Dillon Vado's School Of Music

Dillon Vado's School Of Music

5.0 (12)
Best of 2022
8 hires on Lessons.com
1 employee
12 years in business

About this pro

Students can take lessons on a primary instrument (drums, vibraphone, marimba, or general percussion) but all can learn about ear training, and musicianship. 

Most drum teachers don't also teach mallet percussion. 

I am an active performing musician, and share my tips and experiences from the real world as an experienced musician.

I hold a Bachelor's of Music in Jazz Studies from the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. I won first place in the "Jazz Search West" soloist competition in 2014. I have earned several other awards and acknowledgements  for my playing and composing over the years. 

Students can bring music they enjoy into the lessons, from any style or approach. The lesson format is not rigid, and is flexible to each students interests.  

I specialize in improvisation and encourage all levels of students to improvise, don't worry it's fun!

I love connecting with a student and seeing the new information and skills we learn take hold in their playing.

I particularly love watching a student think that they don't like something at first and then gradually grow to appreciate and embrace it after further explorartion. Some students, for example, think they don't like jazz, or have a bias toward a certain instrument or even a particular song. When we dive deeper into it, we always find value and meaning in any music. 

My life is 100% devoted to music, and it is my passion and a privilege that I am able to share that with other human beings. 

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Oakland, CA 94607
Email verified
Phone verified

12 Reviews


  • Tina Chen

    Dillon is not only a talented professional but also a fantastic teacher. My 4th grader has developed a passion for music and blossomed thanks to Dillon.

  • Domenique H. Embrey

    Dillon tailors his teaching to the interests and needs of the student. I am enjoying learning with him.

  • Xiomara Rosales

    He is a very patient and understanding teacher. Flexible and caring

  • Mike Gammill

    Both my kids, now 15 and 12 have been lucky enough to get expert instruction from Dillon for the past 3 years on Marimba. The growth has been phenomenal in both of them. First it was all about technique, then he worked with them on the music that interested them. He has since added pieces that help improve their overall skills. I believe that their rampant improvement has been due to Dillon's approach to teaching music theory so that the kids have a true understanding of what's going on in the music in general. His relaxed approach and ability to connect with the kids has proved to be a valuable asset. They can't wait to go for the lessons, and never stop practicing at home. We thank Dillon for enhancing the lives of our kids.

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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

I usually ask the student what their current experience is with music and what their intentions/goals are for studying with me. I tailor my instruction to the needs and interests of each student, while still prioritizing the development of strong fundamentals. Students find lessons with me to be a very fun and enjoyable exploration into the world of sound and music. 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I currently hold a Bachelor's of Music in Jazz Studies from the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. I have several years of experience teaching private lessons on drums and mallet percussion to students ages 5-75! I also have taught group drumming classses at Elementary schools, and drumline/marching band in several high schools.  I have performed and recorded with some of the best musicians in the world, and continue to have an active performing career of my own. I live and breathe music, and I wish to share that with everybody I meet. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

For students who come to my studio, I generally charge 

$40/ half hour

$80/ hour 

How did you get started teaching?

I taught several family friends' children at first. Then my friend Adam, was leaving town to move to New York, and he recommended me to take over his private studio at Music Village in San Jose back in 2011. From then I have kept a steady involvement at that store, as well as picking up classes and private students at Musically Minded Academy in Rockridge, and JAMS Music in Dublin. 

What types of students have you worked with?

I have worked with very young children, as well as adults and even some retired people. Some students are really experienced and want some refined instruction, and some come to me as total beginners. I am happy to work in both settings, and feel confident in my ability to guide a student into new territory that they wish to navigate. 

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

I had a recent student come to me looking for general music theory and musicianship lessons to help put some terminology to things that she already knew intuitively. I spent the first lesson going through some basic interval relationships as related to the solfege system (do, re , mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do etc...) and I used very common tunes to help her understand intervals that she could already hear. For example "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" opens with a perfect 5th.

I was proud of my ability to start right with something familiar but reframe it in a way that was new so she was learning/exploring right away!

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Understand what you are hoping to get from the teacher. The clearer you can make that goal, the more I (or any other teacher) can help you reach it. 

Second, I think private lessons (especially on drums) are great as supplemental instruction to other experiences, like school band, bands with your friends, or other performing and playing based activities. I am happy to work with any student regardless of what their outside involvement is, but the instruction in private lessons will be amplified by bringing that into a musical context to apply it to outside of the lessons.

That being said, my areas of experience/expertise consist of...

-Jazz drum set and related styles (brazilian, afro-cuban, New Orleans feels, funk and RnB) 

-Mallet Percussion (Vibraphone, and Marimba mostly) 

- Rudimental drumming (related to general percussion technique and marching snare drum in particular, for those interested in auditioning for school marching band or drum corps) 

-Ear Training/general musicianship (reading notes and rhythms, or identifying chords and melodies from a recording you're fond of.) 

-Improvisation: both in a "Jazz" context and also a more playful and fun context. Some refer to this as "free" improvisation. I encourage all students to improvise in some way because it makes for a more well rounded musician. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

What kind of music do you like to listen to? 

Is that the same as the music you're trying to learn to play? 

Have you identified favorite musicians who play the instrument you're interested in learning? (if not thats ok!) 

Do you know about yourself if you tend to respond more to a visual learning style, or oral/aural, or even kinesthetic? (I'm not an expert in these learning styles, but having some sense of strength or preference can prove beneficial!)