KIND WORDS FROM PREVIOUS & CURRENT STUDENTS
"I HIGHLY RECOMMEND MARK'S CONSISTENT TEACHING APPROACH"
"Mark helped prepare my son for a career as a drummer/percussionist. He guided his development through the critical years of high school and college. He not only gave my son a foundation of technical and musical skills, but also mentored him to understand what it is like to be a professional. I highly recommend Mark's consistent teaching approach. He get's results!"
- Bill Schlitt
"A TRUE CRAFTSMEN IN PREPARING ONE FOR LONG-LASTING SUCCESS"
"My studies with Mark at Azusa Pacific were truly career changing. Coming in as a professional already, he was a major part of elevating my entire percussion level, across the disciplines. Mark took the time to evaluate my strengths, discover some areas of weakness or deepening, and put together great curriculum that is timeless and gets passed on to others. Our snare drum studies were intense (Albright) and helped my odd meter applications for drum set work as well. The extensive drum set curriculum featured Brazilian studies, odd meter, studies, bass drum techniques and groove development through Moeller application. Mark's intentions for my specific studies were far beyond educational purposes, but rather to be reflected in my recording, gigging, and education circles. A true craftsmen in preparing one for long-lasting success."
- Lance Beckford, Music Educator/Percussionist
"I CANNOT RECOMMEND ANYONE MORE HIGHLY"
“My high school-age son has been studying drums and percussion with Mark for two years. From orchestra percussion instruction, including both drum and mallet instruments, to drum kit instruction, Mark brings a wealth of experience from decades of performing on the largest stages in Los Angeles, the rest of the country and overseas with many of the biggest names in music entertainment. Mark builds his students up with strong fundamentals that establish a solid foundation for excellent musicianship in whatever music idiom the student pursues. My son's performance level on percussion instruments has grown exponentially and now he consistently auditions successfully at the highest levels, demonstrating mature technique and high music IQ because of Mark's instruction. And on the drum kit, my son has experienced equally exponential growth, being equipped with the same essential fundamental background as the jazz, pop and rock greats, just as Mark learned from his own study with some of those same greats. Best of all, Mark teaches his students to be musicians with big ears. I cannot recommend anyone more highly.”
- Drake H.
"ASIDE FROM DRUMS, MARK HAS ALSO HAD A SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE IN MY GROWTH AS A PERSON"
“I have learned so much about drumset, percussion, and musicianship from Mark. He has given me endless tools that I use frequently in my time practicing and performing. Aside from drums, Mark has also had a significant influence in my growth as a person. He has taken each lesson to invest in my playing and my character. I strongly recommend Mark to any drummer or percussionist who is looking to grow in their musicianship.”
- Garrett Morris
"...I WISH I HAD FOUND MARK MUCH SOONER"
“I've been taking drum lessons from Mark for a year while working on a Masters Degree in Music Performance. During this time my growth has been great and I'm looking forward to continue working with him. My main goal with drum lessons was to improve my control and awareness around drums and that is exactly what his lessons have offered me. His style of teaching is based on a very well rounded distribution of concepts related to the instrument. These concepts include a very deep focus on all around technique(hands and feet), reading(Snare etudes as well as drum set) and applications around the drums. The emphasis on technique has clearly helped me have a more ergonomic interaction around the drums which has also led me to have a more efficient playing in general. Even though I thought I was a decent reader, Mark's lessons have been a great opportunity to find out that there is always room for improvement and new challenging material. In terms of applications around the drum set, with these lessons I've had the chance to improve my independence/coordination, improvisation skills, in addition to expanding my knowledge about groove and vocabulary in general.
I've been playing drums for about 18 years and professionally for about 10 years, I wish I had found Mark much sooner. I recommend him for beginners, intermediate as well as advanced/professional players who want to clean up their technique or expand their knowledge about the instrument."
- Marko A Sanchez
"THE HIGH STANDARD THAT MARK HELD ME TO HELPED TO LAY THE FOUNDATIONS FOR WHAT I WOULD LATER ACCOMPLISH IN GRADUATE SCHOOL AND IN MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER"
"Studying with Mark has been both an exciting and humbling experience. I enjoyed the pace at which he guided me along in my studies, and I appreciated the fact that he varied his curriculum based on the playing style of each student. Whether it was training my feet through Colin Bailey's "Bass Drum Control" or working my hands through Mitchell Peter's snare drum books, Mark always knew exactly what I needed to better myself as a performer. Perhaps the greatest thing I learned from studying with Mark was how to hold myself to a high standard. I can recall many lessons when I did not quite hit the mark on an assignment. In those cases I was required to figure out how to truly perfect an etude or technique before being allowed to move on. The high standard that Mark held me to helped lay the foundations for what I would later accomplish in graduate school and in my professional career."
- Caleb Connor
"IF YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO STUDY WITH MARK, HE WILL NOT ONLY BE A WONDERFUL TEACHER, BUT ALSO A HELPFUL MENTOR WHO IS READY TO HELP YOU SUCCEED"
"Mark is a great teacher! I thoroughly enjoyed our lessons in funk, latin, and odd meter studies. He did a great job weaving important fundamentals into the fun and interesting concepts I wanted to focus on. Not only would he help me progress in my drum studies, he was also an excellent tutor for audition prep and knowing what judges are going to be looking for. Mark helped me ace my first audition for the Houston Symphony, which landed me a spot on their sub list! If you have a chance to study with Mark, he will not only be a wonderful teacher, but also a helpful mentor who is ready to help you succeed."
- Chris M.
"HIS APPROACH TO TEACHING AND WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE IS EVIDENT IN HIS APPROACH AND AT THE SAME TIME HE IS INCLUSIVE TO INDIVIDUALS LEARNING STYLES AND NEEDS"
"Mark is a very fine, well thought out teacher that takes his craft very seriously. He has a method that he has worked out over many years that is logical, creative and gets results. Mark has been very fortunate to study with some of the finest teachers in Los Angeles and is one of the most versatile drummer/percussionist I know. His approach to teaching and wealth of knowledge is evident in his approach and at the same time he is inclusive to individuals learning styles and needs. His guidance helped me to get over some barriers I had dealt with on drum set for years."
- Damon Frigillana
"HE TAUGHT ME HOW TO CONNECT THE DOTS BETWEEN DIFFERENT ANGLES OF THE MUSICAL CONCEPTS AND DRUMMING TECHNIQUES, AND HELPED ME KNOW HOW TO CONVEY THEM IN MY OWN WAY"
"The time I spent with Mark’s lessons was one of the highlights through out my musical studies in Los Angeles. It was where the knowledge meets the the technique. He taught me how to connect the dots between different angles of the musical concepts and drumming techniques, and helped me know how to convey them in my own way."
- Aran Alcaraz Nagashima, Tokyo-based
"I HAVE TAKEN WHAT HE HAS TAUGHT ME AND PASSED IT DOWN TO MY STUDENTS"
"It is an honor to write this recommendation/testimonial on behalf of Mark Converse, a mentor, and a valuable member of the educational field. I have worked with many teachers for over 40 years as a drummer and music educator. Mark Converse is one of the finest teachers in my experience. I was Mark’s student for 2 years and I can honestly say that I loved every minute of it. I have had private drum lessons in Dallas, Chicago, Denver, Boston, and L.A. I remember Mark’s the most. Those who know his work will undoubtedly attest to his outstanding ability, his passion for teaching, and how amazing he is at his own craft. Because of his ability he is able to motivate and get the best out of any student willing to put the effort in to what it takes to be at the level Mark knows you can achieve.His enthusiasm for working with students is apparent from the moment you sit down on the throne. It was an honor to be able to learn from someone who enjoys all styles of drumming, all styles of fills, all styles of grooves, all tempos, and forever flowing!! He is also very cognitive of the physical nature of drumming and what it can do to the body when you get older dealing with proper posture and technique.
In my opinion, Mark Converse on faculty or teaching in any community anywhere is an asset to any school music program that values education and the fulfillment of a proper and fun music education. He made me want to be a better musician and person. Even when new approaches where challenging, Mark showed the way to make it easy. I have taken what he has taught me and passed it down to my students. He is simply the best at what he does!"
- Brad Pollock, Director of Music at Trabuco Hills High School
"DURING THE TIME I HAVE BEEN UNDER HIS TEACHING, MY TECHNIQUE, MUSICALITY, AND KNOWLEDGE OF PERCUSSION HAVE IMPROVED AND EXPANDED FAR MORE THAN I HAVE EXPECTED"
"Mark is a wonderful instructor. His expertise and knowledge in percussion is shown in his teaching and performing. He challenges you to think beyond just reading the notes on the music and applies theory in lessons. Mark has taught me how to approach and teach percussion in a performance setting and in a teaching setting. During the time I have been under his teaching, my technique, musicality, and knowledge of percussion have improved and expanded far more than I have expected. Mark sets a comfortable setting, but yet keeps a professional profile. I’ve enjoyed being a student of his and looking forward to playing professionally with him."
- Annabell Fraire
"MARK HAS A WAY OF TEACHING THE BASICS THAT SHOWS UP IN EVERYTHING ELSE I PLAY WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT"
"Mark has a way of teaching the basics that shows up in everything else I play without even realizing it. His attention to detail and methods are tools I’ve used on countless gigs all across the world.
The lessons consist of crucial basics that train your body to relax and get a more full sound. His rudimentary methods give you a consistent system to improve reading and sticking timing. All of the lessons are designed to build a rock solid foundation for any drummer to build a career out of. Studying with Mark was some of the most intense drumming of my career and when I need to put my technique back together I still reach for his exercises years later."
- Andrew Espantman, Drummer for Robert Jon & The Wreck
"MARK'S INSTRUCTION HAS MADE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON MY PLAYING AND I COULDN'T BE MORE GRATEFUL FOR THE TIME I STUDIED WITH HIM"
"For two and a half years I had the opportunity of studying drum set with Mark at Azusa Pacific University. I went into APU’s music program with quite a few drumming weaknesses, which Mark addressed and helped me improve upon over the course of my time with him.
One of these short comings was my right hand technique. Gradually, I had developed too much tension in my right hand and it was affecting my ability to play for long periods of time. Mark spent hours upon hours teaching me a new technique called the Moeller method and within time, I was able to adapt to this new technique and had no more pain in my hand anymore. Not only was Mark knowledgeable on how to help my fix my problem, but he was patient with my learning process as well.
One of my favorite things that I learned from Mark was how to play a variety of Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms. He inspired me to dig deeper into rhythms of various cultures and encouraged me to incorporate those within my playing.
His teaching style is structured but also allows for creativity. He gave me the tools I needed to become a more “sensitive” player. Helping me understand how to play what the music calls for, while also learning how to improvise and solo more tastefully.
Now that I teach private lessons, I reference all of the concepts that I learned from Mark and use them with my students on a weekly basis. Mark’s instruction has made a tremendous impact on my playing and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time I studied with him. "
- Megan Spencer
"MOST OF ALL, MARK ENCOURAGED ME TO BE MYSELF, MOTIVATE THOSE AROUND ME, AND STRIVE TO DO SOMETHING GREAT"
"The 7 years I spent studying with Mark were extremely formative and laid a solid foundation for my musical journey as a professional percussionist and drummer. Mark and I focused most of our time on playing jazz drum set in a large and small group setting, introducing concepts from Tommy Igoe’s “Groove Essentials”, Colin Bailey’s “Bass Drum Control”, Ted Reed’s “Syncopation for the Modern Drummer”, John Riley’s “The Art of Bebop Drumming”, Ralph Humphry’s “Even in the Odds”, Philly Joe’s “Brush Artistry”, Alan Dawson’s “Rudimental Ritual”, and more. As a percussionist and drummer, Mark gave me the tools necessary to be a great big band drummer, combo drummer, pop drummer, an orchestral drummer, an orchestral percussionist, and commercial percussionist. Most of all, Mark encouraged me to be myself, motivate those around me, and strive to do something great."
- Jonathan Schmitt, UCLA Grad. Student, Professional Drummer and Percussionist
"SOME TEACHERS ARE GREAT TEACHERS. SOME MUSICIANS ARE GREAT MUSICIANS. SOME CAN DO BOTH. HIS NAME IS MARK CONVERSE."
"During the period my son studied under the tutelage of Mark Converse, he became not only a better musician, but a better listener to music and to instruction. Mr. Converse possesses musical experiences as a drummer/percussionist and communicates this expertise at many different levels to his students. Some teachers are great teachers. Some musicians are great musicians. Some can do both. His name is Mark Converse.”
- Victor A. Vanacore, Grammy Award Winning Composer and Arranger, Musical Director for Barry Manilow and Ray Charles
"...BASICALLY ALL I AM AS A PLAYER IS A DIRECT RESULT OF STUDYING WITH MARK CONVERSE"
"Although I had a degree in music and had been playing professionally for many years… 27 years later, my posture, grip, technique, time, setting up and getting around the drum set, fills, bass drum technique, versatility, musicality, and confidence-basically all I am as a player, is a direct result of studying with Mark Converse. He would systematically take me through (his structured framework of teaching) Freddie Gruber’s approach/techniques as well as his own. I saw where I was as a player and could see where I was going from week to week... it all made sense.
Starting at 8th notes at 20 BPM, I began to see and feel what my body was doing, how it moved through space, how my sticks responded, and how what I did after a strike effected my sound
and time. Difficult snare drum passages and drum set grooves began to easily flow. Rolls and other rudiments became effortless. I was able to comfortably play at multiple tempi and all dynamic levels.
It’s been over 20 since my weekly lessons. Mark’s teaching has been internalized and I’ll be able to play relaxed and without any threat of carpal tunnel or tendinitis."
- Michael Bissonnette, Minneapolis Drummer/Percussionist, Vic Firth and Remo Endorser