My Perspective on teaching the drums

Many folks ask me about what drew to me to music and specifically the drums. The answer can be a bit lengthy but I think the drums sort of chooses you. I remember taking clarinet and trombone lessons back in middle school in my hometown of  Brentwood New York and loving the aspect of creating music collectively with a band but when I saw and heard the impact of what percussion and specifically the drum set can add to the music then I was hooked. The power of rhythm is huge and, in my humble opinion, can make or break an arrangement or tune. At the impressionable age of 12 years old I was completely addicted to the manipulation of rhythm and the ability to mimic melodies and create sounds.

Getting back to my story, I then experienced an ephiphany at around 16 years of age. One weeknight in front of the TV, I saw Steve Jordan perform on the Dave Letterman show with the show band and then Buddy Rich came out. I almost cried because I really thought that I was a pretty good drummer but then I realized I had yet put any effort to becoming a drummer like those cats.

Several years later while performing with a band in college I realized that my facility and technique was reaching a plateau. I graduated from college but decided to pursue the dream and seek the knowledge from the true drum masters. I went to the Long Island Drum Center and asked to take a drum lesson. Mike Abbate, a phenomenal drummer himself, looked me over and told me that Guy Gelso was giving lessons. Guy was an awesome drummer and great guy. He was touring locally with a great band named Zebra. We took a few lessons but he was very busy and not really available to teach on a regular basis. It was then I ran into Dom Famularo. Dom changed my life and got my priorities in order. He also set me up with Al Miller,  an awesome big band drummer/leader who tolerated my free spirited learning style and got me focused into sight reading and jazz. After several years of the Dom Famularo and Al Miller school of hard knocks, my playing began to turn around. I was suddenly landing just about every local gig I auditioned for and becoming well known in the local drum circles.  This formative time period really solidified my playing style and I forever owe these two drum teachers my facility and technique as not only a drummer but as a musician.

The important thing to realize is that we are forever growing as musicians and to realize that as drummers we owe it  to our craft to continue to pursue excellence and to remember to focus on the song. No matter how good our chops, how fast our hands or feet can play single strokes, or whether or not we can play in 15/16, the utmost goal is to support the song. Developing my musicianship will always be a perpetual journey and I will always reinforce this concept to my students. Timekeeping and rudiments are important but, in my humble opinion, being a musician that is expressive and supportive will always make you a serious contender for any serious gigs.

Periodically, I will post a blog or comment that will allow me to share my experiences and ideas with viewers. Feel free to comment and hope you enjoy my ideas and writings as much as I do.  

Below is a video example of a lesson on chart reading. The chart below is the drum chart for Brad Paisley's "Mud on Tires" which I transcribed see attached.