Drum Lessons in Phoenix

Eric Hassler Drums Honeygirl Streat Eats 2018

Playing with Honeygirl at the Street Eats Festival 2018. (I'm not actually this cool, just a lucky photo by bassist Troy Dixon!) 

Whether you've been drumming for awhile or just getting started...

...the fastest way to improve is to study one-on-one with an experienced drummer who can help you set practical goals and work with you to reach them.

Goals you say? That sounds boring...like homework.

Sure there's work to do, but it's DRUMMING work, and what's more fun than that? Besides, without goals and a plan for achieving them, you'll end up practicing the same things over and over. You might even get bored, frustrated and give up. That would be sad, because drums are fun, and drummers are fun, and the world needs more of both!

A little secret

It's worth sharing that when I started playing drums at age 10, I was probably THE worst drummer to ever pick up sticks. I mean, I stunk big time! I had absolutely no natural ability. I couldn’t even clap to the beat of songs on the radio. I’m not kidding!

So no matter what your current ability is, I guarantee you I was worse! I got MUCH better though, and I can help you get better too!

A Bit About Me

I played drums and percussion throughout mid school and high school in the form of competitive marching band, concert band, symphonic band, and jazz band. I was an all-state percussionist, too.

Unfortunately, we couldn't afford regular drum lessons, so I studied and listened and worked a lot on my own. Without weekly drum lessons though, I learned everything slowly, and the hard way! It's not the best approach. Sure, you can set goals and figure things out on your own, but a qualified teacher will get you there faster and with a much stronger foundation.

After high school I headed to California for Musicians Institute. I'd seen ads for M.I. in Modern Drummer magazine for years. It was basically drummer Mecca for me. I auditioned and was accepted, but as I was getting my tuition sorted out I heard about this interesting little place called The Grove School of Music. When I learned who the instructors were, and what the curriculum offered, I opted for Grove over M.I.

If you don’t know any of the following musicians, that’s OK. I mention them because I learned a ton from them. 

I was fortunate to study with David Garibaldi, Luis Conte, Peter Donald, Dan Greco, Chuck Silverman, and many other amazing and inspiring teachers, and I participated in master classes with Jeff Porcaro, Alex Acuna, Ed Thigpen, Emil Richards and others.

On top of the stellar percussion program, another great thing about Grove was that drummers were expected to learn music theory and harmony, and to compose music with melodies, chord progressions and structure. I’m definitely a better musician for it. I still practice and use lots of things I learned at Grove. I’d like to pass some of that on to you.

Marching band geek. Loved every minute!
Dave Garibaldi and me
Grove School of Music, 1988.
Playing Jazz in Italy.
Life's good, no?

Practicing...

Here's a video of me practicing to a great play-along track from Jim Riley's book "Survival Guide for the Modern Drummer." This is the type of work my students do as well! Not only does it help identify areas that need work, it's really fun!

I’ve been lucky to play in a variety of bands over the years, covering a range of musical styles: blues, jazz, funk, rock, pop and country. I’ve played for crowds of 20 people to 20,000 people. These days I play drums for Country-Rock band Honeygirl, and Pacific Records recording artist Seth Loveless.

I'm always interested in other projects too, plus subbing, recording, and of course lessons.

Drop me a line.

Reviews

I'm fortunate to be working with such great students and parents. For me, these recent reviews confirm that I'm on the right track.

Mike K.

5 Stars on Thumbtack

We are elated with Eric and his drum instruction for our son. Initially we weren’t sure if our son was old enough (6), but Eric was able to engage with him immediately and give him direction in a fun, straightforward way that our son loves and has shown great early results. Eric’s home studio is clean, convenient and inviting. We love it!

Jay C.

5 Stars on Thumbtack

Eric is a wonderful instructor. He's very patient and helpful. His lessons are practical and in a short amount of time he'll have you playing along with popular music. I would definitely recommend him to anyone who asks!

Jenny J.

5 Stars on TakeLessons

My daughter has taken drum lessons for years, but started lessons with Eric a few months ago. I've seen a lot more improvement lately as well as a boosted interest in playing/practicing more often. Eric has a practical approach to his teaching that simulates that of a performance drummer. In other words, he gets them playing real repertoire while at the same time implementing proper technique. He's also reliable via scheduling and studio set up. As a music teacher myself, I'm happy to call Eric a true professional and I'm happy that we found him.

Bella P.

5 Stars on TakeLessons

Eric is amazing! When I began lessons last year, I wasn’t confident in my abilities although I had always wanted to learn drums. Eric has helped me build my confidence as a drummer as well as making learning fun! He goes out of his way when I need to learn drum patterns for school, which I really appreciate. He always makes his students feel comfortable in the learning environment which makes all the difference! I always look forward to going to lessons.

Drum Lessons, What You'll Learn

Oh...there's so much to learn! And the more you learn the more fun it gets. I've been drumming for 40 years and I'm still a student of the art. The learning never ends. That's one of the great things about art of any type. Embrace it.

It's impossible to write everything drum lessons include; this page would be endless (and who'd wanna read that anyway), but the following is a glimpse of what we'll work on together.

Eric Hassler Drum Lessons
Hand Technique

How we hold the sticks and the way we use our wrists and fingers affects the sounds we get from the drums, the speed and accuracy with which we can play, and our endurance.

If you have a death-grip on your sticks while flying around the drums at a 900 miles per hour, you won't be able to play very long before your hands cramp up and turn to bricks. So, proper technique really helps.

Rudiments

Get to know and love your snare drum rudiments! The idea of rudiments may sound boring to some drummers, but actually they're useful, fun, and instrumental in gaining stick control.

We'll focus mainly on the rudiments that you can apply to the drum set, but if you're in school band (marching band, symphonic band, etc.) we can have all kinds of fun with snare drum rudiments.

Time & Groove

It's important to play "in time," which means not speeding up (rushing) and not slowing down (dragging) during a song. Drummers are expected to keep a steady beat, and that beat needs to groove, which simply means it should feel good to other musicians and people listening.

Groove can be elusive. It's possible for two drummers to play the exact same beat, but one drummer will get people's feet tapping and heads bobbin', while the other drummer is just sorta, meh.

We'll work on developing solid time by using a metronome during practice, and we'll work on the musical aspects that help make this stuff groove and sound cool!

Recording

Recording is fun and challenging, and a fantastic tool to hear how you're progressing.

My setup allows for recording up to 16 tracks of live audio. You'll drum along to prerecorded audio tracks, then we'll listen to your performances and talk about what's going well and what needs work. No need to stress. You'll get used to hearing your mistakes and learning from them, which is the whole point.

If you're a beginner, we won't get into recording until you're able to play a steady beat, but that'll happen much faster than you think, so don't worry!

Reading Music

Can you be a great drummer without reading music? Absolutely. One of the greatest drummers of all time, Buddy Rich, didn't read music. But I'm no Buddy Rich, and neither are you. 🙂 We're mere mortals, so let's take advantage of everything we can to make us better musicians.

We'll work on reading music, because it's how we communicate ideas on this great instrument.

What else?

Above all else, drumming is supposed to be fun! That's why I fell in love with drums as a kid. That's probably why you're into it too.

As I mentioned, I've been drumming for a loooooooong time. I still love it! I really want to be a part of your journey learning to play this crazy, wonderful, dynamic instrument we call drums. Let's go!

Rates & Stuff

Lessons are one-on-one and awesome! No contracts.

First lesson is FREE. We keep it light, get to know each other, hit the pads and drums for a few. No pressure. This is primarily to help you decide if I'm the right teacher for you or your child.

Pricing

Half-hour lesson $30
Full-hour lesson $50

Lessons are paid in blocks of 4. That enables me to reserve your time slot on my calendar for 4 weeks, and it makes bookkeeping easier on my end. I do make exceptions to the 4-up-front rule if necessary. I'm reasonable; just let me know. 🙂

Cancellations & makeups

Life throws curveballs. Sometimes you'll need to miss a drum lesson. Just notify me ASAP. I'll give you a couple weeks to schedule a makeup lesson so you don't forfeit that fee.

FAQ

Contact me if you have any questions I haven't answered.

What ages do you teach?

All ages really. I'm happy working with young kids as long as they can focus on drumming for 30 minutes and can practice at least a little during the week between lessons. I'm not a stern taskmaster or anything like that—I'm a parent too—but will encourage them to show some improvement each week. Or ELSE! Just kidding.

On the other end of the scale, I don't care how how old you are... If you're a 90-year-old who's finally decided to pursue your dream of drumming, I am totally into that!

Where do you teach?

I teach from our humble home in what's affectionately known as "Arcadia Lite" near Camelback and 44th Street in Phoenix, AZ 85018. Here you'll find two acoustic drum sets, Roland V-Drums, various percussion, keyboards, recording gear and an upright piano that my wife's grandma taught lessons with in this very house for about 30 years. 🙂

Also, I can drive to you if you like, though I may charge extra depending on the distance.

What do I need to start?

You'll need a pair of sticks that feel good in your hands. Think "Goldilocks" when picking them out. Not too small, not too big, not too heavy...you get the picture.

And you'll need a practice pad. I like the "RealFeel" brand practice pads. Get the 12". They're a little pricier, but last a long time. I'm still using one I bought in 1988!

If you're not ready to invest in sticks and a pad yet, I have extras we can use during lessons. If you decide to stick with it though, you'll want to pick up your own for practicing at home.

Do I need my own drum set?

No, not right away, but you'll certainly have more fun and progress faster if you have a drum set at home to play and practice on.

You don't need to buy a brand new top-of-the-line drum set! You can find drum sets from the 60's, 70's, 80's etc... that still sound amazing. Great deals are to be had online for used equipment. As a student (or parent of) I can help you sort the wheat from the chaff when you're ready to buy your drums.

I also provide a service to get your drums tuned and set up ergonomically so they're easier and more fun to play.

Note to Parents...

I understand the hesitation you may feel entrusting your child to a complete stranger. I'm a dad, first and foremost, so I totally get it. Child-safety is paramount. I'm happy to provide references upon request, and for good measure have completed a background check from SterlingBackCheck as a TakeLessons Partner.

Get Rolling!

Let's get the ball rolling. Fill out the form below and I'll be in touch ASAP. This is NOT a mailing list opt-in.