27 years teaching experience
Patient and creative approach; move at your own pace; beginners and children are welcome
Deepen your understanding of movement and breath; develop a powerful, fluid technique; play with grace and subtlety
Explore drumming styles: rock, funk, small group and big band jazz, blues, fusion, R&B, hip hop, afrobeat, Latin and Caribbean styles, West-African rhythms, classical Indian themes, New Orleans and second line grooves
Develop reading and transcription skills
Improve your ability to communicate intelligently with other musicians
Help prepare for concerts, auditions and recitals
Extensive library of recorded music, videos, method books and transcriptions
60 minute lesson | $90
45 minute lesson | $75
30 minute lesson | $50
Master classes | Children's classes | Group Lessons | Performances
Please send a message with your request
*Photo by Selian Hebald*
In the end all things remain flexible, bending toward what feels right in a given situation. But please give the items below some thought. These are the agreements I present to all of my students, but are especially important for children. They are the materials, commitments, and tools students need to get started. If you are a reading this as the parent of a student please look this over with your child.
Students should come on time and prepared for each lesson with the items below. Parents often ask what age is appropriate to begin lessons. This varies widely and depends on the teacher as much as it does the child. Much music can be made with toddlers and even infants, but the architecture of the drum set requires some sophistication. My rule of thumb: if a child is able to keep track of her lesson book, then she is old enough to begin.
Cancellations require at least 24 hours notice. I realize that things come up, they do for me as well, and I try to be as flexible as I can, but I often don’t have available times for makeups. With proper notice, and if a makeup isn’t possible, the lesson can be credited toward the following month.
Living a musical life, engaging with music and art and movement in as many ways possible is the best route to mastery. Assuming that there is some desire to specifically improve as a drum set player you will have to practice. Active listening and playing with other musicians is just as important, and is its own form of practice. Creating a space and making time for practice can be challenging. My advice is to make your practice space inviting and convenient. If you must put the drums in the basement or garage, make sure the space is clean, uncluttered and well lit. If you are playing on your own, it’s usually best to face the drums into the wall. The kit takes up less space that way, and rather than climb around the drums into a tight corner you can just walk right up and sit down. Removing a small obstacle like that can make a difference. Don't underestimate the power of creating an esthetic and inspiring space for making music.
Not every week will be a model practice week, and sometimes it’s not possible to get behind a kit at all, but time with the instrument is an expected part of the work we do. Everything from the lesson, including practice instructions should be laid out in your lesson book. If there are questions about how or what to practice, don't be afraid to get in touch with me. I am happy to help or clarify things between lessons.
For children I recommend at least 15 minutes of practice, four times per week. It seems to work best if this time is scheduled. I highly recommend setting a timer in 5 or 10 minute increments and organizing the practice in that way. When the timer dings, you move on. Drumming requires LOTS of repetition. You are building muscle memory, so prepare yourself for playing the same idea 20, 50, 100 times. Playing one idea consistently for five minutes can be a challenge. But it is such an important skill for a young drummer to master. As an example for children:
For parents, it is important to help plan and encourage this time. Rather than diminish a child's inspiration it places value on the work we do together, reduces frustration, and the success it fosters quickly builds confidence. Drum lessons are not sustainable unless real work is happening between lessons. If practice isn't your thing, likely lessons won't be the best choice for improving on the instrument.
A drum set can be a serious investment for a family - they can be expensive, bulky and loud. But every musician needs an instrument. A drum pad is not enough. You wouldn’t provide a young violin student with a slab of wood with painted-on strings and expect her to learn to play. Within the first two months of lessons, students should have a functional drum set and the accessories listed below. Please look for the suggested brands and models, although for the drums themselves there are many fine options other than the ones listed. It’s very important, for example, that the headphones have sound isolation and proper db protection. The links will guide you to suggested outlets for purchase though there are many local options as well - Starving Musician in Berkeley is my favorite. Online I like Musicians Friend and Amazon because they are reliable, carry most things I am looking for, and Musician's Friend will match any advertised price online or in print. Drum sets can sometimes be found used for as little as $100 on Craig’s List. I am happy to help with the selection of a kit that falls within your budget. If finances are an issue, I understand completely, but please let me know at the start. Otherwise I will expect these things to be in hand.
There are so many options here I leave it up to you, but it’s important that the player is portable and has a headphone output. This is an often overlooked but critical addition to any musician’s tool bag. Without a connection to music and songs, a drummer is lost in the water. Songs can be had in many places online for free and on iTunes for about $1 each - a tiny investment in your or your child’s musical life. If we are working on a song, it should be downloaded onto the player and brought to the lesson.
These items are not necessarily required but they can add some dimension to a drummer's sound, and especially the drum mutes make everyone's life better.
Learning to play an instrument is like learning to speak. How you approach the process has a direct impact on your depth of understanding, clarity, strength of voice, how quickly you gain fluency, and the success with which you make yourself understood. Do you start with vocabulary? Rules of grammar? (please no) Phonics? Cultural immersion? In fact, all of us as toddlers begin the process the the same way through listening, mimicry and improvisation. It is an extremely well tested method for which our brains are uniquely programmed.
As soon as we sound out our first words and start to punch them together into simple sentences we crave more, because we have more to say. Our desire to be better understood drives us to expand our vocabulary. We learn to read and write, and the speed with which we absorb information grows exponentially. Eventually we study the intricacies of grammar and syntax in order to deepen our understanding and refine our voice. Finally we are fluent and communicate effortlessly without thinking, letting our emotions guide us. This sequencing allows for a beautiful unfolding of ideas and fosters natural curiosity and creativity. At each step we experience the subject fully, gradually widening the horizon and deepening our experience.
So, technique, reading and writing, coordination and rudiments are only valuable insofar as it contributes to a drummer’s ability to communicate. Lessons are designed to address the various physical challenges of drumming, with the goal of nurturing a fluent and artistic voice on the instrument. This allows the world of music and rhythm to unfold in the most compelling way.
A lesson can be organized in a number of ways, and much of what happens depends upon you. My only agenda is to create a comfortable environment for learning and to help manifest your musical aims. The atmosphere in my studio is casual and relaxed. I believe this is the most useful way to approach any type of creative learning. Although there are an endless number of possibilities to explore, by approaching the complexity of drum set performance with simplicity and ease many of the most frustrating obstacles to mastery fall away.
Drumming comes naturally to children. They are drawn to sound and rhythm as a natural and immediate means of expression. Often a baby's first toy is a rattle, and sonic exploration is an important part of development. This inborn connection to sound and vibration is mostly drowned out by our culture, and often as a child matures, she loses that powerful connection to her own rhythmic spirit. Drumming nurtures a love of rhythm and music. It encourages the development of the whole child, enhancing a range of social, physical and cognitive skills.
My lessons with younger children are somewhat different than lessons with adults and teens. Concepts are presented in the form of games and play - an approach strongly influenced by Orff Schulwerk. I often begin with simple vocalizations and body percussion, adding instruments and sticks as basic skills are mastered. We spend time listening to music, developing the ear and describing various aspects of form, tempo and feel. I always encourage creativity and improvisation and try to incorporate as much movement as possible. My goal is to help children think about and express themselves through music, hopefully providing a powerful outlet for expression.
What age is appropriate to start fostering rhythmic understanding? Below is a link to a fascinating article on beat induction. The research indicates that newborn infants as young as three days old are able to detect the beat in music! That said, the drum set presents certain physical hurdles that can be troublesome for children younger than five or six. You might consider Orff-based group lessons for younger children. The variety and social interaction in this type of work can be enticing.
Music lessons are known to improve a child’s performance in school. Studies show that preschoolers who received regular music lessons for several months showed marked advantages compared to their playmates who did not. These children dramatically improved their ability to work mazes, copy patterns of color, and draw geometric figures. These skills reflect spatial intelligence, the foundation for more complex types of reasoning, like those used in math and science.
Studies with children in grades K - 6 link early musical exposure to superior motor skills and even improved social abilities. Hands-on participation in music between the ages of three and ten seems to train the brain for higher thinking and social interaction.
Music stimulates every area of the developing brain. The U.S. Department of Education reports that learning to read and interpret music enhances a student’s abilities in reading, listening, analyzing, anticipating, forecasting, concentration and recall. Other studies show that high school music students maintain higher grade point averages than non-music students in the same schools, and young musicians perform consistently well on achievement tests, representing the highest SAT scores in all areas.
The fact that DRUMMING IS FUN should not be underestimated. It will capture and hold a child’s interest and satisfy his craving for fun, while providing lessons that extend far beyond the instrument itself.