Wanna Learn Drums? Lang and Cobham Kick Off Online School
There’s not much more that can be said about the greatness of Billy Cobham and Thomas Lang as professional drummers. For these individuals their legendary playing prowess is a given. However, there’s a new angle—and a new project—that both of these guys are bringing that really deserves your attention.
This has to do with Artistworks’ launch of the new online drum academy featuring Messrs. Cobham and Lang. (Please visit their website or click here to visit takelessons.com). To a large extent the Drum Academy has to be seen to be believed and believe me, you want to see it. It’s worth the trip and your time.
I recently interviewed Thomas Lang about his drumming (click here to see Part 1 of the interview) and other aspects of his career but when I heard about this new online school (which just began in 12/2011) I had to go back and catch up with Thomas again to get the skinny on this amazing digital diamond. As luck would have it, Thomas’ camp was kind enough to get the great Billy Cobham to sit in with us. The concept and the conversation was nothing short of intriguing, compelling, and cutting edge. Not only are Billy and Thomas down to earth people (and nice ones at that) but they also have an uncanny ability to relate to the beginner level player which, when one considers their accomplishments, is astounding. Pit these two legends with over the top digital technology and you have innovation at its best.
Even though they just started this school, I believe it will change the way drums are taught—it’s that good. So, let’s hear from Billy and Thomas on their new online venture.
K Bo: What’s the concept behind this online school?
TL: The concept is that the school is interactive and that’s a radically new concept at that. The point is that most websites are one-way—it’s like watching a DVD. The problem is that the student can watch the DVD as many times as they want but they can’t ask questions. With this site with Artistworks, you get a reply to each question you ask and that’s from your teacher. It works like this. The students send me their video questions and I can assess how these guys are playing and evaluate their level and progress. They can in turn reply by video and that’s what makes this website different. Also, the curriculum grows with every question that’s answered so it’s not like a DVD which is a piece of plastic that always remains the same. What’s also interesting is that when one student submits a question and I submit a reply all the other students can see my response which makes it like a global master class.
BC: I agree. What’s really amazing is that we’re able to cross-pollinate. Thomas can see what I’m doing and I can see what he’s doing and we can all learn from each other. It’s all one big pot that people can draw from in terms of ideas and concepts. This far exceeds the idea of working in a one on one situation with a student. It really opens doors and lets people really look at how I’m playing and how Thomas is playing. I also think this diversity really helps students bring their personalities through. The students see a lot and they can pick and choose. As far as I’m concerned students can study with both of us. Hey, it can’t hurt.
K Bo: Is this a school designed for all ages and player levels?
TL: Absolutely. We offer programs for beginners, intermediate players as well as advanced players. It doesn’t matter what level you are at. My curriculum starts at absolutely zero. I start with stick grip variations, how to tune a drum and even how to hit a cymbal. I’ll cover how to set up a drum set and things like that. This program is designed to cater to drummers who’ve never even touched a drumset but we’ll also cater to advanced players. We’ll show advanced players how to be creative and really bring out your personality in your playing.
K Bo: Tell us about how the concept went from the drawing board to reality and also tell us about your partnership and working with Artistworks in getting this project up and running.
TL: It’s great working with them. They approached me with the technology in place. David Butler—their CEO—is an amazing technical mind. He developed this technology because he’s a guitar player and he used to take online lessons. It really came out of personal necessity. I looked at their concept, technology and website and thought it was amazing.
K Bo: There are other online drum schools out there. So, what separates your school from the others?
TL: We’re interactive and the others aren’t. We’re creating more exercises and a broader curriculum. It’s much bigger. Also, we’re creating a community of drummers almost like a social network with this website. With every question that is asked and answered I get to know the student. I learn where they live, what they look like, and what their drum set looks like. There’s a big social element that’s involved. I can see them. Over time we develop a real student-teacher relationship.
K Bo: Some of the press releases talk about video exchanges. Are students going to be exchanging videos with you directly and if so can they expect specific critique on their work product?
TL: Absolutely. I have a studio in my home which is not only an audio studio but also a fully equipped video studio. Each student is really getting a private lesson from me. I could never do this otherwise.
For Part 2: Billy and Thomas talk about student interaction.