Illustration by Kate Wadkins
I was very excited to interview Teresa Figgiani Poidomani, since she was my drum teacher as a teenager in Staten Island, NY. Teresa was a huge inspiration to me, and her lessons played a large role in the development of my own drumming style. I used to go see her perform in big band jazz groups in Staten Island, and she played the most mind-blowing and tasteful jazz drum solos. Teresa has been playing drums for about 40 years and teaching for 30! Her cousin started teaching her when she was about 5 years old, and her mom convinced her to take professional lessons to learn how to read music. Her mom told her that if she was going to pursue playing, as a girl, that it would be to her advantage if she knew how to read music.
Teresa is also performs regularly as a vocalist. Recently, she has been performing the drum tracks as well as the vocals on songs that she’s been recording. Some are remakes of cover songs, and she has also been working on a few original songs. She’s putting the finishing touches on a dance song called “I Hear The Drum,” and sings and plays some latin percussion (Congas) in her duo group “Teresa & Tommy.”
Image by Joey Figgiani (myspace.com/figgiani)
Lisa Schonberg: What is your current favorite/most exciting drumming pattern, style or tendency? How’d you come up with it, and did anything in particular inspire you to develop it? Have you developed any interesting techniques to work around any obstacles that have come up in your drumming?
Teresa Figgiani Poidomani: I was taught at a very young age how important rudiments are for your chops- they help you with speed, control and being able to play different stroking patterns without struggling so much. I tend to create patterns and fills that have rudiments in the mix. Being a drum instructor, I think I have paradiddles embedded in my brain. I’ve given students ideas on how to use them for fills and there are some great patterns that come from them especially when you perfect them and are able to play at a pretty fast tempo. As far as obstacles, I think that it’s so important to always take whatever is a challenge for you and strip it down to the slowest tempo and perfect it that way. I’ve taken some fills that might be hard to catch by sight reading on the spot and just focused on that one measure. It’s like a puzzle- sometimes you have to take the pieces apart then put them back piece by piece. That helps getting the whole pattern, coordinating what your hands and feet have to do and also the tempo you need to reach.
Photo by Joey Figgiani (myspace.com/figgiani)
Interview by Lisa Schonberg