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Advisory Board Roundtable: Part 1

tip-logoAdvisory Board Roundtable: Part 1

For this installment of our TIP Advisory Board Roundtable discussion, We asked each member for some information regarding their day-to-day teaching experiences. This is the first part in a series of “Virtual Roundtable Discussions” where we hope you’ll find useful information relevant to your situation.

Taking part in this discussion are Jeff Salem, Ed Soph, Rod Morgensten, Sherrie Maricle, Donny Gruendler, John Ramsay, Pete Retzlaff and Neil Garthly.

Please enjoy – and feel fee to let us know what topics you would like our board to chime in on!

Jeff Salem
Jeff Salem

Lets start at the beginning by letting everyone know where you teach.

Jeff Salem: Toronto Area, Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Ed Soph: College of Music, University of North Texas

Rod Morgenstein: Berklee College of Music

Sherrie Maricle: My home studio or Drummer’s World in NYC

Donny Greundler: I am a full-time faculty member at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. At the school, I teach ensembles, private lessons and the core curriculum class (that I wrote) entitled Digital Drumming.

John Ramsay: Berklee College of Music

Peter Retzlaff: I teach at the Collective and at the New School in New York City. As a teacher, I spend my time teaching lessons, classes, and ensembles. I also teach private lessons at the New School.

Neil Garthly: I own and teach at the Academy of Drums & Guitar in Toms River, New Jersey.

(you can learn more about each of our Advisory Board members on our bio page. -ed)

Ed Soph
Ed Soph

Do you have a system for playing music in your studio, and if so what is it?

Jeff: I have a P.A. system set up where we could play to CDs or iTunes from my laptop or iPod

Ed: We have a DVD player and great speakers to recreate an actual playing environment

Rod: Stereo system and computer hook up

Sherrie: DBL phone jacks for an iPod

Donny: In my teaching studio at MI – I have a line mixer with two headphone outputs. With this in mind, I plug both my Macbook Pro and iPod into the mixer — Thus, my student and I can both play along to a Reason click track, Ableton Live loop or any other recorded song without blasting a loud amplifier or speaker.

Peter: In my studio, I have a stereo system with headphones, an amp, two drum sets, and two practice pads. The school has an extensive music and chart library and ipods for the students to use. I have an iPod as well as CDs for use in my lessons.

Neil: I use a 16 channel Behringer mixer to play the music through a keyboard amp.

Rod Morgenstein
Rod Morgenstein

Do you have a computer with internet access in your teaching studio?

Jeff: Yes – a computer with internet connection in the room.

Ed: Yes. We have a computer with internet in the studio.

Rod: (Berklee) has Macs in our studios, each connected to the internet.

Sherrie: Yes

Donny: I carry my Macbook Pro from class to class – along with assorted patch cables and an iPod. So I usually patch both of the devices into the PA. My computer lab has 30 iMac stations with Digidesign Mboxes as well – so for those classes – my laptop is not needed.

John: Yes

Peter: No computer or internet.

Neil: Yes.

John Ramsay
John Ramsay

Do you use a camcorder or videotape in your lessons?

Jeff: I film my lessons on DVD, over the top camera view. My teaching curriculum is based on 6 books, with different colors for different levels. It’s similar to martial arts. White, yellow, green, blue, red and black belt, same with my book covers. At the end of each book, I test them and film them playing to a song of their choice using information that is in that book. They receive a pair of sticks with the tips painted the color of the level they completed. This excites students. Besides these books I have many other books they get involved with from other authors. I also will film students for fun little competitions I have to map out their progress over time.

Ed: Yes

Rod: No

Sherrie: Yes

Donny: I use the built in isight camera on my Macbook Pro to record into iMovie. I then can email a small quicktime movie to the student. For the email itself – I usually use as it sends quickly and provides the student with a download link that lasts 14 days (which is quite helpful if the student accidentally deletes it – and it prevents me from having to resend it.).

John: Sometimes

Peter: No

Neil: Yes

Peter Retzlaff
Peter Retzlaff

Do you use DVDs in your teaching?

Jeff: Yes

Ed: Yes

Rod: Not at the moment, but possibly in the future

Sherrie: Yes

Donny: I use concert and educational DVDs in my studio drumming elective and ensemble classes. For mainstream stuff, I will bring in footage of Steve Jordan, Abe Jr. or Kenny Aronoff to demonstrate to the students that these guys compose great sounding drum parts in both studio and stage setting. During the playback of the DVDs – we also analyze their sound and beat placement as well. (I think that many students only see/hear licks – and I try to get them to listen for tone, touch and time – DVDs are a great way top accomplish this!)

John: Sometimes

Peter: I often recommend various CDs and DVDs to my students to listen to and/or to watch as part of their lesson preparation. I also give them written assignments from my own book materials or classic material that has been passed down through the teaching tradition. I am an avid collector of video as well.

Neil: Yes

Sherrie Maricle
Sherrie Maricle

What common characteristics are you seeing in your new students?

Jeff: They all love double bass and stick tricks

Ed: Ignorance of the tradition of the instrument; lots of chops but no musical ability as to how to use them i.e. how to improvise (and I don’t mean just “jazz” but improvisational ability in many styles and genres.)

Rod: (Students seem to) have more access to everything, also stretching the technique envelope.

Sherrie: The lack of understanding the REQUIREMENT to PRACTICE for hours and days and years…alone in a room. The instant gratification of the Internet and technology has made students think “everything” including their technique, skill, musicianship should happen NOW w/ the least amount of effort.

Donny: Many new students come in to school without any advanced knowledge of single line reading, chart reading or different styles. Thus, they are quite intimidated by these subjects. So my job is to take the phobia out of the intimidating subjects. I also need to relate these subjects to my real world experiences that (hopefully) reinforce that they have to learn these items to succeed. Therefore, I may reference a session I had where I had to read single line rhythms – or discuss a pickup gig where the leader called a jazz tune in a rock setting etc…This seems to energize them to get to work!

However (and in spite of these deficiencies) I also see that today’s students have a better sense of popular music, time and overall business sense — than in years past.

Donny Gruendler
Donny Gruendler

John: Greater awareness and interest in a variety of styles and the evolution of the instrument. I think this can be directly traced to whole DCI/Warner, Hudson Instructional video/DVD phenomenon.

Peter: I find that today’s student has access to massive amounts of technology and information. My students are from all over the globe, and they use web sites supplied by various drum companies as well as newer sites such as However, as great as these advances are, there is still a need for one on one instruction from a teacher.

Neil: They are spread too thin. Too many activities are distracting them from practicing. They like the idea of being a great drummer but they are having a hard time finding time to practice to become a great drummer.

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