TIP International: October 2010

I thought I would bring you all up to date on some of the meetings I’ve had with TIP members in recent weeks.

Back in October, I got a chance to do a gig in Nottingham, England with a band called Drive She Said. It gave me the opportunity to hold a few meet and greets with some TIP members, with Rob Wallis and Paul Siegel generously picking up the bar tabs. (Fortunately for those guys the gatherings were small!)

Paulo Santos, Mark Mayhem, Mike Sorrentino
Paulo Santos, Mark Mayhem, Mike Sorrentino

The first meeting was with Mark Mayhem and Paulo Santos (left my UK mobile phone in his car!)at the Chancery Bar in London. Mark drove all the way from Liverpool to hang out and talk drums for a few hours.

It was interesting to learn about the peripatetic system used in the UK. To my knowledge, we don’t have anything like that here in the United States. For those of you who are not familiar, that is a system where independent teachers get hired by the school boards to come in and teach the students on a small group basis. It creates many challenges, as the teachers may have as few as two or as many as ten or more students at a time of differing abilities. And to top it off, they usually are conducting 20 minute lessons without computers, recording devices, or internet. Hard work!

The next stop was to meet drummer Simon Bowhill, percussionist Richard Kensington and guitarist Rikki Thomas Martinez at the Bell Inn in Nottingham. Richard and Rikki are in a Latin group called Mas Y Mas, which is well worth checking out. We had an interesting discussion as they brought along a woman who teaches Spanish in one of the local schools. We spent a few hours talking about the challenges that teachers in that area face as well as the similarities and differences between teaching drum set versus guitar, percussion or language. It is interesting that no matter how different the system or subject matter, often times teachers face similar challenges. Mainly they are students’ natural ability, discipline, and desire.

Paul Hose and Mike Sorrentino

The next morning I stopped by Paul Hose’s MLC academy. Paul runs an operation that has over a hundred students each week on several instruments including drums, guitar bass and piano. They also run courses designed to put students together in bands and then perform at local venues. Paul is an extremely bright man with great ideas for the future of the teaching business, as well as the benefits of online media.

Jim Farey, one of the teachers at the MLC academy made it out to my gig that night (the keyboards didn’t work!), and I was also able to meet up with Jim at PASIC last week in Indianapolis. You can check these guys out at www.mlc-academy.com

Speaking of Jim Farey, my next TIP stop was Indianapolis for PASIC. Hudson Music hosted a panel on the use of new technology and media in teaching. It was moderated by Hudson’s senior drum editor Joe Bergamini and the panelists were Dom Famularo, Tommy Igoe, Benny Greb, John Favicchia, Donny Gruendler and me. We had a very lively discussion with great input from the teachers in the audience. Among those teachers were Jeff Salem, Pat Petrillo, Karl Sloman, Donna Hall, Wes Crawford, Skip Hadden and Sergio Bellotti. I also got to meet long time TIP members Aaron Bishara and Scott Pellegrom in person. We’ve gotten some great feedback about the panel and are planning our proposal to PAS to do another one next year. When the video footage has been edited we will be making that available to you as download. I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks to everyone who made it there. (My apologies to anyone I missed).

Mike and Jim Farey
Mike and Jim Farey

Aside from the panel there were some other great things going on. Benny Greb and Skip Hadden held some great clinics and I got to see some of my friends at the Vic Firth Education team meeting. Daniel Glass and Zoro gave a very educational clinic, and were the best dressed guys in the city! Oddly, it was in Indianapolis that I met two of the UK’s biggest drum teachers: Mike Dolbear and Colin Woolway. We’ll have some features on these gentlemen in upcoming TIP newsletters for sure.

One of the coolest parts of the weekend for me was that I got to play Neil Peart’s chrome Slingerland drum kit from the early days. Michael Lowe is looking to use the kit to help raise money for cancer research. Please check out his work at www.neilpeartdrumsticks.com .

The last thing I want to mention is a music teaching software that I had a private demonstration of, called SmartMusic. It is made by the same company that makes Finale. Check it out at www.makemusic.com.

I urge all of you to join the Percussive Arts Society, and keep the spirit of drumming alive and strong. Go to www.pas.org to sign up!

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