I've taught music for over 15 years, starting when I gave cello lessons to kids when I was in high school on the recommendation of my orchestra director. Since then, I've taught drum lessons in Milwaukee, WI, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY (my alma mater), and my private studio in Long Island City, Queens, in addition to giving clinics internationally and working as a Teaching Artist for the Bridge Arts Ensemble.
I stay up-to-date with current musical styles and drumming ideas, and I am adept at translating what drummers are doing into speech and vice-versa. Exploration and vocabulary development are a focus for me, and I am a great advocate of learning to play anything you like. Everything can be broken down and learned, and everything can be combined with everything else to make any student's playing as unique as her taste.
I give lessons at my private studio in Long Island City Queens as well as in-home in North and Central Brooklyn and Western Queens. I also give lessons, at a slightly increased rate, in Midtown Manhattan.
The best players aren’t necessarily great teachers. Through my own experiences, I've found that to be the case, and accordingly I've always been very focused on the qualities that make good teachers successful, as opposed to relying only on my development as a player to put it together.
One such quality is the ability to understand masterful playing. By this, I don't mean necessarily the ability to reproduce the playing (although that helps too), but rather to analyze it deeply and communicate the findings verbally or demonstratively to a willing student. I like to think of golfers and tennis players and their coaches. Can Federer's coach beat him in tennis? No. Can he point out inefficiencies in Federer's game, and compare it favorably or unfavorably to the games of other great players? Absolutely. A great drum teacher can explain exactly why Tony Williams sounds like Tony Williams, even if said teacher is also gazing up at Tony on the mountaintop. I think it's important to find a teacher who deeply understands the great playing of yesterday and today and refuses to be mystified by it, thereby helping students find their way to that same level of mastery.
Another quality of successful teachers is a willingness to help each student reach her or his individual goals and acknowledging that they may be different from another’s. Every student is unique, and every student is well-suited to some teaching methods and not others. A teacher with rigid, inflexible methods will never help each student with the efficiency, clarity, and ease that comes from adapting to each individual student’s needs.
Here is a list of just some of the things that can be adapted from student to student:
- The balance between practicing technique and practicing musicality
- Practice expectations
- Verbal vs. demonstrative explanations of concepts
- The extent to which general musical training is taught in addition to drums
- Emphasis on sight-reading vs. playing by ear
- Intellectual vs. intuitive sides of playing drums
Styles and concepts
- Rock, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, gospel, reggae, drum & bass, metal, punk, pit orchestra/showtunes
- Development of physical control, touch, and power on the instrument
- Time, groove, and sense of pulse
- Hand technique
- Basic 4-way coordination
- Expansion of musical vocabulary and playing creatively
- Playing to tracks
- Music theory basics: notes, rhythms, reading music
- Advanced sight-reading
- Advanced four-way coordination, polyrhythms, odd-time signatures and other advanced concepts
"This summer I decided to take the plunge and start learning to play the drums - something I have always wanted to do - from a standing start at age 26. I have some musical background from playing piano growing up, but am a complete beginner on the kit. For a couple months I tried to teach myself to play using YouTube videos (hopefully if you are reading this you have already disabused yourself of this idea), which helped me quickly come to understand the value of live instruction. I started browsing for a teacher reading Craigslist ads and websites, trying to get a sense for teaching styles and what lessons would be like. One resource I found particularly helpful was this video of Jake teaching in Italy. Despite the language issues, I think this is very representative of how Jake approaches teaching - he is very good at explaining concepts in plain English and building my understanding of music theory conversationally. My lesson time with Jake is spent in a very different way than I have experienced with other music teachers. Rather than 1) watching him play in hopes that I might learn through osmosis, or 2) having lessons serve as a sort of supervised practice time, my lessons are engaging sessions where Jake explains the concepts we are trying to master and most importantly gives me ideas and tools for how to practice and incorporate these concepts into my playing. This makes my practice time so much more valuable and I believe has really accelerated my learning. I really look forward to my weekly lessons, and my lessons get me fired up to practice during the week. This virtuous cycle has definitely driven improvement in my playing, but most importantly my enjoyment of the instrument and the learning process. What more can you ask of a teacher?"
-Jeff H., New York, NY
"Jake's spectacular musicianship and teaching ability both lay on the foundation of listening. I have had a plethora of drum teachers over the past dozen years but Jake's ability to take the verbal and musical information I give him, digest it, and provide meaningful insight has not only made me a better drummer, but a much wiser musician.
Through Jake, my ability to comprehend my role as a drummer from the smallest timing of a single snare hit to the philosophical macro of music as a whole has grown. His age is no indication of his ability as his kind demeanor and broad experience make him invaluable as a teacher. I not only look forward to our lessons each week to better my abilities but to spend time with an insightful musician.
As a jazz, rock, bop, and funk drummer, I am immensely thankful for Jake. Highly, highly recommend to both beginner and professional alike."
-Carter O., Brooklyn, NY
"I've been playing drums for +20 years. I've been working with Jake the last 2-3 years and it's been an amazing experience. He understands how music works in all its angles and depths and the best part is that he knows how to communicate them effectively. He spends time exploring ideas and building them together. If you're looking to take your drumming to the next level this is the teacher to go to. Whether your skills are ahead of your musical maturity or the other way around, he gets it. Even if your a beginner he's the perfect person to start with, he'll spend time on the right foundation and fundamentals."
-Paul M., Queens, NY
"I was already playing for several years when I decided to find a drum teacher to fix some serious hole's in my game, and found Jake's instruction to be just what I needed to take my abilities to the next level. He will give you the right rudiments and exercises to improve technique, and also give you a ton of style tips so you can become a creative and unique player. He's a wizard, especially if you know what you want to improve on."
-Alex C., Queens, NY
“I started taking drum lessons from Jake as a pure beginner, having no experience with percussion. Jake is extremely patient and has a great way of conveying concepts and techniques. The lessons were always well-thought out and were tailored to meet the long-term goals as well as the more immediate goals. He is a fantastic drummer himself and comfortable in many different musical styles.”
-Nathan H., Stillwater, MN
“Having studied music for a long time as a guitarist and singer before taking drum lessons, I felt pretty confident in my musical abilities; however, my lessons with Jake were a watershed in my musical thinking. My lessons not only changed how I saw drums, but how I approached all music. The lessons foregrounded the importance of rhythm: I could now place all of the ambient drum backgrounds I heard on albums into clear patterns!
Jake possesses a sharp mind and a wide knowledge of a variety of styles, making him a versatile teacher. He shaped his lessons to fit my individual needs. After two lessons I was transcribing drum beats from my favorite albums and fully engaged in studying drums. Even if you know a lot about music, Jake has plenty more to share. He comes highly recommended.”
-Sanger C., Oklahoma City, OK
“Jake is everything you could ask for in a drum teacher– patient, knowledgeable, cool… a real rock star. Not only does he care about teaching you music, but he cares about helping you understand the music and that makes all the difference. Lessons are always professional, informative, and fun. Can’t go wrong with Jake!”
-Anabel G., New York, NY
“Studying with Jake has been essential for helping me meet my musical goals, and for giving me new ones. Jake is a devoted, passionate, and articulate educator –his love for teaching drums has instilled a new sense of purpose in my practicing and playing.”
-Alex G., Brooklyn, NY
“Jake is probably one of the most insanely crazy drummers I know, with a great amount of knowledge about drums. . . Usually teachers these days always glance over the little details which play a crucial part in learning, but Jake manages to explain everything to the student about the results they will get on the route they take while playing drums.”
-Mubarrat C., Queens, NY