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Ken D

Santa Cruz, CA, USA

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About Me

I offer lessons on drum set for every imaginable style of music, am a specialist on rudimental and classical snare drum, and also offer interested students the opportunity to explore the depth of Brazilian and Cuban musics. My students range in age from 8 to 67 and encompass all ability levels, from beginners to working professionals. 

My private studio, with 2 drum sets and a full range of percussion instruments, is located in central Santa Cruz. For rates and scheduling please contact me through this web site. A sliding scale is also offered for students of limited means.

I work in a very personalized manner with all my students: mine is definitely not a "one size fits all approach." Three and a half decades of teaching experience allow me to lead my students to their goals by taking the path that is most effective and FUN for them. Whether it be snare drum for school students involved in concert or marching band, drum set studies tailored to the styles that most interest the student (rock, blues, jazz, punk, funk, country, world beat, reggae, swing, Latin, big band, samba and more), musical theatre, or intensive work with the abstract concepts involved in composition and improvisation... we learn quickly and have a very good time! 

Fifty years ago, at the age of 6, I began playing drums on the frozen tundra of the beautiful state of Minnesota. Embarking on a full time performing career after college (including 300 nights a year for nearly 10 years), I studied with master drummers and absorbed local influences in Minneapolis, Chicago and Seattle, before my dreams eventually took me to Paris, France. Over the course of more than six years there I toured all corners of Europe with leading jazz trios and quartets, directed prestigious Brazilian batucadas and escolas da samba, played in Paris' most popular "orchestre de bal," offered workshops in African-American music throughout the continent, and served as the sole demonstrator of electronic percussion and drumset systems for Yamaha Musique France. 

In addition, I co-produced the very successful "All Star" jazz music workshops organized by International Music Seminars™ in Montpelier and Antibes, on the French Riviera. I continue to tour the United States and Europe, and have performed and presented workshops alongside such artists as Diane Schuur, Chick Corea, Joe Diorio, Dave Liebman, Charlie Byrd, Al DiMeola, Richie Beirach, Billy Hart, Trilok Ghertu, Joey Baron, Dave Weckl, Pat Metheny, Toots Thielmans, Gary Burton, Dick Oatts and the group Oregon. 

A few of my specific credentials include Music Education studies at University of Minnesota, where I was fortunate to work for 4 years with Marvin Dahlgren, the legendary "Godfather of 4-Way Coordination" on drumset. I also studied Anthropology and World Cultures at Macalester College in St. Paul. And now, after teaching in Santa Cruz for more than 15 years, my students populate the professional music scene here, playing in bands like "Sambada," "Sourgrass," "Olona with Danjuma," "Aphrodesia," "Live Action Heroes," "Frequency Jones," "Copacetic," and a wide variety of local blues, rock, world and jazz groups.

I am proud to announce that my comprehensive 500 page rhythmic theory book, "The Musician's Guide to Rhythm," has just been published! Co-written with my colleague, Julian Gerstin, it fills a vast rhythmic void in the field of music education. It is available on Amazon, or on our site, musiciansguidetorhythm.com 

Here are a few references from former and current students:

"We couldn't let this end without telling you how much we appreciate all you've done over the last 10 years. More than just music lessons, your stories, advice and friendship helped guide our son into the fine young man he has become. You were there with extra help and encouragement whenever he needed it. Parenting is not easy, but we learned that if we choose the right people to help us, the end result is better. We know that music will be a valuable skill and appreciation that he will have all his lifetime. He will always associate that with you. Thank you very much."

"I told Mark on the drive back to Monterey on the first night that I thought you were a veritable gold mine of info with Latin rhythms, and that I thought we were very fortunate that you are doing what you are doing! How many Ken Dalluge's can you find around the country imparting such a range of knowledge in a hands-on ensemble like you do?! Not many I think!!"

"I had a great time during our last lesson. I like that you inspire me to keep learning drums, and you talk about it as if you know I will playing a long time. I guess sometimes I question how people get into a hobby that can take up so much time and thought when it's not their main thing in life. It feels good to have reinforcement that I'm not wasting my time."

"I just wanted to express a THANK YOU today! Last night we had an "unplugged" band rehearsal (no drums) at the music store where I teach, and I grabbed a set of bongos to keep time -- it was the most fun I've had in ages! Might even start bringing my congas to the few gigs we have just for the heck of it. Anyway, just thought you should know how much I appreciate who you are and what you do!"

"Thank you so much for the encouragement. I love coming to my music lesson. It is the first time in a very long time that I feel really encouraged in a new endeavor, and actually I am walking through my fears. Might sound strange, but music as much as it is a central part of my life has always scared me since my very first piano lessons. I really appreciate your teaching style and your patience. "

"Seriously, your positive vibes are reaching me. I feel blessed to have such a supportive teacher."

You don't know how much you helped me get through a bad time in my life. Sometimes just the escape to my lesson was my only break from the problems I was having. I will never forget your kindness and understanding."

"Our last lesson was really great. I regard you as not just a guru, but a spiritual guide. Your words of wisdom over the past year helped me to overcome some serious emotional trauma. The drumming was a big part of my healing process and will continue to be forever."
“Thank YOU Ken for your kind and gentle encouragement. You are not just teaching him drumming, you are modeling what a caring man looks like. And he will remember you for that.
Blessings and Gratitude….”

"You are a kick ass teacher, with both a passion and breadth of knowledge that goes beyond the beyond. . . I recognize and appreciate it and will sorely miss Monday nights with you!"

"I always think of you when our son does something musically. I don't think you realize how much of an impact you had on him in his early forays into music. School has continued to be a challenge, but he's always worked hard and felt confident in music. You were the best early teacher he could have ever had and we are so grateful for that."
“I want to thank you with profound gratitude for introducing the many Claves (and Cascara) into my life. It has truly been remarkable to experience all the handout sheets you gave me. I carry them almost everywhere I go. Clave never gets old but has a newness that I never tire of. I play the handout sheets over and over and still feel that I am getting benefits from them. When I feel gratitude, you come to mind and I am forever grateful to have been led down the bunny hole to discover all the tributaries and places Clave can be used. It is also every bit as powerful as any sacred mantra that has graced this planet.”
“Our son made like $36 this weekend drumming on Pacific! His sign said, "Hi, I am 7. I hope you enjoy the music." It was SO FUN. He had a few guys come by to show him some things on the congas, and even one came by to jam with him (with a guitar), which he did! Really cute! I think you would have been proud...:-)

“Thank you so much! You have given me so much guidance and direction over the last nine years. Thank you for helping me stay focused, and at the same time for understanding me when I’m held back for whatever reason at the time. Don’t know where I’d be without your help! I also appreciate all the anecdotes and tips and opinions you have about my life, even when it doesn’t pertain to drums. So excited for the next year!”

“I just wanted to tell you how much our boy enjoyed his first lesson with you! He was feeling a little timid before going but he had a great time! Then for his second lesson he RAN to your door yesterday. He is stoked, and he follows you so well. He has always loved music and I'm so grateful that he feels confident enough to explore the drums with you.  He asked today "is it 4 or 5 days until I get to drum again?" so cool!”

“You've been a great teacher. I appreciate the patient and piece by piece teaching style that you have. Your weaving of logic/physical, and the abstract is top notch and easily understandable.”

“It’s hard to believe that seven years of drum lessons from you have come and gone. However, they have not passed without making an impact. You have not only been my drum teacher, but also have been a life mentor. Through sharing many stories, I have really gotten to understand that drumming is based off emotion… and these emotions carry into other areas of life as well. Learning to master this art of expressing and understanding emotion through the vehicle of drumming is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being an amazing teacher, mentor and friend….”

“I just wanted to thank you personally for being such an important part of my son’s life.  You have encouraged and inspired him through a very difficult time in his life. You modeled creativity, flexibility, wisdom, patience, and passion for music which will travel with him throughout his life. You saw talent and encouraged him when, at the time, all he saw were obstacles. I applaud your artistry and ability to share your music with others. Thank you for everything!”

“My 8 year old grandson said his one hour lesson was like a minute. Brings joy to hear these words, meaning he has joy. This is what we always long for in our children and grandchildren a place of peace and joy. I am one lucky Grandma!!”

“It’s been a thrill, let me tell ya! You inspire me to keep practicing. I feel VERY lucky….blessed, actually…….that you allowed me to experience this portion of my rhythm journey with you. I’ll miss your stories and rhythmic musings. Your encouragement and kind words have meant more than you know. Seriously, more than you know.“

I want to thank you for your openness… your keen attentiveness… your generous heart… your encouragement… your patience… your tireless dedication to your craft… your depth and breadth of rhythm experience and expertise… your brilliance… and for just being such a great person to sit in a room with for an hour. 



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