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other: 3 years at Wisconsin Conservatory
1980 Grant from NEA to study with the great jazz drummer Art Taylor
I'm a dedicated teacher with a lifetime of experience studying and performing all kinds of music. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I learned to play drums from my dad, an important figure in the music scene there, and by listening to and copying the drummers on my favorite records. I began playing drums professionally when I was 14, first with my dad on his gigs, and then with other musicians in Milwaukee. In 1979, I traveled to New York City, intending merely to spend the summer before finishing my last year at the University of Wisconsin. After a few short weeks of being there, though, I was getting so much work as a musician that I decided to stay. I've worked and toured with some of the great legends of jazz music such as Abbey Lincoln, Jackie McLean, Stanley Turrentine, and Freddie Hubbard. I began my teaching career almost 20 years ago at the Brooklyn Conservatory, and I put just as much dedication and enthusiasm into my teaching as in my playing. I'm also an avid tabla player in the Indian Classical music tradition. I was interested in playing tablas from an early age, but my studies began in earnest in the 90's when I met and began studying with the great Ustad Alla Rakha.
I began my teaching career almost 20 years ago at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. While I was there, I worked with students of all ages and levels of playing ability. From that experience, I was able to not only develop a teaching method, but also to adapt and adjust that teaching method to accommodate for each student's unique personality and learning style. During my time there, I wanted to incorporate musical concepts that I learned from playing tablas in my lessons with drum set students. I began writing out exercises for my students to try in the lessons, and realized that this type of crossover had never been attempted before in Western culture. I therefore compiled these examples and expanded them into a book, called Drums to Tablas, the first of it's kind.
For beginner students, I typically start with the book Syncopation by Ted Reed. From this book, students learn basic rhythmic concepts and how to read them, and they develop the coordination to play them on snare drum and drum set. Then, I teach my students the 26 basic rudiments that all drummers must know. After that, I teach my students different types of ethnic musical traditions from all over the world. Our studies will include music from North America, South America, Africa, and India. At that point, when my students have a good musical foundation to build on, I take them through my book, Drums to Tablas. This book teaches my students to play the drums melodically, whereas most drummers typically just play drum beats.
When it comes to teaching music, the student is the first priority. If the student is interested in playing rock music, we will focus on that. If they want to focus on the music they play in school band, we will focus on orchestral and symphonic percussion. Every student is different, and it is a teachers job to tailor the lessons towards a students natural learning style. I make sure to acknowledge my student's accomplishments, give extra attention to areas they need to work on, and generally make sure that they are always learning and having fun.
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