July 12, 2006

Dom Famularo Drum Clinic in Manila

Dom Famularo Drum Clinic - Yupangco Showroom, Makati City. 11 July 2006, 5pm.
Sponsored by Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Drumsticks & Yupangco Music (local distributor of Sabian and Vic Firth products).


Dom Famularo is famous in the drumming world, in particular within drum clinic circuits. In fact, he won again on Modern Drummer Magazine's 2006 Readers Polls. He was voted as the # 1 Clinician in the world. I read stories about Mr. Famularo being an excellent speaker and motivator. And of course, drummer friends who are more familiar with him have told me about his excellent drumset technique. Prior to the drum clinic, I did my research, checking out his website, reading his testimonials & about how great he really is as a world ambassador of drumming.

The clinic began at 5pm. I arrived just on time, together with my drummer buddy Ernest Ramos, who hitched a ride with me because his car wasn't available. The weather was gloomy, as it rained late afternoon. I brought with me my Tama Starclassic Maple snare drum for signing. Ernest and I entered the showroom. I noticed all the drummers in the house. It wasn't as crowded as past drum clinics, which is relieving because that means we can easily find a great spot.

The first guy whom I looked for to greet was JP Buduan, another drummer friend of mine who happens to work for Yupangco. He's the product manager of Sabian Cymbals and Vic Firth Drumsticks, so he was really busy preparing for this event. We found him near the area where the lounges (or should I say, former music rooms) are located. Beside him is the main man himself, Dom Famularo! JP was entertaining Mr. Famularo while waiting for the cue to start the clinic.

Dom Famularo is a familiar face in the drumming world. I always see photos of him in my Modern Drummer magazines, Sabian catalogs and other drumming-related publications and websites. He's described as an affable man. He always wears his trademark big smile. I instantly recognized his familiar grin the moment I first saw him. There's so much positive aura coming from Mr. Famularo. Every time people pass by and greet him, he gives back a warm smile and a handshake. He's such a friendly dude. What a down-to-earth guy! No superstar attitude whatsoever.

By the way, plenty of familiar drummers in the crowd - Benjie Mendez, Wendell Garcia, John Angeles (MYMP), Dindin Moreno (Parokya ni Edgar), Bennii Obana, Vinci Rodriguez, Paolo Manuel, Cyrus Laroco, Mikah Azurin, Steven Mora (Sitti)... lots of fellow drummers from the Pinoydrums community... The local drumming community is one solid bunch.

Clinic begins. Dom enthusiastically greets everybody. Yeah, I'm calling him by first name basis; that's how friendly the man is. He began by asking everybody to come closer to the stage. Audience instantly responded. The drumkit was set up sideways, which is always good so that people can have a good view of what he's doing behind the kit.

The next hour and a half was profound and meaningful. I can say that this is one of the best drum clinics that I've ever attended. The man is indeed an excellent motivator and storyteller. He's so funny and entertaining - making voices, being animated at times & cracking punch lines at the right moment. It wasn't so boring & too technical, and he did a great job on grabbing everyone's attention.

I've learned so much from this drum clinic. Here are some highlights:

Dom encouraged everybody to follow their dreams. Work hard on it. Go crazy! Don't give a damn if others think you're crazy. Let others' disbelief and discouragement fuel our passion. He shared a funny story of his son's school teacher calling him up, asking him about his profession of hitting drums with sticks, confirming if his child is telling the truth & inquiring how he (Dom) makes money out of it.

Dom emphasized the importance of commitment, dedication and perseverance. Be an eternal student of drumming. Never stop learning and improving. It's a life-long cycle.

Dom played along to "Song For Jeff", a song that he wrote which pays tribute to his friend, the late great Jeff Porcaro. The song was so fitting with its groovy nature and Lukather-ish guitars. Very appropriate!

Dom explained his set-up & his open-handed playing style by telling a story of his cross-stick woes, and the day he asked for a metal saw so that he can shorten the height of his hi-hat stand!

Dom sighted Albert Einstein as an inspiration in problem solving & method of thinking. We cannot solve new problems with old solutions.

Dom performed a spontaneous and entertaining drum solo. Dom demonstrated his creative flair & his skills with dynamics, double bass & the Moeller motion. He even showed elements of humor during his solo.

Dom explained how to maximize one's drumming through movement. He mentioned and demonstrated the Moeller technique. Along the way, he told funny stories of his drum teachers Joe Morello & Jim Chapin. He also told a funny story about his experience with the legendary Buddy Rich.

During Q & A, a drummer asked what his favorite recording is. Dom said, his favorite recording is a video of his three children when they were 5, 3 & 1, tapping a rhythm on a table. Later on, he mentioned his top 3 favorite musical recordings - Buddy Rich on West Side Story, Joe Morello on The Dave Brubeck Quartet's "At The Carnegie", and Steve Gadd on Steely Dan's Aja.


Dom concluded his clinic by playing along to another high-energy track, which made all of us rise to a standing ovation afterwards.

I felt so inspired after the clinic, and I'm sure everyone in the room felt the same way. After the clinic, instead of taking a breather, Dom enthusiastically welcomed drummers who want to post for photos, have his autograph and shake hands & talk with him. And yes, he's still wearing that big smile of his! I approached him, shook his hands, then said to him "Inspiring! Now I know why you're the number one clinician in the world." He replied with a huge smile and a brotherly tap. He must be the friendliest, most approachable & most humble famous drummer that I've ever met! I can't imagine this guy wearing a negative facial expression. All positive vibes!

I feel so motivated, I arrived home very happy. I inspected the new autograph on my snare drum, logged in on his website, took note of his favorite recordings, uploaded the photos, and now, finishing this blog. Oh another wonderful day of drumming! I'm crazy! Thank you, Dom.