In 2006 I retired from teaching. Given the rarity of formally trained musicians in the Florida Keys, I recommend taking a monthly trip to the University of Miami:

Frost School of Music, University of Miami

Messinger Music Executive Bldg.

5501 San Amaro Dr.

Miami, FL 33146



The information below, which I left intact from my teaching days and is here only for reference purposes, may be useful to students, parents, and teachers.

I teach drums and percussion privately to students of all ages and levels, at your location and in Monroe County schools. Since 1973 I've taught gifted children, not-so-gifted adults, professionals, amateurs, and everyone in between. I love and respect the art of music, and it is my privilege to pass on what I have learned in more than forty years of professional performing, recording, and composing.

Student information form

Today's date

What is your name?

What is your age?

How much musical study have you had?

What are your musical goals?

What instruments do you own or rent for practice?

What are your parents' or guardians' names?

What is your postal address?

What are your telephone numbers?

What is your e-mail address?

Whom may I thank for referring you to me?

Percussion study contract

This contract is made for the personal services of Hal Howland as private music instructor under the terms and conditions described below and in the Percussion study policy document, between the undersigned purchaser of instruction (herein called "purchaser") and Hal Howland, the undersigned instructor.

Date and time of commencement of instruction:

Tuition: $30 per half hour, payable monthly in advance.

Purchaser will make payments as follows: on or before the 1st day of the month in advance, covering all of the tuition for the following month plus the cost of any and all study materials that may be sold on credit to purchaser since the 15th day of the previous month.

This contract, and the terms and conditions contained herein, may be enforced by the purchaser, and his or her agents, and by Hal Howland, and his agents. The Percussion study policy document is a part of this contract, and the purchaser hereby agrees to the terms and conditions contained therein. This contract may be terminated by either party upon written notice 7 days in advance.

In witness whereof, the parties hereto have hereunto set their names and seals on the day and year printed below.


Percussion study policy

My hours are by appointment. Normally your schedule will include one weekly half-hour lesson. I will, if necessary, adjust this schedule according to your needs and to my own schedule.

I require at least 24 hours' notice of any lesson cancellation. I will credit or reschedule a missed lesson when possible. Tuition is nonrefundable.

I do not observe unpredictable school closings as holidays; nor do I discontinue instruction during the summer. I observe the following county holidays: New Year's Day, King Day, Presidents' Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve.

Please call 305-304-1444 to contact me or my voice mail. If you call when I am away or when I cannot answer the phone (I usually do not answer while teaching), please leave a message. A cancellation message must be placed at least 24 hours in advance.

Tuition is $30 per half hour. I issue a statement on the 15th day of the month for the month in advance. Please read your monthly statement carefully; it contains important information about your schedule and your account. Payment is due by the 1st day of the following month (not the first lesson). Payment may be with check, cash, or PayPal and may be by mail, in person, or online (do not mail cash). A balance that remains unpaid after 30 days is subject to a 2% monthly service charge.

Your lesson is a professional appointment, and we must begin on time. Similarly, music is an art, and artful performance requires dedication. You must establish and maintain a daily, year-round practice period of at least one hour. A student who has difficulty scheduling practice time (on all instruments) should call me to arrange a solution. Each December I may issue a progress report, reflecting attitude, practice, performance, attendance, punctuality, and, where applicable, parental responsibility.

The lesson sequence for the orchestral student will alternate about weekly in this order: snare drum, timpani, drum set, and mallets. It is your responsibility to know which area we will address at a given lesson, to prepare that lesson to performance standards, and to bring the proper materials (see Study materials). A student arriving for a lesson without the proper materials will be charged a $5 materials fee.

I strongly recommend that you study total percussion, including piano and theory, to become a complete, versatile, and marketable musician.

Study materials

Listed below are the basic study materials (books, recordings, supplies) I use at this time. You normally will acquire most or all of these materials in a graduated program over a period of months or years. You are not required to study any area you are convinced does not address your needs. You are welcome to supplement these materials with school music, CDs of music you wish to learn, or other pertinent materials. The items below are available from MacArthur Music, 906E Kennedy Dr., Key West, FL 33040, 305-294-9329.

Snare drum

Anthony Cirone, Orchestral Snare Drummer

________, Portraits in Rhythm


Morris Goldenberg, Classic Symphonies for Timpani

Saul Goodman, Modern Method for Tympani

Selected repertoire from my collection, per page, $2

Drum set

Gary Chester, The New Breed

Peter Erskine, Drum Concepts and Techniques

Sandy Feldstein and Dave Black, Alfred's Beginning Drumset Method*

Steve Houghton and Tom Warrington, Essential Styles*

Mel Lewis, It's Time (for the Big Band Drummer)

Michael Snyder, Linear Drumming

Dave Weckl, Contemporary Drummer + 1*


Ian Finkel, Solos for the Vibraphone Player

Garwood Whaley, Primary Handbook for Mallets


Vic Firth model 5A or 7A wood-tip drumsticks

Vic Firth Heritage model telescoping wire brushes

Vic Firth model T3 timpani sticks

Vic Firth model M1 keyboard percussion mallets, two pairs

Hamilton folding music stand

Remo 6" tunable practice pad with key

Roland Dr. Beat digital metronome

Wittner A440 timpani tuning fork

*Includes cassette, CD, or DVD

Suggested student reading

Alan Abel, 20th Century Orchestra Studies for Percussion.

Joseph Adato and George Judy, The Percussionist's Dictionary.

Airto, Spirit of Percussion.

John Aldridge, Guide to Vintage Drums.

Willi Apel, Harvard Brief Dictionary of Music.

John Beck, Encyclopedia of Percussion.

Gerard Belioz, 20 Studies.

James Blades, Orchestral Percussion Technique; Percussion Instruments and Their History.

James Blades and Jeremy Montagu, Early Percussion Instruments.

Hal Blaine with David Goggin, Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew.

Filippo Bonanni, Antique Musical Instruments and Their Players.

Mark Bonfoey, Percussion Repair and Maintenance.

Robert Breithaupt, The Complete Percussionist.

Reginald Smith Brindle, Contemporary Percussion.

Mervin Britton and Joel Leach, Creative Approach to Reading Rhythm.

Harry Cangany, The Great American Drums.

Bobby Christian and Al Payson, In the Studio.

Anthony Cirone, Orchestral Techniques of the Standard Percussion Instruments.

Anthony Cirone and Joe Sinai, The Logic of It All.

Dallas Cline, How to Play Nearly Everything.

F. Michael Combs, Percussion Manual.

Sam Denov, The Art of Playing the Cymbals.

Sandy Feldstein, Practical Theory Complete.

Vic Firth, Percussion Symposium.

Robert Garofalo, Rehearsal Handbook for Band and Orchestra Students.

Steve Grimo and Robert Snider, Percussion Section Techniques.

Mickey Hart, Drumming on the Edge of Magic; Planet Drum.

Kevin Hathaway, Orchestral Excerpts for Percussion.

David Hickman, Music Speed Reading.

Hal Howland: see bibliography.

Eckhardt Keune, Tom-Toms, Bongos, Becken.

Burt Korall, Drummin' Men.

David Kulb, Percussion Crafts.

Morris Lang and Larry Spivak, Dictionary of Percussion Terms.

Bernard Mason, Drums, Tom Toms, and Rattles.

Robert McCormick and Anthony Cirone, Percussion for Musicians.

James Moore, Acoustics of Bar Percussion Instruments.

Geoff Nicholls, The Drum Book.

Larry Nolly, Drum Tuning.

Al Payson, Techniques of Playing Bass Drum, Cymbals, and Accessories.

Karl Peinkofer and Fritz Tannigel, Handbook of Percussion Instruments.

Mitchell Peters and Dave Black, Cymbals: A Crash Course.

Hugo Pinksterboer, The Cymbal Book; Tipbook Drums.

Arthur Press, Mallet Repair.

Paul Price, Triangle, Tambourine, and Castanets.

H. Owen Reed and Joel Leach, Scoring for Percussion.

Emil Richards, Studio Techniques; World of Percussion.

Ron Spagnardi, The Great Jazz Drummers.

Tabourot, Historic Percussion: A Survey; Royall Drummes and Martiall Musick.

Michael Tenzer, Balinese Music.

Jay Wanamaker, Rob Carson, and PAS, International Drum Rudiments.

Max Weinberg, The Big Beat.

Garwood Whaley, Audition Etudes.

Eleanor Winding, Yoga for Musicians.

These and other percussion publications are available at a public or university library and may be ordered from Steve Weiss Music, 2324 Wyandotte Rd., Willow Grove, PA 19090, phone 215-659-0100, fax 215-659-1170, www.steveweissmusic.com.

Timpani basic repertoire

The student timpanist should be familiar with these works before or during college.

Bach, J. S., Orchestral Suite no. 3, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner, conductor, Erato ECD 88049

Beethoven, L. v., Symphonies no. 1-9, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner, conductor, Archiv D 207136

Handel, G. F., Messiah, Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood, conductor, L'Oiseau Lyre 400 086-2

Haydn, F. J., Symphony no. 88, Orchestra of the 18th Century, Frans Brüggen, conductor, Philips 426 169-2

Haydn, Symphony no. 104, same, Philips D 101221

Mozart, W. A., Symphonies no. 35, 38, 41, English Concert, Trevor Pinnock, conductor, Archiv 447 043-2

The recordings above feature period instruments and recent research on period performance practices. Any other recording by a well-known orchestra will be equally valuable for study.

The most convenient source for building a classical music library is Amazon.com.

Florida Keys percussion market

Because of their isolation, the Florida Keys offer limited resources, retail or otherwise. Buying equipment here often means mail-order or a 150-mile trip to Miami.

Accessories and publications

Bone Island Music

1109 Key Plz.

Key West, FL 33040


New instruments and publications

Cascio Interstate Music


Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center


Drums in the Wind


Sam Ash Music

5360 N.W. 167th St.

Miami, FL 33014


Steve Weiss Music

2324 Wyandotte Rd.

Willow Grove, PA 19090



Sweetwater Sound


Any reputable dealer will offer you a 10-50% discount. Shop around!

Used and vintage instruments

A fair price for an excellent used instrument is 25-50% of its current list price. Vintage American gear is collectible, practical, often affordable, and appropriate for the handy player who knows his or her history (avoid the 1970s).

Jollity Drum Farm


Steve Maxwell Vintage and Custom Drums



Vintage Drum Center


Vintage Ludwig Drums

See also Classic Drummer and Not So Modern Drummer magazines.