There are those in our lives that not only influence and help guide us, but also leave a lasting impression and impact, and in my case, this case, an everlasting impression and life-long impact.
I must admit that I was very fortunate to have had what I consider the best teachers and mentors; Donn Carr being the first of a short list. I was thirteen when I approached my parents and asked them, or better yet, told them, that I wanted to play drums. My father, a cautious man, thought it wise to invest in a teacher first, before a drum set, and in doing so, would also find out just how serious I was about this new interest and passion. I agreed, and with that, he researched and found me the best drum teacher on the North Shore [of Massachusetts]. His name was Donn Carr and not only was he a teacher, but also a player, which my father recognized as being extremely important. No doubt, I certainly do owe my father for choosing the right teacher.
And, what was it that made Donn the right teacher? For me, it was a combination of: A) teaching me the basics and elements of a variety of beats [rock, jazz, country, dance, Latin, etc.], fills and reading; B) helped me develop good and proper techniques; and C), most important, he made the lessons rewarding by allowing me to play to a song at the end of each lesson–provided I did my lesson well.
I vividly recall the first time. With approximately five minutes left in the lesson, I reached for the record in my bag, pulled it out, handed it to Donn and said, “Side one, track one.” He put it on the turntable as I prepared myself on his Remo practice pad kit, lowered the needle and the synth intro to “Baba O’Riley” began. From that day on, Donn gave me the perfect mix of study and reward–playing through many of the Joel Rothman books and always ending on a musical note.
It didn’t take me long to realize how important Donn was to me and my development. Many things he imparted have stayed with me throughout my life and helped me along the way. I only hope he knew how important and influential he was… I would not have gotten to where I am today, if it wasn’t for Donn Carr getting me off to a good start.