Santa Barbara drum teacher and professional musician, Barry Birmingham, started taking lessons and learning how to play drums at age 11 from many local teachers in the New York and Southern California areas. By the time he was in junior high and high school he was playing in concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands and playing in local rock cover bands.
While attending Santa Barbara City College, he had an after school job working at Mike’s Drum Shop where he helped with sales, repairs, and just doing whatever was needed to keep the drum shop running smoothly. By the mid-80s he became a drum teacher, professional drummer, and studio musician for hire. Barry has recently opened the Santa Barbara Drum Lab with co-owner Craig Thatcher.
Barry has been teaching his students by using the same tools that have worked for him: less means more and timing and groove are everything. He focuses mostly on rudiments, basic reading, musical dynamics, double bass pedal and covers a little bit of every genre. His goal with his students is to help them make any band they play with sound great.
His musical influences are Steve Gadd, Gregg Bissonette, Luis Conte, John and Jason Bonham, and Thomas Lang. For additional information about Barry Birmingham you can access his Facebook page.
Barry says, “I started my career as a drum teacher in the early 80s where I’ve had countless success stories with my students. In fact, some are now career musicians and making a comfortable living with touring and recording! No kidding! You will never hear me say, “What if,” because I really feel that I’ve done it all, as I have taken private lessons on and off for close to 20 years, and I feel there’s always room for improvement in every ones playing. When I started drumming, I remember my teacher telling me in front of my parents, ‘He must practice at least a half hour a day, every day.’ At the time I thought to myself, ‘That’s easy! I can do that!’ That ‘half hour a day’ practice became tough when I realized I had to balance it with homework, chores, and time I wanted to spend with friends. So I would do the best I could because I really enjoyed my drum lessons and I had a very cool drum teacher that treated me like a son. He was also friends with my Mom and Dad. I’ve always went in waves with my practicing growing up. I went through periods it was an hour to two a day, and then there were times I was lucky to put in an hour a week! I wanted to be a good drummer but didn’t want to put in the time and the effort. By the time I was in my teens I started thinking about what I was going to do when I finished high school. I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather do than play music. So, now I’m the drum teacher! I get parents that ask me how much practice their son or daughter should be putting in every day. I simply tell them it would be ideal if they could put a half hour a day. I tell parents it’s like this; whatever you put into it, you will get out of it. It all depends on how badly you want it. I try to be very easy going as a teacher because I want the student to hang on to their interest and to have fun. I’ve had strict teachers in the past and it just made me want to quit and find someone else. I had one teacher in high school tell me I was wasting his time and my parent’s money, and that I should think about another hobby. I was so angry when I left his studio! I remember practicing more than usual all that week and aced the next lesson with him. He hardly said two words to me during the lesson! I just left and never came back.”