Improve Your Groove with David Stanoch

If you play with David Stanoch you have to  groove with David Stanoch.

He’s drummed professionally since age 12. A student of masters Elliot Fine, Alan Dawson, Max Roach, Jeff Hamilton, Chad Wackerman and others, he has built an eclectic musical reputation performing with artists from the worlds of jazz, rock, R&B, Broadway, motion picture and television including the Airmen of Note, Jackson Browne, Hiram Bullock, Charo, George Clinton, Sheryl Crow, Richard Davis, Herb Ellis, Robert Goulet, Colonel Bruce Hampton, Scott Henderson, Freedy Johnston, Shirley Jones, Stanley Jordan, Shari Lewis, Jack McDuff, the Minnesota Orchestra, Keb’ Mo, New Kids On The Block, Bob Newhart, Christine Ohlman, Regis Philbin, Bernard Purdie, Bonnie Raitt, Walfredo de Los Reyes, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Danny Seraphine, Doc Severinsen, Ed Shaughnessy, Martin Short, Ben Sidran, Jab’o Starks, Clyde Stubblefield, Timbuk 3, Butch Vig, Fred Wesley, and The Supremes’ Mary Wilson. David is currently musical director for Emmy-winner, Shaun Johnson’s Big Band Experience.

David served on the faculty of McNally Smith College of Music for 27 years, serves on the Percussive Arts Society Drumset Committee and is a member of the Modern Drummer, Remo, and Vic Firth Educational Teams.

He has authored Mastering the Tables of Time (“#1 Edu Book,” Modern Drummer 2009 Readers Poll), co-authored The 2 in 1 Drummer (2014 Modern Drummer & DRUM! Magazine Edu Book Nominee), both available from Alfred Music Publishing, and was “Drumming History and Analysis Consultant” for Jim Berkenstadt’s book, The Beatle Who Vanished~The Unsolved Mystery of Jimmie Nicol, currently being made into a major motion picture.

Chuck Schiele: Good morning, David. How are you doing out there?

David Stanoch:  Good morning Chuck.Doing great, thank you. Thanks for reaching out.

Chuck Schiele: What does it mean for you to play drums?

David Stanoch: What a great question. It means a great deal to me that I don’t often put into words, so let’s see… In the big picture, drumming is a truly holistic experience. To tap into the vibrations that come to us first from our Sun and explore them through rhythm is a joy and a sacred gift to me. Drumming makes me happy, except when it doesn’t. By that I mean I am drawn to my instrument, beyond reasons I truly comprehend, like a moth to a flame. It is intuitive an

d I choose to embrace that. In my own development as a vocation and career I must continually challenge myself and sometimes that creates frustration. But, because of the cognitive benefits music offers, I work through this problem-solving. Challenges are good and enjoy the journey.

Professionally, a drummer shoulders great responsibility. We learn a very nuanced skill set so that we can lead as accompanists.

Chuck Schiele: Wow. What  great way of looking at that aspect.

David Stanoch: I look forward to every performance as an opportunity to share, express, and, ideally, find the zone where the drums play themselves and I can enjoy the process outside myself, almost as an observer. While there is always more to learn, I feel truly refreshed after performing. It is a unique way for one to give everything they have into a moment in time where they can pursue their art with total commitment and no distraction and such performances serves as the true benchmark for reflection on how to “do it even better” the next time. It is my calling.

Chuck Schiele:  Top 3 things that made you the drummer you are today?

David Stanoch:

1. Opportunity, which I owe to my parents who gave me the opportunity to pursue and explore my interest in music and drumming through providing lessons and instruments for me. I was very fortunate to have that care, support, and nurturing.

2. Passion, which embodies curiosity and inspiration also. I have a relentless drive to play and explore. I love to learn and I have been fortunate to be in the presence of true masters of my instrument, both as an audience member and one-on-one. Their creativity has fueled mine.

3. Perseverance. In spite of challenges that come with simply moving through the path of life and growth, I have never given up on my pursuit of happiness through musical expression. There have been great moments and rewards through the cost of doing so–it’s not always easy–but I believe that’s the trade off with any passionate pursuit.

Chuck Schiele: Agreed. Calvin Coolidge has a great quote on the subject of persistence. So… How has online culture and technology become a part of what  you do as a musician these days?

David Stanoch: I was on the faculty of McNally Smith College of Music, in Minnesota, for 27 years. I truly enjoyed my job. After I reached the milestone of 25 years there, I began to think about my “next act” as an educator which was fortuitous because the school closed, unexpectedly, overnight two years later. I had formed a plan to develop my own private teaching practice both onsite in my community and globally online.

I put that operation into practice two years ago and am so glad I did. I researched and invested in a great sound set up for my studio as well as multi-angle cameras for my online teaching to be able to simulate an intimate in-person experience as best possible. Drumming is quite physical in execution, utilizing all four limbs, and I wanted my students to be able to see anything I demonstrate to them from every important angle so I have views available looking inside the kit, overhead, and specifically dedicated to the feet and pedals so that I can give them a complete opportunity to understand whatever is needed to succeed in any challenge. In this way I can work to offer them full advantage at a time in history where the concept of the “neighborhood drum teacher” now has global options.

Chuck Schiele: All great musicians are great listeners, first. Your thoughts on this particular skill:

David Stanoch: Music is an art form based on expression through communication in sound. You can’t communicate if you’re only talking. Conversation is a communal practice and understanding comes through listening. My drumset teaching is based first on an extension of a formula I first learned from the great drummer for Tower of Power, David Garibaldi… Time + Dynamic/Accent Control = Feel. To that I follow that Feel + Listening (with the Spirit of collective success) = Groove.

Drumming legend Steve Gadd, when asked “What is Groove,” answered “I think a groove is an agreement.” I was taught a drummer’s job is to know their beat and offer it to the band to lean on. Any drummer can have a good beat but it takes two to groove. You should be so together on your own contribution that you can get out of your own way to be able to receive what’s coming at you from the other players through listening and meld with that to create a sum greater than the individual parts. That can’t happen if you’re not listening.

Along with that is the idea that to be truly creative you have a foundation to build on––imitate, then innovate! It takes a lot of dedicated listening to a lot of music to develop that skill. For new players especially the amount of time you spend listening to music should equal the amount of time you practice.

Chuck Schiele: Tip-top tips for young people approaching the kit.

David Stanoch: Follow your passion and find a great teacher! Music is one of the greatest things humanity has created. Music plays such an important role in our lives in so many ways. To be able to express oneself in music is fun, healthy, challenging in a positive way, and can even be healing. Jump in and create, flow with what inspires you, and–if you really get hooked–understand that you can grow much faster under the guidance of an experienced teacher who is invested in the idea of helping you reach your goals. Such a teacher can open many doors to enrich the world of a young student and as some teachers “audition” their students I always remind any student looking for a teacher that they should audition their teacher as well. Not all “teachers” are created equal and chemistry is essential in building trust in the teacher/student relationship.

Chuck Schiele:  And likewise,  Tip-top tips for older folks wishing to return to the craft.

David Stanoch: All of the above, of course, but more directly, because these folks will have already had experience playing and learning, just sit down and play! The feeling of making music is powerful and can be a hard thing to let go of in life. There is much to be gained for someone getting “reacquainted” with the “old friend” music is to so many of us who have played an instrument. From there I’d follow that finding peers to play music with can be very stimulating as playing music is a wonderful social practice. And, if the passion is truly reignited, find a teacher to guide you back into top condition. The direction a teacher can best provide in this scenario is focus and is a great way to renew and refine one’s skills.

In the years I taught at the college, it was my privilege to work with students mostly “just out of high school” age. Now, in my own practice, I can reach any demographic of player and, in addition to my students in that same age group, I truly enjoy working with much younger and older students alike. I am someone who has had great opportunities to learn from true masters of my instrument and I strongly feel, in the spirit of those who so graciously gave me their time and energy, that it is my duty to pass it forward, share it, and keep the flame burning for all.

Chuck Schiele:  David, thank you, so much for  visiting us to share so much us all here at Making Music. I appreciate your openness and your insight.

David Stanoch: Thank you, Chuck. It’s been a pleasure. Stay well!


Great lesson books from David.

Mastering the Tables of Time:

Print version

Introducing the Standard Timetable—A Comprehensive Drumset Method to Improve Your Groove, Coordination, Polyrhythmic, and Soloing Skills. By David Stanoch

Check out the book here.


Mastering the Tables of Time

Onlne version

A comprehensive drumset method to improve your groove, coordination, polyrhythmic and soloing skills. By David Stanoch

Check out the book here.



Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, producer, editorialist, artist, activist and music fan. He still plays every day.

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