At the dawn of its second decade, the undisputed leader in instructional videos for drummers is using technology to blaze new paths for engaging students, educators, and retailers.
Go to almost any drum clinic and you’ll hear the featured artist, if he’s under 40, extol the benefits of instructional videos. And if he’s over 40 he’ll say how lucky later-generation drummers are to have had access to these media. Much of the instructional drum video medium’s development can be traced back to the efforts of two individuals. Rob Wallis and Paul Siegel began filming artist clinics in 1982 at their New York City drum school, Drummers Collective.
Over the years they marketed books and videos under the banners of DCI Music Video, Manhattan Music, and most recently, Hudson Music LLC. Now in its second decade, Hudson Music has consistently won acclaim and the cooperation of the drumming world’s most respected players through its state-of-the-art production quality, deep understanding of drummers’ learning needs and preferences, and unwavering dedication to providing meaningful educational substance. Some of Hudson Music’s latest efforts to advance drumming education focus on integrated media. Its new eBook DVD format includes, in addition to the instructional video material, a complete book of transcriptions, exercises, and supplemental lessons. This bonus content can be viewed on a computer or printed out. “A DVD and book on a disc represents a terrific value for the consumer,” says Wallis. New DVDs by Keith Carlock, Aaron Spears, Benny Greb, and Tommy Igoe all contain eBooks rich with educational content. Sample eBook pages with related DVD clips can be viewed at www.hudsonmusic.com.
“The advent of instructional videos and DVDs seems to have had a marked impact on drummers’ skills and musicianship,” notes Siegel. “Now, with the development of new electronic media options and the promise of the internet as a teaching tool, we’re on the edge of another watershed. We feel that the key to maximizing the impact of these emerging technologies on music education is in linking them together.”
Another cutting-edge Hudson innovation is showcased on David Garibaldi’s Code of Funk. This package includes an audio CD with the drum tracks removed for play-along plus two DVD-ROM discs enhanced with Pro Tools and Garageband files. When played on a computer, the DVD tracks can be looped and slowed down without changing the pitch, and the music can be re-mixed to isolate just the drums or just the rhythm section without the drums. “Bringing this kind of technology to music education not only makes it fun to learn,” says Wallis, “it also allows the student to dig deeper into areas that maybe were previously uncharted.”
Most people involved with drum study agree that DVDs play an increasingly important role in their students’ musical education. “Print and DVD materials go hand-in-hand,” says David Jahnke, vice president of national sales at Hal Leonard Corp., which distributes Hudson products in the U.S. and Canada. “More and more, people in general tend to learn visually, and drummers in particular are very visually oriented. Showing how top players set up and approach their drums, their hand and foot techniques…can be incredibly helpful for players looking to develop or refine their own playing. No other company in the world does this better than Hudson.”
Hudson has been promoting the concept of multimedia teaching directly to drum teachers with its recently launched Teacher Integration Program (TIP). A newly designed website, featuring blogs, chats, and other communication tools, is making Hudson ly important information hub within the growing network of TIP member drum teachers. In addition to education articles (“like drumming lessons for teachers!”) and articles on featured teachers, the site hosts a forum that encourages member teachers to share ideas and solutions to common challenges. A series of Teacher Guides is available to be used in conjunction with select DVD and book titles from the Hudson catalog. Each guide provides a chapter-like breakdown of everything that’s covered, helping teachers apply Hudson titles to their students’ lessons and giving them a convenient reference if they’re looking to address particular lesson subjects. An overview of the Hudson website’s TIP area can be accessed at http://www.hudsonmusic.com/hudson/tip.
Jahnke praises Hudson’s use of the internet to promote the “intangible” aspects of its marketing. “By supplementing its ‘hard goods’ products with online content, Hudson is leading the curve at creating an online community for drummers, a family that shares their interests. That type of marketing really has the power to influence consumers’ wants and needs.” Hudson also recently introduced its TIPsheet, a free, downloadable factsheet aimed at helping music teacher members identify and apply a wider variety of educational media in their teaching studios and classrooms. The TIPsheet lists different types of print, audio/video, and electronic media and describes how each can be used to effectively enhance music instruction in both individual and group situations.
TIP is also helping Hudson reach out to teachers who may previously have viewed its products as competing for their livelihood. Wallis stresses that Hudson materials aren’t meant to replace private drum teachers. “Everything we do is designed to supplement lessons with a teacher or to be used as lesson material for a teacher,” he explains. “More and more, teachers are getting that. For instance, one teacher referred to our Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials books as ‘years worth of work,’ meaning both employment for him as a teacher and material for his students to master.”
With very little promotion TIP has already generated “a tremendous response,” says Wallis. More than 800 teachers from all over the world have become members since it was launched this past spring, and many of them have “really embraced modern media. Some of them have set up their studio with computers and a video camera so they can record each lesson and give the student the disc to take home to reinforce the lesson.”
A group of leading educators who are also TIP administrators and advisors will participate in a panel discussion on “The Use of New Media/Technology in Drumset Teaching and Practice” at the upcoming PASIC convention in Indianapolis. Panelists including Tommy Igoe, Dom Famularo, Donny Greundler, John Favicchia, Joe Bergamini, and Mike Sorrentino will discuss their use of DVD, internet, computers, recording, and other modern technologies to assist teachers and students in the drumset teaching/practice studio.
Will the drumming community embrace Hudson’s new enhanced media? The odds are good at the retail level, where Wallis and Siegel’s contributions to the craft have accrued considerable good will over the years. By giving drummers what they crave—insights into the technique and musicality of their drumming heroes—Hudson inspires drummers to keep playing and improving their abilities—endeavors that typically lead to their replenishing supplies and expanding and upgrading equipment. In addition to good turnover and profitability, Hudson products offer dealers the ancillary benefits of increased foot traffic and repeat business.
In today’s challenging market, many retailers are finding that keeping their students engaged through education is key to their survival. Because Hudson products largely defines the drum and percussion video category, the line is seen as essential by a growing number of dealers. “DVDs are the biggest little department in my store,” comments Dana Bentley of Bentley’s Drum Shop, a Five-Star Drum Shop in Fresno, California. “Hudson DVDs take up little space but deliver a high profit margin. Hudson’s commitment to producing the highestquality educational DVDs is unsurpassed. It shows in the product, and the sell-through is fast.”
“The key to growing a retail operation,” says Wallis, “is to ensure that the people who take up an instrument don’t end up stashing it away in a closet when they get frustrated after a month or two, and maybe turn away from music-making forever. Teachers can help motivate the student, but not every new student starts with a teacher. Our products can help students stay interested and excited about playing. Today’s students are used to getting their information in a lot of different formats, from a lot of different sources. Hopefully our approach to presenting educational material, along with our efforts to have teachers better utilize new media, will keep us ahead of the curve. And in the broader context, these are more ways we’re doing our part to keep the industry growing.”
MUSIC TRADES NOVEMBER 2009 — REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION