Contemporary Music Project publishes percussion music and
recordings, and provides
groups for schools and other presenters.
CMP also offers private lessons with Don
Skoog on drumset, Latin
Percussion, and marimba, as well as Latin percussion ensembles
and batá seminars.
are many good drum teachers and many good ways to teach drums.
But different students have different needs and finding the
right teacher for you is an important key to achieving your artistic
goals. Every musician, at whatever level, should always be
in lessons. Beginners will improve faster with guidance. College-bound
will have more choices if they get proper training. Returning
adults will find playing more rewarding if someone helps them
scrape off the rust.
Professional drummers and teachers can always benefit from
the perspective and insights of a colleague.
I teach drumset, Latin percussion, vibraphone,
drumset I emphasize, Rock, Jazz, and Latin music while including
stick control, soloing, and reading.
I love starting beginners
because that is a critical time in a musician's
development. I enjoy introducing advanced students to new instruments
and preparing kids for college, and I find it rewarding
to work with other professionals
who are trying to broaden their skills.
I teach Cuban-style congas and timbales by focusing
on proper technique while emphasizing the popular styles, rumba, and the contemporary
rhythms of the island. The folkloric traditions, and batá are
best taught in ensemble (see below).
Contemporary marimba techniques have evolved rapidly
in the last thirty years. I try to reflect these changes in the way
I teach the instrument. Gone are the endless scale studies and reading exercises,
replaced by the more interesting concepts and materials I created in
approach to the instrument. Learning to read is very important, but
so is creativity and the technical skills needed to convey your ideas to the
written an etude? Never thought you could? Well, you can and I'll show
you how. Marimba study should also include the standard repertoire, both new
as well as Jazz imporvisation and composition.
For all my courses I include my own teaching materials
and method that includes listening and playing with recordings as
well as resource lists and connections to further your studies. No teacher is
student at every stage of their development. When you're ready, I'll
help you off to college, down to Cuba, or on to your next teacher.
Here's what I don't teach:
Comprehensive timpani and orchestral percussion (although
I have professional orchestral experience and can help you with your
band or orchestra
parts), African percussion, steel drums, advanced
Brazilian percussion, Puerto Rican-tradition percussion,
anything having to do with a drum circle. If you want
suggestions on where to study any of these traditions please give me a
call and I'll try to steer you in the right direction.
For more information on lessons, or if you have
questions, E-mail me
Latin Percussion Ensembles
in a ensemble is one of the best ways to learn Latin percussion.
Many Latin rhythms are only playable with three or four musicians,
so in order to hear all the parts you need to be in a group. Also,
ensemble gives you the opportunity to try different instruments
in various situations. Among the many instruments you'll learn in
ensemble are congas, timbales, bongos, clave, tambora, guiro, maracas,
cowbell, batá drums, chequeré, pandeiro, cuíca,
In ensemble you'll
explore various Latin traditions including Cuban Popular Rhythms (such
as Mambo, Cha cha cha , Son Montuno, Pilón, Guaracha, Mozambique,
Comparsa, Songo, and Timba), Rumba (like Yambú, Guaguancó,
Columbia, Guarapachangeo, and Batarumba), and Folkloric Traditions (Abakuá, Palo, Yuka, Makuta, Batá,
Bembé, Iyesá, Arará, Chequeré, and Tumba
Francesa, among others). You'll also study Brazilian Samba, Puerto
Rican Bomba y Plena, Dominican Merengue, and the rhythms of other
Caribbean and Latin American traditions.
you are a beginner just getting started or a professional looking to
upgrade your skills, there is an ensemble for you. You can also
combine ensemble with a private lesson to speed up your progress. The ensembles
perform as well, and have participated in percussion events at various universities
and clubs around the Chicago area.
more information, or if you have questions, E-mail me
will need Quicktime to
listen to the sound sample
batá-drum tradition, with its complex rhythms and fascinating history,
is one of the most engaging, and addicting, fields of study in
percussion. Born in Africa and carried to Cuba in the heads of slaves,
reinvented themselves within the Santería religion, evolving as
a unique musical and philosophical tradition that made a powerful
impact on the art and thought of the New World. The Orisha-song and
dance cycles, and the speech-based rhythms of the batá that
continue as one of the richest artistic traditions in history.
And today, the music has transcended its roots, finding a new
voice in contemporary Latin Jazz in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the
Despite the beauty of the rhythms and their importance
in Latin percussion, there are few opportunities for North American musicians
to study batá. While I've included some resources on the Links page, I'm very
pleased to offer interested groups a hands-on
batá seminar for up to eight people at once. Learn the names and functions
of the three drums by playing them. Find out their history, religious significance,
playing techniques, and musical forms in this four-hour seminar.
I'm a bridge to Cuba. My role is to pass along
what I've learned there in a way that's suited to North American learning traditions.
The Cubans teach differently than
we do, and while it's really important that you experience the original tradition,
it's helpful to get prepared first. That is the focus of the seminar.
participants also receive a selection of rhythmic transcriptions,
a copy of an in-depth article on batá history and playing techniques,
and information on how to travel to Cuba to continue their studies.
For more information, E-mail me
me) is an independent musician, teacher, and writer who lives in
Oak Park, Illinois. He gigs on drumset, Latin percussion, marimba,
cajón (His hobbies are the Irish bodhrán and Arabic
tabl). His teachers include James Dutton, Vida Chenoweth, Gordon
Husa, Roberto Vizcaino, José Eladio, Rich Gajate Garcia,
and Alejandro Carvajal. He has taught percussion at The American
Conservatory of Music,
Sherwood Music School, and The Contemporary Music Project, which
he founded in 1982. Mr. Skoog (me again) has given demonstrations
on marimba, drumset,
or batá at Northwestern University, Valparaiso University,
Vandercook College, Kansas State University, Colorado State University,
Illinois Weslyen University, The Nashville
Jazz Workshop, and the PAS Illinois Day of Percussion, as well
as hundreds of presentations in grade and high schools through
Music Foundation. He was Lead Artist for The Gallery 37 Latin Big
from 1993 to 2002, and has traveled to Cuba many times to study
and conduct tours.
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