All posts by Kane Drums

Blending diverse rhythmic and musical styles into the mainstream scene with good taste has been Tim Kane’s forte as a Massachusetts-based drummer, percussionist and music educator for more than 25 years. Kane began drumming and playing trombone in fourth grade. He graduated from Fitchburg State College where he was course and ensemble trained in jazz, concert and various school-based jam bands. He also studied and performed with a jazz quintet at the well-respected Indian Hill Music Conservatory in Littleton, Mass. Today, Tim is the resident drum set and percussion instructor at Eagle Hill High School in Hardwick where he implemented an innovative new percussive arts and djembe group drum circle program for special needs students seven years ago, as well as teaching privately in his home recording studio. Kane exclusively plays Remo classic pin stripe and dotted heads on Gretsch and Rodgers drum kits, and owns about 20 Remo djembes and hand drums that he uses in his drum circles. He is also endorsed as a drum set educator by Vic Firth Drum Sticks and worked previously for several years as a professional educational and product writer for Dixon Drums and Gibraltar Hardware. He had a major story about famed Police drummer Stewart Copeland published in Modern Drummer magazine two years ago that is featured here. Kane currently tours New England in the northeast region’s top trop-rock Jimmy Buffet-style tribute bands, The Island Castaways Band, which released a new CD of original songs this past spring that is getting killer airwaves on a bevy of top island music radio stations. The band’s top single is linked here. TICB’s fan base ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand at indoor and outdoor gigs. Kane also plays in the Somerville-based alternative original rock band, “Right on Red”, and holds down jazz drums for the Trinity Swing Big Band, and performs regularly with all original jazz-folk band, Luscious Lushes. In 2012, he published a full album of his own making, composing and recording 10 original songs and playing all instruments found streaming live at Spotify and located at Reverb Nation here. Kane expanded his teaching and performance business five years ago to host All Together Drum Circles that exclusively features Remo djembe and percussion products in private and public settings on a weekly basis year-round. Recent clients have included 92.5 The River radio festival, the Worcester YMCA, area schools, senior citizens, town commons, parks and recreation depts., and the Center for Autism Awareness of Central Massachusetts. Learn more about Tim and his upcoming schedule at and on Facebook at Call or text him at: 774-757-7636 Email:

Summer Drum Circle Season Heating Up

Most know that I facilitate and lead group djembe drum and percussion circles on a weekly and monthly basis at various senior centers, libraries, community facilities, and assisted living facilities throughout Massachusetts. This summer is heating up as one of my best season’s yet. Thanks to everyone for taking a chance on me. Here’s the schedule:

Hitchcock Free Academy International Music Day – June 21,  6-8pm (for kids, teens and adults, public invited)

Eagle Hill Summer Camp, July 10-Aug. 1 (private)

Oxford Public Library, Oxford, MA – July 18, 6 pm (for kids and teens only, public welcomed)

Monson Free Public Library, Monson, MA – July 19, 4-5 pm (for kids only, public welcomed)

“Art of Drumming” Lecture and Drum Circle, Monson Free Public Library, Monson, MA – July 19, 6-7:30 pm( for adults only, public welcomed)

Gardner Rehab, Gardner, MA – July 20, 10:30 am (private)

Clapp Memorial Library, Belchertown, MA – July 25, 6-7 pm (for kids and teens only, public welcomed)

Joshua Hyde Public Library, Sturbridge, MA – July 27, 2-4 pm (for kids and teens only, public welcomed)

Sturbridge Senior Center, Sturbridge, MA – Aug. 1, 3:30 pm (seniors welcomed)

Clinton Senior Center, Sturbridge, MA – Aug. 9, 10 am (seniors welcomed)

Masonic Nursing Home, Charlton, MA – Aug. 10, 2 pm (private)

Gardner Rehab, Gardner, MA – Aug. 17, 10:30 am (private)

Charlton Senior Center, Charlton, MA – Aug. 20, 11 am (seniors welcomed)

Paige Memorial Library, Hardwick, MA – Aug. 21, Time TBA, (kids and adults welcomed)

Hampden Senior Center, Hampden, MA – Sept. 7, 10 am (seniors welcomed)

Masonic Nursing Home, Charlton, MA – Sept. 14, 2 pm (private)


Cell/text: 774-757-7636

Look out for Drummer Christopher Miles…

They don’t call him Christopher “Miles” for nothing.

Here’s his very first live gig jazz drums performance to “Sweet Georgia Brown” as a fifth grader in front of hundreds of onlookers.

He nailed it… Even had a sweeet little solo.

So so very proud of all his progress this year on the drum kit and classical percussion. Honored to be his teacher.

Major league gig

I feel like that little boy again sitting in my tiny bedroom endlessly playing my uncle’s Pearl cotton candy finish drum kit dreaming of  stardom.

Some things take time and patience in life. Sometimes even decades.

One of the biggest gigs of my life with The Island Castaways Band came Tuesday night at the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park. The festival was unbelievable and surreal. This was not your typical local nightly band or solo artist lining up next to the sausage stand on Yawkey Way and hoping a few dozen folks would take a listen as they passed by. This was as close to the big time as I’ve ever been honored to be a part of. Thousands of people showed up to actually hear our band, dance, sing and have a great time at a private, pre-game party. It was a live concert.

Bandmaties Joe, Paul, Heather, Rick, Lyn, John and I practiced really hard for this and it paid off with a nearly flawless performance.

I don’t know where the future will take me as a career-minded drummer looking to tour more, or even with this very talented on-the-rise band, but one thing is resoundingly certain after this awesome experience: all that endless teenage practice, sweat, rejection, criticism, pain and study is finally paying off.

Live to play live music.

Rudiments are the language of drums

percussion-rudiments-kwpzvmszrIn my private teaching system, rudiments are a part of every lesson no mater what skill level the player is at.


Because rudiments are “the language of drums” – just like our alphabet helps power English as our primary language or scales guide the learning process on brass, string or woodwind instruments. Without rudiments, there is no baseline barometer for playing any type of percussion instrument.

Today, there are 40 common rudiments as agreed to by the Percussive Arts Society (PAS). In 1979, the PAS Marching Percussion Committee appointed the PAS International Drum Rudiment Committee to act as the governing body in the revision and standardization of the previous 26 rudiments. A new listing of 40 International Drum Rudiments was adopted by PAS in 1984 and included drum corps, orchestral, European, and contemporary drum rudiments.

However, the genesis of rudiments actually dates back to the morning of April 17, 1775, according to graduate student Eric Alan Chandler in his 1990 Louisiana State University dissertation paper, “when drummer William Diamond was given orders by Captain John Parker in Lexington to sound his drum (no doubt a field snare crafted by Noble & Cooley Drum Co. of Granville, MA) to warn that the British were coming. At the Battle of Yorktown, which was the virtual end of the Revolutionary War, a British drummer from the 23rd Royal Fuseliers stepped up on a redoubt and beat the Parley, which stopped the firing. This signified the desire for a conference with the enemy. The fact that the Revolutionary War started and ended with the beat of a drum indicates the instruments’ historical importance.” Essentially, rudiments and drumming helped end the war.

For those who possess little knowledge of drumming rudiments, they are simply a series of left and right hand snare drumming command signals (like the famous Paradiddle RLRR-LRLL) coming in several different families and sequences meant to strengthen coordination and improve muscle memory. They also help students develop an early understanding of sight reading and note values.

But they are a lot more than that today with countless stick control method books written on the topic. When applied to the full drum kit, rudiments take on a whole new meaning and application.

Everything we play on the drum set is a simple or complex array of different rudiments played in partiality or as a whole together. So you can see why mastering them first will make you a better drummer. In fact, I’ve found those who don’t learn rudiments and don’t practice them for life, hit a wall in their progression on the instrument and that can even lead to injury from poor technique. That’s because rudiments are meant to help drummers teach their own body how to play. It’s called muscle memory.

Learn your rudiments.







Losing that favorite music teacher….

This week’s drum blog was supposed to be about my wonderful experiences having just wrapped up an extended “show choir” gig on Sunday with Gilbert Players Theater. It was a cabaret involving six awesome singers. I played drum set in the pit band trio. My original lead was supposed to be something like this: Dr. Elizabeth Wrenn-Johnson (Beth) would be pleased to know I’m still doing exactly what she first gave me the opportunity and training to do many years ago.

Today is a sad day, though. Dr. Johnson died yesterday at age 67, God rest her soul. She was an amazing and talented woman who gave the gift of music to countless kids and adults in my hometown of Auburn, MA. I’d like to dedicate this blog to her memory and also today’s Trinity big band gig, previously scheduled coincidentally, at Auburn Senior Center.

As my single most fondest childhood memory, Dr. Johnson discovered me as a struggling trombonist practicing hard on my true love – the drum set – while playing in a practice room (closet) at Auburn High School. I still vividly remember her slowly opening that closet door, saying “Who is that drummer I hear”….. It was like she was opening the door to my future life, which today is mostly music thanks to her encouragement. As a lanky, shy, freckle-faced 13-year-old, I was waiting to be discovered, heard and inspired after putting in years of dedicated work behind the drum kit in private practice, lessons and junior high bands. Dr. Johnson “hired” me on the spot for her rapidly expanding chorus and jazz show choirs and sub acapella groups. At that time, she was superintendent of music for the entire Auburn School District, which is almost unheard of in today’s “arts come last” budgeting priorities. It was a golden era for music in Auburn Public Schools. Beth believed in live pit bands instead of pre-canned tape.

Dr. Johnson essentially gave me my very first chance on the drum set with several bands when all other traditional ensemble positions were filled by older drummers. I never forgot her kindness. Those teenage music memories are endless – from the many district and state competitions we attended – and sometimes won – to the endless after school rehearsals, parties and school concerts, and all the friends we made along the way.

Cancer is a terrible disease. Beth did not deserve to pass on this way. But it’s comforting to know that her music will live on in the thousands of children she inspired like me. Dr. Johnson was an amazing teacher, administrator, musician, pianist, vocalist, and mother and will be missed terribly.

Beth’s obit appears here:


How to set up a drum kit

I’ve found many of my new students don’t really know how to set up a drum kit (or their parents as well). They buy a kit at the music store and plunk it down in the bedroom, only guessing as to proper arrangement. And there the set sits in all its poorly arranged glory for years to come.

Bad idea.

Next to learning rudiments, it’s the single most important drum lesson students will ever attempt to master. An improperly set up kit can lead to bad technique and even injury. At a bare minimum, students most certainly won’t play poorly arranged drums nearly as well as their full potential.

Given most of my own students own real drum kits, it makes sense to learn the proper way to set up and break down a kit. And the best way to do that is well….. set up and break down your set often. Realizing most young students won’t have to setup and breakdown their kits until they join a band with rehearsal space and gigs away from home, this is where the real technique concern enters the equation. An erratically set up drum kit can literally sit in a student’s bedroom for years before that kid ever attempts the breakdown and re-setting up process. A live gig is not the place to practice.

So what are the major red flag warnings for bad kit arrangements to look out for, and what is the best process for setting up and breaking down?

First of all, the height and location of your drum seat or throne really determines everything else and is why I always set it up first in conjunction with my bass drum pedal and hi-hat stand (notwithstanding your drop carpet so the kit does not move while playing it). In my opinion (and there are differing viewpoints on this topic), the throne should be centered smack in the dead center of your drum kit arrangement. The height of your throne should allow both human legs to slightly angle downward when both feet are on the bass drum(s) and hi-hat pedals. That’s why I set up the throne with both pedals at the same time.

One additional reason is to see if your throne is too close to any back wall or staging. Once placed atop your drop carpet, sit in your throne and swivel the seat side to side with your elbows extended outward to see if anything gets in the way. Much better for that process to happen now when you can simply inch a throne a few inches forward then to have to move an entire drum set because you put the drum chair in last.

That said, I see plenty of drummers with no downward  angle of their legs who instead prefer a straight horizontal alignment. I can’t honestly tell you which angle is better. All I know is that my legs are always slightly angled downward toward the pedals from the throne. By all means, don’t ever have your legs angled upward from the throne toward your pedals.

After the throne and hi-hat/bass pedals are set, you should attach your bass drum to the pedal already positioned on the floor. Top touring pros will tell you they don’t point their bass drums perfectly straight looking outward and instead angle them slightly offset right so that both pedal feet have a similar linear angle. I  tend to agree.

Next, the snare drum should be positioned center between both pedals obviously behind the bass drum, which means it will be slightly left of your throne’s true center position. I try to get my snare stand as close to the bass drum edge hoop as possible. Many drummers slightly tilt the snare stand basket that holds the snare toward them while others prefer a straight horizontal angle of the top snare rims. Either angle is fine. Do what seems most comfortable. My thinking on snare stand height is the top hoop should be perpendicular to your waistline or belly button. That’s just a good rule of thumb. A snare stand that is set too low or too high can create drumming mechanics and navigational problems.

Now on to the toms. Which toms should be set up first? I feel the very next drum that should be added to your kit is the floor tom. Why? Because it has a very important relationship to the height and position of your snare drum. Everybody’s different, but I generally set the height of my floor tom a little bit lower than that of my snare. Having the height of your floor tom set above that of your snare will result in dropped sticks and bloody knuckles.

Next, rack toms should set up fairly easily at this point if you followed the proper kit arrangement steps, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re using two mounted rack toms above your bass drum, make sure they aren’t elevated too high above the bass drum. General rule of thumb is to have bottom of tom hoops or bottom heights about 4-6 inches above your snare top and angled slightly in toward each other for easier navigation. Again, this is a matter of opinion but toms set too high or angled tend to result in dropped sticks, bloody knuckles and, well, you get the point.

Finally, I add in the crash cymbals, ride cymbal and any percussion accessory hardware. I don’t put crash or ride cymbals on the stands until after the stands themselves are placed where you actually want the cymbal to hang above your kit. Why adjust things twice? As for height or angles of the cymbals, drummers are all over the map on this one. I find the lower cymbals are hung with a decent angle downward toward your drum chair results in easier and more fluid playing. My cymbal heights on average are about 6-8 inches above any top drum head. Any don’t be afraid to hang cymbals partially over certain drums to get them closer to you. Many newer drummers have a tendency to put cymbals far and away from any drums, which is really opposite of what you should do.

The last thing to do is play your kit and refine the arrangement.

Hopefully, these tips can help you envision your own proper kit setup.











Timing is everything

I once had a very talented Berklee graduate jazz guitarist give me the total thumbs down while in the middle of playing a Coltrane tune live at a public event. He made darn sure I saw him as he gave me a thumbs up followed by the big thumbs down.

We found ourselves at a corporate gig. At break, he told me my timing had slowed down during his solo or bridge on one or two fast swing tunes. He probably was right, but it was by far the rudest thing I had ever experienced during a gig, particularly since he had actually approved of my playing on the same tunes at a prior library gig. We all have off nights. Suffice to say, I never got invited to play with those musicians again. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

The story here is why did I slow down. I can play jazz fairly well and have for many years both by reading it and with my ears. In fact, the Chair of Berklee’s jazz piano studies dept. even told me so at a freelance gig once. That’s a pretty hefty endorsement. Despite a guitarist nearly half my age being disrespectful on stage about it,  it’s still my fault. When I screw up with time or anything musically – and we all do – I always reassess what happened and how I can improve. At that particular gig – and not to make excuses – we were crammed upstairs basically in a hallway playing down to a bunch of people’s heads who could care less about jazz music and were celebrating the opening of some corporate product like windows or something. I honestly forget.

It was such a crammed space for instruments or sound projection that I didn’t feel right playing the whole night. It was like performing in a closet. The drums were stuffed in a corner of the hallway and we all played basically in a  straight line, which was a ridiculous setup by the event organizers.  We could not really see each other. I could not hear anything except saxophone. Still my fault.

I took it all in stride and re-examined my timing over the next few months to make sure a bad habit had not crept into my playing. There is an ebb and flow to timing on the drums and in music in general. Without that freedom, music would sound like a robot – and unfortunately already does in many of today’s loop-centric pop recordings. That said, we as drummers need to maintain solid tempo despite its inherent fluctuations. We need to know when to drag it back or rush it, paying heed not to lose control of the origin tempo.

There are many jazz tunes where the starting beats per minute is not how the song ends or solo transitions, and it was not due to a time signature change. It was due to jazz being about improv and responding to the energy of the music presented at that given moment.

The antagonist guitarist obviously knows this already as a Berklee grad. What he doesn’t know is that I used his thumbs down gesture as motivation to further refine my timing by working with a metronome regularly again, and also counting subdivisions during song passages. I made it  a point to get accurate metronome BPM markings written down for all songs with other bands I play in. I started recording every gig and important practices for later critique. I’m not sure if my timing improved because it was already solid to begin with. But it served as a great reminder.

In life, the best thing to do is turn a negative into a positive. That rude Berklee guitarist helped me become a better drummer. Sometimes the best thing to do is listen to constructive criticism and then take action.

Weighing the true value of in-person vs. video-based drum set lessons

Do you really think purely video-based drum lessons such as with Canada-based Drumeo are the best method for private drum set instruction?

To its credit, Drumeo does claim that having a private, in-person instructor in combination with Drumeo online lessons is advantageous. Perhaps.

But then in the very next section of their latest promotion linked far below out of fairness to them, they completely attack all private in-person drum instructors with a $197 year-round drum lesson offer. The average cost for weekly private, in person drum lessons during the school year is about $1200-$1500.

So how can us lowly private, in-person drum set instructors compete?

It would take me at least one year of full-time work to develop a video-based lesson program on the scale of Drumeo’s as I am a one-drummer show. It’s my career and it has to be multi-faceted in order to earn a living. There are also only so many prospective drum students in any given market. Losing 5-10 percent of that market to online video lessons is a killer.

If you are spending $197 a year at Drumeo for basically the same checkmark program offerings as a $1500-a-year private, in-person drum instructor, then what’s the catch? Sorry, local drum set instructor and working musician who lives in or near your community. You lose.

But there is a catch you should really consider (and it’s a big one): Drumeo has thousands and thousands of active video students worldwide.

I personally have 12 per week between my home studio and a school where I teach, not including my group djembe drum circle work.

I find many video teaching methods aren’t personable, the quality of the lesson isn’t very good, and above all they rarely if ever are point specific to any one student’s actual musical needs in any real micro way.

For example, can Drumeo help a student prepare for an upcoming theater pit band gig by going through that student’s charts one page at a time – slowly – and help them understand notation? They probably say they can, but they really can’t because they have to cater lesson programming to the group dynamic. It’s a business model based on supply and demand. And they still have to pay all their top tier teachers and support staff money as well. So $197 per student looks far less appealing when you consider how many of those single student programs Drumeo actually has to sell in order to make ends meet.

You get what you pay for in life.

Drumeo may have some of the top drummers (many of whom I greatly admire) teaching group video lessons that may or may not apply to you, and offer very flashy website attractions and all sorts of big names and major product endorsements, but they don’t have your best interests in mind.

I can promise you the personal feedback and passion for each and every student is not there with Drumeo nor will it ever be. It’s like suddenly flipping a switch and your kid goes to school one day only to find giant flat screen tv videos have replaced the actual human teachers in the classroom.

Think long and hard about in-person private music lessons and don’t be tempted by the flashy video lesson programs like Drumeo’s. The reality is a lot of those same video lesson themes can already be found online for free.

Four basic drum set limb coordination tips

Below are four basic and proven drum set limb coordination tips.

1 – Count Aloud and Understand Subdivisions: There is one whole note, two half notes and four (4) quarter notes in one measure of 4/4 time. Wholes and Quarter Notes are both counted “1,2,3,4″ in a steady rhythm. Half notes are counted 1-2. Remember, it takes two half notes to make one measure of 4/4 time. There are eight (8) eighth notes in one measure of 4/4 time. Eighths are counted “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”, in a steady rhythm exactly twice as fast as you counted the 1/4 (quarter) notes. Double the speed of eight notes are 1/16th (sixteenth) notes, and they are counted “1 e and ah, 2 e and ah, 3 e and ah, 4 e and ah. Counting subdivisions aloud or to yourself while playing helps your timing and understanding of how song structure and basic notation works.

2 – Four-limb coordination daily exercise: The exercise that follows is easier to play if you’re sitting at a drum set, but if that’s not possible, just grab a pair of drumsticks and a metal folding chair and place it on a hard floor. (Any tiled or hardwood floor is ideal.) If you’re using a chair, play on the right chair leg for your cymbal, the left leg for your snare, tap your right foot on the floor for your bass drum, and tap your left on the floor for your hi-hats. Start by playing quarter notes with your right foot floor or bass drum. While your right foot is doing that steadily, play eighth notes against it with your left foot hi-hat or left foot floor. This is two-way coordination. Now play eighth note triplets with your left hand chair leg or stick against the other two ongoing foot patterns. This is three-way coordination. Next comes the tricky part. With your right hand, play whole and half notes on the ride or right leg chair. Evolve that to more intricate rhythms that don’t copy any of the other three limbs’ ongoing patterns. Your four limbs are now playing different subdivisions all at the same time. Cool.

3 – Sight-reading quickens muscle memory: Start with practicing short 1-4 measure coordination-patterns on the drums while reading notated drum chart music. If you do this, you will progress rapidly. It is easy to learn sequences of two or three “limb-combinations” and store them in your muscle memory. Then, when you attempt longer patterns, your muscle memory will help you out and it won’t feel impossible.

4 – Timing is everything: Play along to favorite bands’ and artists’ songs and with a metronome using earphones. Break those songs down into smaller compartments or sections at first. Learn each section at a time before progressing to the next part.