Interview With Jazz Drummer Alan Hall

Alan Hall, Photo by Gerhard Richter
Alan Hall, Photo by Gerhard Richter

On June 27th, 2016 I had the honor of interviewing my own teacher—jazz drummer and educator Alan Hall. The interview is filled with deep insights and practical advice for any musician, artist or aspiring professional. Alan is an amazing drummer, masterful educator and quality human being. The years I spent studying with him changed my life. I know you will enjoy hearing what he has to say.

We discuss his experience studying with Alan Dawson, teaching at Berklee College of Music, performing in New York at Madison Square Garden with Cirque Du Soleil, Percussive Arts Society competitions, the connection between music and visual art and advice on maintaining integrity, developing your own voice and dealing with competitive pressures. Continue reading Interview With Jazz Drummer Alan Hall

Recommended Reading for Jazz Drummers

Twelve Classic Books for Every Jazz Drummer’s Library

It is with great pleasure I share these books with you. I reference them daily as have my teachers and those before them. Each will present a quest and an adventure that will build skills you will own for a lifetime.

If you’ve ever wondered “What are those crazy things that jazz drummer is doing?” the secrets will be revealed by your hard work with these classic study guides. The reward is impossible to express in words. If you love what you hear and it sounds like pure magic when Max Roach or Tony Williams takes a drum solo, developing these skills will be a feeling I can only relate to being granted the ability to fly. Part of the human soul is set free when you have the tools to express your passion.


Continue reading Recommended Reading for Jazz Drummers

Five Ways to Get Kids Excited About Music

We’ve heard the many benefits of music education. We know that the human mind is an instrument and music is a highly effective tool to train and maintain it but no matter how hard we try, kids dig in their heels and refuse to practice. Why is this such a common problem? Consider a fresh mindset.

1. Keep It Together

Music is a group activity. For at least 42,000 years humans have been playing music together. It’s in our DNA—at the roots of our culture and civilization. Music developed along with language and art. These all have meaning in social context. Keep music in the family, with friends, take lessons together, play together, practice together. Enjoy it. Make it a part of family life.

“…music may have been one of a suite of behaviors displayed by our species which helped give them an edge over the Neanderthals – who went extinct in most parts of Europe 30,000 years ago.

…played a role in the maintenance of larger social networks, which may have helped our species expand their territory at the expense of the more conservative Neanderthals.” –BBC Science and Environment

There’s a good reason kids don’t want to be sent to their room to practice alone. They know better!

2. Have Fun


Continue reading Five Ways to Get Kids Excited About Music

Electric vs. Acoustic Drums

I use Roland V-Drums, specifically a Roland V-Tour Series TD-9KX2 electric drum set*, adapted for my teaching studio. For years I had a strong bias against electric drums. That changed recently when one of my students graduated from high school and began attending University of Southern California to study jazz drumming with Peter Erskine. When I heard USC had a drum lab equipped with these sets I decided to check them out and see how the technology has evolved. It has come a long way!

nkm set snapshot

For practice and teaching, electric drums are amazing tools. For performance, playing brushes, material requiring subtle dynamic shading and a variety of textures, they fall short of acoustic sets. Continue reading Electric vs. Acoustic Drums

Inspired Practice

Hard work is the key to musicianship while inspiration provides the fuel for effort.

Inspiration isn’t a replacement for disciplined practice. It is the element that makes that practice effective and fulfilling.

Suggested Sources of Inspiration

  • Playing with friends
  • Live performance
  • Listening to music
  • Watching videos
  • Reading interviews
  • Role models and heroes
  • Healthy competition
  • Goals and rewards
  • Health and well being

Goals and Discipline

“No complaints and no regrets
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets
But I have learned that all you give is all you get
So give it all you got.”
~Shirley Horn

If our goals are lofty our efforts must match them, or our goals must change.  Continue reading Inspired Practice

Interactive, Goal Oriented