I have been playing drums for almost 50 years, starting at the age of 5, and have been playing professionally since the age of 14. I spent my early years taking lessons from a drummer in Milwaukee, WI named Mike Kowal (Kowaleski), who had previously studied with Joe Morello, and was the drummer in one of the hottest jazz/rock/fusion bands in the midwest which included a guy named Daryl Stuermer (Genesis and Phil Collins) on guitar. After Mike took a teaching position at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Wausau, WI, I followed his lead and enrolled for the total percussion courses (Tele Lesbines, former tympanist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra), and jazz improv courses (Bob Budny) at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. I studied there for two semesters before going on to various other instructors to work on specific aspects of drumming. While in school, I sat first chair in the Symphonic/Concert bands, Jazz Ensembles, and Marching Band at both the grade school and high school band programs. I was also awarded the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for outstanding jazz performance all four years in high school.
I previously owned and operated a drum school in New Smyrna Beach, Fl. for four years before making the move to Nashville. I also volunteered my time to the NSB Middle School band program, assissting the band director as an instructor for the percussion section. My student roster grew from five students a week to twenty four students within the first year, and my students ranged in age from 5-28, and included one 22 year old young man who was completely deaf and wanted to learn how to play.
My professional career has included many years of local club gigs and regional tours in the midwest and southeast. The best decision I made was my move to Nashville in 2001 and securing my first artist touring gig the following year. I was the tour drummer for The Fox Brothers for the better part of six years having toured extensively (1.5 million miles) on their tour bus all across the US. The highlight of the hundreds of shows we palyed was perorming on the stage at the Gand Ol' Opry three times-twice at the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ol' Opry House.
I continue to play local and regional gigs with two bands here in Nashville, and one artist based in Georgia, and I look forward to helping my students increase their skill sets while having a lot of fun as they further their drumming talents.
I really enjoy watching the confidence level of my students increase as they begin to fully utilize their knowledge and hone their skills as a drummer/percussionist. I also enjoy being able to encourage them to use the skills and knowledge they learn to progress their academic life, and to maybe someday be able to pass it on as teachers and performers themselves. What the most important thing I try to pass along to all my students, regardless of their individual age or skill level, is to have fun, and be a good and kind human being to everyone. Here is a famous quote by frank Outlaw which hung on my drum studio wall in NSB, and will be hanging on the wall of my new studio as well:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
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