. HOME PAGE - Welcome to Master Rhythm – group and individual lessons for aspiring and advanced drum students of all ages in Oxford and surrounding areas.
Hello and thanks for vising my website. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about me – Darren – and the Master Rhythm services I provided to aspiring drummers.
I’ve been studying drumming and percussion since childhood and teaching drums full-time to individuals and small groups for over 10 years, and performing for 18 years in various settings. For me, and for many of my students, the experience of drumming has been very stabilising and enriching in all aspects of life, through creativity and practice.
In my lessons, whether with small groups of children or more advanced professional lessons with adults, I aim to both inspire and produce tangible results and progression for my students, particularly for kids wanting to learn to drum. The lessons are designed to be relaxed, creative and fun, with an emphasis on building concentration and coordination skills for life.
I offer a new, dedicated three-room drum and music school space in Cowley, Oxford, from 9am to 9pm, fully equipped with a wide range of professional standard drum equipment, from kit drums, bongos and conga drums, to gongs, maracas and cow bells.
I’m a graduate of the Drumtech Academy in London, and have a B.A. in music from Brunel University. I had lessons with one of the most technically advanced and creative players on the planet, Pete Zeldman. I had individual lessons with Pete consistently over three years. From him I learnt the most advanced concepts going around today, which I believe allows me to offer insight and knowledge of ancient and modern drumming to any learner. I also perform regularly in schools, local music venues, festivals and in recording studios.
I am DRB checked, trained in child protection, and fully insured.
2. DRUM TUITION SERVICES - For all ages and abilities.
I offer group and individual teaching sessions. The groups, usually of up to 8 students, focus on children. Teaching in groups with assistant teachers in the new Master Rhythm drum centre allows for a flexible approach, which includes focusing on the individual on the drum kit, while classmates are joining in, socialising and having fun. The new three-room teaching facility also provides opportunities for smaller group and intensive individual tuition.
Kids’ weekly lessons – group and individual:
• How to hold and use the sticks
• Understanding and using the crash cymbal – the end of the fill, or the beginning of the beat?
• Concepts and beats – rock, blues, marches, jazz
• Singing the sounds of the drums
• Counting the numbers of the beat
• Simple drum notation
• Performance skills
• Games and athletic ‘drum workouts’ to aid learning
• Self discipline and social skills through listening and learning in a fun way
• Remembering and repeating self-made patterns
• All-important imaginary play
Lessons for adults or advanced students:
• Advanced linear grooves
• Advanced drum notation
• Ostinato and limb independence combined with improvisation
• Integrating a melodic left foot
• Advanced beat division
• Limb independence
• Discovering a range of methods for constant improvement
• Going for excellence – supporting your individual style and talents
African drum lessons – For all ages and abilities
• Sessions for developing rhythm on hand drums
• Providing drums and percussion
Purchasing and setting and tuning up drum kits in your home
• Researching, discussing and buying a new or second hand drum kit.
• Collecting and delivering the kit
• Setting it up
• Tuning it up
Half day workshops - Focusing on one or more particular elements of drumming
• Mastering a basic rudiment
• Building up strength/stamina
• Accuracy and speed development
• Double bass drum drills
• Becoming friendly with a metronome
• Composing a drum piece
How do I use rhythm in lessons? I always hear the drum student first and see what their natural swing is, or the style they’re most interested in. Some students play in a natural, swung way. This kind of playing is actually not often described in many beginners’ drum books; most books only focus on divisions of time as a technical skill. If beginner books only offer straight rhythms, and shuffle and swing is what you play naturally, then I will focus on that style of playing until the student is ready to be curious about learning notation.
How do I respond when a student is learning? One of my ‘lessons in life’ is to keep calm and relaxed internally whilst interacting with learners. As a teacher, it’s of the utmost importance that I don’t interrupt a students’ learning process. When a student is happy in practice, then I’m very careful when offering suggestions and corrections to either technique or interpretation, so as not to invade his/her own learning process. I think students like the fact that I relate to them as if they are adult, and validate their experiences.
3. THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF LESSONS:
3:45pm slots for 5-7 year old ‘Big Kid Drummers’
5pm (onwards) slots for 8-12 year olds and adult ‘Rock On! Drummers’
• Free ‘taster sessions’
• 1:1 lessons with Darren cost £20 half hour or £40 hour
• Group lessons with Darren 6-10 children £11 per person per lesson.
• 1:1 lessons with student teacher (grade 8) £12.50 or £25
• Half day workshops 10am-2pm cost £30
• Reduced fees are available for parents on low incomes with enthusiastic children
• Purchasing, collecting/setting up/tuning drum kit in your home £60
• Visiting home to tune and set up kit £30
• African Drumming Workshops £8
• Studio rental for practicing un-accompanied price negotiable
• Studio rental for recording with Tim Roberts £125
5-7 year olds’ lessons – Girls rock!
It’s great when the group lessons can be balanced with the number of girls and boys. I’ve noticed that girls respond more enthusiastically when they’re younger.
I use a variety of recognised and innovative teaching support and learning materials throughout the course of study, and offer regular feedback on progress to students and parents.
Progressing through grades:
There’s no pressure to take grades, but I can teach all the way to Grade 8 provided there’s curiosity and willingness from the student. I gently introduce the concept of grades when they become competent enough, without affecting their passion and enjoyment of the drums. It takes at least a year or two of study before most children are ready for grades. What is most important is love of the lessons and the music. With most of the early rock and jazz greats, the virtuosity on their instrument didn’t come through doing grades! On one hand, too much pressure on performance in a graded situation will lessen the learner’s enjoyment; on the other, grades offer recognised learning outcomes for further study including university, and a talking point for future employers.
The small print: After the taster sessions, contracts run on a termly basis. While there can be some flexibility around scheduling lessons, full refunds cannot be made for lessons missed without reasonable notice. Full details will be made available before signing up, and there is a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period.
4. MY LIFE JOURNEY AS A DRUMMER AND DRUM TEACHER
I was just like any other kid in school. I wasn’t particularly focused. My life didn’t feel structured. But I walked into drumming after moving to Oxford. My mother supported me by buying a drum kit and bought a raised bed so that I could put it in the tiny bedroom. Then I started jamming with a guitarist at about 14. Guitars and drums together are a great way to express yourself and bang out and few tunes, without adult supervision. As I was learning the songs, it felt like another language to me, I invented a way to remember them without any effort at all. Learning a groove was something I never had to think about, Even after days, weeks, months or years, the groove just comes back to me. It was a special and creative skill that was the right ‘fit’ for my character and temperament.
From age 11 had drum lessons with Oxfordshire County Council’s Music Service. I had lessons for a year, then lessons with Mark Doffman for a couple of years. Mark Doffman, now runs and regularly performs in Oxford’s very own award winning jazz club at the Wheatsheaf. At age 16-17 after GCSE’s, I was still unfocused and unstructured in life, but I was getting great feedback about my drumming. With support from parents I was able to study for a diploma at the Drumtech Academy in London, which along with will and further parental support, enabled me to go to study a B.A. in music at Brunel university.
I’ve learned that if you have something that you’ve developed, which makes you feel good and grounded and you’re dedicated to that, it’s going to give you a much stronger fall back point, helping you to become a more resilient individual, much more stable, with confidence that you have this developed strength in your core. It’s not something you can lose, like a material thing, it’s something you can draw strength from at any moment and any time in your life.
My own journey as a drummer shows that the desire to learn an instrument requires discipline and the will to learn. It is great for kids and young adults, especially for those who find conventional academic study and the school environment challenging. It inspires and motivates, and it will mean that a child will do better across the board at school. It worked for me! Drumming was the most grounding area in my life, and this sense grew more so as I became older. I still had a lot of other life skills to learn, but the experience fine tuning my body to play the drums well became a transferable skill and led to me having the confidence to start my own drum school business 10 years ago.
I now have recently started developing imaginary play to my teaching techniques. I aim to inspire an internal vision to create a feel for playing the instrument.