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Dave Mattacks Masterclass

Gary and Dave Mattacks (photo: Kirsty Edmonds. ©Banbury Guardian. Used with permission.)

Fun When You Drum! recently hosted a masterclass by world-famous drummer Dave Mattacks. Here are some quotes and articles about it:

"It was ... a privilege and I can not start to tell you how much I enjoyed it.
Dave is a top fella and I learnt so much, or I like to think that I did ... he is amazing on the drums and you just know that he is a wealth of knowledge ... I know that I could never play like that but if I could just achieve a small percentage of that I would be happy.
I was trying to explain to people at work today what it was like and I think the best phrase I came up with was that 'he is a master who just feels the music' ... I couldn't think of another way to explain the feeling that I got from listening to him.
I am still on a high from it ... it was amazing. A very big thank you to you for making the day possible."

Andy Moody

Article from the BANBURY GUARDIAN:
Written by Tom Gibbon. ©Banbury Guardian. Used with permission.

Welcome Cropredy return for Fairport timekeeper

Legendary drummer drops in for percussion masterclass in village hall

AN AUDIENCE of budding musicians was kept captivated as former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks returned to Cropredy to give a masterclass in the art of percussion. Mattacks, 62, who now lives in Boston, America, was back in the village that holds many fond memories for him because of the annual music extravaganza organised and headlined by Fairport. He was giving a drum class to students of Gary Marshall, who teaches the instrument from his home in the village, last week.
  "I have very fond memories of Cropredy and itís always great to come back", Mattacks told the Banbury Guardian.
  "Itís a wonderful village. I was proud to be associated with Cropredy."
  "What Fairport have done to build their festival since I left them in 1997 is quite amazing. Itís become a truly great event."
  "I also have distant but good memories of the Brasenose pub - where we shot the Fairport 9 album cover - and enjoyable trips from Sussex, where I used to live, to Cropredy for band meetings and rehearsals. It was definitely a long time ago, though!"
  Since leaving Fairport, Mattacks has established himself Stateside as a much sought-after and highly- respected producer and session musician. He has leant his talents to recording sessions and live shows with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Chris Rea, Georgie Fame, Nick Heyward and Elton John.
  Asked about a favourite artist he worked with, he said: "Thatís a bit like comparing oranges and apples, but the XTC, Paul McCartney, Joan Armatrading, Nick Drake and Richard Thompson sessions are among my favourites.
  "Itís the whole package - the music, the people, the studio and end result - that makes those ones just that little bit more special."
  He also picked out sessions with John Martyn, George Harrison and late former Fairport singer Sandy Denny as memorable.
For more information, visit or if you are interested in drumming.

Steve White Masterclass

Rather than write a report of the exclusive Fun When You Drum Steve White Masterclass, this time I have added some pictures and comments from pupils who attended. Some of these pupils have never attended a drum event before, let alone with one of the world's top players! If you didn't attend this time around then you are really missing out! Fun When You Drum has exclusive contacts within the music industry and aims to bring them to the local area for you to learn from and be inspired by. I have more top drummers planned for this year which will be announced via the mailing list.

"The Steve White Event was awesome! I learnt so much and what was even better it was so personal and close. Thanks Very Much Gary, you were right - it was priceless and not to be missed."

"I had a superb time! It was phenomenal to see somebody play with such talent! Only bad comment - I DIDN'T WIN A PRIZE!!!!!!!!!! Looking forward to another one."

"Ben loved every moment of it. Thank you for organizing the event."

"Steve White event was fantastic! Many thanks Gary for organizing it. I learnt loads and was totally inspired to try and become a better drummer and can't wait for the next one. And the most important lesson I learned from Steve....... PRACTICE!"

Steve White has played with The Who, Paul Weller, Oasis and James Taylor. For more information, check out his website.

Mark Mondesir Drum Clinic

From the moment Mark Mondesir takes his seat behind an unfeasibly small hip-gig set-up and starts to play, you realise why he is probably the greatest drummer in the UK right now. A left-handed player sitting at a right handed kit, Mark lays down some powerful grooves, leading with either hand or driving things along with one or both feet. His opening solo is packed full of dynamics, colours (how do you get so many sounds from such tiny drums?) and tempos.

Mark's technical ability is out of the top drawer. He slips in and out of some awesome beats; slowing them right down with amazing control and then whipping them back up again. Mark isn't showing off - he comes across as a very modest man. He explains that when he swaps lead hands or moves the beat to another part of the kit, it is simply to get the sound and feel that he wants.

Mark's family Caribbean background meant that he was introduced to a diverse cross-section of musical genres from a very early age. And that opened his ears to all sorts of musical possibilities that he still enjoys exploring today. He has an incredible ear for music and a God-given talent for applying it to the kit.

Mark explains how much of the techniques and patterns he plays came about simply by hearing things he really liked, and working them out. A great example of this is his favourite Billy Cobham fill which he breaks down for us around the kit. He employs the same technique when talking about polyrhythms. Mark's incredible ability to hear and feel the beat - no matter how awkward it feels to us mortals - was demonstrated when he played 5/4 on the hi-hat, mixed with straight quarter notes on the snare, and 6/8 with his feet. (I spent so much of the evening gazing in awe at his footwork.)

The best thing about a Mark Mondesir clinic is the way that he so obviously loves to play. At every opportunity he sits back down to demonstrate what he is talking about. He freely admits that he does not play any other percussion instrument because of the excitement a drum set still holds for him.

Mark finishes with a jaw-dropping solo based on a great little groove (shuffle beat between two feet, traditional swing on the ride, straight triplets on the snare… try it… it is very very cool). A remarkable display by a very accomplished musician. Tonight I witnessed a master at work, and it was something special.

To arrange your first lesson with Gary Marshall, click here

(Words by Mark Franklin and edited by Richard Hamilton)

Evening of expertise - with Dave Mattacks

When someone once asked Dave Mattacks what was the biggest myth about fame, he replied: “I’ll let you know if I get famous.”

Yet the modesty of this superb musician belies the fact that he is bound to feature somewhere in your family’s record collection. “DM” is highly sought after as a session man, by an inexhaustible list of Who’s Who in the world of Jazz, Rock, or Folk. Amongst many others, Dave has played with Paul McCartney, Joan Armatrading, Chris Rea, XTC, Elton John, Mark Knopfler, Jethro Tull, Pino Palladino, John Donaldson, Andrew Cleyndert… And, of course, as custodian of the Fairport Convention drum stool for many years, he’s a seasoned Cropredy Festival veteran.

Dave returned to North Oxfordshire in November, this time to share his skills and knowledge with Gary’s Fun When You Drum pupils.

Whenever Dave presents a showcase, he tailors it to the audience’s demand. He produces a long aide-memoire of topics, and spends a couple of minutes (sometimes a lot longer!) outlining the intricacies that each one will lead to. It’s as if he’s planning a long walk, produces an Ordnance Survey map and asks those with him to suggest the route. “I could spend hours talking about selecting cymbals…” Or, perhaps, “I can explain more about particular patterns that I have developed – such as when I played on Joan Armatrading’s The Shouting Stage”…

Dave keeps running down his list until someone in the audience ask him to elaborate further. Wherever this takes us, Dave usually offers a caveat at some point: “I’m not saying whether that’s the right way to do it – or whether it’ll work for you: only that I’ve found that this (technique) works well for me, so you might like to give it a try.”

Dave’s delivery is unassuming – he’s very charming throughout, but also keen to make sure that everyone gets the same out of him during the evening. He makes it a rule that everyone present is entitled to hear your question, so he warns the audience that he won’t answer individuals’ specific questions after the showcase is over. If this sounds a tad harsh, it’s not meant to. “It’s an opportunity for you to share with, and learn from each other, as well as from Gary and me.”

A few years ago, Dave was asked what he thought of drum machines and sampling. “Let me put it this way, what do you think of drums and cymbals – as played by Dave Clark or Buddy Rich?” he responded. A passion for his chosen instrument that was clear for all of Gary’s pupils to see. A captivating and inspiring evening.

Dave Mattacks will tour the UK in March and April, as part of Feast of Fiddles.

Enter Dave Mattacks site

To arrange your first lesson with Gary Marshall, click here

(Words by Richard Hamilton and Picture by Terry Lee, Lee Images:

Neal's got the X Factor!

Neal Wilkinson stopped by for a Masterclass to teach the students of Fun When You Drum!

Neal is a world class session drummer, who has played with the likes of Van Morrison and Paul McCartney. He's also played in numerous Television shows including the X Factor, both in the UK and the USA.

Meeting the Professionals - with Crissy Lee

Being able to play a musical instrument - any musical instrument - is a rewarding experience in itself. And the rewards keep coming if you keep practising. Once you have mastered the rudiments, the real fun can start. You begin experimenting, developing - perhaps even bending - the ‘rules’ (but you need to know the rules first!). You start to create your own style, and musical personality.

Of course, it really helps to have a great teacher to encourage you. It helps even more if your teacher just happens to have contacts with some of the finest practitioners of your chosen instrument. And when internationally famous musicians are happy to travel to a quiet village in Oxfordshire to share their own experiences (and personality) with you, that’s an opportunity you simply cannot afford to miss.

On a Sunday afternoon in May, a delightful village hall in North Oxfordshire played host to another of Gary Marshall’s regular Fun When You Drum master classes. With parents and siblings in tow, 45 of Gary’s pupils turned up to meet one of Britain’s most-respected drummers - Crissy Lee. 

Crissy spent the first twenty minutes of her master class explaining how her passion for drums developed from a very early age - and how her drive, determination and hard work, led to her successful professional career.

Although probably best recognised these days as the drummer and musical director on comedian Frank Skinner’s ITV chat show, Crissy has an impressive pedigree. Introduced by her family to the local Salvation Army Band, she quickly realised that she didn’t want to blow brass or woodwind. She wanted to “bang something”. (Crissy told us that she was just four years old when she made this life-changing decision!) 

By 17, Crissy was touring Europe and the rest of the world in Ivy Benson’s all-girl big band. You might need to ask your parents - or even grandparents! - about Ivy Benson, who was one of the most popular musical acts of her day. But you won’t need to ask about another musical collaboration of Crissy’s: in the 1960s, her band The Beat Chicks toured as support to The Beatles. Today, Crissy remains much in demand for session work, for performances with The Crissy Lee Big Band, and as a teacher around the UK, as well as in Canada and the USA.

Even before she had hit anything during her master class, Crissy’s conversation was full of stories and reminiscences that could only help to inspire anyone keen to follow in her footsteps. 

And then we heard her play. Crissy’s opening demonstration captured the attention of everyone in the room. Her powerful display of technique, musicality, subtlety, and intricacy showed the dedication (and practice!) needed for any aspiring pupil who’s keen to earn a living from playing drums. Seating in the hall was set ‘in the round’, to allow pupils to watch from close-up, and from behind the kit (pictured above).

Said Abbi Sanford (14, pictured below with Crissy Lee): “I learned so much! Crissy was really lovely, answered all my questions, and gave me advice and tips that were really easy to take on board.”

(Words and pictures by Richard Hamilton)

Drum Clinics

Approximately three times a year I run drum and percussion workshops for my students. These range from more hands-on events to the "sit, watch and be amazed" showcases! Recent events have included Chuck Silverman, and my good friend, world drum legend Mark Mondesir (below). If you would like more information regarding these events or would like to be included on my mailing list, drop me a line.

Latin specialist, and good friend, Chuck Silverman (above right), drops by to give masterclasses and lessons when he is in the UK.

Dave Mattacks visited FUN WHEN YOU DRUM! to perform a master class. Dave has worked with such great artists as Elton John, Jethro Tull, George Harrison and Fairport Convention.


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