Hi, I'm Darren
I've been a professional drummer since I left school at the age of 17.
To date, I have experienced every aspect of the music business that involves playing the drums from touring the world, showcasing artists for record companies, theatre shows and studio work to writing for drum publications, creating video content and teaching both privately and in some of the UK's best known music colleges.

My passions are playing the drums and making music, creating things, working out in the gym and scuba diving.

Here's my story...
Here's my story...
In the beginning....
I started playing drums at age 11 when I discovered an old snare drum whilst searching for Christmas decorations in our attic.

I was surprised to learn that my Dad used to play drums and seeing that I was interested, showed me how to hold the sticks and to count in time with the music. I loved it!!

The following September I moved up to secondary school and enrolled in drum lessons with local drum tutor, Trevor Benham.

Playing...
My parents were amazingly supportive and the following Christmas produced a second hand Premier kit and I was soon playing-along to my Dad's mix tapes of the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry in our Garage.
Trevor introduced me to Big Band drummers such as Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson and Kenny Clare, I was hooked!

I joined the junior version of Chinnor Silver Band, my first band, playing drums and percussion. This was good experience and got me used to reading music.

I desperately wanted to play in jazz and big bands and play the music of my heroes.

My Dad found a local Sunday lunch time Jazz session in Aylesbury at the Civic Centre and I nervously started to sit-in, gaining essential experience and confidence. Here I met local drummers who really encouraged me and became some of my earliest mentors.
NYJO...
Over the next few years I sat in with and joined many local big bands gaining more and more experience.
I heard about the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) and that it was a breeding ground for exceptional young musicians who went on to make a name for themselves on the London session scene.

My Dad made a few enquiries and found out that they rehearsed every Saturday in a studio near Kings Cross Station in London. This was the start of our weekly pilgrimages to London. I remember attending my first rehearsal. I was way out of my depth and couldn't figure out how Chris Dagley the then drummer was able to read music at sight and convincingly play what sounded like the perfect thing. This was intimidating but Chris welcomed us and suggest that I get in touch with drum teacher Bob Armstrong if I was serious about progressing.
Studying with Bob Armstrong...
On Chris's suggestion, my Dad phoned Bob Armstrong to enquire about lessons. He had a long waiting list for new students and I'd be added to the list. Undetered my Dad proceeded to phone up every week to check availability. Thanks to my Dad's persistence he finally agreed to see me for an audition. This was serious stuff! Auditioning for lessons!?!
Many great players were studying with Bob at the time and as a shy 15 year old I began to feel the pressure. Bob was a stickler for committed practice and didn't tolerate time wasters.

My Dad and I arrived early for my audition to find Steve White in the waiting room whilst brother Alan White, soon to join Oasis worked on some latin grooves behind the closed studio door.
We had seen Steve at a Zildjian drum clinic at Blazers with Mel Gaynor, drummer for Simple Minds and Peter Erskine, a Jazz and Fusion superstar from the U.S. at a club in Windsor. Steve was a regularly in the drum magazines at the time and I recognised him immediately. My Dad engaed in polite conversation, "So, do you play in any bands?", I squirmed a little but was so shy I just sat there. "Yeah, I play in a little band called the Style Council...". The penny dropped for my Dad and the conversation flowed. Before I knew it Alan's lesson had finished. We said our goodbyes and Bob welcomed us in. I was so nervous.

Bob studio was impressive, a gleaming Pearl kit at one end, a pro sound system, a bank of drum machines, a computer, filling cabinets, records and signed photos of famous drummers thanking Bob for his hard working and insightful teaching. I was amazing cool, but totally intimidating for this shy 15 year old.

Before In my audition Bob started off by asking me what I was had been working on and replied, "Is this all you've covered?". I was already nervous and I could feel a lump in my throat forming. He then moved onto assessing what I could and couldn't do. He got me to play to tracks, demonstrate some technical and coordination exercises and after the first hour he started to teach me some linear phrasing from Gary Chaffee's book. This was completely different from what I'd experienced before and it sounded amazing, especially when Bob played it!

After two hours I thought I'd blown it but Bob's eagle eye must have spotted a glimmer of talent and announced at the end of our session that he would take me on and how was a Friday slot at 5pm every two weeks. I was so relieved I cried!

This was the start of an amazing 6 year journey which gave me the skills necessary not only to play in NYJO but to ultimately become a professional drummer and musician. Introductions to different techniques, concepts, musical styles and drummers followed and I lapped it up.

Bob was way ahead of his time in terms of his teaching style and approach. We became good friends and he was always available at the end of the phone to offer his knowldge, advice and support. Although I didn't know it at the time, Bob would go on to be a huge influence in my own teaching.
Andy Ross Orchestra...
Musical director Andy Ross of TV's Come Dancing fame (now known as 'Strictly'), came to see me play with NYJO. I had not long passed my driving test and having played in and around NYJO for a few years I was starting to become a flexible and dependable young musician. After hearing me play Andy offered me a gig playing in his Orchestra. This was playing largely society functions in and around London. This was fantastic experience, playing with pro musicians, learning repertoire and playing to a click. I meet lots of musicians during my time with Andy's band that would influence my career in years to come.

Thanks to Bob Armstrong's excellent teaching and my experience playing in bands, my sight reading was really good at this point. Once word got out that I was a young drummer on the scene that could play and read well I began getting regular calls to dep on many of London's top function bands. Other gigs started to come my way in the form of show deps. This was regular work, regular income and the opportunity to network with other musicians.
The Drifters...
After paying my dues in lots of different bands over the next few years I finally got a call that landed me my first regular touring gig.
John Hinch, a trumpet player I'd met in Andy Ross's band mentioned that the drum chair in The Drifters was up for grabs and was I interested? This band was one of the busiest bands on the circuit playing theatres, clubs, corporate events, gigs for American presidents and more. This meant touring 9 months of the year with between 4 and 7 gigs a week mainly in the UK but also stints abroad.
I said yes and aged 23 I began a gig that I would hold for the next 11 years, with the last 7 years as musical director.

I made some life-long friends in this gig. It taught me all a lot about being consistent and what life on the road was all about. It was hard work but great fun too.
The 10 Rooms...
I meet Patrick Allen in the late 90's when he was brought in to sing with the Drifters. Patrick was a dancer and singer who had previously ran club nights in New York and had loads of industry connections. You can see Patrick in action in Michael Jackson's smooth criminal video!
Patrick started a night at the 10 Rooms, a club on the junction of Ayr Street and Glasshouse street just off Piccadilly Circus. You'd think a club gig on a Monday night would seem like financial suicide but within a very short space of time it won awards and became 'the place to be seen' and queues would regularly circle the block as people tried to get into what soon became a popular celebrity hang out.

The night was billed as the Music Box with Film Composer and Saxophonist John Altman, Patrick's business partner a regular attendee. I was part of the house band and we got to play with many of the home grown pop acts and visiting artists from the U.S but also as a backing band for music industry showcases. Once again it taught me a lot and I met some fantastic musicians during the 5 years that I was involved.

Some of the artists we backed included: Will Smith, The Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Will Young, Phats and Small, Sean Paul, Joss Stone, Lucie Silvas, Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Shola Ama, Black Eyed Peas, Amy Winehouse, Gwen Guthrie, Romina Johnson, Beverley Knight, Angie Stone, Roachford, Kelle LeRoc, Alex Holland, Omar, Roy Ayers and many more.
Teaching...
I started teaching privately in my early 20s with just a handful of local students.
My gig with the Drifters came to an end in 2006 and I was on the look out for extra work.
My good friend, John Currie, the first bass player with whom I toured with the Drifters called me up to see if I was interested in joining the Drum faculty of the newly formed Drum Institute in Acton, London.
He arranged an introduction and I meet with head of drums, Justin Scott, he himself an ex Berklee student, for an interview. We chated over coffee in a small cafe near the school and was in touch a few weeks later to see if I could cover a couple of classes. I came in and delivered the classes and found that not only did I seem to have something to offer the students but I really enjoyed it too.

A few months later in the later half of 2006 'The Institute' moved to it's current location in Dyne Road in Kilburn, north London. I was dully offered hours teaching on the higher diploma and within a few years had taught every drumming class at the school.  I moved on to teach on the school's degree program and ended up designing and leadiing many aspects of the drum related delivery. The school is now called the ICMP and I have been teaching there ever since.

It was through the ICMP that I first started writing for two of the best known rum publication in the UK, Rhythm And Drummer magazine.

Since my early days at the ICMP I've gone of to teach at a number of music colleges both here and in Europe and giving demonstrations and clinics for manufacturers of musical equipment. I've gained some teaching qualifications along the way and am always look for ways to improve my skills as a teacher and coach. I've taught every level and style of player you can imagine from age 14 upwards and love helping people improve.

Back in 2009 I went into partnership and started an online teaching platform entitled, the Drum Lesson Academy. I single handedly produced an online teaching website with lessons on every aspect of drumming and added a digital magazine on Newstand, Apple's online magazine store. This project lasted for 5 years until the partnership ended and the platform closed. This experience taught me not only a great deal about online teaching but the technical aspects of creating online content.

Today I'm very active teaching at the ICMP on London and at BIMM in Birmingham as well as with my own private teaching practice at the Oxygen Rooms in Birmingham helping drummers young and old on their professional and musical journies.

This website is the latest iteration in my  online teaching and I'm really looking forward to helping even more drummers achieve their potential.
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