A proper teaching environment is vital for learning music. The percussion studio is fully outfitted with two drum sets, marimba, vibes, timpani, lots of hand percussion and a PA system.
Percussion is not only fun, it’s the most accessible path into playing music. I believe it’s essential for people to play with each other in groups. To that end, my percussion program offers private lessons, ensembles and semi-private lessons.
Private lessons are the best opportunity for one-on-one learning, and allow me to focus on each student’s individual learning style. We also play together — two people is all you need to have a group!
Private lessons are offered in one hour, 3/4 hour or 1/2 hour for younger children. Generally more time is optimal for percussion, as the study of percussion involves working in multiple areas and on many instruments including drum set, hand percussion, keyboard percussion (xylophone, marimba, vibraphone) and timpani. Studio facilities allow full volume play-along to recorded and MIDI sequenced music, and, in some cases video and multi-track recording.
Here’s a little on my philosophy and approach: From day one, I take in as much information as I can about a student, and consider everything a student brings to the lesson: general understanding of music, listening skills and playing/performing experience (if any). As I become familiar with the student, we develop a course of study blending both wants and needs together to create an exciting and engaging environment for learning music.
In all cases, I start with the concept of an entire song — whether it be a recording or if we ourselves improvise a song on the spot. We’ll still end up covering traditional areas of study such as technique and reading, but my big picture approach places context before content. Each song offers a unique opportunity and challenge to understand and play it with musical meaning. Over time we explore and give meaning to a wide variety of songs in styles and cultures including rock, blues, R&B, jazz, classical, Latin and Brazilian, Greek and Middle Eastern, and African.
Beginning to Advanced Percussion Ensemble(s). The ensemble experience enables students to make music in a favorable and supportive atmosphere. Small ensembles offer a more intimate and interactive involvement, unlike the larger groups generally found in many school music programs. All ensembles stress improvisation and group skills, such as rehearsal techniques and performance preparation.
Ensembles meet weekly. Participation is by audition or invitation. More advanced groups prepare for performances at local public and private schools. Less advanced groups are more “lab” oriented and perform in our concerts.
Semi-private lessons combine aspects of private lessons with ensemble, and are a dynamic and economical alternative to each. While it’s important to study privately and also participate in a group experience, for some, both a weekly private lesson and an ensemble may be difficult to handle. Instead, consider the semi-private lessons – two (or occasionally three) compatible students in a setting which combines the best of private instruction with the small ensemble experience.
I also offer occasional classes on a variety of subjects. Past groups and classes have included:
- Rock/r&b/blues and jazz ensembles
- Introduction to Improvisation
- Careers in the Music Business
- Sound System Operation and Recording Studio Experience (which tells you how to produce your own demo in order to book playing opportunities).
- Special “mini-workshops” with guest artists. Subjects have included Jazz Improvisation, Introduction to Timpani, Timpani Stick Making, The Art of Drum Soloing, Rock, Funk and Jazz Drumming, Brazilian Percussion Ensemble.
If you have a young child 5 and younger, and you would like to provide an opportunity for music learning, we recommend Sally’s Music Circle classes. These classes, provided in an atmosphere we call “informal instruction”, and allow for your child to gain a rich preparation for the more formal demands and expectations of later music lessons. Click here for information.