"Let’s start by looking at how you are sitting at the drum set."
Even though I had played drums for many years, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my new teachers evaluation at my first lesson. However, I was confident that if nothing else, I could claim expertise at the entry-level task of sitting on the drum throne. Now, hearing the diagnosis of a world-class drummer and teacher, I discovered that mastery of even this most basic skill had eluded me. What happened next was more like the frame-off restoration of a badly neglected old car than any drum instruction I had ever received.
The mechanic in this case was Steve Davis, a drummers drummer, music arranger, clinician, producer, and recording engineer; a renaissance musician. Steve trains his students with the same holistic approach he applies to his own playing. In his view, the elements of balance, movement, technique, and musical sensitivity are completely interdependent. When combined in a percussionist, they create an organism capable of drawing ideas from, rather than imposing them on the music, and transforming those ideas into amazing sound, unrestricted by patterns, licks or other creative crutches.
Like his playing, Steve’s teaching is based upon a comprehensive system that embraces and promotes possibility rather than recitation. Simply put, this man is no ordinary teacher. A student seeking the short path to mediocrity should look elsewhere. But if a drummers goal is true musicianship unfettered by either creative or technical limitations, his first step should be toward this remarkable master, Steve Davis.
Taking lessons with you was incredible. It was very structured, yet it was flexible enough that we could talk about anything. Everything you said just made sense, and I had a lot of "lightbulb" moments where things just clicked in my head. The stuff you were teaching me was ALL relevant to real world situations (unlike reading exercises out of a book....) and the coordination learned from your exercises can be applied to any style of music. Within the lessons, you always made sure I understood stuff, and encouraged me if to ask questions if I had any doubts at all. One thing I liked best about your whole style (teaching/playing)...is that not only are you an incredible drummer, but you are an even more incredible musician!
I have now started to refer to you (back in Calgary to all my drummer/musician friends) as the Guru teacher of music/drums. All your exercises are amazing and there is nothing that couldn't be applied to real life situations. Thank you!
In my time of listening and watching you play, I have come to think of you as the most musically inspiring drummer that I know of currently playing today. Because I have witnessed it myself, I am aware of your technical prowess on the drumset. Yet, while you have this facility, you rarely, if never, display your technical abilities for no musical purposes. You have made the conscious choice to play with transparency, something that I aspire to do. Whether it be from experience or sheer giftedness, you always seem to play the ideas that are perfectly in place with everything else thats going on around you. You play with such grace, fortitude, unselfishness, and most importantly, love. You teach with these same qualities as well. It is amazing to me that someone who is as cerebral and as deeply thoughtful as you are can make a connection to virtually anyone on some level. Many people cannot do this. You make the student feel valid and encourage them to believe that the world needs and deserves to hear their musical voices. You don't just teach exercises, stickings, and songs. While these "technical" aspects of music are interesting to me, you always stressed the importance of feeling connected with the music around you. I think about your concepts daily, and they have not only affected my musical playing, but they have also improved my personal life as well. I was always eager for or next lesson because I knew that not only would I learn something new about drumming, but I would learn something new and exciting about myself. No drum instructor, teacher, or father has given me more valuable information than you have. These are the reasons why you are always working so much and why you are held in such high regard with everyone that come in contact with you. These are the reasons why I aspire to be like you in every musical way.
New York City
Steve Davis is one of the best teachers I've ever studied with. Every
time I have a question Steve is able to give me a number of different
angles to approach what I am after. He is extremely thorough and has
checked out so much music and ways of playing. It's not just
technique for techniques sake, Steve has a really honest and effective
approach to help a musician get closer to how and what we want to
express. I feel like my playing has grown more in the short time that
I've studied with Steve than it has in years. Because of Steve's
guidance I feel much more present and able to execute my ideas as the
music unfolds around me. Not only is Steve an Amazing teacher but a
monster of a player. No matter how challenging the material he gives
me he can play it all to the nth degree and at the same time his
playing sounds so fluid open and organic. This guy is the real deal if
you get the chance to hang or study with him don't pass it up. I am so
fortunate I have the opportunity to do so.
If I played drums I'd want to play just like you. You're one of
baddest cats on the planet.
All the best,