Advanced Drum Teacher
Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University
I teach Drums, and Piano. My name is Abel Tabares and I have been teaching drums for 10 years. I began playing piano at the age of 9 but soon after began transitioning to drums. By age 12, I began to play at church and joined both concert band and jazz band at school. After getting accepted to Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University I was fortunate to study with the legendary drummer Victor Lewis for four years. It was at Mason Gross where I was able to grow as a musician by playing in multiple different ensembles as well as playing in local bands. I was also given the opportunity to become a private drum instructor at the Rutgers Extension Division. Upon graduating, I have maintained a rigorous gigging schedule while also teaching privately.
My teaching approach is one that caters to the interests of the student while meeting a certain standard of technical proficiency. I value strong technique, reading, and coordination when teaching my students while maintaining their interests as it relates to music; I use their interests and curiosities about music as opportunities to integrate technique or coordination in their understanding. Depending on the student’s age and goals, I will also spend time developing their rudiments and movement behind the kit.
When did you begin playing Drums, and why?
I began playing drums around the age of 10 after watching the drummer at my father’s church play. Since I had to stay most days after service was over, I would not hesitate to jump up on the drums and begin playing. It was here that I received my formal training and basic understanding of how to play drums.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I started playing piano at the age of 9. Though I never reached a high level on piano, I was always motivated to be better and would attempt learning difficult pieces of music, such as Fur Elise, after just a year of playing. I still maintain a decent level of skill on piano and play hand percussion, as well.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
My main goal as a musician is to achieve mastery of the drums, to continue to play with elite musicians, and to make a living through playing and teaching drums.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
To this day, I have these moments all the time. I believe it’s extremely important to maintain a rigorous practicing schedule no matter what level of skill one is at, because it is in those moments of focus that things click! Whether it’s the coordination of different limbs or being able to play a phrase, it’s always nice to feel and hear progress after continuously working at it in practice.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
My favorite piece of advice from a past instructor was to practice everything very slow and count out loud. In doing that, you’ll see that there is no grey area – it’s either correct or not correct, and makes whether you’re playing the rhythm correctly very clear!
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
Every day brings new challenges and that’s exactly what I love about the drums. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating music and exploring the sounds the drums can make. Taking a simple exercise can become a very difficult one by simply adding a bass drum pattern. Sometimes moving the right hand to another piece can change everything. These discoveries inspire me everyday.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
I’m not sure I’ve had my biggest musical achievement yet and continue to strive toward the next best thing, but I have been honored to play famous venues including the Blue Note, 55 Bar, and Theatre of Living Arts to large crowds.
Favorite thing about teaching?
Seeing a student that’s never played drums before come and play their first rock beat. Seeing them learn their favorite song, play it, and have fun while doing it is my favorite thing to witness!
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Take your time and be patient with yourself. There is no rush, and with practice anything is possible!
Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any)
I’m currently playing with a NYC-based rock band named Nicotine Dolls. We have released a handful of singles along with music videos, as well as perform live on tour and in the tri-state area. I also continue to gig in the Philadelphia and New York City area with various other musicians.