Ensemble Drumming: Techniques & Methods



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Sept. 20 through Dec. 12, 2021,
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Ensemble Drumming:
Drum Set Techniques & Methods

September 21December 13, 2020

It is said that the drum set is the heart and soul of any ensemble, and that a drum set player can make or break a band. This course will break down the nuts and bolts of what makes a good ensemble drummer. Whether you're a trained percussionist looking to expand your drum set playing, a school ensemble director, or a composer or arranger, a thorough understanding of ensemble drum set playing can greatly enhance your creative or educational efficacy.

This course looks to fill the holes found in other areas of percussion/drumset education. Percussion methods classes rarely address drumset playing. Most drum set methods provide myriad examples of beats, grooves and soloing while never really addressing the fundamental role of the drum set player. Think of this course as a drum set methods class. We will discuss and learn the building blocks of the drum grooves needed for the various styles one will encounter most often. We will look at the various forms of written drum set music, from fully written sheet music to basic pop lead sheets. We will also study the masters of ensemble drum set playing since the kit was introduced to modern music.

If you have always had an appreciation of drum set technique but wish to develop that into a deeper technical and musical comprehension, this course is for you.


  • Knowledge and ability to perform the basic grooves found in jazz, rock, pop, Latin & soul music
  • Improved understanding of the stylistic differences in ensemble drumming
  • Ability to write for the drum set and notate drum parts, lead sheets and rhythm section charts
  • Technical ability to perform basic drum fills in each style
  • Ability to impart ensemble drumset knowledge to band members and students
  • Awareness of the "sounds" of the drum set in ensembles of different eras and genres

Instructor: Darren Scorza

Scorza,_Darren_headshot_B_W Darren Scorza is a musician, music educator, clinician and project studio owner. He has been teaching drums and percussion in the Chicagoland area for over 20 years. He currently teaches jazz percussion at William Rainey Harper College, and is the drum set instructor at North Park University.
Scorza draws from his performance experience in both drumset and classical percussion areas to create a unified teaching method blending these two diverse performance settings. He has over 65 recordings in his discography as a drumset player, percussionist and recordist/mixer. He has performed with artists including Bobby Enriquez, the Platters and Eddie Harris, as well as performing and recording with varied local artist such as Michele Thomas, Jeannie Tanner, Elaine Dame, John Bany, Keri Johnsrud, Ari Seder, the Waystation, the Metropolitan Jazz Octet and Jeff Hedberg’s C11. He also serves as music director and drummer for his wife’s Michele Thomas & Soulmeme quintet.

Course Details

Ensemble Drumming:
Drum Set Techniques & Methods

Course Code 6180

Darren Scorza

3 Graduate Credits

$1,065, due in full with registration

Online Chat Sessions
Sept. 29, Oct. 20, Nov. 24,
7:00 p.m. CST (all dates)


Required Text(s)
The Ultimate Drumset Reading
Anthology: For the Working Drummer

by Steve Houghton (Alfred Music)

Students are responsible for purchasing all required materials. VanderCook will not have any materials available for purchase.

Software/Hardware Requirements
Internet access is required.

MECA Online
is powered by Schoology

Schoology is a learning management system that allows you to interact directly with your instructors, fellow students, and members of the greater VanderCook community.

Fall 2021 MECA courses officially begin on Monday, Sept. 20. Soon after you register, be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you receive credentials, visit to login. On the morning of Sept. 20, you'll have access to your classroom and course material.

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

Online grades will be reported by mid-January. If you need a transcript, please visit the online transcript request page. For faster turnaround time, please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).

More information about Schoology can be found at


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3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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