Friday, February 6, 2015

Flam & Paradiddle Exercise

This is a quick video demonstration of a really great exercise to warm-up with as well as to help with the development of the non-dominant hand.  It combines flams and paradiddles.  I also use a left handed pataflafla to help with my non-dominant left hand!  Hope you can find some use from it!

Flam & Paradiddle Exercise

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February 2015 Update!

It has been FOREVER since I updated my blog! I have been so busy with my students, family and home improvement projects that I've neglected my news/updates terribly! 2015 has started out wonderfully! I'm so thankful for all my amazing students. My roster is full and each student brings a new challenge as well as a new blessing. I still have to pinch myself from time to time to really make sure I get to do what I love for a living. It has its challenges as I said... namely teaching 6 days a week with nary a chance to relax! But all in all I wouldn't trade it for a thing! NAMM 2015 was one of the best NAMM shows for me. The show is a bit of a double edged sword for me. I get the privilege to attend and see all the new gear, meet friends and company reps I only see once a year and rub elbows with my drumming heroes. I can only attend one day (Friday) and I have to cancel students to attend. That is the drawback... and the fact that I have only one day to do all I need to do. This year I was able to do everything I needed to do in a reasonable amount of time and still have time left over to relax with my family! The highlight of this year's NAMM for me was seeing two of my most influential teachers! I started studying with Roy Burns back in the very early 90s as I was having troubles with my elbow and wrists. I also decided that I wanted to pursue drumming as a career. Roy taught me as much about life and the music business as he did about drumming. He also cured me of all my technical ailments that were leading to my health issues. Here's a pic of Roy and I at the Aquarian booth. He's still going strong at 79 years of age!
The other teacher I got to see after many years was Tony Pia! I attended a NAMM show back in the day and really wanted to study with Gregg Bissonette. A friend of mine had hired Gregg to play on his solo album and I was a HUGE fan of his drumming and instructional video. I met Gregg at a NAMM show and hit him up about lessons. He very graciously told me that due to his crazy schedule, he was only offering group lessons. I told him I wanted private, one-on-one lessons as I was looking for a mentor. He told me about his roommate, Tony Pia. At the time, Tony was playing with Edgar Winter (along with the aforementioned friend who hired Gregg.) He told me Tony was a beast. Long story short, I studied with Tony and Tony encouraged me to start teaching! If it weren't for him, I may not be the teacher I am today. Here's an awesome pic of Gregg, Tony and I at the Dixon Drum booth. Gregg is playing with Ringo Starr and Tony is playing with the Doobie Bros. Not bad work if you can get it!
Seeing these hugely influential teachers/roll models reminded me what a great privilege and responsibility we drum teachers have. We don't merely impart drumming technique. We listen, encourage, motivate, provide a shoulder to cry on, share mistakes and wisdom we've gleaned over the years. I never take it for granted.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Students and I Review Pro-Mark's New Select Balance Sticks!

I began using Pro-Mark sticks in 2009. My co-founder of the Professional Drum Teachers Guild, Marty Fullard, had been a Pro-Mark Artist for years. I had been with one company throughout the bulk of my career (save for two years when I was endorsed by a boutique company). Throughout all those years I was satisfied with my sticks for the most part but had issues with their durability, consistency and taper. I decided to live with it. After hearing me complain for so many years, Marty gently suggested I try Pro-Mark. I went to the local Guitar Center, bought a pair of 5A Oaks and tried them out both in my teaching studio and on gigs. I fell in love with their durability, taper and feel. I had to get accustomed to their diameter as they were slightly thinner than what I had been playing for over 30 years! Long story short, I am now a proud Pro-Mark Artist and recommend their sticks to all my students! Fast forward to Pro-Mark releasing their new Select Balance line of sticks. Pro-Mark graciously sent me several of their new sticks for my students and I to try out. Lo and behold they now offer the diameter of the stick I played for all those years but with the taper, durability and consistency of Pro-Mark! I was ELATED! I’ve been using the .565 Rebound Balance stick and couldn’t be happier. The new line of sticks allows for virtual customization and the line is rumored to be expanding to include even more sizes! Now one can choose the length, diameter and balance (forward for a heavier throw or rebound for a faster feel) without having to have custom sticks made. Plus you know you’re getting quality sticks with the Pro-Mark name stamped on them! In conclusion, I believe Pro-Mark has changed the game with the introduction of this new stick line. If I may make an analogy, there are several tire brands all offering different options, however, the sizes are uniform across the many different brands. In the stick industry, one company’s 5A is different from another’s! There is no uniformity. Pro-Mark has basically dispensed with the nomenclature and now allows it’s customers to choose sticks based on what is important… length, diameter and feel. What a novel concept! Thank you Pro-Mark for continuing to push the boundaries! Check out what some of my students have to say about the Select Balance Series!
I love Pro-Mark sticks, especially the two, new different pairs I recently bought. The RBH and FBH have been the perfect blend of weight and rebound, I am torn between which is my favorite go-to pair. I have tried a couple of other brands and they just don't feel right; they are missing something. Mostly, they are not my trusted Pro-Mark sticks. Thanks Pro-Mark! Keep up the great work! Nancy
Playing with the new Rebound Balance from the Select Balance series offers a feeling of comfortability while also providing a faster response while jamming. By far my favorite sticks released by Pro-Mark! Monique
I have been taking drum lessons with drum teacher extraordinaire Rob Ferrell for a number of years and I have always played with Pro-Mark 5A Oak sticks. Rob introduced me to 2 new Hickory sticks from Pro-Mark about 2 weeks ago: Select Balance “Rebound” and Select Balance “Forward”. Initially, the feel and the weight distribution seemed synthetic and odd. After playing with each of these sticks for 2 weeks now, I have migrated to the Select Balance “Forward” pair. Why? Simply stated…. they give the illusion of being wider in diameter because of the reduced taper in the forward position and this relates to more control and less work for me. I am sold! The concept of giving the drummer more choice in length, diameter and balance is a welcomed improvement over the original simple concept in stick design. Thanks Pro-Mark! Jeff

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I've been using a drum dial since the late 1990s.  I've found them to be an integral part of my drumming career both as a performer and as a teacher.  Here is an in-depth video review of why I like this product so much!

Product Review: Drum Dial

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


While at the 2014 NAMM show, my Remo representative, Bruce Jacoby, pulled me aside telling me that he wanted to show me something he thought I’d be interested in.  He led me to a 4-piece drum set with what looked like Coated Ambassadors on the batter heads.  He told me to sit down handed me a pair of sticks and told me to play.  When I hit the first note, I knew I was playing something special.

The set was fitted with Remo’s new SilentStroke drumheads.  Upon closer observation, I noticed they were a mesh material.  These were not like the practice mesh heads I played in the past.  They let the tone of the drums shine though!  Each drum sounded beautiful!  The kick drum had a low, focused attack with a rich boom surrounding it.  The snare was sensitive at low volumes and capable of producing a smooth buzz roll AND a rim shot!  I was even able to get a sidestick sound from it!  But that isn’t why I think these heads are special.  As a member of Team Remo, I haven’t found a head combination I didn’t like.  What made these heads special was that they were 90% quieter than a standard drumhead!

I’ve been a full-time drum educator since 1998.  I started teaching out of my home.  Then I did added mobile lessons.  Then I taught out of a large, big-box music store.  Then I opened my own music school.  When my son was born in 2003, I went back to teaching out of my home studio.  My current student roster sits between 68 and 72 students per week.  I teach Monday-Saturday.  That means I get lots of students of different ages and skill levels coming to my house to learn an instrument that is typically quite loud.  Living in Southern California, I don’t have the luxury of having space between my neighbors.  A huge issue for me is sound management.  I want to keep my neighbors happy!  I do not have the ability to have a dedicated, soundproofed teaching studio.  My studio is located in my garage.  Yes I have it finished and insulated as well as climate controlled but it is not soundproofed!  I have sound absorption panels and mutes on my teaching set.  The sound levels are manageable and my neighbors never complain.  I thought I had everything dialed in… until I tried these heads!

I cannot recommend these heads enough to fellow educators who need a teaching set that sounds AND feels real while being 90% quieter than standard heads or to anyone who wants to play their drums without having the police knocking on their door!  Which leads me to another product Bruce hipped me to:  Zildjian’s Gen16 cymbals!

I mistakenly thought these cymbals were only for triggers and electronic kit players.  How wrong was I!  They come with the option to not get the accompanying triggers!  The same kit with the SilentStroke heads was set up with a Gen16 hi hat, crash and ride.  These cymbals looked great and sounded exactly like what you’d expect a great Zildjian cymbal to sound like but again, 90% quieter!  The cymbals felt just like my beloved K’s when I played them!

BOTTOM LINE:  If you are a drum educator who needs a quieter teaching set or live in an apartment, townhome or anywhere else which requires your drums to not be heard, you will not find a better more affordable sound treatment option than the combination of Remo SilentStroke drumheads and Zildjian Gen16 cymbals!

1)       They are much less expensive than an electronic kit.
2)       You can outfit your current kit with them and still have the familiarity, touch, feel and tone of your existing acoustic kit.
3)       They are much quieter than a practice pad kit or an acoustic kit with mutes.

Monday, January 6, 2014

January Update 2014!

It's been a couple of months since I've updated my news/blog as the end of 2013 was super busy!  I took my usual two weeks off the kids have from school to focus on spending time with my family. I finally have some time to update the blog on the goings on at Rob Ferrell Drum Studio!

January means NAMM!  For those that don't know, NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants.  It is the BIGGEST trade show in the music industry.  Winter NAMM is usually held the third weekend in January in Anaheim.  Thanks to the wonderful support of Remo drumheads, I'm attending once again this year!  I look forward to seeing my company contacts and checking out all the new gear.  I plan on taking lots of pictures and will update the blog with lots of info and pics from the show!

2013 was a year of learning for me.  I spent lots of time practicing my drums and noticed a big difference by year's end.  I look forward to growing more this year as well.  My teaching business has grown to six days a week!  It's been crazy busy (hence the lack of blog/news updates.)  2014 isn't showing any signs of slowing down either!  I'm very grateful to have a full roster of students.  I cherish each and every one of them as well as their families.  Many I'm proud to call friends!  In fact, a few of the parents of my students who are musicians got together and formed a band called "Jen & Tonic."  The band played on New Year's Eve!  The bassist's son (my student Alex) sat in a couple of tunes.  Here is a video of Alex playing "Rock Candy" by Montrose!

In addition to playing with Jen & Tonic, I had the privilege to sub in my old band Party Jones.  Another learning moment for me in 2013 was that life is too short to deal with grudges, drama and negativity.  Each day should be spent living to the fullest with an emphasis on gratitude.  I'm grateful for everything I have and want to live out the rest of my days with an attitude of gratitude!

I also subbed in another band comprised of some friends!  The LA based band "Zota Pop" has James "Zota" Baker on drums and Brad "Woody" Smith on bass.  I played with these two cats in Party Jones for a few years.  Anytime their regular drummer can't make a gig, I'm more than honored to play with them as well.

I also did some local subbing with The Three Mustaches and Chain Reaction.  As much as I enjoy subbing, I miss the camaraderie of playing in a regular band with a static lineup… not to mention not having to learn a night's worth of material in a short period of time!

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!

Thursday, October 24, 2013