TIP Day at Drummers Collective Recap

by Mike Sorrentino

The first ever Hudson Music TIP day at Drummers Collective was a tremendous success.  The event was more than sold out, and unfortunately we had to turn away several people in the days leading up to the event.  What looked like a good idea on paper turned into an even better day in reality.  From 9 am until 5pm, 60 teachers gathered in Studio A to talk about drumming, and specifically the art of teaching.  Drummers traveled from as far away as Canada (including two guitar teachers from Karl Sloman’s Wizdom Academy in Ontario), New Hampshire, Vermont and Virginia.  We enjoyed fantastic product support from Drum Workshop, Evans, Latin Percussion, Mapex, Modern Drummer, Paiste, Sabian, Samson, Shure, Vic Firth,, and Zildjian.  Those companies provided promotional materials, giveaways, door prizes and advertising support.  Hudson Music and Drummers Collective offer those companies our sincere thanks.

The day began with some opening remarks by yours truly and a light breakfast.  Then it was right into the program, led off by the Collective’s own Jason Gianni.  Jason (who took time out from his daughter’s birthday celebration to be with us) is a wealth of knowledge.  On the cutting edge of new techniques and styles, he is quickly becoming one of New York’s most sought after teachers and players.  His seminar focused on developing students’ creativity, and he provided exact methods to achieve that goal.  He also provided his unique approach to linear drumming.  The drumming world is beginning to become aware of Jason on a much larger scale, and deservedly so.

The second speaker of the day was not only also a Collective faculty member, but he’s also the director of curriculum there.  Peter Retzlaff’s seminar focused mainly on how to teach jazz drumming.  An expert player and a hugely in-demand teacher, he is also the co-author of Hudson Music’s Baby Steps to Giant Steps.  This book aims to help students develop the ability to play jazz, and provides a graduated tempo approach with plenty of play along material.  Everyone in attendance received a free copy of the book.  Peter’s easy going approach to teaching the intricacies of jazz time demystified the concept, and he laid out a sensible plan for teaching this information.

Another of Hudson Music’s authors rounded out the first half of the day.  Jeff Salem flew in from Toronto on a very early flight that morning.  Undaunted, he delivered his usual energy, humor and knowledge.  Aside from being a great drumset player, Jeff is also one of the most versatile business people around. A good part of his lecture addressed his work with drum circles and the different avenues they provide for a teacher looking to grow their practice.  It was the first time that many in the room had the chance to meet Jeff and to hear his ideas, and all were extremely inspired to try some different things with their teaching.  To that end, everyone received a copy of Jeff’s book Messin’Wid Da Bull.

After a break for lunch the day resumed with one of drumming’s most popular figures, Tommy Igoe.  As one of the most in-demand teachers in the world, his inspired talk focused on key issues that teachers everywhere face.  His impassioned delivery and “tough love” style drove home the point that sometimes teachers need to actively challenge their students.  He spoke about raising the bar just high enough to continually inspire the student to work harder while never quite letting them feel complacent. He then demonstrated his Lifetime Warm up, handed down from his father – the great Sonny Igoe.  Everyone will enjoy playing through the warm-up, as they all received a copy of his latest DVD, Great Hands for a Lifetime

It was my honor and privilege to introduce our fifth speaker, Dom Famularo.  Dom has been inspiring teachers for many years, and as drumming’s global ambassador he continues to see his influence and popularity grow.  As a teacher he is unmatched but as a motivator he is completely unparalleled.  Dom spoke about the many ways technology is helping teachers and various ways they can help grow one’s business.  He always marks his speaking with funny stories and anecdotes, and this was no exception.  At the end of his seminar the room was bustling with motivated and inspired teachers.  As a proponent of the open handed style Wizdom Publications provided a free copy of The Weaker Side, written by Dom and Stephane Chamberland.

After Dom’s lecture, Joe Morello received Hudson Music TIP’S first annual lifetime achievement award. Due to failing health Joe was unable to attend, and the honor was accepted on his behalf by both Dom and New Jersey PAS Chapter President Glenn Weber.

The last speaker of the day was an industry icon, Morris “Arnie” Lang.  Even after a long day in an awfully warm room the audience was in complete capture.  It truly was one of those historical moments in drumming that will be spoken about in reverence for years to come. Arnie passed along his knowledge of the Gladstone technique, as taught to him by Billy Gladstone himself.  A veteran of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for forty years, and for many of those years under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Arnie has also been influential in teaching percussionists on the college level.  He brought along several of his famed Lang Percussion snare drums, including an original Gladstone model.

To wrap up the long day, we gave away seemingly endless door prizes and promotional materials. To add to the spirit of the event, Drummers Collective director John Castellano extended an opportunity for the attendees to get severely reduced rates on classes at the school and everyone got two books from the Collective series by Pat Petrillo and Sandy Gennaro.  Joe Bergamini of Hudson Music also offered an opportunity for the teachers to buy titles at a substantial discount.

After the day’s official agenda was over, some stayed around to pick the brains of some of the speakers – taking every opportunity to get as much information as possible.  Arnie Lang, in particular stayed for well over an hour after the event was finished.  Some headed uptown to La Fonda Buricua to have dinner and hear some great Latin music.

I would like to personally thank the attendees, speakers, Collective staff, and my colleagues (and bosses!) at Hudson for a truly great day.  Now to plan the next one……

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