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Working with advanced students is always a pleasure. They’re highly motivated, have plenty of playing experience, listen to a lot of music, and usually have a specific direction in mind. 

For students at this level I concentrate primarily on the drum set, but I also teach the basic techniques taught to me by Murray Spivack and Richard Wilson, which introduce concepts such as the wrist turn, rebound, upstroke, downstroke, fulcrum, guide, balancing point, and floor of the stroke. 

For drum set playing I look at control, balance, relaxation, independence (or interdependence, as John Riley calls it), time and groove, phrasing, soloing, reading skills, and other elements while exploring a variety of contemporary styles. 

  Advanced Students


Advanced Students  

Although I use plenty of original material when I teach, there are a variety of excellent drum books I enjoy working from as well. Among these are the John Riley books (The Art of Bop Drumming, Beyond Bop Drumming, and The Jazz Drummer’s Workshop), Peter Erskine's The Erskine Method for Drum Set, Jim Payne’s Advanced Funk Drumming, and classics such as Stick Control, Accents and Rebounds, Master Studies, and Syncopation.

Instructional DVDs are also an effective learning tool, particularly those that include play-along audio tracks with accompanying drum charts. Tommy Igoe’s Groove Essentials 1.0 and 2.0 are exceptional in this regard, providing intermediate and advanced students the opportunity to practice dozens of grooves in a number of styles with a contemporary rhythm section.

For a complete list, see the Materials page.

 


  Other developmental concepts include:
  • thinking musically
  • listening objectively
  • improving touch and feel
  • getting a better sound
  • playing with conviction
  • finding your voice
  • reducing tension
  • eliminating clutter
  • stimulating creativity
  • hearing musical phrases
  • improvising within a group
  • utilizing dynamics
  • understanding form
  • staying mentally focused
  • maintaining a positive attitude
  • establishing healthy practice habits
  • organizing practice material
  • setting goals
 

Advanced Page - testimonials


Depending on the needs of the student, lesson objectives can be quite specific. For example, if a young jazz drummer wants to open up his or her approach to playing time in a small group situation, we might look at things such as:

 
Advanced Page  
  • establishing a dialogue between the ride cymbal, snare drum, bass drum, and hi-hat
  • adding color and nuance through crescendos, decrescendos, and ghost notes
  • creating tension by playing over bar lines and phrase endings
  • exaggerating contrasts [light/dark, high/low, loud/soft, long/short, fast/slow, tight/loose]
  • varying the resolution points in the bar
  • superimposing an implied time feel over an existing one [such as playing 3/4 phrases while in 4/4]
  • exploring metric modulation [example: the quarter note triplet becomes the new quarter note, then coming back the dotted quarter note becomes the original quarter note]
  • hearing the spaces between the notes
Although I consider myself a jazz musician, I’ve played every type of music imaginable in my 30-plus years as a working drummer in Los Angeles. Versatility is a necessary skill for anyone who chooses to play music for a living. Whether playing jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop, driving a big band, doing a movie or TV date, working behind a singer, or playing with the symphony, it’s essential to be able to handle anything that’s thrown your way.