Drums, Piano, Guitar, Bass, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone
Whether you play an instrument or not, I believe each person makes a connection with music at one point in their lives. As a music teacher, it is my priority to guide my students towards this connection. I’ve studied with many teachers over my years of playing music, but I believe it’s important to equip yourself with the right tools to teach yourself as well. My teaching style caters to each individual, equipping each student with the skill required to play the music they find the deepest connection to.
When I’m not teaching, I try to engage with music in as many ways as I can. I’m a producer, engineer, arranger, and can jump in and play on just about any instrument. In the past I’ve played with orchestras, percussion ensembles, pit bands, small jazz combos, and a myriad of other non-traditional musical settings. In addition to live performance, I’ve spent a lot of time in the studio doing session work as well.
I have a contemporary writing and production degree from Berklee College of Music, and a music technology degree from Brookdale Community College.
My goal as a teacher is to give my students a wholesome experience, as music is really important to who I am as a person, and it is something I am extremely passionate about.
When did you begin playing Drums, and why?
I began playing drums for my school’s worship band when I was 12 years old. I had been playing guitar on my own for a year before I was asked to join a band, but I stuck with drums because it was easier to learn. I remember early on watching other drummers while I tried to figure out what their arms were doing.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
When I was 7 years old, I took classical piano lessons and dreading it. Those lessons lasted for about a year before I stopped. Looking back, it wasn’t a good first impression I had with music. As I grew older I would hear music from my dad, my friends, and whatever was popular at the time. Once I made this connection with music, I became interested in playing an instrument, if not several of them.
I started playing guitar around age 11; we had an old knock-off Stratocaster that I used to teach myself chords to play along to my favorite rock songs. I played my guitar less frequently once I started playing drums, but then picked it back up when I began writing songs and spending more time with guitarists.
During middle school, I played trumpet in the concert band. Then I switched over to percussion for a couple years, and finally ended up playing alto saxophone by my senior year. I think my time during the concert band taught me about scales, rudiments, and also basic reading and listening skills which I find help me to this day.
I started taking piano lessons again when I was 14. I remember my teacher showing me a lot of Duke Ellington pieces, but we’d occasionally spend a lesson talking about music theory. Those lessons helped me understand harmony and voice-leading.
After I left the worship band, I played drums in the jazz band all throughout high school. I kept playing jazz by going to jam sessions, but was also gigging with Acoustic trios and Blues bands to keep my chops up. During college, I focused on Latin and Afro-Caribbean styles; I even went to Mali to learn djembe and about West African rhythms in 2018. In recent years, I’ve joined several bands where they all play different styles that can be anywhere in between Neo Soul and Punk. In my own time, I enjoy playing Jungle breaks, blast beats, chopping out, and just about anything that involves Trap or Drill Hi-hats.
Although I’ve never had proper vocal training, I enjoy singing and will participate in background vocals in my bands when I get the chance.
I recently started having a deeper appreciation for the bass guitar, and it’s been my instrument of choice any time I have an opportunity to play music with other people.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
To own a space where other musicians can come to create and record music.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember playing with a really good group of musicians one night. I wasn’t really worried about messing up because the band was supporting me. We fell into a pocket that felt really tight, and I understood what it meant to swing for the first time.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
When learning something new, it’s important to be able to play it slow and soft.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument
I will always struggle with practicing four-limb independence. I remember first learning about left-foot clave and tumbao patterns on the bass drum. I would sit and tap my fingers and toes all day until it clicked. Either that or counting polyrhythms.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
I auditioned for a big band when I was 16 and was one of three drummers that got to go to Hong Kong to perform with the local orchestra. It was the first time music had given me this privilege to perform with people I would never have met. It felt very empowering
Favorite thing about teaching?
One of my favorite moments as a teacher is when a student masters a difficult idea that took me ages to perfect, sometimes within minutes!
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Counting out loud. The human voice is one of the best ways we express our thoughts, and if you can get comfortable with your expressions, it can be easier to tap into the music.