My First Teacher

Recently I accomplished the impossible when I managed to reconnect with my first drum instructor. I took lessons at a place called DRUMS in Crafton, a borough just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. It’s where I bought my first pair of sticks and where my parents bought my first drum kit. Three decades later it is gone but the memories remain. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I wanted to reach out to my teacher to show him how much of an influence he had on me after all these years. It was quite a feat finding someone that I hadn’t interacted with in over thirty years. However…

  • My friend’s sister married a guy who used to work at the drum store where I used to take lessons. He remembered the employee’s names including the teachers that worked there. I was able to give him a first name and he provided the last.
  • I went on Facebook and posted his name in an effort to see if anyone was familiar with it.
  • My cousin did a name search and came up with a familiar band who he saw perform at a local venue.
  • The band’s Facebook page had the name that we were searching for.
  • I messaged the band and a member gave me the contact information for the drummer.
  • I texted him and after a few days he texted back. We are now in touch.
  • His name is Matt Kweder and he was the first drum instructor I ever had.

Now what are the chances that my friend’s sister, would marry a guy, who worked at the store, where my teacher taught, who played in a band, that my cousin saw, that led me to him? Wow. What a small world indeed. Matt did not disappoint and was just as gracious as I remember him. He was up for contributing anything to the blog so I took a few minutes to ask him a few questions.

MA: Matt, when I started taking lessons I recall how you immediately set me up. I had to purchase a heavy pair of sticks, almost marching size, and a copy of “Developing Dexterity for Snare Drum” by Mitchell Peters. We focused on the basic rudiments and reading. What were your immediate goals when I started?

MK: My immediate goal with any student is to form a great foundation. You most certainly don’t start building a house on the first floor. The first good wind that comes along is going to knock it over. Good knowledge of basic rudiments and quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth note patterns are the fundamentals of learning any instrument.

You probably thought the sticks were heavy back in those days because you were young but most of the time I start students off with a pair of 5B’s. By the way it’s been well over 30 years when I taught you. I also kept some records and I do believe you were Tuesdays at 5:30. I was a young man back then in my twenties, just married and raising a family. Now yesterday I turned 60! How fast the years go by.

MA: What made you select “Developing Dexterity for Snare Drum” as teaching material?

MK: Actually my go to starting book was “Fundamental Studies for Snare Drum” by Garwood Whaley. I used that book for developing dexterity as a supplement to try to get students to think that both hands were the same. Most people have a predominant strong hand when they play the drums. I always want students to try to get their left hemisphere of their brain to think the same as their right hemisphere. As far as rudiments, I always used a worksheet.

MA: OK, last question. What do you think of, looking back at me as a student (if you can look back that far)?

MK: I remember you as being a very energetic young man, very curious to learn, and always prepared for your lessons.

MA note: There were times that I struggled and Matt always found a way to work with me through it. I still use some of his teaching techniques today.

Check out Matt’s CDs at cdbaby under “Matthew Kweder”

Check out his band’s Facebook page at: @smokinsectionpgh

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