Rod Morgenstein

Professor
Also affiliated with:

"I've been a professional musician for the better part of 25, 30 years, so what I bring to teaching is my professional experience. With the drums, all we deal with is rhythm. There's no melody or harmony, just rhythm when you come down to it. So the first day that I meet a new student, I kind of present drumming and music in two main categories. There's pushing the envelope of rhythm, which can include getting into manipulating notes and rests, odd time signatures, and all kinds of technique approaches, and I think we should stretch that as far as we can. But the other category, which is more important than all of that other stuff, is recognizing that in the vast majority of music, people are looking for somebody who is dependable, who's a decent human being, who can lay down the same clichéd grooves that we've heard since Bill Haley and the Comets and Elvis, the same grooves that are working today. It has very little to do with technique and pushing the envelope. It's a mindset that involves attention and just recognizing that at times, simplicity is what it's all about. It's not the notes; it's how you play each of those notes."

"With almost every student, I end up having a conversation about how record deals work, because the dream of so many of the students who study with me is to graduate Berklee, get in a band, get a record deal, and be famous. I try to explain to them the reality of how record deals work, how the income is generated. Most drummers are not involved in the creative songwriting process, and the bottom line is that, by and large, that is where the most significant amount of money is made. If you're one of those drummers who sits in the corner reading magazines and eating pizza while waiting for the rest of the band to get the song together so you can just add your oom-pah, oom-pah-pah to it, you can have a scenario where you'll still be home living with your parents and driving your 15-year-old car with 200,000 miles on it while the main songwriter in the band pulls up to rehearsal in a brand-new Porsche. And you're scratching your head saying, 'I put in the same amount of blood, sweat, and tears. Why don't I have anything?' So I encourage my students to dig down deep and see if they have any kind of creative songwriting abilities. I want them to avoid what I had to live through. It took me a while to say, 'Oh, I get it. Time to come to the party.'"

Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., University of Miami
  • Leader of the Rudess Morgenstein Project
  • Member of the Dixie Dregs and Winger
  • Articles published in Modern Drummer, Rhythm, Sticks, Drums & Percussion, and Batteur