Drum Teachers Blog

Simon Marton Facetime + WhatsApp drum lessons during Covid times.

Simon how's it been going with Facetime & Whatsapp recently?

These have been working a treat. To make it fair on the clients/ pupils I charge a fiver less to compensate for not having me there in person and I now operate from an upstairs office desk. I have my phone or sometimes my Mac handy to do the calls and find it’s a way of working that is focussed and quite pleasant! Yes, sure, sometimes the video call quality can suffer and the audio not match up to the video, but I have enough to go on to make it work. It won’t entirely replace being there in person but I don’t have to travel, I don’t get stressed in traffic and my pupils learn pretty much the same amount. It’s caused me to think even more creatively about what I’m teaching and how! I love it! Wish I’d thought of it ages ago.

By Julian Marsden
Posted on 27th Apr, 1:34pm

April 2020: During the UK lockdown we were surprised that only two of the 616 Drum Teachers on this site requested that their profiles be updated to include Online Lessons. Here they are below. Please click on the links for more info.

Peter Bertelli offering Online Drum Lessons - Via Skype

and ......

Ben Neal

By Julian Marsden
Posted on 12th Apr, 5:35pm

Hi my name is Brian Bestall and I have been a professional musician, teacher and composer for over 30 years and the most frequently asked question is “Why should I learn drum rudiments?” My answer is simple: These rudiments are our vocabulary, a nod to our heritage and a way to help you to develop the four basic strokes; full stroke, down stroke, tap stroke and up stroke, and ultimately gain better stick control. By becoming proficient with these rudiments, you will become a more competent and confident player. You will learn to integrate them into your everyday playing, creating exciting grooves and fills.

I’ve always been fascinated by the rudiments and regularly demonstrate to my students how they can be applied to the whole kit. This, without fail blows them away. My book covers all 40 International rudiments and a couple of my favourite hybrid versions, all with sticking patterns included. If you are a teacher it can be used as supplementary material for students working towards exams, help develop independence or simply for fun.

My book “Why Should I Learn Drum Rudiments?” was published April 2019 and is available from Rockem Music or on line from Amazon.

By Julian Marsden
Posted on 25th Nov, 3:56pm

'I'm older now, but not necessarily any wiser. I've been through the whole fashion thing through my teenage years and into my twenties and thirties, obsessing over what I wear, what trainers or boots I should sport, and whether leather is in/ out. I once wore some tights over my head which I fished out of my mums drawers, and a sparkly red cowboy hat for a London Borderline gig many years ago. I couldn't see a thing and I looked like a camp bank-robber. I've dressed as a stormtrooper, making my comrades and I there first band in the world in 2003 to do the whole dancing stormtrooper band thing. Yet even  earlier, I used to wear tight black PVC jeans that I used to have to peel off, after a hot sweaty gig. 

I'm at an age where I've seen music go round in circles, and rhythms get recycled from Adam and the Ants and Duran, all the way to The Killers and Beyonce. You would think that as a musician, I would be keeping up with music but I don't. I listen to the stuff my teenage boys pump out through my car stereo, and I think- I've heard this all before, first and second time round....I watch the highlights of Reading/ Leeds/ Glasters/ IOW etc, and frankly, I find it takes an awful lot to impress me anymore. Is it me or is there anyone else out there who feels the same?! I just can't get excited about new music anymore! (I get way more excited about conspiracy theories which turn out not to be theories, but realities!) I must therefore be getting older.

However, when I successfully teach my pupils 'the train-beat', the Bossa Nova or a 16th hi-hat pop/rock beat with an intricate ghost note pattern on the snare, that's when I get excited. I know that as I close my forty-ninth year, these guys could be the ones who take the baton from me, and take the stages in front of screaming fans one day soon. Their music could be tomorrow's soundtrack. It's not about me being screamed at- although I'm still capable of being screamed at- my kids do it quite a lot and I probably deserve it!

So, yes- fashion does come and go. Thankfully.'

Thanks to Simon Marton for this great article. Please check out Simon's excellent testimonials and profile.

By Julian Marsden
Posted on 2nd Nov, 2:46pm

Grades: nemesis or necessity?

When I was at school, I had two drum-teachers over the course of about twelve months. The first one was retiring and was more interested in skiing, and the replacement had a beard. Nothing wrong with that, but it was his aggression one day that I will only remember after, he had lazily stuck a chart on a music stand and instructed me to simply "play it.” When I fumbled my way badly through the first line, he snatched the sticks right out of my hands and throwing them on the floor, shouted at me: “You’ll never make a drummer!!” It has taken a long time to dissociate beards from aggression.

I stopped going to his lessons, and changed course. I am self taught. Never wanted to see a chart again, and learned my craft by listening to cassettes (remember them?!) and vinyl. Consequently over the years, there was a niggling doubt, that despite all the comments people used to throw at me like ‘amazing’, ‘talented’ and ‘unbelievable’, as a rock drummer playing fairly simple and solid stuff, I never felt like a ‘real drummer’ as I avoided all the basic rudimentary skills like they were for academics. I was rock n roll and on the radio; all the other stuff is for schools and grades, so too late for me.

Well, fast forward to a man who has just turned 49, with greyer hair and tinnitus, and you’ll see a drum teacher in me that actually quite enjoys looking at aspects of the grade books and rudiments especially. Why? The answer may help you if you are – or have been– anything like me. I use the grades as a tool, but also something to address my personal fear of sight reading and understanding all the bizarre little squiggles and notation. Here’s my latest approach: quite frequently I will take a break from song- based teaching and stealing ideas from a tune to show them how often it is used in so many other songs, to focus instead on rudiments such as the Swiss Army Triplet, the Ratamacue and the Pataflafla. Once I’ve spent the lesson going through various elements, I will then ask them a ‘Guess the Grade’ question. Most of my pupils learn for fun and advancement, and don’t do the grades, but I have a handful who do attempt to climb up the grading system. Grades, as you might be able to tell, aren’t my favourite thing to teach, but there’s the punchline: you should see their little faces when you reveal they have actually attempted, and pulled off a Grade 8 bunch of rudiments or even pieces.The latter I did just this week with a Muse track ‘Knight of Cydonia’ (which I remembered a fellow teacher had pointed me to a few years ago on Trinity Rock and Pop.) I took the main section and broke it down into 5 easier stages, the fifth being the actual speed (quite fast). Well, to a man, they all got to the fourth stage!! This included one young man who has struggled with much drumming, but he was beaming! So I say, use the grades as a tool to help your protoges enjoy drumming. Grades still scare me privately, but they are helping me as much as those I instruct. I think that teaching includes a massive amount of encouragement, and celebration of effort and attainment too. That’s why I vowed as a 14 year old that I would never be like that guy with a beard, and I like to think I have proven him wrong. We will never know what our acts of pushing our pupils gently forward with acts of encouragement will don in their lives, and that’s a privilege.

Thanks to Simon Marton for this great article. Please check out Simon's excellent testimonials and profile.


By Julian Marsden
Posted on 22nd Sep, 2:52pm