Milwaukee and Online Drums Instructor
Chris Mell has been playing and teaching drums for more than three decades. As a percussion and drum set instructor, Chris has taught students ranging in age from 3 to 70 in a large variety of percussion and drum set styles. For the past 11 years he has been the Jazz Studies Director
and Jazz Studies Drum Instructor for the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. He currently teaches Bucket Drumming and West African Drumming classes for the Boys and Girls Clubs and for many years taught drum line for the Cudahy Middle/High School as well as Franklin High
One of Chris’ favorite things about teaching is watching a student get that “ah ha” moment. It can best be described as that moment when a student begins to understand and feel what they are playing and it becomes almost a natural state of flow, like breathing.
To make sure that Chris’ students have the right tools to succeed he likes to focus on the following in lessons:
• Stick Technique and Control. These two components are integral to a student’s growth as a player.
• The 40 Snare Drum Rudiments! Rudiments can best be described as how drummers speak, they are our alphabet. Plus they are a lot of fun!
• Drum set coordination and technique. It’s all about developing coordination between your hands and feet.
• Drum Set Styles. Chris is well versed in and enjoys teaching and playing many different styles: Funk, Fusion, Jazz, Afro Cuban/Latin, New Orleans Second Line, Rock, Metal and many more….
• The books I currently incorporate in my teaching are: Syncopation by Ted Reed, Stick Control by G. L Stone, The 40 Rudiments, Realistic Rock by Carmine Appice, 4-Way Coordination as taught by Alan Dawson by J. Ramsey, The Musicians Guide to Polyrhythms, 14 Modern Contest Solos’ for Snare Drum by J. S. Pratt
• YouTube Videos for You! To help students learn and progress each week I put together customized videos of the exercises from lessons and I post on my YouTube page. The videos are a great reference and learning tool that can accessed at your convenience.
• Assignments! But, it’s drumming so they are fun assignments. To make sure that students are learning and moving forward I like for each student to keep a practice journal. The journal will help you keep track of your assignments and how you are progressing with your playing. The journal is a great way to look back to see how far you have come.
Chris Mell graduated from UW-Whitewater with a Bachelor’s in Music with a Jazz Emphasis. Over his career he has studied and toured with John Becker, Steve Wiest, Ed Shaughnessy, Brad Leahi, Dave Pietro, Micheal Spiro, Billy Cobham, the Maynard Ferguson Big Band, and Joan Rivers, among many more. Chris also was a founding member of the UW Whitewater Jazz Symposium that did two tours of Europe playing the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival and several club dates in Germany, London and Paris. The Jazz Symposium was so successful that it became part of the UWW Jazz curriculum.
Chris Mell currently lives in Milwaukee playing with the groups Platinum, Velocity, LockJaw and running the band Livin the Dream. He works as a freelance artist for ACA Entertainment and Music and North Coast Management. He also plays with various other groups throughout the greater Milwaukee area and Wisconsin.