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.

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

Andy Gleadhill

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

15 Credits
15 Credits
15 Credits
15 Credits
Teaching strategies Learning to play Developing effective curricula Teaching effective technique
PG DIP ESTAPG05: 30 Credits ESTAPG06: 30 Credits
Teaching Individuals Creative Repertoire
Teacher and Student Learning Process

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 receiving weekly lessons (as if they were a beginner/student. These will be recorded.

Semester 2 delves into planning, reacting to, and working with different students. In this semester students will observe the recorded lessons. These will include 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

  • £9,950.00 UK Residents
  • £12,950.00 Overseas Resident

£9,750.00 For members of the following UK organisations

  • ISM members (UK residents only)

Students who already hold an ESTA PG Cert and are joining the 2nd year of the MA.

  • £5,950.00 UK Residents
  • £7,450.00 Overseas Resident

*Fees include full board and accommodation at the ESTA Summer School.
** Travel costs from the student’s location to Cheltenham are not included in the course fee.
*** The summer school is a mandatory element of the course.

Entry requirements

There are two routes in to this programme:

1. Completed ESTA PG Cert

This programme has the distinctive feature of welcoming students who have completed the ESTA PG Cert Teaching, a programme delivered by ESTA UK. The PG Cert is available in all instrumental and vocal specialisms and the credits from this count as RPL (requirements of prior learning) for the first four taught modules on this MA. In the ESTA PG Cert students are taught in dedicated, small groups based on their instrumental family specialism, and benefit from a staff of internationally renowned teachers and practitioners. Students will network and develop links within the profession in both their instrument specialism and across instruments through the ESTA staff. All staff are qualified, established professionals currently working within the field of music teaching and performing.

2. Students can apply directly to join this MA from the beginning.

  • Applicants must hold a degree (which does not have to be in musical studies) that was taught or researched in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above, or be able to demonstrate performance skills at licentiate diploma level (level 6) in music on the instrument they plan to study, alongside teaching experience.
  • Alternatively, they may hold an appropriate English language qualification that must be acceptable to the University of Chichester.
  • Applicants are expected to be proficient as musicians, demonstrating a performance level of a minimum standard equivalent to Grade 8 ABRSM or Trinity College London.
  • All applicants must have access to an online working environment. Skype will be used for mentor/student interaction on the course.
  • All applicants will be interviewed face-to-face in their own country or via Skype.

What you need

Students will need online access (at home) before, during and immediately following participation on the course. They will also need the facility to make simple audio and video recordings throughout the course (most smartphones and laptops will have this facility). These will be needed for:

  • Webinars: These will be prepared and delivered by the course leader, members of the mentor panel and invited guest presenters. Webinars will take the form of pre-recorded video presentations with accompanying audio-visual and reading material, each coupled with setting of follow-up work for students.
  • Videos of teaching: Students are required to submit  videos of themselves teaching. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain written permission from: the student they are teaching; the student they are teaching’s parent/carer or responsible adult, and the school or institution, where appropriate.
  • Follow-up work may include student discussion online (synchronous or asynchronous) or completion of questionnaires or submission of brief written statements.

Time commitment

Online classes take as much time as regular on-campus classes. You need to set aside sufficient time for study. Plan to spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course. We recommend that you need to set aside 12-15 hours for study per week in order to get the maximum benefit from the course.


Students enrolled on the ESTA MA course are expected to attend and participate fully in all study sessions set out in the course documentation and Handbook.

We understand that musicians are often reluctant to turn down playing opportunities but it is unacceptable to use last minute playing engagements as an excuse to miss study sessions.

Please refer to the course website for details about computer literacy, levels of engagement and our student code of conduct. The course is delivered in the English language.

University of Chichester In-House Test.

The University of Chichester also offers a FREE TESTING service to students applying to Chichester. The test is an IELTS equivalent and is for students who are already in the UK or who are applying through one of our authorised agents in country.