I began taking drum lessons at a very early age and continued on and off with various teachers for the better part of twenty years. I will always be grateful to them for the knowledge and wisdom they imparted on me and for the positive influence they have had on my life, especially the ones with whom I really bonded and who were essentially mentors to me while I studied with them.
As a teacher, there is no better feeling than seeing a student make progress and knowing that you helped him or her along the way, while at the same time not taking the credit, as it is always the student who has the harder job, who must do the real work. I always feel tremendous satisfaction when a student masters a difficult rudimentary exercise for the first time, or is able to execute a challenging rhythm pattern on the drum set. The expression on their faces often conveys pride over their achievement, and I can often sense a boost in their self-esteem. This is why I teach.
I began playing drums when I was around twelve years old, and played throughout grade school, high school and college, in school jazz bands and musical pit bands, as well as playing in many rock bands over the years. I began teaching drums shortly after graduating from college, eventually relocating to New York City, where I lived for 12 years and where I continued playing and teaching, as well as taking lessons on and off. I was very fortunate to study with Joe Morello - famous for his tenure with Dave Brubeck and especially on the classic recording "Take Five." I have also played on several recordings, toured throughout the Northeast and Midwest, and have performed at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the Miami Music Festival, and have been overseas a few times for some European dates. Since moving to Orlando in late 2009, I have joined a cover band and played in the orchestras for musical productions at community theaters.
To me, teaching drums is more than simply writing notes on a page of manuscript paper and having students practice and perform exercises. It is about connecting and showing them how expressing themselves musically can be one of the most fulfilling activities one can pursue. It is also about helping them really get in touch with their own sense of rhythm, the foundation of all music. When I take on new students, it is always my goal that I can help foster in them the same passion for and love of learning to play drums as the great teachers who taught me.
*** Lesson Details ***
My lesson plan will be based on the student's level and goals. If the student is a beginner, we will start off with basic hand technique, rudiments, reading, etc., before moving on to the drum set. Playing along with a metronome will also be a regular part of lessons and should be with practice as well.
At the drum set, I will give students exercises for developing coordination and independence. They will also learn to play basic beats for different music styles, e.g. rock, jazz, funk, latin, with a focus on execution, time and feel. I have a wide assortment of drum books spanning all levels from which we can work out of or use examples. I also ask my students what songs they want to learn to play on the drums so that together we can figure out the beats to them. I ultimately want them to be able to transcribe the beats to these songs themselves, as well as create their own beats.
I may also talk a little about the history of drumming and the pioneers of the instrument, and we may also listen to records and watch videos of some of the masters in action.
I also occasionally like to "jam" with my students. as I have a piano and a few guitars in my practice room and a modicum of ability on both instruments.
As far as expectations, I assume my students are taking lessons because they want to learn to play the drums. And, as with any learning endeavor, practicing is very important. That said, I won't demand they practice a certain number of hours per week, as they need to decide how much time they have or are willing to put into it, and I expect this will vary from student to student. I realize that everyone has his or her own aptitudes and situations, so we can work together to determine the appropriate pace and amount of material to cover per week. However, if it appears to me that the student has not practiced the lesson, or is not putting in the time necessary to make progress, I will politely point it out and ask how I can help.
I am laid back and very patient. I never want my students to feel pressured or anxious about coming to lessons; I always strive to create a comfortable and relaxed environment in which they can learn and have fun at the same time.
*** Studio Equipment ***
A designated music room with an electronic drum set (Roland V Drums), digital piano, and a couple of guitars and amplifiers
*** Travel Equipment ***
I can bring a practice pad or snare drum and sticks to the first lesson, if he or she is a beginner, although I prefer them to have these already if possible. After that, I expect the student to buy sticks, a pad and if necessary a stand to mount it, a metronome, music manuscript paper, and have a comfortable seat to sit on, if not a drum stool. If they are at the intermediate level and/or have already started on the drum set, then they need to have their own set in their home.
*** Specialties ***
Basic hand technique for beginners, eventually incorporating an extra limb, usually the bass drum first.
Rock and basic funk, jazz, and latin. Also basic musical notation. Ultimately, I would like the student to be able to transcribe the beats from some of their favorite songs, as well as write their own!