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"Qualitly Lessons since 1999", the evolution of the drum school
Born in Pittsburgh, PA during the summer of 1977, it only took me two years to officially start playing the drums. My parents bought me a Muppet babies drum set that Christmas to save their furniture from my poundings. From then on I immersed myself in the art of drumming, with the help of some known drummers in the area. They showed me the way from elementary thru my early formative years. In 1996, to further hone my skills I enlisted a few professional teachers to take me to the next level. The focus was on intermediate & advanced drum set techniques. Emphasis placed on knowledge of musical genres, theory, & composition. I then studied marching band percussion, primarily snare drum, but dove deep into bass, tenors, & mallet percussion as well. I was a quick study & spent the bulk of my free time learning as much as I could. I really loved acquiring as many instructional books & music as possible. This also led to researching the curriculums of world renowned drummers, some who were teachers at many of the famous percussion schools in the United States. I unfortunatley couldn't afford the tuition for any of those schools so I stayed local for college. Majoring in business mixed with studying music & playing constantly consumed my time in the late 90's. I did get to study some Classical music in college which gave me a different perspective. This whole era sparked my desire to pursue a career combining music, education, & business.
My official teaching career began in 1999, but I actually took on my first two students in early '98 while I was working at Sylvester's Music. The owner proposed I start teaching some students in the store after my shift. That opportunity led to teaching some students at Music Go Round, a music shop roughly 20 miles away. In addition I started traveling to a few students homes to teach, being inspired by other local teachers. By the end of 1999 I had a steady roster with a few students. My vision of how I wanted to elevate the drum school became clear. I was committed to making it happen, slowly but surely
An opportunity to teach full time while working at Guitar Center came about in 2003. I decided in May of that year I had a strong enough roster to focus all my energy on the Traveling Drum School concept. I had already been developing my own curriculum for quite some time before this. While I still continued to follow the traditional approach of teaching the classic books, my own personal compositions & exercises were starting to be very well received by students.
During my first three full time teaching years, 2004-2006, the drum school kept gaining momentum by branching out traveling further than ever in Monroeville & surrounding areas. This included taking trips to do some lessons in Baltimore, MD as well, thru some Pittsburgh connections. I also signed on as a judge for Guitar Center's drum off competition two years in a row. In addition to that recognition as a serious & dedicated teacher, my freelance career as a professional musician was really starting to take off, signing on to work with multiple bands / artists live & in the studio. I also tried to support locals schools by taking part in band booster programs for marching bands.
In 2007, with the drum school & freelance drumming careers continuing to move ahead, I was found online the independent drum company Apple Drum Works, & was offered a partial endorsement deal. That lead to me designing my own drum set, dubbed "Chris Belin's Money Maker" by the company's sole proprietor. This was also the year my vision was born for eventually releasing my own series of instructional drum books; portions of all are used in lesson content to this day. Toward the end of '07 I was also officially added to the Drum! magazine teacher list, where I received some complimentary issues and promo offers for drum school students.
Most of '08-'10 drum school wise was spent writing new lesson plans & arranging content for future books. My lesson schedule was busier than ever, averaging 30 one hour individual sessions per week plus a large amount of younger students joining the roster.
With 2011 came some major milestones and was an excellent year. I hit the marks of 10,000 individual drum lessons (most 60 min sessions) & over 300,000 traveling miles. In the spring, Chris Belin's Traveling Drum School was voted #1 in the top rated, most vetted, & most reviewed categories on Thumbtack.com.
In 2012 I donated to some charities drum school students are affiliated with, including a donation of a drum pad + one free lesson, to be raffled off during Genre's Cancer For Kids fundraiser. I also gave to the Penn Hills swim club fundraiser. By mid year the drum school curriculum grew so rapid it spawned two new book series concepts. By mid 2013 the content for those was completed, and added to the drum school curriculum.
2014 was a great year for building momentum outside of the Pittsburgh area, so I had to modify my in-person approach to accommodate a demand for lessons via FaceTime and Skype. This has been working out great for multiple students across the United States so far (more about this below).
2015 was another awesome year with great milestones. First, I was voted "best in Pittsburgh" for drum lessons and received an official badge (which is posted on the "latest & upcoming"). On March 27th I had the honor of being the MC for drum school student Chris Brozek's performance at the IDD Awareness Creative Expressions event at the civic center in Greensburg, PA. 2015 also saw a huge increase in older students, some of which are senior citizens, signing up for lessons. Working with them has been an very rewarding experience. August of this year was also the inaugural performance on the <Traveling> Drum School Percussion Ensemble (more details on this below).
In the beginning of 2016 I became a sponsored RB Drum Co. (custom snares) artist (more details on the "set up and sound" page). In the Spring of 2016 I was voted again "Best Drum Lessons in Pittsburgh" via Thumbtack.com! They also gave me a special business profile page, which I'm still ecstatic about! The Summer of 2016 was my busiest to date, and a lot of topics were added to my curriculum as well. In November the <Traveling> Drum School Percussion Ensemble got to performing the Multicultural Festival at Gateway High School to an enthusiastic crowd. Around the same time I was interview for "In Norwin" Magazine as Chris Brozek's band Spectrum, of which all members have special needs, had a feature story. Great group of talented musicians for sure! 2017 was a great year! In January I did two clinics with performances at The Veteran's Hospital and Western PA School for Blind Children, both in Pittsburgh. The latter has asked me to be a part of their 2017 / 2018 school year curriculum, teaching a drum circle / history of drumming class. Excited for that beyond words! Both have also expressed interest in me teaching some private students at their facility. On August 15th I released my first educational drum & percussion DVD w/ eBook, designed for beginners, called "Drumming for the Young and the Young at Heart"! It's offers 15 lesson topics, drum set, hand percussion, snare techniques, interviews, music theory, play-along loops, special guest drummers, and much more. Available for hardcopy purchase on this site and in select stores. Digital versions of select lessons also available online. In September, I signed on to teach a drum class at The Children's Institute in Pittsburgh for their 2017 / 2018 school year.
In addition to the above, much more lesson content was added to the curriculum.
Today the drum school is busier, more successful than ever, & the future looks bright. Recently I've signed on to do monthly seminars / drum circles with The Lewis Music Studio in Bridgeville, PA and will be appearing at their Summer Music Day event this July. Working on a lot of new lesson content for this year + booking more seminars and promoting the drum DVD, which has been continuing to do well and receive great feedback!
None of the above would be possible without the all the awesome aspiring drummers I've had the pleasure of sharing the drum gospel with. Special thanks to the students & their families. Many thanks to the employees of Guitar Center #853, Music Go Round in Monroeville, & Matt Kastner at N'Stuff Music, who continue to spread the good word about the drum school. The greatness you've all shown me will never be forgotten or taken for granted. I will continue to improve upon & do my best to make every drummer have the best experience possible in learning this great art form.
WHY CHOOSE THE TRAVELING DRUM SCHOOL FOR LESSONS?
Drum set, school band (snare, bass, tenors, bells, mallets), & percussion (conga, bongo, djembe, timbale, among others) lessons are available. Music theory, analysis of all music genres, & composition are included. These lessons can be structured for all levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced, professional. Each student gets an individual, personalized curriculum. Content from outside sources (schools, videos, websites, previous teachers, etc) is always welcomed and will added to their customized lesson plan.
There has been a broad range of students, aging from 2 to 70 years old, male & female. Schedule-permitting, no aspiring drummer wanting to learn will be turned away. There are curriculums & lesson content appropriate for all types of situations, including students will special needs. Some students have requested lessons to aid in their physical rehabilatation, which has proven to be very successful.
The teaching style is very organized, relaxed and always open to student’s ideas, questions, and comments. Some students play for fun, others want a career, & some are undecided. No matter what, the vibe of the lessons is positive & uplifting. There is a “no homework” policy where students will be given short and long term goals to reach instead of assignments. This eases stress on the student because there are no deadlines for completion, each student works at their own pace.
A drum lesson at home lets the student learn comfortably and can ease a parent’s sometimes hectic schedule. Parents should also feel free to observe the lessons at any point. If not, progress reports may be requested any time. Students will be given all lesson material they need including sheet music, folders, CD’s, & audio files sent via email. Any materials that are lost / damaged will be replaced free of charge.
The pricing for lessons is currently average for the Pittsburgh area but the value far surpasses the pricing. I strive to keep the prices as low as possible so students will stay longer & learn more. To help keep the costs down & productivity up, normal scheduling is one hour lesson every other week. Weekly spots and/or different lesson lengths (30 or 45 mins) are occasionally recommended to select students, mostly less than 5 years of age or ones seeking professional careers. Most students will greatly benefit from the every other week scheduling to review the material given. A strong emphasis is always placed on developing each students playing routine to ensure the best results.
*photo by Grace Merlin
FACETIME / SKYPE LESSONS FOR STUDENTS RESIDING OUTSIDE OF THE PITTSBURGH AREA
As of 2014 I've been offering online lessons, via FaceTime & Skype, to interested students who reside more than 40 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, PA. I strongly believe in my "traveling to the student in person" approach but the students I currently have on my online roster are doing extremely well with their individualized curriculums.
Major League. youtube.com/Lukkkeeeee
THE SUCCESS OF TRAVELING DRUM SCHOOL STUDENTS
As previously mentioned, a strong emphasis is placed on each student's personal goals & aspirations. I have had the pleasure in the last 10+ years to see Traveling Drum School students move on to be very successful.
Students seeking professional careers have seized opportunities performing all over the world, performing with popular national & regional acts, recordings albums, signing recording contracts, doing tours, landing product endorsements, acquiring jobs in music stores, and working in other avenues of the music industry.
Younger drum set students have been successful with forming bands, performing live, & writing their own music.
Students involved in their school band have become section leaders, drum majors, & used their skills to acquire prime spots in college marching bands.
Other students have went on to win competitions, the Louie Armstrong Jazz Award, Senior Spirit essay award, and outstanding percussionist awards plus compose jingles, become youth band directors for their church, and even start teaching on their own.
I've written many letters of recommendation for students over the years & continue to do so upon request.
Jordan Braverman (on right) -Remission.
2017 Drum competition winner. Travis Schemer-Victory @ The Crossroads
Inventor of "The Sneeze Beat"
BENEFITS OF DRUM LESSONS
Drum lessons are meant to be fun, inspiring, and enhance people’s lives. They can boost self esteem, teach organization, responsibility, and how to analyze difficult tasks to simplify.
Drumming gives the student a chance to make new friends through school band, drum competitions, local drum store functions, and playing music with other musicians.
Playing drums has been proven many times over to be a very healthy activity. Physically, it's a great cardiovascular workout that burns a large amount of calories. Mentally it enhances concentration & focus, which is proven to help improve math & reading scores in any grade level of school. Recent studies in the US have shown drummers have some of the highest scores on IQ tests, even surpassing the results of other musicians.
DEVELOPING STUDENT'S MUSICAL PROJECTS
There have been many students in the drum school roster who become interested in performing in public. I help them develop promotional material to find musicians, schedule performances w/ their bands, or seek out professional management. When possible, I also pair student's groups together & arranged live shows.
For a few students’ bands, I have taken on the producer role, overseeing rehearsals, recording sessions, & helping with song writing in addition to all mentioned above.
I keep a list containing hundreds of live local venues & recording studios to aid in any situation a student may need help with. The last few years I've been able to pair bands up with each other, where 3-4 bands with Traveling Drum School students have been able to share bills.
James, Genre, & Gionna Baker
GROUP CLASSES AVAILABLE
Lessons for a class or small groups can be scheduled at your location. Schools, music stores, churches, & special event locations are the most common places but I'm open to anywhere. I've worked with multiple student groups in various locations including Pittsburgh East, The Ellis School, & many churches throughout Pittsburgh
In addition, I also teach proper tuning &
maintenance for all percussion instruments. This also can include instruction for proper repairs & can do most necessary repairs on site (Please see the Traveling Percussion Maintenance page for more details)
All of the above can be currently scheduled anywhere in the United States w/ discounts given for multiple bookings.
THE <TRAVELING> DRUM SCHOOL
Many thanks to <Traveling> Drum School students Ryan Bozicevic, Liz Wernert, John Praksti, Robert Praksti, & Tom Obusek for working with me and putting on a great inaugural show! The ensemble had a very large and receptive crowd at the St.Bernadette Parrish Festival in Monroeville,PA!!
The ensemble, lead by me and featuring multiple drummers from different ages and backgrounds, perform percussion only interpretations of songs from their favorite groups, improvisations based on traditional rhythms, and their own compositions. More performances will be scheduled starting in 2016 and all <Traveling> Drum School students (including alumni) are welcomed to take part.
DRUM SCHOOL RENTAL PROGRAM
Perfect for students who wish to start lessons but don't currently own an instrument. This has also been very good for drum set or band students wanting to learn a hand percussion instrument.
The drum school rental options currently include drum sets (small scale w/ all necessary components), snare drums, drum pads, bongos, doumbeks, music stands, & drum microphones.
The rental fee is extremely low & you can rent as long as you like. The fee is used only to maintain the equipment. All items are subject to availability. Special thanks to the Mamie & Seitz families for their generous donations.
DOCUMENTARY FILM & CREATIVE EXPRESSIONS SHOWCASE w/ TRAVELING DRUM SCHOOL STUDENT
This documentary, by Maria Satira, is centered around the musical talents of Traveling Drum School student Christopher Brozek & his journey in learning with autism.
Many thanks to Maria & the Brozek family for asking me to take part. I've been teaching Chris since 2004. He continues to impress me with his skills, determination, & focus on everything we cover. We both truly love the art of drumming & working with Chris is always an enjoyable experience. He has evolved into a fine percussionist but constantly keeps moving forward always driven to perfecting his many talents. See for yourself...this is a touching story on a great person, not just a great drummer.
DRUM SCHOOL TESTIMONIALS
"My son Harris has been taking lessons from Chris from before his 8th birthday & he just turned 16! Chris has been instrumental in helping Harris grow & develop as a drummer & explore multiple styles of drumming. He has been an absolute pleasure to work with & I would recommend him without reservation!" -Ozzy Samad.
"Chris has been coming to our home teaching drums for over ten years. He has taught all the males in the house except the cat and I have no doubt he could teach him as well. His patient and positive style of instruction lead the student to improve at a surprising rate and he easily adapts his lessons to students of any age. Each of my sons have become quite accomplished and this is a direct result of Chris' teaching. They each have a different style of playing & different interests in music & Chris has been able to customize his lessons allowing them to flourish. I also have benefited from Chris. For a time I was his oldest student and completely enjoyed him help me to live my rock star drummer dream if only in my head and in our basement! Our family is also fortunate that as a result of our longevity with him we are honored to also call him a friend. Thanks Chris for all the drumming knowledge that you have and continue to pass on to the Kandrack drummers!" -
Mark A. Kandrack.
"Thank you for all that you have done as Avraham's drum teacher. The at home service and accommodation around his schedule, the email reminders, timeliness and consistency of lessons make you stand out head and shoulders above so many other teachers. But, beyond all that, you have a gift of being a great teacher and motivator. Avraham has come a long way in his playing thanks to you. We are very lucky that we found you." -Jeff Silverman.
"Chris has be instructing my son who has a disability. He is a wonderful, caring and upbeat instructor. He is so very knowledgeable." -Renee Giammatteo
PRODUCT DISCOUNTS FOR STUDENTS
Traveling Drum School students are eligible for special discounts & promotions throughout the year. A list of participating stores, companies, & music publications involved will be provided.
POSTING STUDENT'S PICS & VIDEOS
Many thanks to all the students who donated great pics & videos for this page. Please check the archive below for all the current videos. Any other students who would like something posted please send it to me.
Doug Blair-The Blues Devils Jack Martin-Shiva Skydriver
Below is an interview I did for The Holiday Cafe, a online literary magazine rooted in Pittsburgh.This was featured in their 2013 winter issue.
Class Is In Session - An Interview with Chris Belin of The Traveling Drum School
By Natalie Sebula
When I noticed that you were looking for someone that inspires the community I instantly thought of Christopher Belin. He is the sole proprietor of the Chris Belin’s Traveling Drum School as well as being a professional drummer. I have had the opportunity to know him for several years. Since then I have noticed how Chris has impacted the community with his drumming and teaching skills. I interviewed him and here is what he had to say:
If there was one thing you wanted people to know about your business…what would it be?
As a teacher, I’m committed to developing an individualized curriculum for each student, based on their interests & goals, to ensure their aspirations of being a drummer become reality. As a freelance drummer, I give 110% all the time. Every note I play is done with heart, portraying my deep love for music.
Stephen Kandrack & Mike Malus - Snare line.
How do you feel your business has impacted the community?
Thus far I feel the Traveling Drum School has had an extremely positive impact on the community. No matter what, my teaching approach is always positive and encouraging. It’s gratifying to see students convey the same or similar philosophies in their playing & attitudes. Many students have been able to perform in the areas where they reside, whether it’s a school band program or their own bands. Some have even had the opportunity to tour and post drum clips on the internet, showcasing their skills on a more global level.
Lastly, what is your future endeavors in the business?
My goals are always to take my business to the next level, keep growing and evolving with the times. Teaching more diverse students, releasing instructional books, and performing with more bands/ solo artists are goals I continue aspiring to achieve.
Please leave a message via phone or email for more details on lesson content, scheduling options, & pricing. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.
(412) 512-3155 (call or text)
STUDENT VIDEO ARCHIVE
Mike HIllyard-Johnny & The Razorblades
Nick Grabigel-Big Blitz
Aaron Woods-At The End Of Me
Jake Saltzman-Katie Hate
Nigel Seibert-A Lovely Crisis
James Conley-Turnpike Gardens
Blake Beirtempfel drum solo
Sammy Pagano - The Shock Puppetz