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Roy Burns

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Note: Some MD articles are only available in pdf format. Those articles do not appear in this list. Subscribers to Digital and All-Access can view every Modern Drummer issue in their available formats. Browse all MD issues from our archive here.
May 2021:
Developing Speed Naturally

Almost all young drummers attempt to see how fast they can play at some point. This is a natural stage of development. It is sort of like flexing your muscles just to see how strong you are. Technique is needed to play any instrument well, but technique means more than …

June 1987:
Son Of The One-Handed Roll

What has happened is that semantics have created a communication problem. What these teachers refer to as a “roll with one hand” is what I refer to as a “controlled finger bounce.”

May 1987:

Being a truly professional drummer involves more than just making all or part of your living playing the drums. It is an attitude that is developed through experience and self-discipline.

March 1987:
Drumming And The Practice Pad

Some drummers hate practice pads; others are never without them. Some teachers recommend practice pads; others say that you should practice on the drums.

February 1987:
Teaching By Intimidation

Imagine how you would feel if, on your first drum lesson with a new teacher, the teacher said, “You mean your last teacher told you that you were good? You are terrible!”

January 1987:
More Questions And Some Answers

I find that there are young drummers today asking some of the same questions, as well as some new ones. So I thought it was about time to address a few of those questions.

December 1986:

When successful people in all walks of life are asked how they achieved their success, they almost always attribute it to perseverance.

November 1986:
Getting Unstuck

I have a few students who are accomplished, professional drummers. I always ask them, “Why are you here? You play well, and you’re working. How can I help you?” In almost every case, the response is, “I just feel stuck. I feel as though I’ve stopped improving. I feel as …

October 1986:
Mousey Alexander — Drumming And Courage

In 1957, I was scheduled for an audition with Benny Goodman’s band at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The drummer with Benny was a man by the name of Mousey Alexander. Mousey was a well-known professional drummer whom I had admired for years. Benny asked me to …

September 1986:
Drummers And Drum Shops

The drum shop is a special place. When I started on my way to becoming a professional drummer, I studied at Jack and Johnie’s Drumshop in Kansas City. Jack Miller and John Terry were two of the best drummers in Kansas City during the 1950s. John Terry still teaches and …

August 1986:
Breathing And Energy

Energy is, and always has been, very important to drummers. Years ago, the toughest task for a drummer was to play an extremely fast tempo, while one horn player after another attempted to “cut” or “top” the previous soloist. These super-fast “cutting” sessions could last 30 or 40 minutes. The …

July 1986:
Tempo Problems

A good friend of mine recently went through a tempo crisis. For several years, he had been playing with a group that consisted of a guitar player, a bass player, a keyboard player, and my friend, the drummer. The group had an opportunity to do some recording with the idea …

June 1986:
Drumming And Burnout

A number of years ago, I had a student who was determined to become the world’s greatest drummer. He practiced as much as eight hours a day. He became increasingly tense. To make matters worse, his parents were continually telling him that he would never make it. In response to …

May 1986:
Careers In Drumming

Virtually every young drummer dreams of being a star at one time or another. We would all like to see ourselves on stage whipping out a dazzling drum solo for thousands of adoring and screaming fans. We can imagine what it would be like to be on tour playing concerts …

December 1985:
Drumming And Electronic Drums

Drummers have different ideas and attitudes toward electronic drums. For example, I have heard drummers say, “The electronic drums are great; I don’t need acoustic drums any longer.” I have also heard the comment, “Those things sound awful. I refuse to play on them.” Some drummers have said, “They may …

November 1985:
Drumming And Self-Discipline

To some people, self-discipline is a term that carries unpleasant connotations. It may mean “forcing” yourself to do something you hate to do. It may also mean suppressing feelings or ideas, because they are not acceptable to someone else. To me, self-discipline is generally the result of doing something because …

October 1985:
Drumming And The Big Move

Every now and then, I receive a letter from a frustrated young drummer. Many of the letters say something like: “I have been playing for X amount of years. I’ve taken some lessons, but my reading needs improvement. I play two nights a week in a Top-40 band. I would …

September 1985:
Dueling Drumsets

Back in the ’50s, Jazz At The Philharmonic presented a “drum battle” featuring Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. To my knowledge, it was the first time they had appeared together. It was an exciting event, and it generated great interest in the drumming community. The format was one of challenges. …

August 1985:
Drumming And The Big Break

Young drummers often ask the question, “How did you get your big break?” In my own case, it started when I met Louie Bellson in Kansas City. Louie was visiting the drum studio where I was taking lessons. He played for us, answered questions, and then listened to each student …

July 1985:
Drumming And Recording

A red light means “go,” but only in the music business. In every recording studio, the red light means “musicians at work.” The red light means it is time to be serious. The red light means this is a “take.” It also means that money is at stake. In the …

June 1985:
International Drummers’ Meeting

For the third year in a row, Drumland (a division of the Pro Sound music chain in Germany) recently presented their International Drummers’ Meeting in Koblenz. The director of Drumland—and host for this event—is Jurge Mader. Each year, Jurge brings drummers and percussionists together from all over the world. Some …

May 1985:
Drumming And Sitting In

A young friend of mine from Massachusetts recently told me the following story. He was working in a club with the group he usually plays with. A man came up to him and asked if he could sit in. My friend said, “Well, I don’t know. We usually don’t have …

April 1985:
A New Look At Technique

I have heard professional drummers say, “I don’t care about technique at all. 1 am only interested in the music.” I have also heard top players say, “Of course technique is important. Without it you can’t play anything.” It would seem that even top professionals don’t agree on the subject …

March 1985:
The World Of Henry Adler

JD: How did you start playing drums? HA: Both my brother and sister played instruments. I was the youngest, I loved music, and I had a feeling for drums. I grew up during the Depression, so it was very tough to get an instrument or to pay a teacher. In …

March 1985:
Drumming And Automatic Learning

Why is it so difficult to break a bad habit? Why is it so difficult to learn a new skill after some years of playing? Why do players get “stuck” on certain patterns, and play them over and over again even when they would like to play something new? The …

January 1985:
Memories Of Shelly

I first met Shelly Manne in the late ’50s in New York City, when he was performing at the Village Vanguard with his own group. I introduced myself on a break between sets, and Shelly instantly treated me as a friend. He just included me in that special fraternity of …

December 1984:
The Drummer's Dream

A good friend of mine, named Ron Behr, once asked me if I had ever experienced the “drummer’s dream.” I wasn’t sure if I had or not until he explained a recurring dream that he has had for some time. As he described it, I realized that I’d had a …

November 1984:
Stars Are Only Human

Perhaps some of the young drummers who took exception to Neil Peart’s comments on fame in the April issue misunderstood him. Sometimes we create an imaginary personality for people we admire. When the personality revealed seems different (as it always does) from our mental picture, we tend to be disillusioned. …

October 1984:
Centering And Breathing

My first Concepts article for Modern Drummer was entitled “Drumming And Breathing.” Since that time, I have received letters and requests to write more on the same subject. Whether or not you are into yoga or meditation, there is ample scientific proof that breathing exercises can be beneficial to a …

September 2018:
Roy Burns: 1935-2018

Roy Burns was a fixture in the worlds of jazz and percussion. From the driving and sophisticated drumming he provided on countless recordings to the characteristic jokes he shared at the Aquarian booth during industry gatherings like PASIC and NAMM, he put his unique stamp on our musical community.

September 1984:
Drumming And Prejudice

People like to talk, and will often repeat the most bizarre concepts and ideas without considering the harm they unwittingly do to others. Insecure people sometimes lash out verbally to discredit more successful drummers. When one’s career has not lived up to expectations, bitterness toward others can develop. For example, …

August 1984:
Drummers and Put-Downs

The drummer, more than any other musician, is routinely subjected to dumb, uninformed put-downs. It seems to start very early in life. For example, very young drummers-to-be might hear their parents say, “Oh no, not the drums. They are so loud. Can’t you play the piano or the flute instead?” …

July 1984:
Technique And Equipment

One of my students complained to me that he had a weak foot. “I have no strength or control of my bass pedal,” he said. I gave him some exercises to practice on the bass drum. At the next lesson, he was still frustrated by the lack of progress with …

June 1984:
How Many Drums Do I Really Need?

I have heard drummers say, “You don’t need a big kit. If you play on a smaller kit, you will be more creative and more musical.” Several famous drummers have been quoted as saying, “I can do everything I need to do on a basic setup. Anything more than four …

May 1984:
Tuning And Muffling

In order to tune or tension your drums for the best possible sound, start out with no muffling. The exception to this rule would be the bass drum where virtually all drummers use some muffling to achieve either a low, full sound or a dry, “pop” type of effect. Some …

April 1984:
Drumming And Information

I met a young man at a clinic recently who told me that he had just purchased a $3,000 drumset, and he had only taken two lessons. I commented, “You sound like you are proud of the fact that you have only had two lessons. Why is that?” He replied, …

February 1984:
Developing Speed Naturally

Almost all young drummers attempt to see how fast they can play at some point. This is a natural stage of development. It is sort of like flexing your muscles just to see how strong you are. Technique is needed to play any instrument well. Technique means more than just …

January 1984:
Practicing With Records

When I was a young drummer, practicing with records was very difficult. Headphones and stereo sets were not available. I would turn up the volume on my small record player to the point where I could hear it over the volume of my drumset. I must admit that this was …

November 1983:
Drumming and Discouragement

Most of us get frustrated and discouraged at one time or another. It is difficult to keep your spirits up when there are no jobs in sight. Furthermore, it is difficult to keep practicing and rehearsing when your career is moving slowly. Parents As if this were not tough enough, …

October 1983:
Practicing And Boredom

One problem that all drummers face sooner or later is being bored while practicing. In the early years there are several reasons for being bored. First of all, the exercises for beginning drummers require dedication because they are so elementary. Keeping up one’s interest can be difficult. However, a student …

September 1983:
Trying Easy

Some years ago in New York, during my studies with RUDI (Swami Rudrananda), one of the students made the following comment: “I am really trying hard, but I am not improving.” RUDI replied, “You must learn to try easy.” We were each advised to think about this concept over the …

July 1983:

The ability to concentrate and not be distracted from the music by fear or pressure is extremely important for every professional drummer. For example, if you become nervous at a recording session or an audition you may lose your concentration. You may be thinking, “I hope I do well,” or …

June 1983:
Friendship and Drummers

Friendship amongst drummers takes on many curious attitudes. For example, we have the fair-weather friend. He is the guy who is super friendly to you if you are with a name group. When you are between groups he loses interest in you and becomes real friendly with someone who is …

May 1983:
Buddy Rich: Dedication To Excellence

Buddy Rich has been a famous drummer for as long as I can remember. I first heard him on records in the early ’40s when I was around seven years old. I met Buddy in person in New York City when I was in my 20’s. Buddy’s career has spanned …

April 1983:
The Pros: On Bass Drums
Mark Craney

Certain reader questions seem to repeat themselves. Several of them involve the ins and outs of bass drums. What size? What kind of heads? How do I tune them?

April 1983:
Endorsements: Good or Bad?

There are so many rumors in the music business regarding endorsements that young drummers don’t know what to believe.

December 1982:
Concepts – Art vs. Money

Photo by John W. Wright If you run your own business, at the end of the year you review profits and expenses. If you made a profit it is considered to have been a good year. The musician has a more complex problem. He also has to show a profit …

November 1982:
Concepts – "Can You Play Like John Smith?"

Photo by John W. Wright Recently, a friend of mine was asked to do a commercial recording session. During the session, it became obvious that things were not going well. Finally, the producer asked my friend, “Can you play like John Smith?” (John Smith doesn’t exist. Put the name of …

October 1982:
Concepts – Respect: The Key To An Open Mind

One of the saddest things in our industry is to hear young drummers criticize or put down older drummers. After all, when you really analyze the history of drumming, all of the newest beats are just new ways of combining the patterns and rhythms played years ago by older drummers. …

July 1982:
Concepts — Tips On Sight Reading

A number of young drummers regularly take lessons and pour through drum books. However, these same drummers, in spite of lessons and hard work, feel apprehensive when asked to sight read. Why is this such a problem even for well trained young drummers? First of all, young drummers, when practicing …

January 1977:
The One-Thousand Year Old Duffy Jackson

When Duffy Jackson was 4, he started playing on stage. When he was 6, he appeared on major network TV with the late Gene Krupa. By the age of 9, he had already played with hundreds of famous musicians that his father, bass player, Chubby Jackson had worked with.

April 1977:
On The Clinic Trail With Roy Burns

After a lifetime of vast musical experience, Roy now devotes most of his time in the capacity of clinician for the Rogers Drum Company, a job which takes him to cities all across the country. He’s very much in demand as a clinician and it’s not hard to figure out …

July 2008:
July 2008 – Volume 32 • Number 7

Brian Blade, Lenny White, Ringo Starr, Wuv, Roy Burns, Buddy Miles, Simon Phillips, Brian Reitzell, Ryan MacMillan, Chad Szeliga, Rexsell Hardy Jr., Chris “Gartdrumm” Gartmann

January 2001:
January 2001 – Volume 25 • Number 1

Tré Cool, Wuv, Nicko McBrain, Dave Krusen, Phil Ehart, Trey Gray, Steve Gadd, Joe Morello, Rod Morgenstein, Peter Erskine, Neil Peart, Mel Lewis, Roy Burns, Mark Parsons, Rick Van Horn, Tony Williams, Buddy Rich, John Bonham, Tito Puente, Alan Dawson, Gary Chester, Eric Carr, Larrie Londin, Art Blakey, Philly Joe …

October 1997:
October 1997 – Volume 21 • Number 10

Chad Sexton, Don Lombardi, Herb Brochstein, Roy Burns, Vic Firth, Ron Spagnardi, Virgil Donati, John Tempesta, Charlie Benante, Steve Gadd, Giovanni Hidalgo, Bill Stewart, Tony Royster Jr. , Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Paul Wertico, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Ferrone, Papa Jo Jones, Chad Smith, Mario Calire, Jeff Porcaro, Jason Bonham, Bun …

April 1977:
April 1977 – Volume 1 • Number 2

Roy Burns, Ed Soph, Clem DeRosa, Jay Corre, Fred Wickstrom, Joe Morello

Posted: December 4, 2015

Category: Drummers, Feature Stories
Ben Koller on His Action-Packed Year With Converge and Beyond

Ben Koller has had his busiest gigging year in 2015, logging miles with Mutoid Man—which also released its Bleeder LP in June—as well as with Killer Be Killed and All Pigs Must Die. He’s also done two tours with the group he’s best known for, Converge. Writer Stephen Bidwell caught …

Posted: November 2, 2015

Category: Feature Stories
Dom Famularo’s Teachers List

Over the course of his forty-year career traveling the globe to teach, perform, and conduct clinics, Dom Famularo has interacted with some of the finest drummers and drum instructors in the world. The following list contains many of those names, organized by country/continent. If you’re looking for top-notch drum instruction, …

Posted: March 31, 2015

Category: Drummers, Feature Stories, Issues, News, News and Events
May 2015 Issue of Modern Drummer featuring Jojo Mayer

See what’s in the May 2015 issue of Modern Drummer magazine, available now…

Posted: October 17, 2014

Category: News, News and Events
Aquarian Celebrates “West Coast Artist Day???

Aquarian hosted a “West Coast Artist Day??? this past October 1. Food and beverages were provided and over ninety endorsers attended….

Posted: June 8, 2014

Category: News, News and Events
Sarah Hagan to Head Zildjian Artist Relations Worldwide

The Zildjian Company is proud to announce that Sarah Hagan has been promoted to director of artist relations–worldwide effective immediately. Sarah assumes responsibility for planning and executing Zildjian’s global artist relations program based out of its headquarters in Norwell, MA….

Posted: May 5, 2014

Category: Drummers, Feature Stories, News, News and Events
Steve Weiss: 1943-2014

The entire percussion community suffered a loss this past April 21, when Steve Weiss, founder of the Pennsylvania-based percussion retail business that bore his name, lost his long battle with prostate cancer….

Posted: May 2, 2014

Category: Drummers, On the Beat
Paul Delacerda of Wounded Warrior

Hi, my fellow MD readers! My name is Paul Delacerda, and I am a US Army retired Staff Sargent. This is my second blog, and I’m very honored….

Posted: December 23, 2013

Slayer Aerials at FUN FUN FUN Fest 2013
Category: Drummers, On the Beat
MD Contributor Stephen Bidwell on Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas

Fun Fun Fun Fest had its eighth go-round this past November 8–10, and it was three days of great music for fans of metal, indie, hardcore, electro, and hip-hop, as well as wrestling, comedy, skateboarding, and BMX….

Posted: December 23, 2013

Category: Drummers, On the Beat
MD Contributor Stephen Bidwell on Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas

Fun Fun Fun Fest had its eighth go-round this past November 8–10, and it was three days of great music for fans of metal, indie, hardcore, electro, and hip-hop, as well as wrestling, comedy, skateboarding, and BMX….

Posted: August 28, 2013

Category: Drummers, Issues, News, News and Events
October 2013 Issue of Modern Drummer Featuring Mike Portnoy

October 2013 Issue of Modern Drummer featuring Mike Portnoy Contents

Posted: January 17, 2013

Category: Drummers, News, News and Events
Pro-Mark Founder Herb Brochstein Passes

Drummer and Pro-Mark founder Herb Brochstein passed away this week. The multifaceted Brochstein played many roles in the music industry throughout his long career, recording and performing, teaching, owning a drum shop, and, in 1957, launching the Pro-Mark drumstick company….

Posted: August 20, 2012

Category: News, News and Events
Aquarian Selects Name for Drumhead Film

After a company-wide contest and endorser input, Aquarian has selected Nu-Brite as the name of its drumhead film. According to co-owner Roy Burns, “This new film is so popular with our endorsers that we decided to give it a special name.??? All Aquarian drumheads are made with Nu-Brite drumhead film….

Posted: October 14, 2011

Category: Drummers, On the Beat
Rick Steel

Hello, MD readers! It’s BooM (Rick Steel). I still remember the last time I spoke with Modern Drummer founder Ron Spagnardi. After receiving a copy of his latest drum book at the time, I called to thank him.

Posted: August 3, 2011

Category: News, News and Events
Web Update News 8/11

Find out what your favorite drummer is up to now (Web Update News 7/21/11).

Posted: May 19, 2011

Category: Drummers, The Greats
Roy Burns: Swing Star, Clinic Pioneer, Entrepreneur, And Beyond

Roy Burns has done it all—and done it well. He’s held the throne of numerous big bands. He’s established himself as an in-demand studio player, teacher, and clinician. He’s written numerous drum instructionals. And he’s one of the founding members of Aquarian Drumheads. Burns was born in Emporia, Kansas, in …

Posted: February 4, 2011

Category: Drummers, Feature Stories
Henry Adler : Legendary Drum Teacher

Drumming pioneer, music retailer, author, and teacher Henry Alder was born in New York on June 28, 1915. His first professional playing job took place when he was fifteen years old at the Belmar Hotel in New Jersey. He subsequently worked in several pit orchestras in theaters, as well as …

Posted: February 3, 2009

Category: Drummers, On the Beat
Roger Taylor of Duran Duran Drummer Blog

Roger Taylor here (no, not the one from Queen, the other one!). Duran Duran recently completed filming a documentary about the making of the Rio album….

Posted: January 16, 2008

Category: Feature Stories
Best Of ’07

I’m convinced that, ten years from now, we’re going to look back at 2007 as an unusually fertile time in music and in drumming.

Posted: July 16, 2007

Category: Drummers, Feature Stories
Josh Freese: Time Bandit

Time. Feel. Groove. Pulse. For many, these are illusive concepts with multiple meanings. Does a heavy metal drummer “feel??? the pulse in the same way as a pop drummer?…

Posted: May 19, 2005

Category: Drummers, Feature Stories
Daniel Reyes

In between those gigs he’ll squeeze in a performance with Ricky Martin, Stevie Nicks, or Jennifer Lopez, among other top acts. But Danny’s brain is always thinking: How do I make my playing better? Equally important to him these days: How do I make the instruments I play better? Enter …

Posted: May 12, 2004

Category: Drummers, Feature Stories, Update
Josh Freese

Looking at Josh Freese across a Starbucks table, it’s hard to believe I’ve known him since he was eleven years old. Suddenly it struck me that he was then the same age that my son is now, and the comparison was mind-blowing. At eleven years old, Josh was already fiercely …

Posted: May 11, 2018

The Modern Drummer Podcast with Mike and Mike
Category: Mike and Mike Podcast, Multimedia, Podcasts
Podcast Episode 142: Roy Burns, How to Play Polyrhythms, Roland TD-17 V-Drums, and More

In this episode Mike and Mike pay tribute to Aquarian founder and legendary drummer/educator Roy Burns. The education segment focuses on how to learn polyrhythms via grooves.