This must be some sort of heaven on Earth, right? We’re rubbing shoulders with names like Bozzio, Peart, Wackerman, Chambers, Thompson, Minnemann, Conte, Hawkins, and Erskine. But we’re not just brushing by, we’re talking. Conversing. Studying and learning from them. Hey, is that Buddy Rich? Hot damn. Are you sure this isn’t heaven?
It’s not. But it’s close. This is Drum Channel. This is the best players putting on the best performances, giving the best interviews, sharing their best tips. This is the drumming mega-web site we’ve all been waiting for. Hooray. What took so long?
Well, inspiration takes time. And money. And more time, and more money, and lots of passion. Enter Don Lombardi. As the founder and president of Drum Workshop, Lombardi has spent more than 30 years channeling his Wonka-esque passion for drumming into one of the world’s most acclaimed drum manufacturing companies.
DW began simply, offering one-on-one instruction for interested drummers, before shifting focus to the creation of smarter/better hardware and, later, drums, eventually becoming a drum- and hardware-manufacturing powerhouse.
Now Lombardi returns to his instructional roots with an instant empire of a drum community web site. “I love teaching and that’s something I’ve always missed,” explains Lombardi. “Drum Channel was first conceived as a more strategic teaching site, and as we worked on it more, I started wanting more and more features on the site, taking advantage of the newest technologies on the web.”
Complementing the extensive libraries of hi-def streaming video — performances, features, interviews, and instruction — are all the applications associated with big community sites (i.e., Facebook, MySpace), including “classroom” interaction with uploadable video features. The technology is dizzying, but it all works to solidify Lombardi’s vision of a comfortable, personal, thorough yet simple online space for drummers of all abilities to interact and learn from one another.
“As you teach individually you’re always trying to assess the aptitude level of each student,” Lombardi says. “Some people get independence easily while others take more time. Some are more naturally rhythmic while others require more effort. So we designed a Flash player with various switches, which could be thought of as camera angles, that allow different, perhaps more simple versions of the same lesson. And any student can upload video of what they’re playing for their teachers and classmates to interpret.”
And when the lessons get tiring, click on over to enjoy some of the most profound professional drum performances ever recorded. It’s all there, it’s mostly free to use, and it didn’t come easy. “[Creating Drum Channel] was crazily expensive but not out of reach. It’s taken three times longer and cost four times the amount we initially figured. You get to the point where it’s so exorbitant but so exciting and cool that you want to try everything. You have to lock yourself in the room and just finish your existing plan.
“A big step was converting it from a pay site to a free site, which was a concern for me because $4 a month is not a big deal for most Americans, but can be a huge problem for someone in a third world country. So now it’s more open to the world.”