Friday, December 30, 2011

Cascara Funk

This is a really fun application of putting a common cascara pattern over a half-time funk groove.

Subscribe to LIVE weekly lessons!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Videos from the Student YouTube Channel

As you know, most of my focus has been switched to teaching live online. I will be updating the blog in the near future with some more hands on and useful articles, but for right now I'll just keep you in the loop with what's going on in the Shed!

Here's 3 new student videos...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson - Thomas Pridgen - "Wax Simulacra"

I love this whole album. Here's one of the grooves from it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson - Muse "Uprising" Fill

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Silverfox StickBag Review

My take on the Silverfox Sticksack

Monday, December 19, 2011

Getting Out of Your Rut

Had a question come in about getting into a rut with your playing...

"Sup man! My name's Dominic, I was watching a Killers video on here and randomly saw one of your videos on the side breaking down a Ronnie Vannucci fill which was dope! I'm a full time musician...I play at my church and also have a band called Flagship, I have such a passion for drums and music, when I'm behind my kit it's the best feeling which I'm sure you can agree! Hints to the subject title above "Stuck in a rut"...I've just been really feeling like there's so much more inside of me that wants to make it's way out but I feel like I'm trap and I've hit a wall...and this happens multiple times! It'll happen for a little while but then I break through it for a's like a cycle, it repeats that normal? I've only been playing for 5 years and I've grown a lot in that time but I never want to be satisfied with were I'm at as a drummer, I always want to continue to grow and be taught something new everyday so with that said after watching some of your videos and seeing that you're not only a cool guy but a really good teacher...I feel that I could learn a lot from you, do you think you could help me get out of this rut haha."

What's up Dominic,

Thanks for hittin' me up!

Bro, I completely understand the rut thing. The good news is...everyone goes through that. Here's a couple of things you can do to help yourself get out of the rut...

-Regularly scheduled practice sessions. You put them on your calendar, set the amount of time you'll spend practicing, and you don't leave until the timer goes off.

-A practice log so that you can keep up with your progress. You need to be writing down what your practicing, the progress you made, any fill ideas you had, problems, etc. That way, when you begin to feel in a rut, you can look back and see all that you've accomplished.

-Learn different styles of music, even if you don't like them. Take time daily to listen to different music...jazz, rock, latin, pop, country...develop your ears to HEAR the goodness in every type of music.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Drum Shed Student You Tube Channel

So excited about all of the stuff that's been going on! Seriously, the Drum Shed more than tripled in size this week with new students (a big "welcome" to Scotland and Finland...just added a few peeps from across the pond). On top of that, I've been busy trying to make the live lesson experience as fun and interactive as possible.

First up is the forum for all of the live lesson students. It's simply a place where the students can talk to each other about the lessons, ask me questions, etc. Basically a big drum hang out on the website that's only open to the students. The second "hang out" I've been working on this week is the Drum Shed Student You Tube page. I'm really excited about it! This channel will be available to all of the live lesson students to upload videos to. I needed a way to watch, critique, praise, and see progress. This allows me to do all of those as well as allows the other students to see how others are progressing and challenge themselves to do better. Not to mention the pressure of having to hit "record" will make you practice all the harder! Most of the videos will be of students working through the live lesson exercises. That being said, it's not limited to that. I want it to be a place where ideas can be spread and students can learn from each other. Check out the first two student vids from Marcus. The first one is of him working through some finger control exercises. You need to understand...these are videos of students working through new concepts. They're raw and uncut...I LOVE IT!!! The second is Marcus again, but this time he's sharing a tip that he learned at a recent clinic (one that I've used for glad he threw it up there).

Don't forget...if you sign up for the live lessons before the new year, you'll not only lock in the new low price, you'll get one of my books of your choice sent to your mailbox for FREE.

CLICK HERE to sign up for LIVE drum lessons 4 times a week

Thursday, December 15, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson - Make Ya Slap Yo Momma Fill

This one is just for fun.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Books FREE and Discounted Live Lesson Subscriptions

Well, Merry Christmas! I'll get back to the informative posts and video lessons next week, but, 'Tis the season to be giving, so I am. Check out the video below for everything that's been happening and the details to the new live lesson layout. In short...

Sign up for live lessons before the new year and you can...

-Lock in a subscription price of $18.99 a month (16 half hour lessons a month with sheet music, a live lesson vault to review the old lessons, and a live time chat board to ask me questions and get an instant video response).

-Get any one of MY BOOKS for FREE when you subscribe before the new year.

-The 5th person that signs up after this blog post goes live will not only receive one hard copy of any one of my books, they'll also get PDF versions of my other two books for free!

The live lessons also make a GREAT Christmas gift...I'm just sayin' is all!

So for $18.99 you get a book valued at $19.99 and 16 half hour lessons...that math doesn't even add up! It's not a gimmick...I just want you to have cheap quality drum instruction...period. Merry Christmas...and don't forget to join the live lessons NOW!

New free You Tube lessons will be up next week!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Breakdown of James Brown's Song "Superbad"

Here's a sample of the live lessons...A breakdown of James Brown's EPIC tune "Superbad"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson - Sextuplets and Paradiddle-diddles

Download video lessons at

Monday, December 5, 2011

You Tuber Video

I've been talking to Dan for a while now on You Tube. He frequents the lessons I do and I always enjoy chatting with him. He sent me his version of "Magic Island" and I really dig it. You should check it out. You guys inspire me to go practice. Keep up the killer work Dan!

You can also check out Dan's website at to get a feel for what he's about.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Practice Log Book

Before I launch into the topic...good news...just confirmed an interview with Rich Redmond, drummer for chart topping country artist Jason Aldean. If you don't know who Rich is, you should. Don't miss watching the interview.

And now on to the topic at hand...a practice log book. I've been looking for one for years. Something simple, sleek, with plenty of room to write and some empty bars to jot ideas down post shed session. Haven't been able to find one. So I decided to make one for myself.

I formatted the perfect page, uploaded it to the site I publish my books on, replicated that page 100 times, made a black hardback cover that reads "Practice Log", and then hit publish. Voila! Originally I had meant it just for my own use...but the more I've thought about it, the more I think others could benefit from it. So I'm making them available to anyone now. You can thank me later ;^)

If you want to see the format of the pages, check out the pic that goes with this post. A very simple and durable way to record your progress, correct mistakes, and scratch out inspired ideas (12 empty bars on every page).

So if you're wanting to log your practice times and track things better, GO HERE and use this code at checkout to get 25% off for the next couple of days: BUYMYBOOK305

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson: Fill from The Killers Drummer Ronnie Vannucci

Monday, November 28, 2011

Working on Ghost Notes

Had a quick question come in on what ghost notes are and how to work on's a couple of ideas...

Working on ghost notes can be really tricky! I took me a long time when I first started drumming to be able to execute them properly. (For those that are unclear as to what a "ghosted" note is)...A ghost note is an unaccented note used to help emphasize a musical pattern. They actually help the listener "hear" the accented notes of the rhythm or melody better. In drum notation, they are notated in a couple of is by the use of parenthesis around a regular sized note head. Another is by simply adding an accent sign to all notes that are accented. The player then takes for granted that all other notes on that particular drum are to be "ghosted".

A ghost note is not the same as a grace note. Grace notes, in drumming, are typically notated smaller than other notes and used as "ornaments" to primary notes. So the note might look the same, just half the size. They are most typically seen when playing flams. The note that precedes the primary note is called a grace note. Hope that clears that up a bit.

Now, as far as how to work on them effectively...Everyone has their own method. The end result is that you want your accented notes to "pop" and your unaccented notes to sound softer in relation to the accented ones. One way that I have students work on this is to exaggerate the movements involved. Example: accented notes are on 2 and 4, and the unaccented notes are played on the "e" of 1 and the "e" of 3.

I would have the student play the accented notes from a height of 8" above the drum. Every unaccented note would be played from a height of 3" from the drum. This exaggeration in the movement will usually naturally lend itself to helping the accents pop and the ghost notes not. Once you get the concept down, you can work on adjusting your stick height to a comfortable playing level (although these playing levels aren't necessarily "uncomfortable" ones).

Another way is to play eighth notes on the hi-hat and snare simultaneously. While doing this, accent all of the downbeats in the left hand and make all of the upbeats unaccented. Then reverse that...make all of the upbeats accented and all of the downbeats unaccented.

These are just a couple of examples...there are alot of ways to effectively work on ghost notes. And yes, in the end, practice and repetition remain king...sorry!

My New Book on Warm-Up Exercises and HUGE Discounts!

Just wanted to give you a quick update on what's been going on...I'll get straight to it...

I released a NEW BOOK this past weekend. It's called The Drummer's Bullpen: A Book of Warm-Ups (available in PDF/eBook or hard copy). I honestly wrote it for myself as much as for anyone else. It's a book that focuses on the all to often overlooked process of warming up...What to do when you first sit down at the drum kit. I haven't been able to find anything that spends time discussing this topic. Almost 80 pages of warm-ups to prepare you for a smokin' shed session! I wanted to go ahead and let everyone know about it...I'll be posting some free YouTube lessons on some of the topics in the near future and having the book will help you get through the lessons a bit easier. Also, in observance of Cyber Monday, I thought a discount would be in order for my e-mail shedders. Use the coupon code CYBERTUESDAY to get 30% off of your purchase. You can use it on one or both of the books until 11:59 pm PST on Tuesday November 29th, 2011. Check this review out:

"I have a copy of this book. It is a "must have" for drummers. I challenge you to find a better book for getting you in the zone for playing your best. In fact, you will be hard pressed to come across many books geared for the purpose this one is. This may well be the "Stick Control" of drum set warmup books. It is one of a kind. Don't wait! Buy it! You will be glad you did."

-Marcus Lewis

Wow, I don't know if it lives up to that, but I'm honored at the kind words.

Here's where you can snag it

Click for Hard Copy

Click for eBook/PDF Version

and of course, my other book Functioning In Time, which discusses the topics of permutations and combinations in depth, is still available.

I've been BEYOND busy lately. We had an open house at the Drum Shed that was fantastic. Loved having the guests hang with the regular subscribers! We dissected a topic out of my latest book (The Helicopter) and then looked at the Swiss Army Triplet on Friday (we ended the lessons by taking it through the rhythmic scale...a brain killer!). If you took part in it, thanks so much. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you guys around the LIVE STREAMING lessons in the future!

Ya'll are the only reason I want to be a better player...thanks so much for inspiring me!

-Stephen T.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson: Linear Fill - 16th Notes

Quick and to the point. Enjoy!

Order my new book "The Drummer's Bullpen: A Book of Warm-Ups"



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Discount Code

I just got an email with a discount code for 25% off of my book "Functioning In Time". Thought I would share it with you guys: BUYMYBOOK305 Go HERE to snag a copy for yourself or as a Christmas present for another drummer.

Also...I'll have a new book out in about 2 weeks. It's a book that's solely about warming up. The exercises are somewhat simple in nature...I intended them to be. 75 lovely pages of simple drumset warmups that help you focus on the mechanics of your playing and get you mentally and physically prepared for those demanding shed sessions. Here's a sample section for you to check out...


Have fun with it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Advanced Cha-Cha With A Backbeat

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Snare Strainer Issues

Had a question come in on Facebook about a finicky snare strainer.

"Hey Steve ! question about my snare, I can't seem to disconnect the snare wire from the reso head, when I disconnect it, it's still buzzing and connected, and then when I re-connect it (flick the switch up) it's got the usual buzz. I can never seem to find the balance so that I can play a nice non-snare wire snare, and then reconnect it to play normal. I hope that makes sense. Is that normal !? I've got a Mapex Black Panther snare."


"Yea, it makes sense bro. Nice snare btw! IF I'm a gambling man, your problem comes from when you put the snares on. The throw off only allows you so much leeway in how much you can loosen or tighten your snares. The other component is when you're actually installing the snare. I would loosen the screws where the strings are run through the harness on each side. Then, loosen the knob for the throw off almost all the way. Then, pull the snare strings on each side to where they're just at the point of not touching the head. Tighten the screws back up. Now try to tighten the knob on the throw off. This should give you ALOT more versatility and room for getting various snare sounds. When you have a strainer problem, it either lies in the throwoff tension, a mistake you made in the installation of the strainer, or a malfunction on the part of the harness on your snare."

-Stephen T.

"yeah that does make sense, thanks ! I've had a good play around with it and it's sounding pretty amazing now actually, I tuned it and sorted out the snare wire (I think I had the throw off thingys way too tight, I've got one on either side as well) I've tuned the snare up more, and loosened the snare wire by using the screws. Thanks for the response... now ... on to re-tuning my toms !

thanks again"


For downloadable video lessons or to subscribe to weekly LIVE lessons with Stephen, go to

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Second Drum Lessons???

Every now and then I get complaints. Complaints that I talk to much in my lessons...which I sometimes agree with, LOL! That being said, it's a drum lesson. You play and you talk. That's all there is to do. I have some full half hour lessons and clinics up there, some shorter ten minute lessons, and some still shorter 5 minute lessons (you can find TONS more of them for download on my website HERE).

So I came up with the ultimate drum lesson for you guys that hate all of the talking...they're only 30 seconds long! I've posted a couple of them, and I've gotten a great there will be lots more. They essentially consist of a slow demonstration, a faster demonstration, and then a practical use demonstration. NO TALKING!!! They're not meant to be full drum lessons...just consider them drum "snacks". You can take the stickings and ideas and use them however you want. Hope you enjoy learning them as much as I did!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Intermediate/Advanced - "LIVE" Lesson Sample

A lot of drummers have emailed me wanting to know what the live lessons are like. So, here's an extended "LIVE" lesson from last night. I talk about a linear fill and how to break the sticking down to work on it. You can subscribe here SUBSCRIBE TO LIVE LESSONS WITH STEPHEN

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Drum Lesson - Cha-Cha With A Backbeat

Friday, November 4, 2011

Soloing Over An Eighth Note Ostinato

An exercise to get you on your way to soloing over an eighth note ostinato in your feet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Live Lesson Feedback

We launched the live stream lessons today (talked about the Soca) and it was GREAT! Here's some of the student feedback...

Great job this morning...You have a gift for teaching. I have had a bunch of instructors over the years and have learned something from all of them, but never have I had someone who can teach to the level that you do.

Take care and thanks again,


I dig it! That was my first experience taking a live online lesson, and, for me, it's perfect. I have the laptop next to my kit, playing along. I was able to watch the morn lesson before and warm up. World beats are one of my major weaknesses too. Ostinatos 3 & esp 4 were tough for me.

Matt S.

I'm live every Tuesday and Thursday, 10:30am and 6pm CST...come join the madness!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Drum Lesson - "Walk" by The Foo Fighters

Every now and then you just gotta have some fun's a breakdown of a song I've recently been addicted to.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Downloadable Video Lessons, Live Lessons, and a TON more!

I'm so excited to FINALLY be announcing the release of my website, I know time is precious, so I'll keep this short and sweet...and if you think it's something you'd be interested in, just check the website out.

The setup of the site is very simple...I want my users to get the most drum knowledge for the LEAST amount of money. Period. Here's what you'll find...

- Downloadable Video Lessons: Each lesson is roughly 8-10 minutes and focused on a single topic. It also comes with a PDF of the sheet music upon request. If you've seen my past You Tube lessons, they're in the exact same format. The lessons are $2.49 per download (but for the next week, you can use the DISCOUNT CODE: DC to get 20% off!). You can see the video store here:

- Subscribe to Live Lessons: Each week I'll be teaching LIVE and in person online. Twice on Tuesdays and twice on Thursdays: 10:30 am CST and 6:00 pm CST on both Tuesday and Thursday. The early lesson is a beginner/intermediate and the later lesson is an intermediate/advanced format. When you subscribe, you also get access to the lesson vault, where I'll be keeping a months worth of past lessons. You can watch one live stream a week, or all of them. Each lesson will be half an hour long with a Q&A time at the end (there is a chat board attached to the video). Each lesson also comes with a PDF of the exercises. All of that for only $24.99 a month! If you prefer to register for a years worth of lessons, it's $225 (a $75 savings for the year). For the price of half a normal lesson with a reputable teacher, you get 16 lessons a month! I told you, I want you to get the most for your money. Subscribe here:

- There's a link on the site for my book, "Functioning In Time"...'nuff said about that.

- There are links for all of my social networks, blog, and to my FREE You Tube lessons.

Here's a video of me explaining it all if you want to learn more:

You can find it all at

I can't tell you how excited I am about this! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to hit me up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jazz Drum Method Books


Do you have any recomendations on jazz method books?

- Jordan H.

Most definitely...

"That Art of Bop Drumming" by John Riley

"Beyond Bop Drumming" by John Riley.

"The Drummers Complete Vocabulary" as taught by Alan Dawson

These will give you the basics and beyond. Should keep you busy for a while!

And here's some albums to play along to...

"The Birth of the Cool" Miles Davis

"Kind of Blue" Miles Davis

"Blue Train" John Coltrane

Hope that helps!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Website Launch

I promise I'm not going to spam you guys, just want to keep everyone in the loop. I'm planning on taking the website live next week and starting live streaming lessons on Thursday of next week. I couldn't be more excited! The website will be will link together this blog, my You Tube channel, Facebook, Twitter, and there will be a store. You'll be able to subscribe to live weekly lessons (2 of them on Tuesday and 2 of them on Thursday, beginner and advanced, morning and evening). The times are aimed at hitting the most time zones I can with the most convenient times I can. There will be some tweaking done to the schedule once I launch and I'll be adding or taking times away as needed. You will be able to subscribe monthly or yearly. Each live lesson will come with a pdf of the exercises. There will be a live lesson vault that will hold a months worth of lessons so you can go back and review any that you miss. Eventually, I'll be adding mp3 playalongs to each lesson. The only thing it won't be right out of the gate is HD...that will come in the next month or so. I've got to completely upgrade my system to make that happen, and I don't want to delay the launch any longer.

As well as the website providing all of the above, there will be hundreds of individual lessons available for download at a next to nothing price. They're short (5-10 minutes) in length, cover a very specific topic, and come with an optional pdf download of the lesson. And finally, there will be a link for my book.

And that's it. Very simple, very streamlined, and very focused on giving drummers worlwide the opportunity to have quality instruction for less than half of the price of one drum lesson...and that's for the whole month!

Seriously, I couldn't be more excited. Be watching next week because there will be giveaways and alot of other things going on.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Livestream Drum Lesson Sample...FINALLY!!!

Finally, after months of she be...this is a sample of what the live drum lessons will look and sound like. I'm still tweaking everything from camera angles to lighting to if you have any suggestions, feel free to throw them my way! I've already made a few adjustments from some of my viewers suggestions and plan on making many more. The only thing it's not is HD...that's coming hopefully next month. I've gotta get a completely different computer system and wasn't planning on having to do that.

The website will launch in less than 2 weeks and lessons will start immediately...SO STOKED!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Buddy Rich: No Cymbal Felts?

I had a question in my email this morning about Buddy Rich. Love that guy!

Hi stephen,
Ive noticed in videos of buddy rich that he doesn't use felt washers on his cymbals, so they move for longer. Is there an advantage to this?

Hey Geoff...

It depends on what pictures you look at. I've seen pics with him using no washers and pics with some very thin washers on top. It really boils down to, they used to not use top washers. I'm guessing that's how he started playing and just never changed it. Some drummers will argue that it affects the ring of the cymbal, and I'll agree...but it only affects it on a very, very small level. If you were in a rock or pop setting, it would be negligible. In a small jazz setting, it would be a bit more noticeable, but again, hardly at all. Having no top felt allows the cymbal to move more. I personally don't love that, because the cymbal becomes uncontrollable at times. If you put the felt on there, it allows you to tighten the wing nut down to the felt, limiting its movement and in some cases choking the cymbal. And lastly, it allows more access to the cymbal bell.

If you look at old pictures of Gene Krupa and other drummers from that era, you'll notice they don't use felts either. It was what drummers were doing at the time. They also didn't use cymbal sleeves as consistently as we do today. A lot of vintage cymbals from those times will have an elongated hole in the middle from years of hanging at the same angle on a stand with no felt. You'll also notice that many of them didn't use wing nuts on their stands either (you'll still notice that with some jazz drummers today). They honestly didn't hit the cymbals hard enough in many settings to worry with wing nuts. Nowadays, wing nuts are a necessity with popular music. The drumset is a relatively new instrument...not even a hundred years old (there are some instruments that have been around in almost the same capacity and form for thousands of years). Look at drum sets from the 1920's and compare them to the kits of today. There will be ALOT of small differences...and all of them happened for specific accomodate the music, to protect the instrument, or to ease the work of the drummer.

So again...It was what drummers were doing at the time, it slightly affects the sustain of the cymbal (but not much), lets the cymbal move more and it allows more access to the bell of the cymbal. I'm going with the "it's what drummers were doing at the time" excuse though.

Hope that helps!


Friday, October 7, 2011


I got this email in late yesterday. It was a response to a post I did earlier in the week. I can't tell you how much emails like this mean to's the whole reason I spend all of the time I do answering questions and making lessons.

Hi Steve,

The information/advice you gave Mr Hunter was excellent. It wasn't just information on colleges but helpful and concise but how to go about what he wants from his life/music. This is a massive junction in anyones music career, one step the wrong way and your music career is destroyed. I personally have wasted many years in not going in the right direction and have regretted how I approached my musicianship. Now I'm near sixty years old and am extremely happy in my approach to drumming and technique thanks to your direction Stephen. My advice to young up and coming drummers is to choose your direction carefully and listen to every word that Stephen says carefully, the main thing in your music is to be happy. Thankyou again Stephen.

Cheers from Billy from South Australia

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I've been asked a question alot lately...and over the years for that matter, so I thought I'd put some thoughts down. I was told the other day,"I think you have more hours in your days somehow. I don't see how you get so much done."

And I guess he was right...I have my hand in alot of stuff...I juggle alot of balls all of the time. But that's how I work, so I've never thought about it. I don't know that I get much more done than the average Joe. I know I don't get as much done as I want to. My list is always 3 or 4 pages longer than I'm able to finish.

This isn't a how's simply what I do. It's how I organize my days to get more done. And they're gonna go in bullet points, because that's easier for me. So here goes...hold on...

-My recreational activity happens to be one that I also make money at. So when I'm "relaxing", I'm actually getting quite a bit of work done.

-I love what I if I have free time, I actually like working...talking to people, answering questions, shooting lessons, practicing, etc. It's not work to me.

-I have work that enables me to arrange my day in the most productive manner. i.e. I don't have a boss giving me an agenda. I did this purposefully. I get more done when I'm left to my own druthers.

-I make daily task lists. I sit down for about 4 or 5 minutes and I list the most critical things that need to be done in order of most important to least important. Then, when I sit down and have 2 hours to work on a project, I start at the top of the list. I don't move on until I finish the task I'm working on. Then I cross it out...that's most important. Lets you know you've been productive and encourages you to get to work on crossing the next one off. I make a list for work and a list for personal stuff (bills, housework, phone calls, etc). I increased my productivity by ten fold when I started making a list of "to do" items.

-I make a list of all of the hard stuff. You know the stuff I'm talking about. It's all of the stuff you don't do because it takes to much time, or you don't know how, or it's tedious, or whatever. I call it "The Hard Stuff". I follow the same formula...I don't move from one until I finish it. This list isn't a daily can sometimes take weeks to finish.

-I don't have cable...or satellite. *Gasp, horror, shock* I've never watched alot of I've honestly never had a reason to get cable. TV is the biggest time waster we have...that and surfing the web. They'll eat your day up in no time. I would rather read a business book, or make a blog post, or respond to some people online than watch tv. I do like movies however, and watch a couple a week.

-I don't watch sports. I work out...alot...but I don't watch any kind of sport on television. I'm just not into it. It's ok if you are...again, this is just my list of how I do things.

-I respond to all of my emails at once. I try not to stop the task I'm doing to respond to one. It's not that urgent. Set aside a time to do emails...and a time to do calls...and a time to do social networking online, etc. Everything in it's right place.

-I don't sleep much. 5-6 hours is all I need. While in college, I woke up at 5 or 5:30 every morning. And I still do. I had 3-4 hours of practice time in before most college students were even having their first cup of coffee everyday. When I practice, I make a list of what I need to work on and what I've done. When I get through it, I'm satisfied that I've done enough and I can either keep going or not. I also gigged 3-4 nights a week in college. So no excuse there...and I had another job as well...

-I work out (as previously stated)...alot. People think this will wear them out, make them tired, eat up their time. It won't. It will give you more energy, make you feel better about yourself, and get you ready for a killer day. If you can get through a hard workout, you can do most anything for the day.

Those are in no particular order...and may not make sense. But truly, these are the things I've done to make myself the most productive. I just took 4 days a couple of weeks ago and wrote sheet music for over 100 video lessons. That's crazy. It was a ton of work...I loved every minute. I did that on top of the regular work/family/video lessons/question answering/etc that I always do. I also wrote a book this year. I've posted over 170 videos on my channel in the past year and a half...Again, no bragging, it's simply the pace I work at.

Here's one piece of advice that if you commit to, you'll always succeed. I determined a long time ago that most people have more talent than me, look better than me, have better social skills, etc. The one thing I've always been able to beat people at is out working them. You may be more talented...but I promise you, you won't outwork me. It's carried me a long way. So stop avoiding all of that work you need to do...whatever it may be. It's ok for them to be more talented. I sleep alot less than them ;^)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Question on Music Colleges

Seems to be the topic as of late. You'll notice my stance doesn't vary much...choose a college based on your needs as a player and professional, not based on the schools reputation.

Hey Man,

LOVE the lessons and whatnot. It's great to see someone give up their time and effort for the benefit of others!

I have a couple of questions.

What are the 3 BEST music colleges in the US?
What are the 3 Cheapest Music colleges in the U.S (I'm only a young student haha)
Do you know of any college good for Music, in Florida, which is rather cheap?

Can you do lessons on practical skills (ie Practical music reading (with example))?

Cheers Man

Bill Hunter

What's up Billy...

Thanks so much for the email man. I'm so glad you're getting something out of the lessons...that's what they're there for!

And you ask some hard questions...mainly because I feel the "best" universities are always directly related to your needs. As far as the ones that have great reputations for putting out consistently good percussionists...

Berklee in Boston (EXPENSIVE) old drum teacher is one of the directors of percussion there.

Eastman School of Music

University of North Texas

And the cheapest...well, that I don't know. Most state universities are gonna be cheaper. Indiana University has a great music does Florida State...University of Miami (Florida)...

Here's my take on the whole thing. Sit down and be honest with yourself. Decide what you want to achieve with your music career. Is it teaching? Is it performance? Is it private instruction? Touring work? Original music? Be brutally honest. After you do that, go over the skills you feel you'll need to do those tasks. If your job is going to rely heavily on your playing skills, you need monster teachers in that area. If it's more teaching oriented, you'll need great mentors and teachers in that area. After you do those things, start your research. Look at certain teachers and players that teach at the University level. Which ones have the reputation to deliver what you want. Call some of them...ask them a few questions about their departments and their teaching styles. I would base my decision much more along the lines of my life goals than along the reputation of some school.

The BIG music schools in the U.S. are usually going to come with a huge price tag...Like 100k or more for an undergrad. I did mine for more like 25k, had a couple of scholarships, but mostly just gigged my way through and paid all of my schooling in cash. I went to the University of Southern Mississippi and had a FANTASTIC experience. I had taken a few years and played on a professional level, so when I came back to school, I was laser focused on the skills I needed for what I wanted to do in life. I knew that the professors there (Dr. John Wooton, Harrell Bosarge, Larry Panella, and some other adjunct faculty) had the skills and teaching styles that I needed. I didn't need a fancy name behind my degree. I worked my butt off, pushed myself, and looked to them for guidance when I didn't know what direction to take. Your schooling is what you make it. I've known a lot of people to go to "name" schools and then wind up working at a restaurant waiting tables. They didn't get the skills they needed...or weren't willing to put the work forth to get them.

Florida has some great schools and the cost of living isn't to bad. I hear great things about the University of Miami...and Florida State for that matter. All of that being said, don't discount the smaller states and their schools. There are some great and dedicated teachers with some really killer programs that no one knows about. Seek out the teacher first, not the school. You're playing and its growth will come directly from the influence they have on you.

Don't know if that helps, but it's my two cents. Hit me with questions anytime!

-Stephen T.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Details of the Secret Project I've been Working On

Jazz Schooling vs. Contemporary Music Schooling

I had a question come in about the pros and cons of a jazz school vs a contemporary music program. So, here's the question and my thoughts on the subject, for all that care...

pros and cons.

What are the pros and cons of a Jazz school vs. a school that teaches contemporary music (in your opinion)?

You know, there's value in any program as long as it's run in the correct way. I always tell students to look alot harder at the actual teachers they'll be taking from...their skill sets, their experiences, how they relate to the students, etc....than the actual program itself. The program is important, but a great program syllabus with a few mediocre teachers makes for a bad experience all around. I loved the teachers at my university...they were very approachable, very open...the university was in south Mississippi (not exactly the mecca of all that is cool in music), but my experience was top notch because I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of my schooling and I knew that the professors there had the skill sets available to give that to me.

The problem I see with alot of contemporary schools is that they focus heavily on pop...exactly what you need to play it, etc. You don't grow your skills as wide as you could when studying an art form such as jazz. I went into my jazz program (and all of my professors knew it) with the mindset that I was a pop drummer trying to learn a foreign art form. So everything I learned about jazz and the techniques it uses, the writing, fills, chord structures...I would immediately begin to apply that in some way to my pop/rock/etc playing. And you know what...I came out LIGHT YEARS ahead of where I thought I was going to be. I was such a better player, especially on the pop side of things. Anything they asked for live or in the studio I was able to do with some ease...because I had developed those skills. It's true, if you can play jazz correctly, you can play anything. What alot of guys get caught up in though is they begin to love jazz, and then view all other musical forms as inferior. And they're not...they may not be as complex, they may not require as deep of a skill set, but they are valid forms of music that need to be respected and learned for what they are.

Another problem I have with "popular" music schooling...What is popular nowadays? Major labels are tanking because of the decline of the cd...major artists are taking a huge isn't what it used to be...the market is changing drastically and quickly. There are bands that make quirky music that 2,000 people worldwide love and would buy anything they release...and you know what, they make a decent living as musicians. But their music isn't "popular" music...or contemporary...or whatever. It's a little left of all of that.

College is a cool time...use it to really open up your mind and soak up those new experiences. I would opt for the school that A) Had the best teachers B) had a vibrant live music scene around it C) would afford you the most interesting life experiences and D) will give you the skill set you believe you need to achieve your life goals. A mediocre school can be an out of this world experience if you get ahold of one passionate and talented teacher.

I don't know if that helps, but it's my take on the whole thing.


New Mutemath Album Out Today

If you love great music, made by great guys, who are ridiculously and relentlessly creative, and get killer sounds in the studio...well, this is the band for you. And if you get the chance to see them live, you should go. Like, drop everything, and frickin' go. The new album is called "Odd Souls". When I lived in New Orleans, we all went to the same church...truly some of the nicest guys you'd want to meet. I'd totally have dinner with them and my mom, I'm just sayin'. I got the opportunity to teach Darren King a few drum lessons (I don't take any of the credit for his playing, lol)...he's grown into such a monster on the kit with a very distinct style and voice. Wish them much success.

New single

and a sample of their live show

Monday, October 3, 2011

This Month...

So I've been a bit quiet on here as of late. I usually try to get new content up pretty regularly, but I've been juggling alot of balls lately and this is the one that suffered a bit. But it's all for a greater good!

I've been working my tail off for the past two months. I've completely revamped my studio setup, bought a TON of new gear (or toys as I like to refer to them), and spent the rest of my time trying to learn the ropes of what I'm planning for later this month.

I've been leaking out little tidbits on Facebook and Twitter about my "secret project". It's almost done. To sum it up...I'll finally have a dedicated website that will link together all of my social sites, as well as the book, as well as this blog, etc. A place where you can jump on real quick and see what's going on. Quite a few have been asking for a simpler way to keep up with things...well there you go.

As well as simply tying everything together, there will be some other goodies on there. I'll have downloadable lessons with pdf's of the exercises included with the download. I'll also be offering live lessons...which has been the source of a lot of my frustrations for the past couple of months. BUT...we're almost there. I've always offered ALL of my lessons, question answering, gig advice, etc for absolutely free. And I still will be putting LOADS of content up for free. That being said, the lessons and questions and blogs and charts and everything else that goes along with what I do has begun to take up significant portions of my week. Like, 30-40 hours some weeks. And I love it. Wouldn't want to do anything else. I wanted to find a way where I could sustain the pace but also reach more drummers that maybe can't get quality education where they are.

I'll get to the point...I'll be offering some of the lessons for a small fee. I emphasize SMALL. I'm not in this for the's all about helping fellow players. I do have to eat though. I'll also be charging a small fee for the live lessons. Again, for what you'll be getting every month, it will be, less than half the cost of one private lesson...for a months worth of lessons. You'll be able to tune in in real time, ask questions, and get feedback right on the spot. You can't beat that with a stick.

I will make a promise to you guys...I will NEVER come off as a salesman. It's just not me. If you want to subscribe for lessons, great. If you want to buy some lessons, fantastic. If you just wanna check out everything free I offer, I'm just as stoked. I've tried to keep all of the pricing beyond cheap.

I'm really hoping all of this comes together how I'm envisioning it...I think we've got a great community of players and I'm only wanting to find ways to enhance that.

Keep your eyes open this's gonna be killer!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Free Music Writing Software

For those of you looking for a music writing program (and yes, it's FREE)...


Thanks for taking the time and sending me the invoice for your book. It has been paid today and I know your book is going to be out of sight. I would like to ask a question. I want to write my own drum music. Can you recommend a web site?


Hey Jim,

Thanks man...I'll put your order in as soon as I press "send" on this email.

And absolutely I have a website. I've been really big on doing my online stuff for as little cost as I can...not because I'm not willing to put money into it, but because I want to prove to young musicians that you can indeed make something out of nothing (or with little funding). So, you should check out this website...

THis is an open source music's FANTASTIC! I've been using it for 2 years now. When I first started using it, it was a bit glitchy, but over the past couple of years they've really worked on making it a quality, reliable, and most importantly FREE software. I used it to write my whole book, btw. When you go to download it, your computer may throw a warning that it could harm your computer. THat's just your computers natural response to downloading a foreign source...I've downloaded dozens of updates from MuseScore and it's never once harmed any of my computers.

Hope that helps!

-Stephen T.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Drumming - The Funky Drummer Messed Up

A lesson on the groove to "The Funky Drummer" and how you can take it through all of its permutations. Sheet music is in the video description on You Tube. And if you dig this concept, you'll dig my book...which you can get HERE

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How To Drum - Linear Drumming

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shut Up

It's time for me to get back on my proverbial soapbox...sorry, it's been a while and I've been mulling some things over.

I think that sometimes the absolute best response to someone is simply "Shut up." Period.

Lately I've been involved in a few "I just thought I would be in a different place in life" sob story conversations with different people. Don't get me wrong...these are all great people. I love hanging out with them, working with them, talking with them, etc. It just seems like as of late the topic has been "Poor me, I thought I would be in a different place by now." Join the club.

I think that as humans, we're born with this gene that keeps us unsatisfied with our life, no matter the hand we're dealt. You make six figures one year but aren't creatively have a great family but stay stressed out all of the are happy with where your playing is but don't have enough work...and the list could go on ad infinitum.

You know what...I thought I would be in a different place myself by this point in life. Now, that's not saying that where I am isn't a great place, but I simply thought it would look different. As a matter of fact, I don't think I know of one single person that knew exactly how their life would look. So I guess we're all in the same boat.

What to do.

If you're unhappy with where you are, why don't you get about the business of changing that...instead of bemoaning the fact to all of your friends. Crying in your coffee while you're talking to a friend is a great way to vent, but it accomplishes absolutely nothing...except maybe some watery coffee and a friend that checks their watch every time you start talking.

So the next time you find yourself saying "I just thought it would look different at this point in life", do me a favor. Just shut up. Shut up and think about how you could maybe change things. Think about your ideal life. Find one small thing you can do each day to make your life the perfect one you've always wanted. It can be as simple as sending an email or signing up for a class. Doesn't have to be a big just has to move you in the direction you want to go.

It all starts with shutting up though.

I'm sure this made you all feel warm and fuzzy can thank me later.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How To Drum - Faster Singles Between the Hands and Feet

Friday, September 2, 2011

James Brown "Funky Drummer" - Groove Breakdown

I had a ton of requests to break this one here ya go!

Monday, August 29, 2011

How To Drum - Intermediate Groove

Friday, August 26, 2011

Super Secret Drum Project - Part 1

So I'm working on something *kinda* big...something you'll know about in the next few months anyways. So I'll just throw some teasers out there until then...

Hardest Drumming Habits To Break

Got an email in from a drummer site that had asked a question...

"Hello Stephen ,

How you doing? Stephen, recently we asked a question on facebook -- "What bad drumming habit was the hardest for you to break?"...and got few reply."

Here's the issues and my responses:

1.: -- sing,smash and spin....

I honestly don't even understand what this means.

2. --- Using your shoulder when its not required

This one just comes down to simple technique. Here's what I do to break bad habits that you can actually VISUALLY recognize. Get a full length mirror (you should be able to pick one up for under $10...the kind you would use in a closet or college dorm room). Set it up a few feet away from you and to your side. Now watch yourself while you practice. Doing this will enable you to pinpoint exactly where you're developing bad habits and then you can constantly remind yourself to correct them. Warning: This is a shot to the'll discover your technique isn't near as good as you thought (myself included!).

3. playing on max.tension pedals

Easiest way to fix this is to loosen the tension. Problem solved. Now, notice I didn't say you would LIKE taking the tension down a few notches, but tough. Life's hard all over, get over it. After a few weeks of forcing yourself to play without as much tension response, the problem will be solved and you'll be a better player for it.

4. using my ankles throughout a song

This isn't necessarily a bad habit...unless your ankles are hurting from it. A player should take the time to learn how to play heel up, heel down, rocking, sliding, and heel/toe on the pedal. You'll use them at different times for different volume levels.

5. not gripping the stick at the right point

I struggle with this one myself. I always want to choke way to far back on the stick. Get a black marker and hold your stick correctly. Make a mark where your thumb comes into contact with the stick. While you're playing, check your hand position every 2-3 minutes and correct it if needed. The mirror that I talked about earlier will also help with this.

6. excessive rim shots

ROCK!!!!!!!!!!! Lol, it seems like once we learn to play a rim shot, we want to always play one. Makes us feel powerful as drummers! When I was playing in loud clubs 6-7 nights a week, I could kill a rim shot. It took me a long time to bring my playing back down. When you only play with rim shots, it takes away a lot of dynamics and versatility. The only way to learn not to do it is to not do it. Seems simple, but it's not. If you really want to break the habit, set your snare up a little lower than it normally is or sit a little higher than you normally do. You'll make it physically impossible to play a rim shot, and then once your ears see how great the snare sounds without a rim shot, you can begin to incorporate that sound into your playing easier.

7. eating after drumming

Hmmm...I don't really understand why this would be a problem...unless your gaining a ton of weight. I like food...I encourage you to eat a lot, lol...just make healthier choices. Maybe instead of going for that double cheeseburger, you opt for some hummus and wheat crackers, or a bagel with natural peanut butter, or a cup of unsalted almonds. Drink only water. It's all about what you eat.

8. Slouching while on the drum throne..I still can't get rid of it

SO HARD TO NOT DO!!! Because we sit there for hours...and humans are naturally we slouch...I'm doing it right now while I'm writing this. Again, refer back to that mirror. It will fix more of your problems than you know. If you can't get a mirror, set up in the bathroom for a few days...sounds crazy, but we're drummers, so I think "crazy" comes with the territory.

9. Stops while playing

Every student I've ever taught does this. I have an easy fix. When you're practicing, start the metronome on whatever exercise you're working on. When you make a mistake, either keep playing (something...anything!) until you can jump back into the exercise correctly, or wait to jump back in on the next downbeat. You have to learn that when you're playing live in a song and you mess up, the song doesn't stop...time ALWAYS keeps going. So lets act like it when we practice. Even if you just keep your foot going on the hi hat that's better than stopping altogether. I never allow my students to stop and start at random...we keep a steady pulse throughout the exercise.

10. unable to sync high hat and bass drum

This is called "flamming" on the kit. Every studio drummer that's worth their snuff deals with this constantly. When you record something and then play it back, it's painfully obvious how much or how little you're flamming. Simple exercise...Set your metronome to a comfortable tempo (start with 100bpm) and play unison eighth notes. Right hand will be on the ride cymbal or floor tom, left hand on the snare, right foot on the kick drum, and the left foot will be on the hi hat or a cowbell. Play everything together on all eighth notes and concentrate on hitting everything at once with no flams. IF you notice you're flamming at a certain tempo, slow it down and start again. Just to encourage you that you're not the only one...I STILL deal with this daily in my playing and practice...and I've been playing for 16 years. You need to learn and accept that some things in your drumming will be constant damage control throughout your career...this is one of them. You'll always come back to it.

Hope that helps!

-Stephen T.

[HD] Dennis Chambers - Drum Solo (2nd Week) - David Letterman 8-25-11

If you like Dennis...and you like The Funky're gonna LOVE this one! Dennis plays the song so well, and his solo is quite a greasy cheeseburger with a side of onion rings. Some people have been complaining because he didn't "go all out"...but you know what, I've enjoyed the past few nights of the Letterman show. It's been really refreshing to see some drummers play actual compositions rather than blowing for 5 minutes. Too often we as drummers feel this pressure to play more notes rather than playing more music. Music always trumps physical prowess...I bet you couldn't tell me who the fastest drummer in the world is right now. But I bet you could all explain why you love Steve Gadd...or Manu Katche...or Art Blakey. It's about the music guys...let's keep it that way! Cheers Mr. Chambers for a job well done.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

[HD] Stewart Copeland - Drum Solo (2nd Week) - David Latterman 8-24-11

This guy is still a total rock star. Love his passion, love his playing...ok...I might have a bit of a man crush on this guy and his drumming. That's right, I said it. You know you do too. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Drumming - Live Playing w/ Lovers and Liars

I've had a bunch of people asking for some live footage of me playing. I have a few videos of gigs up, but not that many. This is one from a couple of months back that I never posted because the audio was so bad. But ask and you shall receive I guess...nonetheless, here's a live clip.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Abakua

Todays lesson is on the Abakua, a groove that originated from an Afro-Cuban men's secret society. The history is as cool as the groove...Read about it HERE.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How To Drum - Opening The Hi-Hat

Had a lesson request come in on opening the hi-hat within a groove...simple, but necessary.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Gig - On The Road

I was out last weekend...and took my camera. Couple of great in Branson, MO to about 2,500 people and one in Kentucky to about 3,000 people. Both weekend...

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Hey Stephen,

"My name's Matt, I live in the uk and have been drumming for like 10 years, I only used to play drums in band practice until about 2 years ago when I finally realised how important drums were to me, and how much I wanted to better myself as much as possible. I'm having a bit of trouble though, I'm not sure if its something I just need to fix myself, but you seem like a real down to earth and approachable guy so I thought I'd just throw it out there and see if you had any advice!

Basically, lately i've been having a lot of bad practice sessions, like really sucking, nothing sits right or feels good, and I begin to wander what, if any progress i've actually made over the last 2 years!Don't get me wrong my theory and and my hand technique have come on leaps and bounds, especially on my pad, but I find it difficult to apply alot of what I can do to the kit! It s frustrating, alot of it sounds ugly haha. I haven't lost any of my previous ability of course, I'm just starting to wander when the things I want out of my playing are finally going to start sitting in place!

I guess I just wanted to ask what sort of approach you have to practicing?There is such an overwhelming wealth of drum education readily available, and I don't have more than about an hour or 2 a day to play tops. Do you thing I should strip it back down to basics? I had and idea that I could play through some stick control exercises until they feel good, then spend a little time applying them to my kit, see what sounds good, then for the last 20 minutes or so pick either one of your lessons to work, or something from a book or magazine.

It just feels like my practice is in itty bitty pieces rather than solid, and the knock on effect is that my playing is starting to feel like that too. I'm not trying to be the greatest drummer ever, i'm not too interested in flying round my kit at 2000mph either i just want to be able to groove solidly and thrown in some little spicy embellishements every now and then. I look up to the like of stanton moore, benny greb and steve jordan, you know, drummers who get you whole head and shoudlers rocking just with a kick, snare and hi hat!

Anyways, sorry to go on so much, this is just really important to me as I don't feel like I'm getting the most out of myself or my kit at the moment. I look forward to hearing from you soon, keep up the good work man, you videos are excellent and I glad I stumbled across them!"


What's up Matt,

Wow, GREAT questions and concerns man. These are the things that still bug me to this day. Am I progressing at the correct speed? Am I going backwards? Do I need to work on groove more versus technical ability? What about my hand technique? Do I need to revisit it? Why am I even playing drums? AHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Seriously, for anyone that truly loves this instrument (and I absolutely do) practice is a personal thing. When I was in college, a bad practice session could ruin my day. I once had trouble getting my snare tuned to the correct pitch I literally made me nauseated for a week. Kept me up at night. Turns out it was a warped head that the music store had sold me. It had nothing to do with my ability to tune a drum. That taught me something. You need to be emotionally attached to this instrument, but at some point, you have to step back and realize it doesn't set the stage for the rest of your life. I say all of this to make the're in the same boat as alot of other players. Congratulations, lol!

Try reading these few posts on my blog that I've written about practice first...

Keeping A Practice Log

Planned Practice

Technical Practice vs Musical Practice

Recording Yourself While Practicing

Being Motivated To Practice

I know that's alot of them, but I've written on the topic of practice a ton because I get so many questions about the topic and because I struggle with it myself like everyone else.

Things you absolutely have to do:

-Keep a practice log. This is probably one of the single most important things a musician can do (and most don't do it). It keeps you knowledgeable of where you and your playing are.

-Set aside specific times during the week that you practice. Nothing else happens during that time. You don't check emails on your phone, you don't talk to friends, you don't answer text messages...NOTHING! It's practice time...the rest can wait.

-Plan your practice. Sit down at the beginning of the week (this literally takes 5 minutes) and plan out what you want to focus on that week. Then, everyday when you start your practicing, review where you left off the day before and set a daily goal for that day. If you're working on singles between the kick and hands and you were at 150 bpm with 16th notes the day before, lets shoot for 155 that day. If you don't hit that goal it's ok. I gurantee you'll hit them more often than not though.

-Focus, focus, focus. When you're practicing, don't get distracted by whatever goes through your head. Don't get in the middle of practicing something challenging and then revert to your old licks just because they're easier for you to play. Push through those tough times. When I practice, I sound HORRIBLE!!! I mean, I sound like a handful of screws being dropped into a metal bucket repeatedly. It's bad. And that's the way it's supposed to be. If you sound good while you're practicing, you're not practicing anymore. You've accomplished the task and now you're just reviewing for your own pleasure. Once you sound good for a few minutes, it's time to change one of the variables. Change the sticking, change drums, change tempos...change something until you can't do it and you sound bad again. This is a very depressing thing to do, lol, but it's absolutely necessary. You have to constantly push yourself, mentally and physically.

-Allow time for the following things in your practice: Groove studies, Hand technique, Rudiments, hand and foot studies, and new material.

One of the problems is that you hear your playing everyday. You're bored with it at times. It's the same thing with someone that's losing weight. They never see the way they look now, they just see all of the weight they still have to lose. Whereas someone that hasn't seen them since they lost that last 20 pounds literally has to pick their jaw up off of the ground.

I struggle with the same thing you're talking about. There's so much to learn in drumming, so much I want to do, so much I CAN'T do...that sometimes I find myself flip flopping from topic to topic and never really learning a thing. Planning your practice at the beginning of the week, setting weekly goals, keeping a practice log to keep yourself on track, and reviewing where you are at the beginning of your practice time...these are the things that are going to slowly improve you beyond your wildest imagination. When I went into college, I felt like I played decently. I practiced a ton while I was there. Sometimes 8-10 hours a day. It was ridiculous. And I wasn't really seeing the growth that was happening. But when I got out of school and looked back, I was a completely different player...LIGHT YEARS ahead of where I had been.

We're the hardest on ourselves because we know what we're capable of. That's a good thing. Keep plugging away at it with intense focus and determination. Decide on something challenging that you want to learn and don't stop practicing that skill until you have it down. The tortoise wins every time I read the book ;^)

You're simply going through what we call a playing slump. Listen to some new music, go have some new life experiences, find different techniques and patterns to learn. Every player worth their snuff goes through this...and it either makes them better or pushes them backwards. Pushing through this is what sets apart the real players from the kids. And I think you're a real go get to work!

-Stephen T.

Setting Up Hits on the "a" of 4

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer NAMM

So Silverfox Drumsticks invited me out to NAMM this year. I've been endorsed with them now for a few months, and they're absolutely a stellar company. Got to have lunch with Dave from the A&R department. Good stuff. Here's a couple of short videos I shot.

And I saw this guy kickin' it. Ironically, someone on You Tube knew him from now he and I have actually started talking. The internet is a funny place sometimes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Live Streaming?

I really do want to know what you guys think, so don't be afraid to leave me some comments and thoughts!

Drumming - Afro Cuban 6/8 - Drum Lesson

New drum lesson on the Afro-Cuban 6/8

Friday, August 12, 2011

Indian Drummer Interview

So I had the opportunity to be interviewed by . Really fun to do...the interview is copied below, but if you'd like to check out their site and read it on there, just follow this link...

We caught up with Stephen Taylor, Drummer of the band Lovers and Liars a while back and here’s what one of the most humble drummers around today had to say on his journey as a drummer and future plans in this week’s International Drummer interview. Stephen is also well known for his blog where he posts lessons and regularly interacts with drummers from around the globe. Here’s the interview :

ID: Hey Stephen. Thanks for doing this interview. How’ve you been? What’s keeping you busy of late?

Stephen: I’m honoured that you guys even wanted to have me do one! I’ve been fantastic. On the music side of things, I’ve been quite busy. I have my band, Lovers and Liars that I play with. I’ve also had a couple of other road dates with different groups as well as some in town dates and recording sessions.

The online You Tube lessons have really been consuming a lot of my time. The amount of email questions I’m getting these days is surprising. I’m trying to post them all to my blog so that other drummers can maybe learn from the answers as well. I’ve also been working on the quality of the lessons…adding metronomes to the exercises, getting better at mixing the audio, adding a better looking intro, and working on my delivery of the material. I’m always worried that someone won’t understand a lesson that I put up, so I’m working on being as clear and concise as possible when I explain things.

I also released a method book last month called “Functioning in Time”. You can get it here:

It’s available as a hard copy or as a digital download. That book actually came from doing the online lessons…I wanted something I could teach out of at times, something that would give drummers sheet music to follow.

ID: When did you first start playing the drums? What made you choose the drums?

Stephen: I started playing in middle school band in the 8th grade. I started later than everyone else (I was home schooled until the 8th grade), and so they actually put me in the 6th grade band because I was way behind the other 8th grade drummers. Talk about a blow to the ego! I didn’t start private drum lessons until the age of 14, that’s when I got my first drum set.

I actually wanted to play the saxophone when I went into band (SO glad I didn’t!). I tested horribly on that and all of the other wind instruments, so he handed me a pair of drum sticks. Had no clue at that time that drumming would play such a huge part of my life.

ID: Were there any other instruments you played before moving over to the drums?

Stephen: I took about a years worth of piano lessons when I was a kid. I wound up not wanting to practice and making my parents miserable with my complaining, so they agreed that after a year I could quit. I later regretted quitting. The piano is one of my favourite instruments. There are so many harmonic possibilities. I had to learn vibraphones, marimba, and a ton of other keyboard related instruments in college, so continuing with my piano lessons really would have made college a lot easier.

ID: Who were your early influences as far as music was concerned? Who were your major inspirations?

Stephen: Hmmm…good question. My parents were Christian ministers, so a lot of my early musical influences were old hymns and popular praise and worship songs. I later got into DC Talk, Carmen, and such. Once I hit middle school, I discovered grunge and punk rock music…and never looked back! I have SO many bands that influenced me from then…Rancid, Weezer, MxPx, Lagwagon, Nirvana (HUGE fan)…lol, this list could get really long! Those were some of my favs. As far as inspiration goes, I really think I liked the energy behind rock…you could just lose yourself in the songs. Still my favourite part to this day. Sometimes we get so caught up in the technical side of things, we forget why we started playing in the first place.

ID: Same question with respect to drumming, who are your major drumming influences?

Stephen: Now this is really a list that could go on and on. I’ll try to not get long winded…All of the drummers that played at church when I was a kid. They were huge in giving me a love for the instrument, and I honestly don’t think they ever knew they were inspiring some kid from South Mississippi.

I got into a ton of popular music when I played in New Orleans. I’m a huge fan of Steve Gadd and Steve Jordan. Danny Seraphine from the band Chicago is great as well. I also have a love for New Orleans drumming…Stanton Moore, Johnny Vidakovich, Russell Batiste, Herlin Riley, Zigaboo Modeliste, Raymond Webber. These are the cats that are still carrying on the New Orleans drumming tradition.

When I hit college, I really got into jazz. My biggest influences in that area are Tony Williams (a rhythmic master), Elvin Jones (the way he viewed the drum set as one instrument and not a combination of different drums was revolutionary to my thinking. His energy was also amazing!), and Art Blakey (He taught me to swing). Any of the drummers from the Count Basie Big Band are great to listen to. My modern jazz favs are the drummer for a band called The Bad Plus, Dave King. Ari Hoenig, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Bill Stewart are regular favs as well.

And finally to rock. Dave Grohl..hands down favourite rock drummer. His parts are so perfect for every song. I also love Darren King (I had the privilege of giving him lessons while I lived in New Orleans) of the band Mute Math. Great style and energy.

This list could actually be endless, lol, so I’ll just stop there!

ID: What did you learn from your idols and incorporate them in your playing?

Stephen: Instead of trying to take particular “licks” that a drummer plays and learn them myself, I struggle to view their playing in a wider sense. For instance, maybe I love the energy of a certain drummer while they’re playing. I’ll take that and try to figure out how to use that energy in whatever situation I’m playing in. Elvin Jones was a total rock star on the drums…he just happened to play jazz music.

I’ll take something that I hear one of them play and pick it apart. So I’ll learn it how they played it, and then I’ll build my own exercises out of it. This is what I call turning an “idea” into a “concept”. So instead of one fill idea giving you only one fill to use, you take that idea and start to move it around the kit, play it in triple time, make a groove out of it, etc. So this way, you’re taking a Tony Williams lick and making it your own. I steal a lot of stuff from other drummers, but I try to eventually make it my own through practice.

ID: You’re quite a popular guy with the online drum lessons. When did you start posting online lessons? What made you do this?

Stephen: I actually started blogging about drums a long time before the lessons. I was burned out from some of the gigs I had been playing and wanted a way to re-invigorate myself on the drums. I found that the way to do that was by going back to why I first started playing; that sheer love of the instrument. So I started writing about my experiences so that other drummers could avoid the mistakes I have made. I then bought a different house and made a small studio setup, got a camera, and joined the You Tube crowd. I honestly think that I have something to offer in the area of lessons. I’ve taken lessons since the age of 14. I’ve put a ton of work into this instrument and have found different ways to work on exercises that help to simplify them. I thought I would just do a few of them, but I honestly enjoy teaching…they’re fun for me. I love talking to drummers from Japan, Iceland, Europe, and India all before I have my morning coffee! I answer every comment, message, and email (or at least I do my best to not get behind). It’s begun to consume a lot of my time and I’m trying to figure out the best way to structure it in the future so that I can maintain and improve the quality of the lessons, but still have some kind of life, lol! I’ve got a few options I’m throwing around. The one thing that’s for sure…I won’t be stopping them any time soon. So if any of your readers have questions or lesson requests, they can send them to or . I’d be more than happy to talk with them!

On top of just drum lessons, I’ve used my pull from the different social sites (Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, and YouTube) to run a few campaigns for charitable causes. The first one was for Conspiracy of Hope. We were raising money for My Refuge House and International Justice Missions. These organizations help to get children out of the international sex slave trade. We raised almost $4,000 on that one.

The next one was actually for someone online that watches my lessons. He has two very sick daughters and they had simply hit a rough spot. We ran a small funding campaign on IndieGoGo and managed to raise over $10,000 for an addition to their new house! I was blown away by the response! I still can’t believe it. He’s coming to Nashville in a couple of weeks so I’ll finally be able to meet he and his wife in person.

Helping to raise over $14,000 over the past year for good causes is probably one of the highlights of my life. You never know where drumming will take you!

ID: There a lot of really good lessons there. How do you go about choosing a topic for a video lesson?

Stephen: A lot of them are requests. A lot of them are things that I’ve worked on in the past. I’m beginning to build up quite a catalogue now though, so I’ve started to look back and fill in a lot of the holes that I’ve missed in the past lessons. I just did one on how to open the hi-hat during a groove. It’s a very simple lesson, but it’s something that I’ve had repeated questions on, so I needed to cover it. I really want to put together enough lessons so that if someone needs to learn a rudiment or a specific style, they can come to my lessons and click on the one that applies.

ID: You’ve covered a lot of different drumming concepts in the lessons, how has that helped your playing?

Stephen: Honestly, learning how to break down complicated concepts into small 8-10 minute video lessons has really made me re-think how I explain and work on things. I’ve become a better player just by going back through a lot of the info that I teach on. It’s imperative for a drummer to be well versed in different world rhythms and popular styles. I always make a drummer do what I call “Cross pollinate”. When bees fly from flower to flower, they pick up pollen on their legs, thereby pollinating the flower just by landing on it. Cross pollination happens when a bee flies from one type of flower to a completely different breed. Pollen from the different flower is deposited onto the new flower. In drumming, we sometimes get caught up only listening to one style of music. I have students that will only listen to new metal music. Yes, there are a lot of great drummers in that genre…but if you only allow yourself to listen to that style, you’re missing out on a world of rhythmic possibilities! Take what you learn in jazz and try to make it translate to metal or rock music.

ID: How has the reception been so far? You must be getting a lot of fan mails I guess.

Stephen: I don’t know about fan mail, but I do get a TON of emails, comments, and the likes. A lot of questions…everything from stick size, to songs people should learn, to motivation…any question you can think up to send me, I’ll answer! I’ve seen a pretty significant spike in traffic as of late, which is encouraging. You always want to make sure you’re doing things for the right reason and that what you’re doing is actually helping people.

ID: Now getting to your drums setup, give us an insight of your setup.

Stephen: I play a Yamaha Recording Custom kit; have for over 10 years now. I’m not a big gear head; I don’t have 15 drum-sets sitting in my basement. I have one primary kit with a large floor tom that can be used as a kick drum for a small jazz setting if needed.

Here’s my normal setup…

Yamaha Maple Custom Snare or Yamaha Recording Custom

10-13” rack tom, depending on the gig

15” Floor tom

20” Kick Drum

I use Remo Coated Ambassadors for my heads. Clear on the bottom head.

I’ve obtained a couple of endorsements this past year. I now play Silverfox drumsticks as well as endorse Grover Pro Percussion. I also endorse Soultone Cymbals. A great company that will grow in the future I think. 24” Vintage Old School Patina Finish Ride Cymbal, 18” Vintage Old School Crash Ride, 19” Extreme Crash, and 13” Vintage Hi Hats.

Iron Cobra for the kick pedal.

This is my standard setup for a Lovers and Liars gig.

ID: How do you go about tuning your kit? Any common mistakes one must avoid while tuning their kit?

It depends on the gig actually. For a jazz gig I’ll tune them higher with coated heads. For a rock gig, more mid range and punchy with either coated or pinstripe. Tuning is a very individual thing. Drums aren’t like other instruments. With a piano, a middle C will always be a middle C…it’s the same pitch. With drums, we don’t tune to specific pitches. It’s really particular to each drummer.

I actually did a lesson on this topic…it’s about 15 minutes long…rather than type everything that I said, I’ll put the link here…


ID: What does your warm up routine consist of?

Stephen: Before a show I’ll usually run through a series of single and doubles just to center my mind and warm my hands up before hitting the first note. Before I practice I will sometimes got through the rudimental ritual by Alan Dawson or just play along to some of my favourite music.

ID: Any particular patterns or exercises you’d like to share with us?

Stephen: Look up the Rudimental Ritual by Alan Dawson. It’s one of my staples.

ID: You endorse Silverfox drumsticks, Grover Pro percussion and SoulTone cymbals. What do you like about each of them?

Stephen: Silverfox is a great group of guys. I got the opportunity to sit down with them for lunch during the Summer NAMM show a couple of weeks ago. Their customer service has been fantastic, and their sticks are epic. I’m still on my first brick of sticks and it’s been MONTHS.

I love that SoulTone is a smaller company. They’re making some really interesting lines.

ID: As a drummer, how do you find a balance between technique and musicality of a groove? What’s your approach when it comes to taking things around the kit?

Stephen: To me, technique should always be something we’re working on. Too many players and teachers get hung up on a student having perfect technique before moving on to the next thing. I mean, we don’t wait for a student to play a perfect paradiddle before he can move on to learning a flam! Technique should be something that grows with you. My first teacher really spent a lot of time on technique…which I appreciate now, but at the time I would have liked to spend a little more of the lesson on the drum set. As a disclaimer, my first real drum teacher was AMAZING. Very privileged I got to study under him.

Musicality, on the other hand, is what the whole thing is about. Technique is simply a means to an end. I’ve seen some phenomenal players with some of the worst technique you’ve ever seen (look at a lot of the early reggae drummers). So technique doesn’t have to be present for musicality to be there. Both should be practiced and worked on continually. The balance works itself out the more you work on it.

ID: You’re a part of the band Lovers and Liars, give us a brief history of how the band came about.

Stephen: They were playing together for a couple of years before I joined on. I actually found them through Craigslist oddly enough.

Stacy had just left another band and was really trying to find himself in the music again…so he began to write on the piano instead of the guitar. A few songs came out of it, which he was content to leave alone. Adam heard them though and told him he had to get them out to people and play them live…so that’s when Lovers and Liars were born. Jason came a bit later, and then I joined up with them almost two years ago.

ID: You released a dual EP called “before and After the Awakening” how was the reception to that?

Stephen: The reception was good. The songs got the attention of several radio stations as well as some movers and shakers in the industry, which ultimately led to our dealings with Universal Records. Always make it about the music and it will work out!

ID: You’ve shared the stage with bands like Shinedown, Seether, and Theory of a Deadman to name a few, how was it like sharing the stage which such bands?

Stephen: In one word…fun. Not a lot of musicians have the opportunity to play to larger crowds with bands like you mentioned. It’s been a blast so far, both big and small shows.

ID: Which is your best show to date? What are your most memorable moments on stage?

Stephen: Our best show to date would have to be a show we did in Little Rock, Arkansas. The energy, the crowd, the response…it was all just perfect. There’s nothing like being on stage and knowing it’s an epic show, one that you’ll remember.

As far as most memorable moments on stage…it would have to be the time I knocked my cymbal stand off of the drum riser and the cymbal cut the line to the main breaker on the right side of the stage…audio, lights…everything went out. There’s a video about it on my You Tube channel if anyone wants to hear the whole story, lol!

How I Melted My Cymbal:


ID: You guys have something really interesting going on in your music. It’s quite different from the other contemporary acts but at the same time it has a really good melody at the centre driving the entire song forward, how do you guys go about writing the songs?

Stephen: Up until this point, Stacy has been the sole songwriter. He’s a monster of a talent. And you’re right; the thing that drove me to the band was the different sound mixed will memorable lyrics and melodies. He’s hands down the most talented writer I’ve ever met…and I’ve met a lot of successful writers.

ID: As a drummer how do you go about writing your parts for the band? What’s the main challenge for you while writing your parts?

Stephen: When writing a part for a band like Lovers and Liars, the last thing I want the listener to focus on is the drums. I want to be a part of the song, not the song and then the drums. I strive to support the melodies, give room for the vocal lines, not distract from the beauty of the song as a whole. If that requires playing a simple rock beat so be it…if I hear something cooler going on in my head and it works with the song, that’s what I do. There are no set rules for writing parts, just go with your gut. Give the song what it needs…and most of the time it doesn’t need another drum fill, lol!

ID: Are there any upcoming shows you guys have got brewing up?

Stephen: We’ve had a lot of things going on in the band on a personal level…not in the sense that we’re not getting along; the individual players have just had a lot happening in their own lives they’ve needed to focus on. We haven’t been playing as many shows as we usually do this year, but we’ve got one coming up in Nashville.

ID: Any side projects you’re involved in?

Stephen: I do session and live work outside of the band. I’m focusing on the lessons this next year. And there are few possible side projects…but I’ll keep my mouth shut until they happen ;^)

ID: How do you prepare before entering the studio?

Stephen: Play to a click! It’s a must. The last thing you want to think about in the studio is the click. I make sure to know the song back wards and forwards if I have the charts beforehand. If I have to walk in and sight read them, I make sure my groove is together. I also make sure my gear is in proper working order…new heads, no cracked cymbals, etc.

ID: How’s the studio environment like?

Stephen: It can be stressful at times, but it can also be a lot of fun. I tell players all of the time…you practice all of the different things you do so that you can go into a session and give the person that you hired whatever they’re asking for. If they want a bossa nova type groove, you should be able to do it. A swing…it should be in your bag. You practice a lot of things that you’ll never play live simple so you’ll have the skills and coordination to pull off one little fill at just the right moment.

For some songs my band recorded earlier in the year, they had me do two takes on each song. One take was just playing the drums; the other take was just playing the cymbals. Talk about a challenge! I had done that before, but never for my own bands songs. But you just go with the flow. That’s what the others thought would work best, so I did what I could to make that happen. And they turned out good.

ID: What are the common mistakes you’ve seen drummers make in the studio?

Stephen: Overplaying, being to nervous, having bad sounding gear, and coming in with an agenda. Unless you’re someone on the level of Steve Gadd, you don’t have a right to have an attitude in the studio. You do what they ask you…be willing to try the things they want to a point. A lot of times it comes out sounding great!

ID: Any tips you’d like to give drummers before they hit the studio?

Stephen: Just relax…practice to a click…remember why you started playing…and enjoy it!

ID: Getting to live shows, do you still get nervous before gig?

Stephen: Not so much anymore…Unless it’s a really big show. I’m as comfortable playing in front of 10 people as I am 3,000. I actually get more nervous when I do drum clinics than anything!

ID: How do you prepare before a gig?

Stephen: Depends on what the gig is. If it’s a group that I’ve never played with, I’ll spend the time to run over the music or make charts. If it’s a session, I’ll make sure my gear is in order. I like to over prepare for a gig. I once learned 64 songs in 2 and a half days! But I knew it was my only shot to play with this group. I went in, nailed every song, and wound up playing 6 days a week with that band.

The best advice I’ve ever been given is this…Treat every gig like it’s the most important show in the world. Treat them all like you’re playing at Carnegie Hall. Whether you’re playing with a bar band, a high school marching band, a headlining country act, or you’re selling out stadiums…you should treat them all the same. The number of people you’re playing in front of shouldn’t affect your professionalism one bit.

ID: How is touring like? What’s the toughest part about it?

Stephen: Touring can be fun, especially if you go out with the right people. You get to see tons of new cities, meet a lot of really great people, play with some killer bands, and on top of that you get to play the drums for a living. Can’t beat that.

The toughest part is being away from family. I’m a big family guy. I have two little boys and a beautiful wife at home. I LOVE spending time with them. So when I’m out on the road, I really miss my time with them.

ID: What advice would you give to all the young and budding drummers out there?

Stephen: Work hard. Harder than you think you have to. I’m not the most talented drummer in the world, but I’ll out work you every time. Never get an attitude. Always stay humble. No gig is beneath you. You can learn something from every musician you play with, no matter what their age is or their playing experience. Learn to read music. Get a good teacher. Always strive to expand your musical borders.

And remember…you started playing the drums because you loved them. Don’t ever lose sight of that. I love my wife. I fall in love with her every time I see her. You have to be the same with your drumming…every time you sit down to play you should have that feeling of falling in love with them again.

ID: Have you set yourself any goals for the rest of this year?

Stephen: HA!!! Absolutely! I always have a running list of goals that I’m trying to get to. I want to practice more this year. I miss having that time on the drums. I practice, but not as much as I used to be able to.

I’m also focusing on the lessons this year. Where that will lead me I don’t know. I’m working on figuring out the best way I can keep making the lessons better…how I can keep the pace up I have. Should be some cool things happening in the next year.

Thanks a lot for doing this interview Stephen; this is your space, anything you’d like to tell your fans, students, family, etc. put it down here.

Stephen : The only thing I have to tell anyone is that I’m here. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a comment, Tweet, or an email. I answer each and every one.





Band website:

Oh…also…GO PRACTICE!!!!!