17 Feb Drummer Luca Romano Interview: “It’s a Great Time to Learn Drums”
Drummer Luca Romano is a London drum teacher who is known for being dynamic, enthusiastic and friendly. Originally from Italy, he balances his time between teaching drums, gigging and session work. Luca has that extraordinary ability to maintain equal amounts of passion for all three. We thought an interview to discuss all things drums was very much overdue!
If you’d like to contact drummer Luca Romano for drum lessons, contact us to book a session!
Luca, you’re one the most experienced drum teachers we represent. It can be easy to forget that even the most experienced drum teachers were beginners at one point. What made you want to play?
I’ve always loved music. Even though no-one in my family played I grew up in a very musical environment. I always wanted to play. When I was about 12 I decided to make the step. Drums was somehow the obvious choice – it just seemed like the coolest instrument to me. Every time I’d listen to music I would ended up tapping along. (My parents loved that as you would imagine!) That’s when I started taking drum lessons and I’ve played ever since. Before then I played a bit of piano in school, but not very seriously.
Did you ever take any music exams in Italy?
Music exams are not very popular in Italy. I wish I had done though as it can be a very helpful way to learn any instrument. I often attended masterclasses and short courses – I have a whole box of certificates back in Italy. After I moved to London I started studying music on an academic level and obviously that included taking numerous exams.
You never pressure students into taking exams but for those that do, what’s the most rewarding part of this process?
The sense of achievement that I share with my students when they do well in an exam is incredible. After years of teaching, witnessing their progress first hand still fills me with joy!
Moving to London
You started drumming back in Italy at 12 but sometime after that you moved to London. When did that happen?
I moved to London in the summer of 2011 to study music and become a professional musician. I started a one-year diploma in 2011 and then my music degree in 2012. I’ve since completed my MMus.
How do you find living and teaching in London?
London is the place to be for me. It offers great opportunities both on a professional and personal level. It’s a city I truly love and it feels like home. My studio is based in Green Lanes which has a very strong music and artistic community. I naturally started to gravitate around it. There is also an incredible amount of great restaurants in the area!
Are there any secret spots in the area you’d recommend a music-fan checking out!?
The Nightjar in Old Street. They host a lot of very nice small jazz gigs in there – the atmosphere is very unique. And their cocktails are great!
Going back to your studio in Green Lanes, what’s the current kit set up you are using there?
Well it often depends on the gig I’m playing but my favourite set-up includes the following. For drums, a 22″ kick drum, 12″ snare drum, 10″ and 14″ toms. For cymbals, a 14″ hi-hat, 16″ and 18″ crashes, 20″ ride, 18″ china and both 8″ and 10″ splashes.
Wow, that’s pretty comprehensive!
And this is the kit you tutor on I presume?
So let’s move on from “drummer Luca Romano” now to “drum teacher Luca Romano!” Do you have any favourite books or resources you use in your lessons?
Lots and it depends on the area I am trying to cover. If I had to pick I’d probably pick the Patterns books by Gary Chaffee. They’re all absolutely fantastic!
Online versus one-to-one lessons
There are so many books out there and so much is available online too. With so many resources what actually makes coming to lessons worth it?
It is undeniable that the amount of online resources at our disposal is incredible. The internet is a source of constant ideas and inspiration. It really is a great time to learn an instrument. However guidance is also essential. In my opinion, that is the case for two reasons:
Firstly, having the guidance of someone makes the process easier, efficient and more enjoyable. They have already gone through the journey and know how to get from A to B. It’s hard to navigate through all the content available online. To have someone to show you the path according to your goals, abilities and personality is something hard to replace.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is the face-to-face interaction. Your tutor is there to help you with all aspects of your playing. They will provide a constant flow of information.
Say you want to learn a song. You might go online and study one of the many videos on YouTube. But what if you can’t figure out that one fill? What if you try to play the beat as explained but still can’t crack it? That’s where having a tutor makes a difference. They can step in and give you a solution to your problem right there and then. A good teacher will advise you on things you didn’t even know you could improve.
Is there anything that you have brought into your teaching from the lessons you took?
Absolutely. I have been lucky to have had some truly amazing drum teachers throughout different stages of my career. They have inspired me greatly as a teacher.
My first teacher was a very calm and patient individual, he allowed me to really feel comfortable. Even during moments when I wasn’t doing great he would always be encouraging. He made me focus on the positive elements of whatever I was doing. He also stressed how important a knowledge of the instrument is. That’s the key of really turning the instrument into an extension of yourself.
That’s a really interesting point!
My most recent teacher was also an incredible educator. He gave me structure and methodology. I improved hugely in a very short period of time. His teaching style is based on a few very simple concepts. It’s something I’ve made my own from the very beginning of my teaching career. It’s helped me craft my own personal teaching style.
Taking music lessons
What advice can you give anyone thinking about taking drum lessons?
Just do it! I go on and on about how amazing it is to be able to play an instrument. There’s truly nothing like it – it’s an experience anyone who loves music should have. On a more practical level I would recommend to always have a goal in mind. “I want to play that song one day” or “I want to be able to play that groove or fill”. They’re great places to start. To embark on a journey like this and to visualise where you want to go will help you stay focused. It will help you to put in the work and passion you need to improve.
Is there any advice you can give to anyone currently taking drum lessons?
Enjoy the journey. Learning any instrument is a fluid process that is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling but also full of small challenges. I think back ten years ago and it makes me feel incredibly proud to realise how much I have overcome. Both in my musical journey and how happy and whole playing an instrument makes me feel. It’s a feeling that anyone can experience!
Once you get to your studio, is there a particular warm up you use?
I don’t really have a specific warm up. It depends on the mood and whether I am about to go on stage. Generally I try to make sure I include single stroke rolls as well as paradiddle variations. When gigging I warm up based on a 16th note single stroke rolls on a practice pad. Sometimes I double or diddle the notes. It’s great warming up like that – it’s both musical and fun.
I also often like to take out the metronome and phrase along using different compound stickings. I do that because it puts me in the right mood to walk on stage and let loose. If I am about to practice I try to warm up in relation to whatever I intend to practice. So it really depends!
In terms of gigging, you’ve toured pretty extensively. Where has music taken you?
I’ve toured in most European countries such as Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany. Even Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro and the Netherlands as well as the UK. I’ve toured both with my band as well as session-ing for other bands. 2019 was a fairly busy year – I toured on and off throughout the year. My favourite place to play is Berlin, I always have a fantastic time there!
Is there a favourite gig you’ve played out of the places mentioned?
The one I enjoyed the most was when I played at a festival called ArcTangent in Bristol. My band You Break, You Buy was signed to a small indie in 2016 . A year later we were offered a slot on the second biggest stage of the festival. It was an incredible experience and the crowd was amazing.
I still smile when I think about seeing a few people walking around the festival with my band’s t-shirt. It was truly a beautiful moment for me.
Do you still go to gigs yourself?
Which has been your favourite so far?
That’s tough. If I had to pick I think I’d go with the very first gig I went to on my own. It was The Cure in 2005. They played in this old Greek amphitheatre and it was breathtaking.
Inspiration and improvement
Speaking of favourites, and I know it’s tough, but do you have a favourite drummer?
There are so many but I’ll go with Eric Moore II. He is such an inspiration and he’s the perfect mix. Eric can pull off an incredible solo as well as the most solid groove. There’s something about his playing that really excites. Every time I watch him play I want to go back to my studio and practice for hours!
Do you have a dream collaboration?
Before we wrap up, what projects are you currently working on?
I recently started session-ing for a pop band who record their songs using intricate electronic drum beats. It’s quite a challenge to be able to translate those parts onto an acoustic kit and to perform. It’s really made me grow as a musician and forced me to step out of my comfort zone.
Finally, is there a particular stand out moment from teaching so far?
I’ve had countless stand out moments. The one I remember most fondly was when a young student informed me they wanted to become a professional drummer. I had had them under my tutelage since they were quite young. To know that they wanted to make such important step filled me with pride and joy.
Thanks so much for your time Luca!
Want to book a lesson with drummer Luca Romano?
If you’re not in the exact area but you’re still looking for London drum lessons, do still get in touch!