About CMP

     The Contemporary Music Project
publishes percussion music and recordings, and provides musical 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.

Private Lessons

     There 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 students 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, and marimba:

     On 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 developing my own 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 audience. Never 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 and old, 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 right for every 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, and 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

     Being 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, and drumset.

    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.

     Whether 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.

      For more information, or if you have questions, E-mail me

Batá Seminars

You will need Quicktime to listen to the sound sample

    The 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, the batá 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 accompany them, 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 United States.

      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.

     All 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


    Don Skoog (that’s me) is an independent musician, teacher, and writer who lives in Oak Park, Illinois. He gigs on drumset, Latin percussion, marimba, and Flamenco cajón (His hobbies are the Irish bodhrán and Arabic tabl). His teachers include James Dutton, Vida Chenoweth, Gordon Stout, Karl 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 The International Music Foundation. He was Lead Artist for The Gallery 37 Latin Big Band from 1993 to 2002, and has traveled to Cuba many times to study and conduct tours.

Click to see Picture