Drums & Percussion with Rob Zollman

BASED ON MY STUDIES with Dr. Edwin Gordon and my decades spent as a musician and educator, I created Whole Music Learning, a teaching approach requiring drummers to learn all the aspects of the song beyond what they would actually play on drums.

Learn the song and the rest will follow.
The song is at the center. We start with developing the listening skills necessary to analyze and learn the entire song. Then we learn to play it on our instruments. As important as it may seem, learning to play an instrument is only part of the process. Without the song there would be no need for the instrument.

Unfortunately we prioritize training students to play their instruments instead of teaching them to understand music and express that understanding through playing their instruments.
This is a subtle but important distinction. Many take up an instrument thinking it’s the way into making music. In reality, we’re much better off focusing on music first. On my own journey I began as a drummer and became a musician along the way. Now, as a teacher, I often ask new students, “Do you want to be a drummer or a musician?” They don’t get that these are two different things. It’s fairly easy to learn to play the drums, but that doesn’t make you a musician. However, when you focus on becoming a musician first, you become both. By virtue of having chosen the drums you’ll be a drummer too.

Drummers don’t play a lot of what’s in the song.
It’s not the drummer’s role to play melody (unless they sing). Nor do they play the chord or bass parts. So in order for drummers to know what they’re supposed to play, they need to learn all the other parts — what you don’t play. Obviously nobody expects you to be able to play guitar, keyboards or bass, learn the melody, harmony and bass line in your head. In this regard, drumming is the most abstract instrument, because¬†so much of what is played is in your head.

The most respected drummers are often the best musicians in the band .
This only makes sense considering the drummer has the power to make an otherwise good band sound bad. And while that’s true, the reverse is not. A fine, musical drummer is a facilitator, allowing the band to play as well as they can. But no matter how good you are, you can’t be responsible for everyone else’s shortcomings. The best you can do provide an amazing rhythmical environment for everyone. But you can’t play their instruments for them.

Drummers also need to know when to get out of the way, to play less or perhaps not at all.

The greatest compliment a drummer can receive is when a listener says they can hear the song in the drumming.
That’s my goal for my students — to¬†know the song so well that the song and their playing are seamlessly connected.¬†That’s what the best drummers have always done.

Private lessons provide a one-on-one opportunity to focus on each student’s individual learning style. Lessons are either one hour, 3/4 ¬†hour or 1/2 hour, depending on age and attention span. Longer lessons permit us to work on multiple instruments ¬†— drum set, hand percussion, keyboard percussion and timpani. We explore rock, blues, jazz and classical styles, playing along at full volume to recorded music and video. Periodically we’ll spend time recording — live and multi-tracking — allowing us to objectively listen to our playing.

With regard to the pandemic, we respect current protocols as well as the personal concerns of our students.

On-line instruction is available as necessary during these times. Email or call us at 802 247-2700 to schedule an on-line session. A good internet connection is essential. We are also working on pre-recorded materials. Check with us periodically for updates on our progress.

A proper teaching environment is essential to achieve a successful learning experience.

We have two studios:

Our percussion studio 
is a wonderful space for private and semi-private lessons. It is outfitted with two drum sets, marimba, vibes, MalletKAT, glockenspiel, chimes, timpani, hand drums and a PA system. 

Our ensemble studio accommodates percussion ensemble and band rehearsals. It is equipped with a drum set, amplifiers, keyboard, PA system with vocal mics, along with many more percussion instruments.

Percussion ensemble can be likened to a team sport without the winning and losing. Much time is spent developing improvisational skills and a group sound, always emphasizing listening and communication. We play hand percussion, hand drums, keyboard percussion, timpani and drum set. Ensembles meet for a specific number of weeks culminating in one or more performances. Past groups have played in school assembly programs and at libraries, community centers and outdoor venues.

Summer Drum Camp  Inspirational and challenging camp for drummers and percussionists who would like to greatly improve their musical abilities in a short time. Open by invitation or audition.         Drum camp information sheet

This year we offer two camps: one half day and one whole day. Camp #1 is from June 27-July 1 from 9 until noon each day. Camp #2 is from August 22-26 from 9:30-3 daily. Camp #1 is tailored for beginning students age 12 Р14. Camp #2 is for more advanced students.

Both camps focus on¬†improvisation and written pieces on drums, hand percussion, marimba, vibes and timpani in both drum circle and percussion ensemble formats. Styles include rock, blues, jazz and classical. We provide instruction on the instruments we play. For songs that have melody and harmony, everyone learns and plays all parts. Time permitting we’ll cover other areas such as drum gear set-up, tuning and maintenance, creating your own personal Song Journal, reading and writing, and how to practice¬†efficiently and productively. In Camp #2 we‚Äôll wrap up the week with a Friday afternoon performance open to parents and siblings.

Tuition for Camp #1 is $200 for the week. Camp #2 tuition is $375 for the week. Space is limited to 5-6 participants per camp. Some scholarship money is available. Barters considered. 

Participants should bring their stick bags with sticks, brushes, mallets, a bottle of cold water and a bagged lunch (Camp #2 only), and get ready to enjoy an amazing adventure in the world of drums & percussion. 

2022 Camp #1 registration form (Word doc)                2022 Camp #2 registration form (Word doc)           
2022 Camp #1 registration form (PDF)                        2022 Camp #2 registration form (PDF)