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Q & A with James Knoerl

How old were you when you first started playing?

By the age of six I had all but destroyed my mother's pots and pans due to playing on them while listening to the Lion King soundtrack. She then decided to get me my own drum set to play on. I studied with private instructors for many years starting at age six. Although I was also introduced to the piano at a young age, I didn’t begin studying formally until age 13. I continued to study piano throughout my time at Berklee.

Where did you go to music school?  What did you study there?

I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor's degree in Music Performance. While there I took classes in Piano Harmony, Sight Reading and Solfege, various Drum Labs, History of Western Music and I studied with several private instructors.

What are your favorite kinds of music to play and why?

My favorite kinds of music to play are fusion, R&B, metal, rock and pop music. Being able to play all these styles of music on a daily basis really opens up your musical vocabulary and creates situations where you can apply things you learned in one genre and use it in another. I also wouldn't be musically fulfilled if I could only play one type of music because there's so much different stuff out there. I do the same thing with my students, helping them to explore as many different kinds of music as they can!

What are some of the musical styles you teach?

Among other styles, I teach pop, rock, jazz and Latin drumming. On piano I teach everything from pop to classical repertoire. I’ve also helped students in marching band and with classical percussion.

Where are some of the places you've performed?  

I've been fortunate to be able perform all over the world with different types of acts. I've toured in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Canada and most of the continental USA.

Who are some of your favorite bands and musicians?

There are so many. My current favorites include Tigran Hamasyan, Robert Glasper, Buckethead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Secondsmile, Hit Home & Fallujah.

What are your other musical pursuits and accomplishments?

I currently record drums for people all over the world from my studio in Allston, MA. Throughout 2015 I recorded on over 150 songs! I also play and write with my band Aviations and write and record with my friends in a collaborative project called With A Smile.

What are some of your artistic goals?  

My main artistic goal is to just give 100% into whatever I commit to, whether it be teaching, recording, touring or anything else in life! Having a positive outlook on any work/musical situation is crucial to making everyone around you feel comfortable and as a result, successful!

Tell us about your sound clips:

1) “Crispy” was written and recorded in late 2015. I perform multiple instruments on the track and also helped in the production and mixing process. 2) “Big & Better” is the result of a summer project working at the Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester. I helped the kids write and record an album entitled SH3 for their band Studio Heat! This was great fun because I got to teach all the kids about recording, performing and music theory. 3) “Intents In Tents” was the first song I wrote for my progressive metal band Aviations. Aside from writing the song I also performed drums, bells and auxiliary percussion. 4) “Bo Baggins” is a song from one of my first college bands called Light Bright featuring another AYDM teacher Dylan Vadakin on vibraphone.