their pupils)

  • Strategies for teaching technical / musical content

Unit 7: Dissertation – Teacher and Student learning process (double module)

This module focuses on a holistic understanding of the learning experience, from both the teacher and the student point of view. The student view is authentic as learners on the MA become first-hand students as they undertake new learning experiences. The fresh look at learning and teaching prepares students to write a considered dissertation that reflects a current knowledge and understanding of aspects of practical teaching in the field.

Semester 1 focuses on the student perspective/experience with the students each receive weekly lessons (as if they were a beginner/student) with course mentors/professor which are video recorded.

Semester 2 delves into planning, reacting to, and working with different students. In this semester students will observe the recorded lessons, including observing each other being taught as well as lessons with different students (children and adults). The focus is shifted from the student experience to shadowing course mentors/staff in order to observe their teaching methods.

The first semester allows the students to get used to the teacher and make progress on particular repertoire and techniques. This also gives the student time to reflect on their learning processes before turning to focus from the teacher’s perspective on planning and methods.

It is understood that when joining the course, students agree to be observed by their peers. Written consent is obtained for videos to become part of future course materials.


Course structure

This part-time course is timetabled over a period of two calendar years with the next intake beginning in August 2024.

There are 7 units of study which must all be completed in chronological order. A further three additional units focus on: safeguarding children and young people in music education; equality, diversity, and inclusion in music education, and promoting children and young people’s positive behaviour.

The course is delivered online plus 4 days summer residential study at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, UK. The course is delivered in English.*

* Travel costs from the student’s location to Cheltenham are not included in the course fee


Course fees


*Fees include full board and accommodation at the ESTA Summer School.

** Travel costs from the student’s location to Chichester are not included in the course fee.

*** The summer school is a mandatory element of the course.

Entry requirements