As a young drummer I was very frustrated by double stroke rolls and the comment from my first drum teacher that "you just hit the drum twice with each hand instead of once." Today, I am very aware that there is more to the technique of a double stroke than just hitting the drum twice.
I was looking for a drum teacher. I had seen ten or fifteen different drum teachers, taking only one lesson with each, looking for someone, anyone, who really knew how to play the drums, and more importantly, how to teach me to play the drums.
One night I was out watching this great little jazz quartet. The drummer, Michael Brandeburg, was amazing. I ended up taking a few lessons with Michael and every week he kept telling me about his teacher, Chuck Brown.
Chuck Brown had studied with Max Roach. Chuck Brown had taught Dave Garibaldi & Terry Bozzio! The technique that Michael was showing me, that Chuck had taught him, was intelligent, organized, brillant! This was the first time a drum teacher I met who actually understood at a precise, intricate, detailed level, exactly what was going on in his drumming and could explain it to me.
Soon after I started studying with Michael, my family moved to Sacramento. At that time, I could not find a teacher in the Sacramento area that had studied with Chuck. I decided that if I had to commute two hours to study drums with a Chuck Brown student, I might as well commute two hours to study with Chuck himself.
I called Chuck on a Tuesday evening at 4:00, he said, No, sorry, the waiting list is already too long - try calling me again later. The next week I called again on Tuesday evening at 4:00, again he said, No, sorry, call me again later.
I spent the next few months calling every Tuesday evening at 4:00. Finally, he said, yes. Chuck told me that he thought my persistence indicated I would be a serious student.
Chuck Brown was the first drummer I had met who had really studied the mechanics of muscle movement necessary to play intricate, clean, and very, very fast drum patterns.
I had all these ideas floating around in my head, and my hands just couldn't keep up. Chuck helped me develop the tools I needed so that I could play the drums the way I was hearing them my head.
Chuck also taught me a process for learning, and mastering, very complex drum patterns, breaking down difficult tasks into small simple elements, mastering each element, and then very slowly building them back up into complex patterns through a regulated, incremental process.
Nothing is difficult if you break it down into small enough steps.
Chuck Brown is an amazing drummer, a great teacher, a great friend, and one of my heroes.
Here's a few of the, more famous, former Chuck Brown students:
- Terry Bozzio – with Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, Jeff Beck, Brecker Brothers
- David Garibaldi - with Tower of Power
- Michael Shrieve – with Santana, great drum solo at the Woodstock Festival
- Jeff Campitelli - with Joe Satriani
- Don Robinson - with Glenn Spearman
- Brad Hargreaves - with Third Eye Blind
- Michael Barsimanto – with John Luc Ponty and Mark Isham
- Jim Preston – with Sons Of Champlin