Professional drummer, drum instructor and motivator inspiring you to learn the drums and invite more FUN into your life!

So last year in September my family and I relocated from Honolulu, HI to Osaka, Japan and that’s why it’s taken me a while to post another blog. Sorry for the delay and thanks for taking the time to read this one!

Since my first trip to Japan to perform at the Imperial Hotel Jazz Festival in 2009, I have felt a longing to return and live here. Now that we have made the move, we are pleased with the quality of life, healthcare, cost-of-living and most of the the music scene.

Below are gig posters highlighting the wonderfully gifted musicians I have the honor of performing with on a regular basis. Each day, I feel incredibly grateful that the Kansai (Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto) music scene (And recently Hiroshima scene) have welcomed me with open arms and invited me to me be a part of the rich musical tapestry of this great country.

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In my early years of drumming I had the great fortune to work with some incredible drummers who also happened to be great teachers. I have been spending the month of August in Seattle and practicing at The Seattle Drum School owned by Steve Smith (not the one you’re thinking of).

While there, I noticed a bunch of great quotes throughout his school that highlight the teaching philosophy of both himself and his other instructors. Needless to say, I am very impressed with both how wonderful a person he is and the positive vibe in his drumming space.

Here are some photos from my visits. Thanks Steve!

Need I say more?
Always striving to be this…
A bit of political commentary for our not-so-modern times?
The only true way to sanity!
Ahhh in a perfect world…
Amen and watch it grow!
So the moral of the story is? Go practice 🙂
Keep pushing toward a better world through music and drumming!
Simplicity is so beautiful in life and drumming!
Da MAN Steve Smith (on the left), my wife Satomi (who is also a drummer) and our daughter. What a guy!
My former student and soon-to-be Berklee grad. Brandon Patrick also came through here along with a great Honolulu drummer Mark Lindberg.
If you are relaxed and having fun, you will learn a ton and learn it fast!
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One Earth, One People

 For fun and fabulous online drum lessons please visit my DRUMING4LIFE.COM and have a super day! –Von


When I started out playing drums at the later age of 15, I really had no idea what it would take to be a professional drummer but I knew that I wanted to be one.

Circa 1988. The days of hair.

I had a lot more hair in those days and since then, I have figured out 5 things that directed my path toward becoming a successful professional drummer and I want to share these with you.

1. A deep passion for drumming and all things rhythmic

I think from a young age in the Midwestern US, I really did want to play the drums. I tried violin and saxophone but actually grew to hate both instruments and used the instruments in their cases as sleds during the winter time. I always wanted to be a drummer plain and simple. I thought they were the coolest sounding instrument and just loved rhythm. Starting off as a breakdancer, I think also strengthened my timing and sense of rhythm.

In the beginning, I had a thought that if I wanted to learn drums, I would learn the fastest if I could find someone who would show me how to play.

2. Find a good teacher

I sometimes hear drummers or other musicians say “I was self-taught” or “I learned on my own”  and I really want to say to them, “I’m so sorry to hear that.”  I know it’s a badge of courage in the Music Scouts to learn on your own and it certainly shows a real dedication to your instrument. It is though, a whole lot more difficult than just asking someone who’s already done it, to share with you a tested method to help you play the music you want to play. After all, that’s the point, yes? To play music and have FUN!

I recommend finding a pro drummer who loves to teach.  He or she needs to also have a comprehensive drum method encompassing all of the fundamentals you need to know to play any style of music.  This is so you will have choices to play new music as your tastes interests change over time. The idea is to learn the coordination, patterns, reading and listening abilities that will enable you to ultimately focus on the music and not on what your right hand or left foot are doing.

Todd Strait was my high school and college private teacher and taught me the foundation and fundamentals for how I play and teach to this day. He is incredible!

I mentioned “reading” above also because so many drummers have figured out these elaborate systems for not using musical notation and the problem with these is that they will only take you so far until someday you will come into contact with the “real world” and you’ll have to look at a music chart or lead sheet.

Street Life Page 2
Page 2 of Street Life by the Crusaders

Not reading music is like getting to the top of a mountain and only being able to enjoy 1/2 of the view. Just like reading text or words to communicate in your daily life, reading music allows you to interact fully with the music and other musicians.

3. Develop a sincere love for practicing

When I ask my students or even other music teachers, “What does practice make?” you know what they say? Of course you do! We have all been trained to fill in the blank with the most unattainable, unrealistic and misused word in the world of instrument practice and performance, “PERFECT!” The REAL aim of practicing or getting good at drumming is to be able to do more on the drums because the more you can do, the more opportunities you will have to enjoy playing music and have more F-U-N!  So what does practice make? FUN!

If you have this mindset going into your practice sessions, you will be more likely to relax, retain more, enjoy your time and know that every little bit that you do contributes toward your ability to increase the “Fun Factor” in your life.  You’ll be so excited to practice again that you will truly look forward to your sacred time connecting with your drums. Students ask me all time, how much they should practice. My response is, “How much fun do you want to have?” One of my 13 year old students, Ian Wacksman practices 3 hours a day and is now playing with all adult Jazz combos and big bands as well as his own rock band. Think he’s having fun? Heck yeah!!!!

4. Get “mileage” in your playing

In a lesson once in the early 90’s, Jeff Hamilton told me that I was playing good but I needed more “mileage.”  He meant, I wasn’t playing enough with others. I wasn’t gigging enough and didn’t really have a consistency in my playing that you hear in drummers who gig a lot.

Circa 1992 at Berklee College of Music.

I encourage all of my students to play with friends, family, at their respective houses of worship, in school music and theater programs and anywhere else they can to gain experience performing.  Practicing in isolation is important to work out the nuts and bolts of of things like coordination or reading but you need to play outside of the practice room with other human beings to really develop your voice on the drums and iron out the little wrinkles in your playing.

The two most important qualities in solid drumming are good time (staying in tempo) and good feel (making the groove and music feel good).  Both of these will develop as you play gigs. Be on the lookout for opportunities to play the music you enjoy and also any other music that comes your way. This again comes back to having a solid drumming foundation with the help of your teacher so you can embrace new musical opportunities.

5. Have a good attitude

People like to work with people they like.  Treat others as you would like to be treated and have a positive can-do attitude when rehearsing or performing. Show up on time to your rehearsals, gigs, recording sessions, have an open mind and a willingness to work with others. Remember, as a drummer our job 95% of the time, is to make everyone else feel and sound great.  We occasionally get that 5% to strut our stuff but most of what we do is geared toward making the music sound great. That will in turn make us sound great and lead to more opportunities for musical fun!

At a gig with the Randy Allen Power Trio. Randy Allen guitar and Michael Grande keyboards.

I hope this blog gives you some ideas about what you will need to find your path in drumming and music. Even if you are not pro drummer bound and your goal is just to enjoy playing music with friends, the 5 Essentials apply.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at and if you are looking for a FUN, tested and successful method for learning the drums please check out my instruction site I hope you have a super day! –Von



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My drum students are some of the most courageous people I know. As we approach the eve of our Winter drum recitals (Feb. 10th and 11th), 34 of them are preparing to drum from the heart.
It’s always scary when we do something we have never done before or navigate our boat into personally uncharted waters. I believe it’s even scarier when we really care about and love what we do.
Even though we may be afraid, it’s almost as if a kind of “Force Awakens” inside telling us, “You need to do this!”
Each of the 34 students who will perform do so because they care about drumming and their excitement for drumming is greater than their fear of failure.
This is the call that 34 of my students will heed on Wednesday and Thursday night at 6:30pm at Iolani School. It’s a kind of drumming destiny!
My students’ drive to learn drums has inspired me immeasurably over the past 15 years. After teaching tens of thousands of drum lessons, they have given ME the courage to take the plunge and expand my teaching online.


The DRUMMING4LIFE method has worked great with hundreds of students in private lessons over the years.  Now I’m ready to reach many more lives and help turn drumming dreams into realities!
Thanks so much for reading my blog. Let’s get ready for some drumming FUN! Hope to see you at the recitals!


Happy 2016 and I hope your year is off to a superb beginning! I was marinating on the concept of Social Media today and had this revelation (I’m sure I’m not the first) that the once widely held premise that everyone person on Earth is separated only by 6 other people might have actually been transformed by Social Media.

As of January 2016, at least 2 billion of us (currently using some form of Social Media), are probably only separated by 3-4 people and this number is likely to drop further as Social Media grows in both use and influence.



Well that’s a lot of fancy words to say, WE ARE GETTING CONNECTED!  I recently fired up all of my Social Media platforms in hopes of better reaching my fan friends, aspiring drummers, drum hobbyists and appreciators of drumming throughout the world. My hope is that my posts will entertain and inspire you and maybe even get you excited about DRUMMING!

Thanks in advance for the opportunity to connect and please feel free to contact me at any (Or even ALL!) of the profile links below.  Looking forward to seeing you at other Social Media neighborhoods!  I hope you have a wonderful day! –Von

Twitter: @vonbaron

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