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!