By Karen Stafford
Roland Rhythm Coach and V-Practice Pad
Percussion has always been an important part of child development. From the first pot-banging experiments on the kitchen floor to the Timpani in the high school band and orchestra, children have always enjoyed percussion.
The new RMP-1 Rhythm Coach Pack is an electronic practice pad that lets students practice with 28 different drum sounds only THEY can hear. The Rhythm Coach Pack’s mesh practice pad and sound module provide everything students need to work on their technique privately at home or in school. With a built-in metronome and battery or AC operation, students can practice anywhere.
Roland was very good about letting me use a Rhythm Coach Pack on approval for 90 days to test it out. I think this could turn out to be a percussion parent’s best friend! With the quiet mesh pad and headphones, practicing rhythms can result in much more peace in the family!
Included in the Pack are the practice pad, module, connections, headphones, carrying case, a pair of sticks, two instruction manuals (one for the pad and one for the module), plus a main pamplet and practice CD.
The Module (pictured above) itself features 28 drum and percussion sounds, including snares, bass drums,and marching quad toms. There is an advanced metronome system that supports time signatures up to 13 beats per measure, and 11 different metronome sounds, including a “voice” count exclusive to Roland. The unique “Coach Mode” has training functions that help develop timing, accuracy, speed, and stanima.The display tells you if you are ahead of or behind the beat. It can also be set for accelerando or ritardando. Another mode “drops out,” forcing you to keep good time until the metronome beat returns. The module runs either on batteries or AC operation. You can also practice to other sources via the stereo 1/8″ input. The RM-2 has a little speaker for when you separate it from the pad and use it as a metronome.
I had fun with this! The CD and the lesson book are super, and the different modules help a budding percussionist simulate different situations. The metronome can be set not only to the beat, but a variety of subdivisions of the beat and typical patterns. Best of all, with the headphones, a percussion student can take the Coach Pack just about anywhere. The pack came with a convenient carrying case. So, a percussionist can practice in the band room, at Grandma’s, or anywhere without disturbing anyone else, and get instant feedback and monitoring. The CD and manual are great for self-evaluation. The Coach Mode is the perfect tool for fine-tuning the feel for the beat. And, if a percussionist can’t keep a beat, the rest of the band is in big trouble!
The Roland Rhythm Coach Pack retails for approximately $250.00. Personally, I feel this product should be introduced at instrument display gatherings for beginning percussion students as a viable alternative to the normal practice pad. With its ability to help a student practice without disturbing Dad’s TV watching, the self-motivation of the Coach Mode, the variety of the settings, and handy accessories, a student is bound to want to spend as much time as possible fine-tuning his or her skills, and practicing them correctly!