Rod Morgenstein

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Rod Morgenstein is a professor in the Percussion Department at Berklee College of Music. He is a founding member of the groundbreaking progressive rock fusion group the Dixie Dregs, who have received six Grammy Award nominations. The band, touted by the Philadelphia Inquirer as "possibly the most important, and certainly the most technically advanced, instrumental group in progressive fusion," continues to record and tour. 

Morgenstein is an original member of the heavy metal band Winger, whose recordings have reached gold and platinum status around the world. The band received an American Music Award nomination for best new heavy metal band in 1989. Other projects have included recording and touring with Dixie Dregs/Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse in the Steve Morse Band; recording with Kip Winger, whose albums Thisconversationseemslikeadream, Songs from the Ocean Floor, and From the Moon to the Sun have achieved critical acclaim; and teaming with Dream Theater keyboard virtuoso Jordan Rudess in the Rudess Morgenstein Project.

Morgenstein was named best progressive rock drummer by Modern Drummer in 1999 and is a five-time winner of the Modern Drummer reader's poll for the same award. He has been a member of the magazine's advisory board since the 1980s.

As an international drum educator, Morgenstein has performed at hundreds of clinics and drum festivals in more than 20 countries. He codesigned the Vic Firth SIH1, dB22, and Kidphones isolation headphone monitors, in addition to codeveloping the Vic Firth Rod Morgenstein Signature drumsticks and Sabian Tri-Top ride cymbal. His instructional materials include the books Drum Set Warm-Ups and The Drumset Musician with Rick Mattingly; the videos Putting It All Together and Drum Tips/Double Bass Drumming; and the audio cassettes/books Grooving in Styles/Filling in the HolesDouble Bass Drumming, and Odd Time. Morgenstein holds a Bachelor of Music in Studio Music and Jazz from the University of Miami.

  • Career Highlights
    • Leader of the Rudess Morgenstein Project
    • Member of the Dixie Dregs and Winger
    • Articles published in Modern Drummer; Rhythm, Sticks, Drums & Percussion; and Batteur


  • Awards
    • Best progressive rock drummer, Modern Drummer, 1999
  • Education
    • B.M., University of Miami

In Their Own Words

"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.'"