Meet Craig Pilo: Craig Pilo is a graduate of the University Of North Texas College Of Music. His career as a sideman has aligned him with some of the best in the business. Maynard Ferguson, Edgar Winter, Frankie Valli, Pat Boone, Player, and Billy Vera are a select few of the artists from the last decade. In addition, he's done a fair share of studio work around Los Angels. He's recorded for Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Sabrina, The Osborne's, Sex in the City, South Park, and several motion pictures (two of which are Basic and Dirty Dancing II Havana Nights). He's also done 2 CD's (The Slow Club and Expressionism) with Angela Carole Brown, a Los Angeles favorite.
In May of 2007 Craig released his first solo cd titled "Just Play". Just Play is a Jazz fusion CD, enhanced and interactive with live video footage, featuring a Fender Rhodes rhythm section, and a few notable guests, including: Mitchel Forman, Tom Kennedy, Ed Czach, David Enos, and Roman Dudok, to name a few. Just Play can now be heard on a growing number of terrestrial and internet radio stations. It has been reviewed favorably and nominated for two Los Angeles Music Awards.
Your teaching approach: Teaching has kind of come and gone for me over the years since my first priority has always been to play. I imagine that priority will shift a little once the touring lightens up for me. I currently have 3 students that cooperate with my schedule, so it's not as regular as we'd like, but it's the best I can do right now. When I was teaching a lot (I've taught in schools and privately since I actually have a degree in music from North Texas) I've always tried to cover a lot of territory.
Teaching is tough because from a drumming stand point there is a tremendous amount of information that's all pretty vital. There are rudiments, reading, interpretations, listening, dynamics, time studies, history, styles, so on and so fourth. There's really a lifetime of material. I have a few file cabinets full of textbooks that I've worked through, but even with all of those, I've honestly just scratched the surface. There are even more on my "to do list. That being said, when was the last time learning anything in a textbook was all a student needed to go out and get a gig? There is so much more to it than reading from a book. I try to make it fun for my students (I've had all ages), the worst thing would be to bore them to death. There's so much to learn it's usually pretty easy to change gears if something isn't sinking in.
I try to assess a student's goals before we get into any specific avenue. In other words, sight reading isn't a high priority for a business man that has always wanted to play drums and is studying with me to get good enough to jam with some co workers. In another situation, a high school student trying to get into music school really needs a firm lesson each week, a pretty strict routine, and lots of reading. Reasonable goals keep both of us motivated to succeed.
I've had some really great students over the years. Most stay with me for a lengthy period of time (my newest student has been with me about 6 years). I screen them (and sometimes the parents) before I get in too deep. It's really created a positive learning environment for both of us. We all start with establishing some basic fundamentals, from that point on, all I ask is that they take it seriously and practice. I try to fuse what my teachers shared with me (Alan Dawson, Ed Soph, Dave Weckl, Jeff Hamilton and most recently Aaron Serfaty) and what I've learned from my career as a professional.
From time to time scheduling is an issue for everyone, but drum lessons need to be important if you want results. I expect a certain amount of commitment and respect for drum lessons, it needs to be somewhat of a priority to get the desired results.
Then there are musicians that teach "for some extra cash or to "supplement my gigging income. All that is well and fine as long as those aren't the ONLY reasons they teach. For the record, I've never taught solely for the money. The money is merely a small compensation for my time and to make a student take drum lessons seriously. Nobody takes anything seriously if it is free or inexpensive. Someone who pays more for a drum lesson is far more likely to practice and get their moneys worth.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.