Stanton Moore Drum Academy
by Stephen Bidwell
New Orleans groove juggernaut Stanton Moore has been one busy timekeeper, working seemingly nonstop since his main project, Galactic, took off around twenty years ago. Moore is involved in myriad projects, including a Frenchmen Street residency with his trio, featuring bassist James Singleton and pianist David Torkanowsky, and ongoing gigs like Garage a Trois, Midnite Disturbers, and Dragon Smoke. His new solo release, an all-star tribute to New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint with appearances by Cyril Neville, Maceo Parker, Nicholas Payton, and Trombone Shorty, should be out around the time this issue hits the streets.
For years Moore has also been a sought-out educator. This past December he hosted his fourth-annual Spirit of New Orleans Drum Camp, and now he’s launched stantonmooredrumacademy.com, which is designed to provide educational content for players of all skill levels, as well as for other instructors.
The initial content of the Stanton Moore Drum Academy is built around accompanying videos for the book A Fresh Approach to the Drumset, by Moore’s partner Mark Wessels. More than nine hours of video lessons designed to benefit players of all levels are available for viewing. Setup, technique, styles, reading, grooves, and sound production all get covered. Moore is also taping similar material to accompany Wessels’ A Fresh Approach to the Snare Drum, to be included on the site.
In addition, Moore’s exclusive Academy Lessons, posted twice a month, cover more advanced material. The video lessons are well produced, with great sound and clear notation at the bottom of the screen. Related transcriptions are available for download at the side of the screen. The six videos uploaded as of press time cover buzz rolls, triplet warm-up, variations on the “blushda” lick, drag applications for the drumset, and two clips on brushes, which Moore says he’s been obsessed with for some time, devouring every brush-related book and DVD on the subject. “I talked and hung out with Ed Soph and Jeff Hamilton, took a few lessons with Kenny Washington, and got together with Russ Miller, John Riley, and Steve Smith,” Stanton tells MD. “And after I went to see him play in Portland six or seven times, Mel Brown [April 2017 Modern Drummer], who studied with Philly Joe Jones and Papa Jo Jones, brought his floor tom over to my table and showed me stuff.”
Among the other unique parts of Moore’s site is the Beat of the Month area, in which subscribers submit a fifteen-second clip of themselves playing their favorite grooves. Moore chooses one each month, posts his own version of the beat on the site and on his social-media pages, and encourages other academy members to post their takes. In a related Video Uploads section, members are able to post clips of themselves playing in any situation, and, again, Moore will offer his feedback, as well as encourage others to comment. (Moore also recently started doing in-person master classes hosted by members of the Academy, held at teaching facilities, homes, venues, or stores. Members can reach out to Stanton directly to set these up.)
Included in the site’s entrance fee is access to monthly live chats and to the forum section, which Moore says he’s most exited about—and which may be worth the tuition on its own. “As we go into the forum,” Stanton explains, “drummers are giving me new ideas for lessons that they want to see. So when I go in and film another batch of lessons, I’ll have tons of ideas of new stuff to do.”
As an example of how this type of interaction works, a subscriber posts a video of himself playing some variations on Elvin Jones’ parts from John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and Moore responds with a few pages of related exercises, including Elvin’s use of paradiddle-diddles as related to him by the legendary drum instructor Jim Chapin. With this approach, one thread could potentially result in several lessons’ worth of content. “Through the forum, the live chats, posting answers in Finale, and the occasional guerrilla-style video taken with my phone,” Moore says, “I’ll be able to tend to everyone’s answers.”
Membership to the Stanton Moore Drum Academy is $19 a month or $149 a year. Private video lessons with Moore and other teachers (see the Study Suggestions sidebar) are available for between $75 and $150 an hour, depending on the instructor.
In addition to presenting his own educational material at the Drum Academy, Moore has enlisted former student Kyle Sharamitaro and famed New Orleans drummer Johnny Vidacovich to offer private lessons either via Skype or one on one. “Johnny has more of a conceptual approach,” Stanton explains, “and he might be more for the guys with a little more experience. Kyle studied with me and then went to Loyola, where both Johnny and I graduated from, so if you want to take more regular lessons via Skype on the foundational stuff, you can do that with Kyle. With me or Johnny, usually guys will want to digest it and hit me back in a couple months.”