Austin Drum Lessons with Kirk
To his own beat
Standard job wasn’t for musician, so he picked 10 odd ones
By Ricardo GÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¡ndara
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
A lot of Austin musicians have two or three jobs to make ends meet. Drummer Kirk McDow takes it to a whole new level. He has 10.
How he got from being a business consultant two years ago and an executive recruiter before that, to an entrepreneur in several enterprises is a story driven by a passion for music. He’s determined to keep playing, even if it means getting creative to pay the bills.
Kirk McDow wanted to make a living doing something he loves: playing drums. To make that work, he also does some nonmusical-related jobs.
Kirk McDow pats his knees to show student Jake Pankratz a rhythm for the drums. Teaching is just one of McDow’s many jobs.
This is how he did it.
Though McDow has always loved music, it had never been a vocation. He held jobs in construction and sales. Two years ago, he had a consulting firm that helped small businesses market themselves. Even then, he had one side business: www.candybouncer.com, which sold 1950s retro metal lawn chairs.
“Basically, I was doing work that paid me. I had to do it,” he says.
Then, at age 44, he decided it was time to give music a shot. He set out to re-create himself and define his own job, driven by his passion for music.
So he closed his consulting business and began looking for work. He saw a job advertisement on Craig list for a booking agent at www.bookaband.com, an Austin Internet business where people can find bands to play at their parties and events. It changed everything. He started mingling with people who played music and those willing to pay for it.
So began a momentum that carried him to new ventures. He says the sequence of what happened next is kind of fuzzy, but business ideas inspired by his surroundings just kept flourishing.
“All I know is that once I became a booking agent, several doors began to open,” he says.
He became a drummer for hire (www.kirkmcdow.com) offering his services to bands that needed a drummer on an emergency basis. He followed by starting his own band, Austin Hot Trax, a variety band for hire at weddings and corporate events.
One day, he saw British-made Traps drum sets in a magazine. He liked that they were portable and quieter. Thus, www.monkeydrums.com was born. McDow found the lone American distributor for the drums and began marketing them online.
He started Austin’s Best Bands, a consulting and band management service to form “high end” bands for weddings. galas and private and corporate parties. He helped form Air Wave 80s, an Austin band specializing in 1980s music that he now manages.
Next, he and two partners ÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ including girlfriend Carrie Altemus, who is also a member of Hot Trax ÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ converted an old nursing home on South First Street into Austin Music Rooms, a 24-hour facility that rents out space to bands for rehearsal and storing their equipment . “We call it a musician’s community center,” says McDow. “It’s hopping from 6 p.m. till midnight every weekday evening.”
Wanting to pass on what he knows about drums, he started offering private lessons, taking on students late at night in his studio at Austin Music rooms.
The next venture was www.austinsoundmachine.com, a DJ service for weddings and private parties.
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Austin Drum LessonsTestimonialsIn The MediaContact Us..Here are quotes from recent students:
I highly recommend lessons with Kirk. Kirk is technically gifted and very capable at teaching you drumming.
Most impressive to me is how well Kirk listens. Kirk genuinely listens to what you want, what you do, how you play, and how you react to guidance. Some teachers are determined to teach you what they know is best. Kirk is always listening for who you are, listening to how you are playing, and working to get you were you want to go.
Kirk is genuinely happy for your successes, and helps you to hear your success as well. Whether you are a highly skilled, technical drummer, seeking a fresh set of ears and a new riff, a teenager exploring a rock and roll attitude, or a middle aged beginner trying to have a little fun, Kirk can be a great fit for you.
“When our twelve year old daughter begged us for drum lessons, we definitely had our doubts about the instrument (as in, itÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs loud!) and finding a knowledgeable instructor who would be willing to teach at our home. We feel extremely fortunate to have found Kirk because not only is he a fabulous instructor and musician but he is a delightful person. He is punctual, dependable and very easy to work with in general. In a relatively short period of time, Kirk has taught Olivia a great deal about rhythm, style, technique, and having fun while sheÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs learning it all. She thoroughly enjoys her lessons, and oddly enough, we thoroughly enjoy listening to her practice! In fact, not only has Kirk completely eliminated our doubts about our daughter playing the drums, but weÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂre tempted to take it up too!”
- Jane and Andy
“They say those who can not do, teach. Kirk CAN do, AND he teaches. SWEET!
Kirk takes a very personal yet professional approach. He immediately recongnized the level I was at, and together we are paying attention to detail to polish that, while steadily raising my level with every lesson. I have never been so confident, and excited about each new step. I have a renewed passion for playing.
Kirk, thanks so much for hearing my cries for help through my playing. What I thought was good, you are helping to make better. Where I thought I had peaked, you raise the bar higher. I love watching you incorperate what we went over into a more complex jam at the end. It’s so inspiring to know that’s the direction you’re taking me.”
Kirk’s style of teaching is energetic and positive. His passion about drums and his real world experience are fully present when he teaches. In one particular lesson, he had me take a complex rhythm and break it into a concept where it was as simple as walking down the street. Most of all, his lessons translated into real improvement. I highly recommend him.
“Kirk is a great instructor who knows how to get the best out of me as a student and performer. He has improved my ability and technique quickly and has noticed great improvement in me which has driven me to do even better.”
The experience was truly rewarding. Each time I went, I was able to take what I learned and bring it home and apply it to what I already knew. The lessons have increased my passion for drumming.
“As a self-taught, brash, overly loud punk drummer looking to expand his horizons, I came across one of Kirk’s ads and started lessons. When I left our first session a few things had become overly clear: I was WAY worse than I thought, Kirk’s WAY better than I expected, and if anyone can get me to where I want to go, this is the guy. Kirk’s teaching style has been top notch and consistently helpful. I’ve never hit a stumbling point that he couldn’t help me attack with at least six or seven teaching approaches. It wasn’t until I started playing with a new set of musicians that I realized just how much I had accomplished with Kirk. Everything has been applicable to playing original music, I’m far less sloppy, my endurance has improved a great deal due to changes in mechanics, I’ve developed an ear for minutia that’s helped me perfect each and every beat, and my arsenal has grown far more than I could have hoped for. Above all, the plateau I was stuck on when I first started lessons has become a mountain; I can’t even see the peak yet, but the climb continues to be a blast!”
How To Play Drums – Drum Lessons
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