Professional level instruction for the serious musician

Technique and Body Mechanics

My goal as an instructor is to help students gain far-greater technical efficiency and utilize the body’s natural motion to their advantage.  To help them achieve a more relaxed body and mind and natural flow.  This leads to a more effective use of energy, achieving a greater result with less effort and tension.

I observe students closely for encumbrances in their position and motion (i.e. posture, balance, grip, fulcrum, stroke, rebound, etc.).  Any obstructions to their natural expression, large or small, can be eliminated at the source.

Practice Habits

Effective practicing is like meditation. It is slow, methodical and deliberate. It is a mental process, in that you’re engaging your mind more than your hands and feet.

“Practice fast, learn slow.  Practice slow, learn fast.”

A special emphasis is put on the value of slow practice and the application of the Open-Closed-Open approach, as well as the effective use of a metronome.

Also of great importance is the observation of habits, with the intention of helping the student to break old, less-effective habits and build new, more-efficient ones.

Classic Fundamentals, Modern Context

I use lots of time-honored content and material, such as rudiments, the Stick Control book and many others, and utilize various permutations and interpretations of those texts for the development of a solid, versatile technical approach.  I also utilize more recent method books, such as Gary Chester’s The New Breed, to aid in the development of time, feel, independence, and of course, reading skills.  I work with students to help them find the center of the time and deepen their internal pulse so that they play from a more mentally (and physically) relaxed standpoint.  I have a deep catalog of charts, transcriptions and play-along materials for students to use in the development of musical styles.

I like to think of it as “old-school foundation meets a contemporary musical approach”, blending tried-and-true principals with today’s musical language.


I offer private instruction out of my studio in the Chicago area. Lessons are typically 90 minutes in length, or if you prefer, sometimes a full 2-hour lesson is appropriate.  Lessons are spaced 2 to 3 weeks apart.  I find this format advantageous over the more typical half-hour, once-a-week format offered by many music stores.  I prefer more instruction time per lesson to cover a wide variety of subjects and concepts, and more time in between lessons for the student to digest and develop the material in their practice.  Each lesson is recorded on a high-quality Zoom audio/video recorder so that the student can recall and reinforce the instruction they received.

Although it can be somewhat difficult to fully demonstrate the art of ensemble playing in a one-on-one lesson, my teaching studio is set up complete with a mixer, high-quality isolation headphones (you're also encouraged to bring your own headphones or earbuds if you have a pair you like), a click track and many different types of play-along materials.  I even use a talk-back microphone in order to communicate with students in their headphones while they play.

The materials I use in my instruction (i.e. books, recordings) are materials I use currently or have worked out of extensively in my own playing (see below).  The first and most fundamental is a two-page Percussive Arts Society rudiment sheet, as well as my warm-up exercise:

Warm-Up Exercise    PAS Rudiments

Instruction books

You can download a list of books I use most often in lessons here:

Instruction books

This is by no means a comprehensive list; just a few examples of some materials that have worked well for me and my students.  If you have specific areas in which you want to work, odds are there's something that will fit the bill, if it's not among the above listed.  Likewise, if there's something else you're working out of that you would like to continue, by all means bring it in.

Lesson materials

  • Please get a Spiral-bound notebook for me to write instructions in (8.5x11" standard)
  • I always recommend getting a pair of sticks that is thicker and heavier than you typically use on the kit; a Vic Firth 5B or 2B works well for me.  This is for snare drum rudiments, Stick Control, and other "hands only" practice, in order to help facilitate development of the bounce.
  • Some sort of digital metronome; in fact, these days, I use metronome apps for the iPad, iPod touch or iPhone.  I use both Tempo and Tempo Advance (Frozen Ape), but there are also many free apps that work just fine.
  • SD card, at least 4GB capacity (higher capacity is readily available and recommended: 16 or 32GB), for use with a stereo digital recording device.  I use a Zoom Q3HD to record every lesson I teach and give the video file to the student at the end for their use.

Skype Lessons

If you have an online setup and can't make it to my studio in person, I offer lessons via Skype. Contact me to schedule one.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A Skype account
  • A PayPal account for payment
  • A high-speed internet connection
  • A desktop or laptop computer, or device with a front-facing camera
  • Camera should be aimed at full drum kit, and having a practice pad helps, placed on snare or on a stand

Instructional Resources

Here's a video demonstrating some of Jim Chapin's "Advanced Techniques" book:

Here's a video demonstrating some of Gary Chester's "The New Breed" book:

TOM'S COLUMBIA COLLEGE STUDENTS: Click here for information and resources