Don Skoog (me) is an independent musician, teacher, and writer who lives in Oak Park, Illinois. He gigs on drumset, Latin percussion, marimba, and Flamenco cajón, the Irish bodhrán, and Arabic percussion. 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, Millikin University, Concordia University, 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.
Private Percussion Lessons
If you don’t live in the Chicago area, we can also conduct private lessons and ensembles over Zoom or FaceTime!
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, Middle Eastern and Irish percussion instruments, 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 are best taught in an ensemble (see below).
The study of Batá drumming is a challenge to both mind and body. Because it is one of the most difficult drumming traditions in the world we have specialized ensembles for those who want to devote themselves to these amazing drums.
Middle Eastern percussion includes not only the tabla (dumbek) and tambourine (riqq) but also the musical traditions within which these instruments are played. Students need to learn not only about the music but also about the people who play it.
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 improvisation and composition.
CMP offers ongoing classes and ensembles in Latin percussion, Cuban batá drumming, and Middle Eastern percussion. We have classes for drummers at all levels from beginner through advanced. This is the place to try something new with other drummers who also love the art of rhythm.
We also offer trips to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Morocco for drummers, dancers, and other musicians who want to take their art to the next level. Ask about upcoming trips!
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.