The typical age range for my students is beginners that are participating in their school band program (typically 5th grade) through high school. My studio is in my home on the east side of Saint Charles, IL, for in-person lessons. I’m within a mile of Wredling Middle School and Saint Charles East High School. I can also do online lessons (FaceTime or Zoom) but being on site at least every other week will maximize what students get out of their time.
The only prerequisite is participation in school band. Students need performance opportunities to maximize their development and school band is essential in this regard. Prior experience with piano is very useful, but not required.
As of October 2023, I am fully booked with students. Please reach out via the Contact page and I will try to accommodate your request.
My goal is to develop students in areas that will help make them successful both as musicians and as people. The beginning percussionist must develop many physical abilities – think of this as being like lifting weights to get stronger – in addition to the subtleties of musical expression like dynamics and phrasing. The ability to read music is critical in percussion ranging from rhythms on drums to notes/chords on pitched instruments like marimba and timpani. Being disciplined with a practice schedule is important as these abilities can only improve through repetition. Most importantly, students will learn how to be good citizens in the ensembles with which they will play, be that their school band, jazz band, a percussion ensemble at a competition, and so on. Achieving exceptional results as a part of a larger group is a very rewarding experience.
Why invest this time & effort? You will find musicians in all areas of the professional world, particularly in STEM jobs like engineering, computer science and others. The benefits from the time invested in music are great no matter what a student ends up doing later in life.
If a student has already started with band at school, most music programs require the purchase/rental of a kit that will typically include the following items:
• Practice pad and/or a snare drum with a stand.
• 3 ½ octave set of orchestra bells
• Music stand
• Roller bag/case
This equipment is sufficient to get started for the first year or two depending on how rapidly a student develops.
An additional item that is required is a metronome. An easy way to obtain a metronome is by downloading one of several iPhone/Android smartphone metronome apps. I personally use Tama Rhythm Watch metronomes in my studio, but a smartphone app is the most cost-effective way to get started.
The books I use for beginning students are as follows:
• “Here’s the Drum Vol. 1” by Emil Sholle
• “Fundamental Studies for Mallets” by Garwood Whaley
We will focus on the material in these books at lessons with specific exercises to practice for the next lesson. I will augment this with specific exercises that I have developed and use. I have several copies here for purchase.
I will use more advanced method books if a student is farther along in their development from authors such as Mitchell Peters, Anthony Cirone, Charlie Wilcoxon, Morris Goldenberg and others.
Overall, we will move into more advanced method books, solos and ensembles as each student develops.
Access to concert percussion instruments is challenging due to cost and space requirements. I have several drum/percussion instruments in my studio that I use to teach students:
• Drum Set
• Concert Snare Drums
• 5-octave Marimba
• Orchestra Bells
• Hand-held Crash Cymbals
• Many Hand-held Percussion Instruments (tambourines, triangles, claves, maracas, temple blocks, etc.)
What I have available here will match or exceed what your child will use in school.
As mentioned, the beginner kit described above under "What you will need at home" will serve a student well for 1 to 2 years. Percussion instruments can be quite expensive and take up a lot of space in your home. The most important investments to make when a student progresses to an intermediate skill level include a good snare drum, a drum set (which can include the snare drum) and some type of mallet instrument like a marimba.
I recommend Yamaha for the snare drum/set and Marimba One, Yamaha or Adams marimbas. Yamaha has a wide range of drum set options that provide the best value for the money (even with their lowest-cost sets). Practice marimbas can be purchased/rented for a fraction of the price of a full concert instrument. I am happy to assist with the process of acquiring instruments in a manner that suits just about any budget.
I GREATLY encourage student participation in local school district and/or Illinois Grade School Music Association (IGSMA) solo/ensemble events. I have an extensive inventory of solo/ensemble material for all percussion instruments that we can prepare for performance at these events.
My current rate is $30 for a 45-minute lesson. I am happy to negotiate a rate for longer duration lessons as each student advances.
Here are a few notes on what my students have accomplished:
• Many Division I “Gold” medal performances at solo/ensemble contests
• Audition/selection to the Illinois Music Educator’s Association (ILMEA) District 9 Junior Honor Band
• Audition/selection to school honor bands
• Percussion section leaders
• Other school-specific awards
Here are some quick notes on my own music background:
• I have been a percussionist for over 40 years.
• I was a top high school percussionist in the state of Indiana, with multiple All State Honors Band selections.
• I received over 30 Division I “Gold” district and state medals in solo/ensemble contests during my middle/high school years.
• My first professional orchestral performance was with the Northwest Indiana Symphony at age 15. I have also performed with the Southwest Michigan Symphony.
• I do music recording/production in my studio for several original recording groups in addition to working with students.
• I perform 10 to 15 times each year on drums with various groups.
• I am a proud member of the Percussive Arts Society.
Overall, I learned firsthand how to prepare for success in solo/ensemble contests and auditions for the best amateur performing groups particularly when factoring in my ongoing percussion work over the decades since.
If a student develops quickly and decides to more directly pursue a path toward a being a music performance major in college, I have many professional contacts and can assist in finding a new instructor to best fit each student’s objectives.