Teacher in times of Corona: Arie Verhaar

Teacher in times of Corona: Arie Verhaar
Subject? Rhythmic Training, Pop department
Which years? 1 and 2 (10-12 hours/week)
Lives in? Rotterdam

“For this new situation you have to develop a new routine,” says Arie Verhaar. “It takes a little getting used to, but it’s also exciting.” His subject – Rhythmic Training – is one of the music theoretical subjects. “This discipline is not about the tonal aspects, but about the aspect of time in music. It’s about rhythm, subdivision, tempo, and structure. There are many parallels with learning a language. When you hear something, you must be able to write it down, and if you see something that is written down, you must be able to perform it.”

Arie already started developing an electronic learning environment last year. “I was wondering how I could help students practice at home. Initially, I made practice material available in Canvas. Canvas has recently been replaced by Brightspace, which is now used everywhere at Codarts. So, at first it was mainly about sharing a lot of information. Now that physical classes have been cancelled and everything has to be done online, I took a closer look at the whole process. I am now using more of Brightspace’s functionality. It is a complete platform for giving out assignments, uploading videos, delivering feedback, and posting messages. It’s all working quite well. The big advantage is that I can now provide each student with personal feedback, which brings great results.”

Arie uses Zoom only when students inform him that they have really hit a major obstacle. “Then we make an online appointment, but I don’t see myself talking about rhythm for a group of students on Zoom for a full hour.” As a teacher of a theoretical subject, the current situation is less troublesome for him than it is for the main subject teachers, Arie realises. “Especially for those teaching bass or drums.”

Most students find his subject interesting and useful, says Arie. “Especially when I make a connection with the practice. For instance, by having them write a part for a substitute in their band.” Arie is also one of the four coaches of the skills bands (years 1-3).

Light music
And he is a drummer. “In the late 1990s I studied ‘light music’ at what was then the Rotterdam Conservatory. In 1999, in my fourth year as a student, I started here as a substitute teacher. That was when the Pop department was founded, so I have been here since the very beginning.” Recently, in the first half of March, Arie was still touring. “Two weeks in a van all across Germany, with gigs in Hamburg, Osnabrück, Düsseldorf, Braunschweig, and Bonn. Staying in hotels. And then suddenly… nothing. It’s a bizarre feeling.”

Arie tries to play every day. “I have a drum studio in my basement. I have reconfigured my drum kit to a MIDI setup, with mesh heads and triggers. My computer sends what I play to my headphones. In this way I can play the drums and record drum parts for songs for others without annoying the neighbours.”

Arie is also doing a Master’s Education and Innovation at the Marnix Academy in Utrecht. “I am now in my second year and I hope to complete my studies this academic year. Because of the tour in Germany I am now slightly behind, but now that there are no more concerts at all, I have the time to catch up.”

Arie Verhaar at home at his desk. Photo by himself.


Header: Arie Verhaar at a recent performance in Hoofddorp. Photo by Anna Smakman.