Education and Drum Lessons

Maybe you are looking to be the next John Bonham, or you might be looking to brush up some skills before going off to music school — either way, the way that you learn the drums is just as important as what you learn.

Some people learn through listening, and others learn through seeing. Some have great dexterity, coordination and physical ability, while others may have to work a little harder to accomplish their goals. Others may even have more serious challenges like physical or learning disabilities. In any case, nothing should stop you from your dream of learning how to play the drums.

Too often people are forced into learning, or working in a cookie cutter environment where there is no personalization or creativity. The results tend to be the same, you punch in and you punch out. Maybe you can’t keep up with the pack so you loose interest, confidence and worst of all your desire to accomplish what you set out to achieve.

I imagine if you have read this far you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s happened to you, maybe your kids, or a friend, or a family member. In many cases it didn’t have to end up that way. Sometimes all it would have taken was a little more individualized attention, motivation and training. This is where having the right instructor comes in.

My Approach to Teaching and Learning…

I use an individualized approach to learning — each student is unique, and therefore must be taught in a unique manner. I watch for expression and body language and listen intently to what my students are saying so that I can best determine their needs and communicate with them quickly, and in a way that they can understand.

“Scott is a professional musician with a deep knowledge of music and an extremely high level of proficiency. Just as importantly, he is one of the most patient and passionate educators I know. My son loves coming to his lesson and is motivated to learn- largely because of Scott. I recommend Scott to anyone who is considering drum lessons”.

Susan V.
Bachelor of Music
University of North Texas
Mother of Evan (age 4)

Each and every day I teach a vast array of students. I have taught three year olds and seventy year olds. I have taught professional drummers and weekend warriors. I have taught doctors, stay at home moms and stay at home dads. I have had students from all over the world; from Denmark, Nepal, England and Africa. My point… there is no “one way” to teach or to learn.

Patience, enthusiasm and encouragement are key ingredients to help beginning students seek a positive first music experience. But also having the skills to mentor students as their proficiency levels increase is equally as important. Focusing on persistently motivating students, to help them develop confidence and move forward is a necessity. Having extensive knowledge of different techniques and significant and varied performing experience is also necessary to help more advanced students who want to continue to grow and learn at a very high level.

“To me, Scott Kinnison is first and foremost a good friend, a great teacher, and a fantastic percussionist. I have taken lessons on three different instruments for ten years and can honestly say that the lessons I’ve had with Scott are the best lessons I’ve ever had. Every single lesson is productive and I learn something new every time. This is true because Scott is a great friend who is personally involved in every lesson and cares about a student’s success; he is a lucid teacher who is able to demonstrate anything a student would want to know, and finally; he is an excellent percussionist who can make the worst drum kit sound like pure gold. Even though I’m majoring in percussion performance at UMass Lowell, and have great percussion instructors here, I still consider Scott my drum teacher and I always will.”

Kyle R.
Music Major, UMass Lowell

It is my belief that the root of my passion for teaching is my passion to learn. One of the most fulfilling experiences I have is when I feel the satisfaction of learning something new. When I then pass it on I again feel that great sense of accomplishment. Even the process of teaching someone in and of itself, regardless of content, is a learning experience. As the ancient Latin proverb says, “By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn”.

Continuing Education…

A common experience I have in my studio is seeing a student, or parent of a student look at me in disbelief when I explain to them that I personally take lessons. I used to be surprised by this reaction because it didn’t make sense to me. As a lifelong learner I couldn’t imagine not studying with someone. However, over the years I have come to realize most people assume that once you have learned something, (like playing the drums) then you have learned it, and thats it, end of story. Well, let me share a little story with you….

One of my mentors over the past several years is Dom Famularo. Besides being one of the most successful drummers on the planet, Dom is also one of the most brilliant minds I have ever met. He told me the story once of when he and his wife were expecting their first born child. Early on in the pregnancy they visited a doctor who they had not yet met in person. While waiting in the examination room Dom walked around the room reading all of the diplomas and degree certificates hanging on the walls. While the doctor was obviously well educated there was one concern Dom had, all of the diplomas and certificates were old, maybe a decade or more.

After the doctor came in and greeted them, Dom asked in a friendly manner if he would share a little bit of his experience and training with them. He explained his education background, experience etc.. But when Dom asked about any recent training the doctor was taken back, acting as if he had already learned all there is to know. It was at this point Dom and his wife kindly thanked the doctor for his time and got up and left, leaving the doctor in a state of consternation.

As Dom finished telling the story he looked at me and said, “Can you imagine going to someone who will be responsible for the single most important thing in your life, the birth of your child, and they tell you they know it all, therefore they have no need to continue working on their skills or education!”

I know you are here for drum lessons, not prenatal care. But I take drumming seriously and my advice to you is that if you come across a drum teacher, or any other type of teacher for that matter, and they have the attitude of “I know it all”, or “I already know enough”, my suggestion is for you to run away!

My Personal Education Background

In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in music performance, I have studied privately with Steve Michaud, Dave DiCenso, Fred Buda, Bob Gullotti, Les Harris Jr., Bob Moses, and Nancy Smith; as well as attended clinics and seminars conducted by Louie Bellson, Dennis Chambers, Alan Dawson, Dom Famularo, Vic Firth, Jason Gianni, Tommy Igoe, Arnie Lang, Rod Morgenstein, Peter Retzlaff, and Jeff Salem. I am a member of the Vic Firth Education Team headed by Neil Larrivee, Dom Famularo and Mark Wessels; and the Hudson Music Integration Program, an interactive, global group comprised of the world’s leading educators. As a lifelong student of the drums I am committed to actively continuing my own education, learning as many techniques and styles as possible and always striving to reach the next level.

“Scott is a professional musician who does a great job with students. Music teachers clamor to have him come back each year to prepare their students for band and state competitions. He has a great rapport with all ages, can key in on what kids need and take them to a higher performance level. His love of music is infectious. He inspires our students by modeling what it takes to be a professional musician.”

Susan D.
Excel Director
Maine School District #60

My Teaching Resume
  • Private Instructor since 1999
  • Exeter High Drumline Instructor 2000-2005
  • Noble High Excel Percussion instructor 2000-2013
  • Vic Firth Education Team 2009-present
  • Hudson Teacher Integration Program 2009-present
  • Private instructor at Manchester Music Mill 2012-present
  • Private instructor at Ted Herbert Music School 2000-2012
  • Private instructor at Rockingham Music School 2006-2013
  • Private instructor at Ear Craft Music 1999
Bringing drum lessons and education into the twenty-first century

I was reminded by my stepdaughter the other day that I was “so 20th century!” I said “yeah, so?” Then she proceeded to remind me that this is the 21st Century! Oops, I sort of forgot about that.

So what does this have to do with drum lessons?

Unfortunately many teachers have not kept up with the times. While vintage drums and cymbals are all the rave, vintage technology isn’t. Yes vinyl is back in style, and there is nothing I love more then listening to my albums on my hi-fi stereo system. I could write a book on the merits of listening to music on the turntable. But what’s not in style are cassettes played through a boom box during your lesson. Or only having text books and no internet. Or not having an extensive library of music at your fingertips.

I remember when I brought my stepdaughter to her first voice lesson at a local music school. I was shocked to see the state of equipment in the lesson room. There was literally a tiny boombox that played cassettes and cd’s. That was it. No computer, not even a smartphone. How can one expect to connect with a student of the digital age when the technology available is prehistoric?

I pride myself in the fact that my studio offers the best of technology to help enhance the learning experience. Two full drum sets, a practice pad station with a mirror, a full PA system, computer, smartphone, photocopier, desk, tons of textbooks, and an endless supply of music and videos via Youtube and Apple Music. If I don’t already have the information in my brain, I can get it in seconds thanks to technology.

So while I stress the importance of modern technology in the digital age I also believe there is no substitution for a skilled teacher that can connect with their students in very personal way. It’s in the balance of technology and humanity where we find the optimal learning environment.


If you are you looking for an experienced, friendly, and professional drum teacher, or need a drummer for an upcoming live performance or studio work please contact me.




Drum Center of Portsmouth
144 Lafayette Rd, North Hampton, NH 03862

T: (603) 339-1620
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