The best in Moeller Technique books and instruction
Mike became interested in the drums at an early age, and began playing in the school band in the sixth grade under director George Trumbull, in his home town of Rockford, Illinois. During this time, he learned to read music, and learned the standard rudiments of the time as well.
I was in Mr. Trumbull’s bands until I entered high school. He was the perfect teacher for me at the time; strict in his instruction, but not overbearing, and a kindly man who was a little older than my grandparents.
Mike got his first drum set at fourteen years of age, and began private lessons shortly after that with Mr. Terry McNeil. He continued studying with Terry throughout his high school years.
Terry gave me the technical foundation that I needed at that time, and each lesson consisted of some new challenge. I learned the importance of the open rudimental double-stroke roll, diverse ways of holding the sticks, and he instilled in me a very practical and sensible approach to the drum set. At that point in my life I was amid a passionate love affair with Rock music, and I had seen Carl Palmer (of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer fame) on TV at the California Jam in ’74. Carl’s drum solo in Karn Evil 9 was spectacular, and his technique was incredible. As an impressionable fourteen-year-old, I knew right away how important technique would be in playing at such a high skill level.
Mike began playing professionally at age sixteen.
Not long after I turned 16, Terry dragged me downtown, and had me join the musician’s union. Right after that we went to a local formalwear shop where I bought a used tuxedo. At that time, all the bigger ballrooms had union minimum-men laws, so I got a lot of work through Terry playing drums, and working as a sideman percussionist. The money was way better than flipping burgers or working retail like many of my friends. It was great playing with musicians who had decades of experience at that time.
Mike was first exposed to Moeller technique while studying with the great Chicago jazz drummer, Rusty Jones, in the late ‘90s. After playing part-time in various rock bands for many years, he longed to get back into the jazz scene, and the best way to get caught up musically and technically at that time was to find a really good teacher. Rusty turned out to be a great teacher, and a great friend as well.
I would drive into Chicago after work to take a lesson with Rusty, and it was always a fantastic experience for me. He sent me home with a ton of CDs to listen to, and exposed me to so many artists I had never even heard of at the time. He was always dragging me to jam sessions in the city, and one night he was hosting a jam at the Sunny Day Tap on Elston Avenue. He played a samba (I can’t recall the tune itself) and he started playing really fast sixteenth notes on the ride cymbal with his right hand. I absolutely had to learn what he was doing, and as it turned out, it was a form of the push-pull Moeller technique. I adapted that technique to my left hand, and it changed everything for me.
Mike moved to Nevada in 1999, played in the casinos of Las Vegas for about a year, and then went back to school at UNLV, where he obtained a B.S. degree in biological sciences. That was the beginning of a ten-year layoff from playing.
There was simply no time for anything but school, and I really wasn’t enjoying the music I was playing at that time anyway. By the time I graduated in ’05, I was teaching lab sections as well as taking classes. Playing drums at that time was not part of my long-term goals, which revolved around becoming a scientist.
In 2009, Mike and his wife left Las Vegas, and moved to Huntsville, Alabama. It was there that he became interested in playing drums again.
I wasn’t in school, didn’t have a regular job, and Sue was going through chemotherapy for cancer. It seemed like the right time to start playing again. Going back to school at that time was not practical, since there was no one else around to help out around the house, and get Sue back and forth to doctor appointments. But I knew that if I was going to be serious about playing, I would have to completely remake my technique, and I would have to find a way to do it quickly.
During this time, Mike began to construct his own exercises for the development of Moeller technique, and has since finished three books of exercises, with at least three more on the way.
What I wanted, and indeed, what I needed, in the literature to get me caught up technically didn’t, as far as I knew, exist at that time. I had to write my own stuff. It’s been a huge undertaking, but worth the effort.
Mike spends his days now practicing, writing, and playing in the Albuquerque metropolitan area.
“It is a life where the choices one makes reflect the powerful desire to improve, to perfect, to simplify, to revise, relearn, and re-state. These are my greatest motivations and they are also the main source of my almost infinite hope.”
The great pianist, Alexis Weissenberg
Large Lizard Tail 7 - 10 pm
I host a jazz jam session every Wednesday. We get some of the best players in the area, and the energy is incredible! Stop by and enjoy the tunes or jam with us.
9800 Mongomery Blvd NE Albuquerque, NM 87111