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Beats in the Bay: Drum Lessons in San Francisco

By Jeff W. - San Francisco Drum Teacher

My name is Jeff and I teach drums in the Peninsula, which covers all the cities between San Jose and San Francisco. I’ve been teaching for five years, and playing drums for 17 years. My favorite styles are pop and funk because of the sweet grooves and accents.

San Francisco is a great place to learn drums. Think about the drumming from Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Santana, Metallica, Third-Eye Blind, Green Day, and Rancid; those are just a few of the legends to come out of the Bay Area.

With so many well-qualified teachers in San Francisco, aspiring drummers can feel confident about learning to play a new instrument.

Drum lessons in San Francisco are fun, and aspiring drummers have access to live music of all genres seven days a week. Here are some of the awesome venues you can explore:

Bottom of the Hill

With live shows almost every night, you can check out local, up-and-coming, and well-known artists. The Bottom of the Hill was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as “the best place to hear live music in San Francisco.”

Davies Symphony Hall

This is the perfect spot for drummers who are interested in classical music and percussion. Make sure to reserve your spot in the pit section for the best view of the percussionists at work.

The SFJAZZ Center

With over 300 performances each year, the SFJAZZ Center is the mecca for jazz in the city. The SFJAZZ Center also offers listening parties, live drum/instrumentalist scores, and a discovering jazz class.

Farley’s Coffee Need caffeine fix to get you amped on learning the drums? Check out Farley’s Coffee in Portero Hill!

With its unique history and rich culture, San Francisco is a great place to experience music and learn to play drums. I love seeing students learn and grow as drummers, so if you sign up for drum lessons in San Francisco, maybe I’ll see you soon!

Time to go teach, -Jeff W.

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John D.

Berkeley, CA

With over 10 years of experience with all ages. I use a combination of method books and real live jamming to give students the full picture of what it means to play drums. Students can learn their favorite music, and get a chance to perform it with professional musicians. Regarding hand drums: While living in Brazil or West Africa, I learned authentic hand drum techniques and have stacks of notebooks with materials for learning the music of Latin America, West Africa, and the Caribbean.

About John

*** Lesson Details ***
My students will develop a passion for music and a desire to play!

I like to get right to the experience of actually playing music. I start with learning songs, drum beats, and chord progressions and get to technique and music reading AFTER we have had some fun.

My key to successful teaching is to create a custom curriculum for each student. Some students are interested in the details of how to do it "right", and others just want to rock. I try to adapt to different learning styles and musical goals to give each student an ideal experience.

I want student
s to learn how to play, not just how to read or do drills. We will listen to music together, and talk about the function of each instrument. For drummers, I play bass lines on the piano and we lock into a groove. For piano students, I play along with drums or percussion. It's important for students to learn how to play with others, and to listen and get inspired by what's around them.

Students will have the option to perform in a student recital where you are backed by a band of professional musicians!

***John D.'s Biography***

I was born in Amsterdam, Holland, where my father worked as an opera singer. While listening to vocal warm-up arpeggios, my mother bounced me on her knee and taught me rhythms and rhymes.

In my family we beatbox, play piano, and sing together. The family moved to the States in 1995 where my parents worked as music teachers. My Dad is a voice professor at the University of Wisconsin, and my Mom runs an amazing music program at Country View Elementary School in Verona, WI.

I played in the band program throughout high-school and had an amazing and demanding music teacher and highly talented friends. The drumset became my passion and I played, blissfully and recklessly, as often possible. Our teacher took the high school band on a concert tour of Europe in 2002 in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy.

The band program led me to classical and contemporary music at the University of Wisconsin, where I honed my craft and discovered the profound breadth of music around the world. I paid my way through college as a member of the WI Army National Guard Band, a great wind ensemble with jazz and rock band components, and slowly built a career as a musician. I took every gig that came my way and created my own if nobody was calling. Pretty soon I became "œthe guy in, like, 8 different bands", including Funk, Rock, Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and West African bands. I've been working as a musician ever since, performing several nights per week, and teaching during the day.

I began teaching drum lessons to my friends when I was about 18 and realized I was really good at it. I began taking on private students and teaching group lessons and classes. Students of mine have achieved the highest ranks at the State Solo and Ensemble Festival in Wisconsin, and auditioned into the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. I am on the annual faculty Wildcat Percussion Camp, was adjunct faculty at New York University, and directed the world percussion ensemble at the University of Wisconsin. I've worked as a teacher with the Madison Area School District, Wisconsin Youth Company, YMCA, Global Arts to Go, University Settlement, and in many different public schools in the New York metro area. I taught a high school class called "The Spirit of Jazz", and

I've learned how to be a real teacher, to put myself in your shoes to help you achieve your potential as a drummer, and as a musician. My teaching style is to de-mystify the art of percussion: getting great sounds out of the drums, being prepared for any style, practicing productively, and focusing your mind.

I have a Bachelor's degree in classical percussion from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters degree in Jazz Performance from NYU, and have traveled to Africa, Europe, and Latin America to perform, record, and study. I have performed with Badal Roy (Miles Davis), Chris Potter, Kenny Werner, Brad Shepik, Lenny Pickett, Chuchito Valdez, and many other great musicians. I was Adjunct Faculty at NYU'™s jazz program, and at the University of Wisconsin dance program. I've given masterclasses at Juilliard, University of Michigan, Lawrence Conservatory, and many other colleges. I played for 5 months in the Off-Broadway show "Fun Home", and toured and gigged with a wide variety of bands.

I've recorded on nearly 20 albums and have been involved in many other projects. Ask me anything you want in our music lessons!
...

Reviews

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Mike T. September 22, 2014
Percussion · In studio
I have been a colleague of John's for 16 years and he has always impressed me with his constant dedication to the craft of music. Though he is incredibly talented, he has always been one that works hard and asks questions without fear. In my experience, this is the kind of person that makes the best teachers. He has always loved music, drums, all percussion and more recently has been learning so much about music technology and how to express yourself with any media available. It would be a shame to pass up an opportunity to study with him!
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Daniel P. August 24, 2014
Drum · In studio
I was pretty new to drumming when I first started taking lessons from John, and I could barely play a simple back beat. Long story short - within 6 months I was playing my first show!

I was looking for a teacher with both rock/jazz and classical background, so John fit the bill perfectly. He also knows a lot about Latin American percussion and other styles from around the world, and has a great understanding of how these different styles relate to each other and the various techniques which can be applied.

During the first few lessons, we discussed my background and aims, and came up with a solid plan for how I should proceed. John's broad experience was really helpful for this process. I had been playing guitar and piano for many years before I started on drums, so I already had a decent grounding in musicality and theory. We therefore focused mainly on technique during lessons. John has a real gift for explaining things in an easily understandable way, as well as going into detail when required. Whenever I had trouble with a particular technique, John's advice would help me overcome it. He is also very helpful in suggesting suitable exercises and repertoire. John also provides a private blog containing lesson notes and useful links, and he was also happy for me to record lessons, which I found very useful. With John's help, I was able to progress pretty quickly, and after 6 months I started playing in a band with some friends, which has been awesome fun.

John is super friendly and engaging, and this makes lessons with him great fun. As well as being a fantastic drummer, it is clear that he really cares about the quality of his lessons, and about his students. I'm sure he would make a great teacher for students of all ability/background. John, you rock! Thanks!
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Annie H. October 13, 2013
Drum
Verified Student
Great Musician & Great Teacher

My son started taking lessons with John when he was 7. During the past few months my son has become more aware of the music around him. He looks forward to drums every week. John has great patients and is amazing at connected with children. He is able to keep my son focused, which can be a hard task of itself. He offers instruction while still valuing the individual's personality and taste. John not only shares his knowledge and personal experiences, but his passion.

I would recommend John to anyone in a heartbeat.
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John D.

John D.

Berkeley, CA 94708
(4)
starting at
$30 / 30-min
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Anthony S.

Oakland, CA

I can teach drum kit techniques, marching or concert band and orchestral percussion.

About Anthony

My latest article for TAKELESSONS:
http://takelessons.com/blog/ukulele-or-guitar-for-kids-zo1

I have a BA in Music from CUNY College of Staten Island and a MM in Composition from CUNY Brooklyn College. I have been teaching Music in NYC Public Schools since 2005 where I have taught thousands of students ages 5 through 14; General Music and Instrumental studies. I have taught private lessons as young as 4 and as mature as 65. In addition to my work as an educator, I am a working musician and composer most recently working on a Chidlren's songbook titled SENSITIVE SAM, and video game musi
c for the iPhone, iPad and iPod APP titled Tin Man Can released by Chillingo and Red Candy Games.
I use my creativity to engage my students, teaching them musical empowerment by learning how to improvise and compose their own music. My primary instruments can be found in any rock band (guitar, bass, drums, etc.) however I have extensive experience and success in teaching string and wind instruments. I am a fun and outgoing person who loves talking about music or just about anything, I would be happy to be your music teacher!

*** Lesson Details ***
I have a laid back personality but I stress self discipline in my lessons. I teach students to be their own boss! I want my students to take responsibility of their education because unlike the subjects that we NEED to learn for life, music can be the one thing we choose to learn to enrich our minds and spirit. I always begin my lessons with just getting to know the instrument, making sounds and noises and improvising on whatever the student already knows. I then proceed to rudiments, taking the student into understanding music as a subject and how to transfer things on a page or sounds in their ear to the instrument. I have a preferred way to teach and a curriculum I use, however I will ask the student what their goals are at the beginning and always keep my instruction steadily aimed at achieving those goals. After three to six months, students will be able to sight read simple melodies and chord names, as well as play some of their favorite songs and some classics.

*** Travel Equipment ***
I can provide a computer, music stand, manuscript paper, stickers and a sense of humor.

*** Specialties ***
I have taught Suzuki and Orff methods as well as traditional notational reading. I prefer to teach music reading to students ages 8 and up. I teach instruments, theory/ composition as well as songwriting.
...

Reviews

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Q'orianka May 20, 2015
Piano · In home
Verified Student
We love Anthony! Great teacher!
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Renate K. December 12, 2014
Guitar · In home
Verified Student
Our (then) 8 years old daughter took guitar lessons by Anthony last year. Anthony is a great teacher with a lot of humor, patience and expertise. It worked perfectly for our daughter and she loved the lessons and learned a lot. We would highly recommend Anthony to others.
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Katie M. November 22, 2014
Guitar · In home
Verified Student
Anthony is a fantastic guitar instructor for our 7 year old son. He is patient and clear, kind and fun-loving. My son is learning quickly and looks forward to his lesson time with Anthony. Anthony is always punctual and professional. We highly recommend Anthony as a guitar teacher.
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Anthony S.

Anthony S.

Oakland, CA 94611
(3)
starting at
$35 / 30-min
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Anna C.

Emeryville, CA

I tailor lessons to the needs and interests of each individual student, doing my best to ensure that all students gain enjoyment and appreciation not only for drums, but also for music as a whole. In general, I focuses on teaching technique and efficiency, reading music, and developing listening skills.

To improve music reading skills, I often use the classic books Syncopation and The Funky Primer (aka the bible of rock and funk drumming). For younger beginners, the Alfred's Kid's Drum Course is one of my favorite methods for learning to read music and for learning general music concepts that the kids can apply to any instrument they may choose to pursue in the future.

For building technique, speed, and endurance, I like to introduce students to standard rudiments (they are like the scales for drummers). I also like to encourage students to try to play a rudiments and other exercises along to their favorite songs, since this is a fun way to not only keep a steady tempo, but ...

About Anna

Anna is a San Francisco Bay Area native. A professional drummer for over ten years, Anna has performed, recorded and toured with countless groups of various music styles. Her education includes a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley (where she was a member of the Cal Band for four years), and Certificates in Commercial Music and Recording Arts from Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA.

Anna is not only known throughout the United States as a drummer, but also as a concert producer, live sound engineer, record producer, booking agent, tour manager, web designer, graphic de
signer and instructor. Her teaching experience ranges from preschool education to private instruction to high school drum line. Anna is the director of Music Time Academy, a music lessons/recording studio and retail store in Livermore, CA. Anna is also the owner of Smiling Politely Presents (a production company that has produced hundreds of local shows in the Bay Area) and Hella Buttons (a button manufacturing company that has pressed tens of thousands of buttons for bands).

Anna can currently be seen performing with many groups including: Muncie (American Rock), West Grand Blvd (Motown/R&B/Soul), Seth Chapla Band (Rock/Blues), and Jump Back (50s covers).

*** Lesson Details ***
I tailor lessons to the needs and interests of each individual student, doing my best to ensure that all students gain enjoyment and appreciation not only for drums, but also for music as a whole. In general, I focuses on teaching technique and efficiency, reading music, and developing listening skills.

To improve music reading skills, I often use the classic books Syncopation and The Funky Primer (aka the bible of rock and funk drumming). For younger beginners, the Alfred's Kid's Drum Course is one of my favorite methods for learning to read music and for learning general music concepts that the kids can apply to any instrument they may choose to pursue in the future.

For building technique, speed, and endurance, I like to introduce students to standard rudiments (they are like the scales for drummers). I also like to encourage students to try to play a rudiments and other exercises along to their favorite songs, since this is a fun way to not only keep a steady tempo, but also to make the repetitive practice less monotonous.

I try to balance out the sometimes dry and mathematical reading and rudiment work with more artistic and musical ideas, making sure that no matter how much you study and learn from books, you still always remember that you are practicing the art of music making. This includes working on songs of the student's choosing (which I can pull up on online, in case the student does not own the recordings) and working on improvisation.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Music Time Academy: Large, sound-treated room with one drum set for the student, with practice drum pads for me to play along with.
Home Music Studio: One set of drums in a room of the house dedicated entirely to music

Parents are always welcome to sit in on lessons at either location.

*** Travel Equipment ***
For in-home lessons, I would expect the student to have their own drums and preferably a music stand. I can bring in books and other teaching materials, however it is best if students purchase their own copies of the books we use regularly.

*** Specialties ***
I teach all styles of drumming. My performing and teaching experience mainly falls in the categories of rock, funk, blues, pop, R&B, soul and jazz. I have 8+ years of experience with marching drum line (tenor drums/quads, snare, cymbals) and have training in classical percussion as well.
...
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Anna C.

Anna C.

Emeryville, CA 94608
starting at
$30 / 30-min
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Gabriel D.

San Francisco, CA

I have much experience playing the drum kit and hand percussion instruments in various contexts, and am familiar with drum/percussion techniques for various genres and styles of music.

About Gabriel

I first began playing the piano when I was six years old, and later in my childhood I also took on playing guitar, drums, and bass guitar. While my musical training began with classical music, it didn't take long before I started exploring other fields, such as jazz, blues, rock and more. Being a multi-instrumentalist familiar with various genres of music is one of the factors that has led me to be a flexible teacher with a very open-minded approach. I understand that each student is different, has their own unique ways of learning, and has their own personal goals of what they want to get out
of music. Whatever those personal goals my be, I get a great deal of satisfaction out of helping each student achieve their goals in their musical journey. I will always try to challenge my students, but it is also important for me that the student is engaged and interested in the subject matter being covered, so I will adjust the subject matter accordingly.

I have a lot of experience teaching young children, as well as youths and adults. All experience levels are welcome- whether you don't know a single note or chord, or if you have been playing for a while and are looking to improve your skills and gain a better musical understanding, I will be happy to help you on your path.
...

Reviews

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Teresa G. January 29, 2015
Piano · In home
Verified Student
Teacher Gabe is a terrific communicator and very patient with my two young boys. He plays duet with them and also engages them with fun medleys to open their horizons to music. I highly recommend Teacher Gabe.
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Gabriel D.

Gabriel D.

San Francisco, CA 94122
(1)
starting at
$30 / 30-min
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Carmen C.

Emeryville, CA

"I teach all styles of drumming, but I try to match the student with the style that they love. It’s that love of music that will push them to try harder, reach farther and become a true musician. My students have the opportunity to learn how to read, write and transcribe drum charts as well how to maintain and tune their drums. I teach my students how to play along with recordings and encourage them to join a band or ensemble so that they can experience the joy of music from the start."

About Carmen

I have been a teacher and performer in the San Francisco Bay area for over 30 years.

I teach Rock, Blues, Jazz, Funk, Latin, and Classical styles on drum set and percussion instruments.

I provide all of the sheet music as well as the recordings that I utilize for the student's assignments.

I also provide Sibelius drum music, so that the student can play along with the music with their Ipad or other device.
...

Reviews

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Maria Farah Gwendolyn R. July 23, 2015
Drum · In home
Verified Student
Effective instructor. She spreads positivity and makes learning fun. The best indeed!
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Agata O. June 1, 2015
Drum · In studio
Carmen has been teaching drums to my now 10-year old son for three years. Her patience, extensive repertoire of teaching methods always adapted to his learning style and progress, her contagious energy and her love of all things drums kept my son's motivation high and let him grow his abilities. I am very proud and impressed when he reads drums scores or figures out the beat of a song. Perhaps the two hardest parts for this young man were learning to play with the metronome and regularly practicing his rudiments. Carmen's many teacher's tricks, including books, posters, recordings, apps and well timed challenges with awesome awards have helped him stay on track.

Carmen keeps detailed notes about each of her students so her attention is always spot on and personalized. She makes herself available for any questions outside the classroom. A great person to be around and a talented musician, Carmen will find a way to make you into the drummer you dream to be.
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Lawrence C. May 28, 2015
Drum · In studio
To learn a cool instrument, you need a cool teacher, and Carmen is the coolest! It's so fun to take her class. I even love it as a parent, hanging out during the lesson and I see why my 8 year old loves coming to class. She's a true professional and her passion is infectious.

Carmen also has a way with kids. She pays enough attention to the kid to figure out their personality and draws them out. Little prizes, lots of praise, and my kid is highly motivated to learn and even practice at home.

Carmen uses a lot of technology to help them practice at home. I wish we had that when I was a kid. And did I mention how cool she is?
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Carmen C.

Carmen C.

Emeryville, CA 94608
(14)
starting at
$45 / 30-min

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