For those who would like to learn as much as possible about taking drum lessons with me, this page features an extremely thorough question-and-answer list.

Click on any of the questions below to read my in-depth response.

As you can probably tell from the pages of this website, I absolutely LOVE drumming. When I’m not playing drums, I am generally thinking about drums, talking about drums, reading about drums, writing about drums, or listening to drums! But the thing that sets me apart from most other instructors is my vast experience at teaching drums.

While it’s very common for a drummer to teach some lessons here and there “on the side,” it is very UNcommon for a drummer to teach as many lessons as I have taught. I knew from a young age that I wanted drum education to be a significant part of my musical career. Therefore, I began giving lessons—LOTS of lessons—from the moment that I first felt qualified to do so. That was back in 1996, and teaching drum lessons has actually been my full-time job for nearly all of the years since. So you can just imagine how many thousands and thousands of lessons I have ended up teaching so far!

This enormous number of lessons has enabled me to attain a level of teaching expertise that simply cannot be attained in any other way. It has also given me the rare opportunity to gradually develop and refine an outstanding curriculum. In fact, some of my personal teaching concepts have gained widespread recognition throughout the drumming world on account of my instructional DVD and my educational articles in Modern Drummer magazine.

Believe it or not…NO. At only about 100 years old, the modern drumset is actually one of the world’s youngest musical instruments. Because of this, the drumming community has not yet arrived at an established methodology that is accepted by the majority of instructors. Even basic concepts such as how exactly to hold a drumstick are frequent topics of debate amongst educators.

So what’s a student to believe, and who is a student to trust regarding the best ways to learn and practice drumming? From my perspective, the only solution is to find a teacher who has spent an enormous amount of time researching and studying drumming, preferably from numerous different sources and instructors. Only a teacher like that will be familiar with most of the differing viewpoints out there so that they can pick and choose the best ones to pass along to their students.

In my quest to be this type of teacher, I have collected a library of countless drumming books and videos, and I have personally taken lessons with 22 different drum instructors. About half of these instructors were people I met with once or twice so that I could get specific information. The other half were long-term mentors of mine, and include such people as the late Jim Chapin, one of the all-time legends of drumming education. In addition, I have spent many thousands of hours as an instructor myself, seeing firsthand what works and what doesn’t. From all of this, I have arrived at an unusually effective and comprehensive curriculum that is uniquely my own.

Of course, my exact teaching approach will vary somewhat from one student to the next. I probably wouldn’t interact the same way with a teenager as I would with a middle-aged business owner. I also probably wouldn’t teach a weekend hobbyist in precisely the same way that I would teach an aspiring professional drummer getting ready for a major audition. Part of my job is to be sensitive to the differences in the goals and personalities of the people I work with.

However, this is not to say that the actual content of my teaching will change from student to student…only that my pace and style of presentation might vary a bit. I believe that the fundamental skills of drumming are applicable to all students equally, and I try to help all of my students gain mastery over those skills. In doing so, I find it helpful to remember that there are 3 main aspects involved in learning to play the drums well – the physical aspect, the mental aspect, and the emotional aspect. The physical aspect includes such things as coordination exercises and stick technique. The mental aspect includes such things as counting rhythms and reading sheet music. The emotional aspect includes such things as learning the meaning behind a song and playing with the proper intensity level to produce a sincere performance.

While working with these 3 different aspects of drumming, I always strive to foster a fun and relaxed teaching environment. My students and I share our interest in music and have an enjoyable time developing our love for drumming together. Because of this, many of my students over the years have ended up becoming good friends of mine.

Yes! Over the years, I have played in numerous bands of various types. I started when I was a teenager, playing with rock bands in the clubs of the Connecticut rock scene. Once I moved to New York, I began drumming professionally in musical theatre “pit bands” as well as jazz bands. This allowed me to work with some extremely high-caliber artists, including many musical theatre stars and a handful of world-renowned jazz musicians. I also played on a Caribbean tour with a singing group and gigged around New York City with a terrific rock band called Whirl. I actually ended up performing on Manhattan Cable Television with Whirl when a program called “The Rhythms Of New York” did a half hour feature about us.

From 1999 to 2000, I even got a taste of the “big time” by touring the country with a major musical theatre show. This was not a small act living together in a van. We stayed in hotels and traveled with 2 full-sized tour buses plus an 18-wheeled truck for the props and scenery!

As an educator, I feel that these past performing experiences are a crucial part of my effectiveness. I could not teach my students how to play with other musicians if I had not done a good amount of it myself. I also could not teach them about the practical realities of doing drum gigs if I had not personally lived those realities. For these reasons, I am very grateful for my diverse performing background. However, during most of my music career, I have felt drawn to focus primarily on my educational efforts. In fact, when new performance opportunities arise, I often find myself recommending my advanced students for the job. This is good news because it means that I will not be frequently canceling your lessons to accommodate band rehearsals and shows. As a student of mine, you will always know that your lessons are a high priority.

Several years ago, a student of mine told me that she had seen and heard a great new indie rock band that was guest starring on The Late Show With David Letterman. She wanted to play a song by this band, and she wondered if together we could figure out the drummer’s drum part. When she finally told me the name of the band, I laughed and said “Well…if we can’t figure out the drummer’s playing on our own, I could always touch base with him and ask him to explain it to us personally. He recently took some lessons with me so that I could help him prepare for his band’s upcoming tour.” I love that story!

But that wasn’t actually my most famous student. My most famous student is a major drum icon who has been a strong presence in the music world for a few decades already. In fact, at one point, he was voted in Modern Drummer magazine as the #1 rock drummer of the year. In 2005, he saw an article of mine about bass drum technique, and he contacted me to see if I would help him to reinvent his bass drum approach. We did 2 lessons together and covered a lot of material for him to continue working on by himself. He took notes and was more attentive than almost anyone else I’ve ever taught. With that kind of humble dedication to drumming, it is no wonder that he has been so successful.

In addition to these 2 gentlemen, I have also taught a Latin Grammy Award nominee, the daughter of a world-renowned symphonic conductor, a hip-hopper who has drummed for one of the old school rap legends, and a female drummer whose band is starting to make waves on the Brooklyn rock scene. There have also been a couple of high-profile models, a stage actress, a well-known television host, and an actor preparing for his movie role as a drummer!

People often ask about famous students, and of course, it is great fun for me to recount these stories. It is also very flattering that these celebrities would choose me to be their drumming instructor. But in reality, this type of situation is rare, and these types of students are not the ones that I spend the majority of my time working with. The bulk of my students are school teachers, accountants, artists, lawyers, publicists, architects, doctors, managers, personal trainers, authors, jewelry designers, engineers…and anything else you can possibly think of. My aim is to make drumming accessible and rewarding for anyone who has an interest in learning the instrument.

Definitely! I know of many drum instructors who only teach exercises because they feel that it’s redundant to work on actual songs with their students. I completely disagree with this theory. While it would certainly be nice if students could automatically make the leap from doing exercises to playing songs, in reality this is rarely the case. I have seen countless students excel at drumming exercises while still being completely lost when it came to applying these skills within a song.

When I teach, I directly address this issue. First of all, I have my students play most of our exercises along with songs so that they learn to synchronize their drumming with the other elements of music. I also occasionally work with my students on learning segments from specific songs or even specific songs in their entirety. Combined with the exercises that make up the core of my curriculum, this makes for a tremendously effective and practical method of learning the drums.

Actually, they do! Drum sheet music is very similar to sheet music for other instruments, and learning to read it can be an important part of learning to play the drums. When we see a rhythm written out in notation, it’s kind of like we’re looking at a precise diagram of the rhythm. We are shown exactly how the limbs interact with each other, and at exactly which moments in time. In my experience, this visual aid can help a student to learn things which might be impossible for them to learn otherwise. If a student is really struggling to understand a new rhythm, I will often grab a piece of paper and write it down so the student can see exactly what they’re supposed to do. This almost always solves the problem!

My approach for teaching people to read music is similar to the standard way of teaching people to read language. First of all, by the time a person starts learning to read language, they can already talk to some degree. I follow this same principle. I teach my students to play some basic drum rhythms for a handful of months before I introduce reading. This tends to make the reading go much more quickly when we do eventually start working on it. Secondly, I actually teach people to write music from their very first day of learning to read. When I was a kid, I remember being taught to write letters when first learning to read English. By following a similar approach with reading music, my students learn rhythm notation with unusual thoroughness while having fun in the process.

My personal musical tastes have gone through many different phases throughout my life. When I was a young kid, I loved pop music, and I listened to Top 40 radio all the time. When I was around 10 years old, rap music burst onto the scene, and that became my new favorite music (yes, I’m old enough to remember the beginning of rap music). After rap music, I got into classic rock and started drumming along to bands like Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. During college, I learned about jazz and gained an appreciation for this as the music where drumset players first found their voice. This evolved into an interest in “fusion” music, which combines elements of rock and jazz along with rhythms from places such as Cuba and Brazil.

Somewhere in me, there is still a love for all of these music styles that have touched my life at one point or another. And of course, the list keeps growing. These days, I actually tend to find out about modern music from my very own students. They bring in songs to work on, and this keeps me abreast of the latest developments in music. I always find something in each of these songs that I can relate to…and occasionally…one of these songs will even become a personal favorite of mine.

Certainly! Whatever music style you like, there’s a good chance that I’ve already taught someone how to play it at one point or another. For people just beginning to play the drums, these various types of music tend to sound extremely different from each other. However, once a person has developed an inside knowledge of drumming, it becomes clear that almost all styles of music are based on the same fundamental elements of rhythm. As a highly-trained drummer, I find that I can dissect and play or teach almost any musical genre. One of my current students has been working with me since 2004. He is now at the point where he too can understand and play just about any kind of music. My long-term goal as your teacher will be to ultimately teach you to do the same.

John Bonham…and Steve Gadd…and Gene Krupa…and Billy Cobham…and Max Roach…and the list goes on and on! I’m glad you asked this question, though, because it means you’re interested in the history of drumming. Not only is learning the history of drumming fun and interesting, but it’s also an important and helpful part of learning this instrument. While teaching, I frequently find myself mentioning the names listed above…as well as countless others. My students get to hear little anecdotes about the origins of different drumming techniques. For those students who take a particularly strong interest in the history of drums, I have also compiled lists of the all-time greatest drummers along with some of their biggest achievements and most recognized songs. I have even been known to send out emails alerting my students that a particular drumming legend is playing live in town. On more than one occasion, I have personally gone with a few students to these events like a mini field trip! My goal with all of this is that my students end up developing a love and appreciation for our drumming forefathers.
Of course, this will largely depend on how much time and effort you choose to focus toward drumming. There’s really no correct path in that regard. It just comes down to what exactly you want to achieve and within what time frame. Since most of my students work full-time, their main interest in drumming is as a hobby. They generally attend lessons once per week, and they relax at home by practicing a bit when time allows. These students usually find that they are capable of playing a complete song within a handful of months. In fact, we prove this at every recital by featuring at least one or 2 performers who’ve only recently begun taking lessons. Not bad considering that it could take months or years just to play one decent sounding note on a violin or trumpet!

Of course, if you happen to be very serious about your drumming, then you can certainly decide to progress even faster than I described above. I currently have a student who has chosen to make her drumming lessons the primary focus of her life. She has been meeting with me twice per week and practicing my assignments about 5 hours per day, Monday-Friday. During her first year of lessons with me, she went from being a complete beginner to being one of the most advanced students I’ve ever taught. She is certainly the fastest progressing student of my career. These days, in addition to continuing her drum lessons, she also plays frequent shows around New York with her own rock band. Of course, this is an extremely rare student with an extremely rare vision for herself. It’s not an approach that would make sense for most people, but it is a valuable indicator of what is possible.

I guess the “politically correct” response to this question is “Talent has nothing to do with drumming. It all depends on how hard you work.” I’m going to avoid being “politically correct,” and I’m even going to avoid the word “talent” since that can be a difficult thing to precisely define. Instead, I will simply tell you what I have observed from teaching hundreds of people to drum.

There seems to be a tiny percentage of people who pick up drumming skills and concepts unusually fast. I would say that about 1% of my students have fallen into this category. On the other end of the spectrum, about another 1% of my students have had an unusually difficult time trying to learn even the basics of drumming. So…that leaves the remaining 98% of the people I’ve worked with, who seem predisposed to learn drumming at a predictable and satisfying pace. These people greatly control their learning speed by how regularly they attend lessons and how much they practice outside of lessons.

With all of this in mind, my advice is to simply try out drumming if it interests you. If, by chance, you are part of the 1% who find drumming to be a constant struggle, then you can decide whether to work through it or stop and find a different hobby. Nobody will force you to continue with something that you find frustrating or unenjoyable, so you really have nothing to lose. Of course, in all likelihood, you will be part of the 98% of drum students who progress nicely and love their drumming hobby. Heck, you might even be lucky and find that you’re part of the 1% who learn drums more quickly than the norm. In that case, however, keep in mind that you will still need to give your all if you want to maximize your personal drumming potential!

Absolutely not! So far, I have never encountered a student who was too old to learn drumming. There is an idea floating around that young children learn musical instruments more quickly than teens and adults. I think this idea got started because young children do tend to learn languages more quickly than teens and adults. Studies have definitively shown this. Therefore, I think people assume that the same must be true for musical instruments as well.

I personally can only speak about drums because I have never taught any other instruments, so I will just say this: In my experience, teens and adults generally learn drumming at a much faster rate than young children. Yes, you did read that last sentence correctly. I know that this might seem like an incredible statement if you have spent your life believing the opposite. Regardless, this is what I’ve observed throughout my many years as a teacher. Young children simply do not possess the same level of mental focus or motor control as teens and adults…and these factors make a big difference when learning to play drums.

Years ago, when I was teaching students from every age group, the teens and adults progressed so quickly compared to the young children that I eventually decided to implement a minimum age requirement of 12 years old. I am happy to see anyone enjoy the process of drumming, but it is definitely an added pleasure to see people make significant progress as well. My minimum age requirement policy has allowed my career to be as rewarding as possible in recent years. During this time, my students have ranged from age 12 up to mid 70’s.

Absolutely! In fact, most of my students never played drums at all before starting lessons with me. It kinda makes sense if you think about it. Usually, when a person seeks out instruction in something, it is because they don’t already feel confident, knowledgeable, and skilled in that area. Yes, sometimes experienced and advanced drummers will take lessons to further their abilities. However, in my experience, that is much less common than a complete novice taking lessons as a way to first get started.
Have no fear – it’s impossible for you to “start over from the beginning”…even if you want to! Your past musical experiences are a part of your background whether you like or not. What we will aim to do in our lessons together is move you forward and make you the most complete drummer you can be. From my years of studying and teaching drums, I have arrived at a comprehensive curriculum of rhythms, techniques, and concepts that enable a person to reach their highest drumming potential. As someone with a prior history of playing the drums, you will inevitably find that you are already strong with certain aspects of this curriculum. Great! We will not waste time rehashing those elements that are already solid in your drumming.

Instead, we will see where your weaknesses are, and we will work to strengthen those areas. Be prepared, however…more than one advanced student has unexpectedly discovered during their lessons that they were weak in areas where they had believed themselves to be solid. This can be a humbling experience, and it takes a person of strong character to forge on with the process when something like that occurs. For this reason, I believe that people with prior drumming experience sometimes have a more difficult time taking lessons than complete beginners. If all of this sounds terrifying to you, then perhaps drumming lessons would not really be appropriate for you right now. On the other hand, if you can go into lessons with a receptive mind, a sense of fun, and some excitement about finally moving forward with your musical abilities, then we will have a blast together, and your drumming will absolutely improve.

You might be surprised. That element of drumming is actually much easier than most people think! It’s a complete misconception that drummers do all sorts of conflicting things with each limb independently. In reality, a drummer’s limbs don’t act independently, but rather they work together playing different parts of the same rhythm. In fact, the limbs frequently play in simple unison with each other. This is not to say that you will never encounter anything challenging while learning to play the drums. That would be pretty boring, don’t you think? There are definitely going to be occasional challenges, but learning to “coordinate the feet with the hands” will probably not be one of them. And for the things that will be challenging…keep in mind that nobody will expect you to tackle this stuff on your own. That’s why you’ll have me guiding you as your teacher!

No chance! It’s funny how often I get asked this question, considering that so many of my students are female. In fact, there have been numerous periods in my teaching career when the female students have outnumbered the male students. I think this occurs because I happen to specialize in teaching adults, and it seems that adult drum students are more often women than men.

From years of observing this phenomenon, I believe that I have arrived at a possible explanation. When males are interested in drumming, they often receive the support of their parents, and so they tend to start lessons as young children. By the time these boys reach adulthood, they have either forgotten about drumming or have already become skilled enough at it that they won’t generally seek out further instruction. Meanwhile, countless women have told me that they were interested in drumming during their youth but were discouraged from pursuing it. Instead, their parents pressured them to play the violin, the piano, or some other instrument. These girls never lose their desire to play the drums, and many of them do eventually begin drum lessons…as adults!

For a number of years now, I have been specializing in teaching adult students. My current policy is that a student must be at least age 18 to take drum lessons with me. This is not to say that your young child is incapable of learning drums. They may do very well taking drum lessons with a teacher who is appropriate for that age group. It’s just that I personally am not such a teacher. During my first several years of teaching, I accepted students of every conceivable age, and I consistently made far better progress with the adults. Plus, I enjoyed working with them more. I am sure that you can find a suitable teacher for your young child by doing some Google searches. There are plenty of instructors who happily accept students of any age.

I would highly recommend that you avoid doing that. The internet is a terrific resource, and with billions of videos posted, YouTube certainly has some useful drum information to offer. The problem is, it’s almost impossible to sort through it all and to know what is trustworthy and what isn’t…especially if you don’t know much about drumming yet.

If you’ve already decided to take lessons with me, then you are about to be personally coached by a teacher with many thousands of hours of teaching experience. At this point, what benefit could possibly come from taking the advice of a total stranger on YouTube? If they happen to steer you down the wrong path, we may need to spend our lessons undoing the damage and getting you back to square one. It simply isn’t worth the risk!

A better idea is to be patient and simply wait until you start your lessons with me. As mentioned on the Zoom Drum Lessons home page, my students tend to have tremendous success learning the drums…and we have every reason to believe that the same will be true for you! Once we get going, I would be happy to help you find some YouTube videos that will safely reinforce our work together.

Realistically, you will need access to some sort of drums to play on during our lessons. Remember, you will be the one doing most of the playing. I will be the one doing the coaching. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need anything fancy. A small acoustic drumset or an electronic drumset with an amplifier (so that I can hear it over Zoom) would be ideal. You can even start off with a simple practice pad, although eventually it will be helpful to have a complete set.

You might be pleased to know that there are hourly band rehearsal rooms in many cities around the world. These band rehearsal rooms generally have a drumset! So you could rent an hour in such a room and bring your laptop to do our lesson. This is a wonderful option if you do not yet own drums or if you’d like to try out drumming before committing to a major purchase.

I offer lessons every day except for Saturday, and I am tremendously flexible regarding the time of the day. If you have a sincere desire to learn drumming from me, then we’ll work together to make sure it happens. I’ve never yet had to turn away a student simply because of scheduling!

To cancel or change a scheduled lesson, all you need to do is send me an email at least 24 hours prior to the time of our appointment. Any lesson that is missed or canceled after the cut-off time must be paid for in full.

And, of course, this works both ways. If I, myself, ever cancel or miss a scheduled lesson for any reason with less than 24 hours notice, then I will compensate you for the inconvenience by making your next lesson completely free of charge. Yes, you did read this correctly! I’ve had people say that this seems “too good to be true,” or that it’s “too generous,” but I feel that it’s only right for the teacher to follow the same scheduling guidelines and etiquette as the student!

Are you ready to Live Your Drumming Dream?