Mick Berry and His Students, Young and Young at Heart

Clockwise from far left: Gabriella Cardarelli (age 13) , Katerina Kakkis (12) , Amanda Albini (15) , Carly Humphrey (12), Sarah Monti (15) , Ellen Cerreta (15) , Valerie Meehan (old enough), Mick Berry (ageless), Robin Tuscher (11) , Ashley Metcalfe (11) , Bethan Brown (12) , Riley Kates (10)

Mick Berry is the author of The Drummer’s Bible (over 15,000 copies sold since it hit the press in 2003). I currently teach between 30 and 40 students in private lessons each week, with fully a third of my students being female. Ages of my students range from 6 to 86 (no kidding). He asked some of the young ladies to answer a few questions about their drumming experience. There’s some drumming greatness in all of them it would seem. We chose 3 answers for each girl. Keep it goin’ all of you!!


1…What is the most useful thing I’ve told you that’s helped you improve.
2…What’s one of your favorite things about drumming?
3…What dreams do you have for your drumming future?
4…Name one of the best ways to have fun drumming.
5…Describe or mention an important aspect of playing drums well.

Katerina Kakkis (age 12)
1. One of the most useful things for me is to practice, and be patient. It really helps to practice something new over and over again. But, when you do that, you might mess up; being patient is the only thing that will make it easier.

2. Drumming is a very different instrument from others, and in a good way. You can experiment with your mistakes and create something new. Also, the adrenaline. When you get going with a song and learn something new, or when you fix your mistake, you get this rush of happiness, like you never want to stop playing.

3. I just want to be able to enjoy myself when I play in high school. It’s more fun when you know more. To learn more exotic and interesting fills and beats would be great, too.

Ashley Metcalfe (age 11)
1. Play the beat you’re having trouble with one time, then rest a measure, then play it again; keep repeating this. Then, when you feel confident, play the beat twice and rest a measure. Keep doing this until you can play it up to four times and rest a measure. Then try playing the beat continuously.

3. My dream for drumming is to be in a band with my two sisters Emma and Ali (who play guitar) and become famous.

4. Rockin’ out to a great song while playing the drums.

Amanda Albini (age 15)
1. The most useful thing that Mick has taught me is learning how to learn. He has shown me how to take apart rhythms and beats bit by bit to make them precise. This doesn’t just apply to music. It can apply to the things that you do in your everyday life; it has helped me improve a lot over the years.

4. One of the best ways to have fun drumming is playing with people and for people. The first time I played in front of a crowd, I was about eight years old, accompanying my dad on the accordion at the Seafood Peddler restaurant in San Rafael. I remember seeing all of these people in the restaurant just staring at me because I was so little, and I looked even smaller while I was sitting behind the set. That night was so much fun, and ever since then I have loved playing for people and I have had no problem with stage fright. I currently play in the jazz band and symphonic band at my school, and even now at fifteen I still will go out with my dad on gigs and I really enjoy it all.

5. In my opinion, if you want to play the drums well you have to keep very steady time and have fun with it. If you can’t keep time, the song your playing will fall apart. If you don’t enjoy playing, you can’t put any feeling into a song. When you are able to access an emotion while you play, your playing will almost automatically start sounding better and you will enjoy it more.

Riley Kates (age 10)
1. To always stay on the beat.
4. You can entertain people.
5. Listening to other people play.

Carly Humphrey (age 12)
1. Practice
2. Telling people what instrument I play
3. I just want drumming to be a thing I do after school

Gabriella Cardarelli (age 13)
1. You can do it. Don’t give up. Stop doubting your drumming abilities.

4. I plug in my headphones and ipod and drum to some of my favorite tunes from Green Day and Good Charlotte to Aerosmith and Guns n’ Roses.

5. Don’t think you can’t play just because you’re a girl; that should empower you to play. What’s interesting is seeing the reaction on people’s faces after you play a song on the drum set. You see them thinking, wow, this girl can really lay down a beat.

Robin Tuscher (age 11)
1. Play loudly and confidently. Act like you know what you’re doing. Practice in sections, beat by beat, and relax while you’re playing.

2. I like the fact that you can do whatever you want and still make it sound cool. I also like being able to use all of your limbs at the same time.

3. My goal is to get into a new middle school jazz band next year, and MSA for high school, and definitely do something with my drumming in college.

Beth Brown (age 12)
3. I dream of being in an all-girl band with some of my closest friends and being successful.

4. To rock out and impress the crowd.

5. To enjoy the experience and let my passion for music be reflected in my playing.

Ellen Cerreta (age 15)
1. The most useful thing that my drum teacher Mick has told me that’s helped me to improve is to play the beat slowly at first, then play it faster the next time.

2. My favorite thing about drumming is that I’m able to play the drums.

3. My dreams for my drumming future? Don’t know at the moment.

Sarah Monti (age 15)
1. The most useful thing is counting out loud, while reading different books or if I’m stuck on a more difficult beat. It really does work and I continue to use that piece of advice every time I play the set.

2. One of my most favorite things about drumming is making crazy beats. I get going on an easy beat and then throw in a measure or two of 16th note fills and go nuts. Playing really fast, all over the set.

4. To have fun drumming is a pretty easy thing to do. Who doesn’t like beating on things and making some cool rhythms? I know I do , That is probably why I’ve kept with it for about five years now.

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  1. I was thilled to see my granddaughter, Riley Kates, involved with all the rest of the “girls”. She comes from a long line of family musicians and I have no doubt she will succeed in music. She’s a wonderful girl.

  2. Pingback: Accordion Lessons

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