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Freddie’s Famous Students Remember Their Mentor

Freddie Gruber

The list of drummers who passed through Freddie Gruber’s teaching studio reads like a veritable Who’s-Who, with names like Gregg Bisonette, Danny Gottlieb, Anton Fig, Vinnie Colaiuta, Kenny Aronoff, and Jim Keltner counted among his illustrious alumni. Here are a few recollections from famous drummers who have benefitted from Gruber’s teaching.

Steve Smith

“Gruber is a drum guru specializing in musical technique and a natural approach to playing that aligns the player to the laws of physics.”

Dave Weckl

“With Freddie’s approach, which is an action/reaction concept of letting the stick do a lot of the work, it’s changed my way of communicating the emotion through the drum set.”

Neil Peart

“Just by chance Steve Smith introduced me to Freddie and I spent a week with him in New York and got some exercises and guidance from him. He’s a guru kind of teacher — he’s not going to teach you how to play a certain pattern or teach you a polyrhythm — he’s more like a movement coach.”

“He said to just hit [the head] and get out of the way — that’s one of his dictums and I took it very much to heart. I realized the actual striking of the drum is only a tiny fraction of the whole motion: that stick goes up in the air, whips around, and then comes down and hits that drum for a microsecond. I learned to think about all the other stuff that was happening, and the bounce is a big part of that. Hit it as hard as you can, but by the time it’s sounding you’re off of it.”

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