JAZZ INSIGHTS Archives - Modern Drummer Magazine


Modern Drummer is the world’s most widely read drum magazine, is dedicated entirely to the art of drumming and caters to the needs of amateur, semi-pro, and professional drummers.

Knowing When to Say Goodbye

A life-long commitment to any job or ideal is noble. But sometimes it’s just time to pack up your things, say “thanks, bye,” and hit the road. While folding the cards and getting up from the table might seem like…

By Peter Erskine
May 31, 2023

The Big Drum-Off

The name Rodger Fox may not ring a bell for some readers outside of New Zealand or Los Angeles, but he is very well known by just about everyone in the Land of the Long White Cloud (“Aotearoa,” the Maori…

By Peter Erskine
Apr 30, 2023

Balloons in the Sky

You know that feeling when you’re playing a piece of music and you’re somehow disconnected? What you’re playing is not wrong, but it’s not right either. Something is missing. What? Who? The answer is you! YOU’RE missing. And sometimes, you…

Modern Drummer
Mar 31, 2023

Let’s Face It...

Chinese New Year usually finds me seated at a large circular table in Hop Woo’s, a terrific dining establishment in West Los Angeles. This annual meal is organized by the wife of my longtime friend and drummer Peter Donald. We…

By Peter Erskine
Feb 28, 2023

The Art & Challenge of Teaching

I am writing this on the last day of 2022, in preparation for my last semester of teaching full-time at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. Why am I leaving such a coveted job? The…

By Peter Erskine
Jan 31, 2023

My Cup Runneth Over…

It’s been a good month. More precisely, it’s been one heck of a week. First, my wife returned home from being nanny and granny to our grandson in Italy while our daughter is busy filming a new show there. Much…

By Peter Erskine
Jan 1, 2023

What Drummer’s Don’t Like

There are reminders, and then there are painful reminders. I was on the receiving end of a most-unpleasant reminder recently concerning what I don’t like, and I thought it would be useful to pivot the negative experience into a teachable…

By Peter Erskine
Oct 31, 2022

“The Little Things”

First impressions can be deceiving, but they can also be quite revealing. When it comes to music, we will often form an opinion or judgement based on just a few notes’ worth of playing. Most recently, I auditioned a drummer…

By Peter Erskine
Sep 30, 2022

Back to School

“School days, school daysDear old golden rule daysReadin’ and drummin’ and ‘rithmeticTaught to the tune of a signature stick …” Most of you may not be old enough to remember the tune, and my apologies for changing a couple of…

By Peter Erskine
Aug 31, 2022

The Next So-and-So!

I’m tempted to begin each of my new Modern Drummer columns by writing “With everything else that’s going on in the world…” because the unrelenting news cycles force me to question the relative importance of an artistic particular or a…

By Peter Erskine
Jul 31, 2022

“Where Am I Going?”

More often than not, I preach precision while espousing specificity when it comes to expressing our ideas on the drumset. In simple terms, that adds up to, “saying what we mean and meaning what we say.” That approach, however, runs…

By Peter Erskine
Jun 30, 2022

Peter Erskine-Lauren Ellis: Women in Drumming, Mentorship

This month’s Jazz Insights column focuses on my former USC student and teaching assistant Lauren Ellis. Her bio informs us that, “Lauren is a drummer, composer, and educator from Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand. There, she studied at the Te Kōki…

By Peter Erskine
May 31, 2022

My Manne, Shelly

Shelly Manne was one of my first drum heroes, and he remains a hero to this day. A swinging drummer in any context, he personified eclecticism while remaining a singularly unique musician. Shelly could do it all. Since the term…

By Peter Erskine
Apr 30, 2022

Going to the Movies, with Peter Erskine

Scene 1: Jam session, rehearsal, or a gig. Bandleader’s Line: Let’s play “Green Dolphin Street” … and… Drums, how about you play an intro? Spot Quiz: A.) Do you ask, “How long?”B.) Do you ask, “What tempo?”C.) Do you ask,…

By Peter Erskine
Mar 31, 2022