Hey Mark – tell us a bit about yourself
What made you start playing the drums?
I’ve wanted to play drums since I was 7 years old, however was made to learn the piano as that was what my parents felt was the way to go. I had the best piano teachers (highly sought after) at the time in Mumbai, a German couple who had settled there, a Mr. & Mrs. Harry Littler and they were very fond of me, keeping me there for hours, which would infuriate me. I used to then throw a tantrum on returning home…finally managed to get out of piano lessons in my final year of school, due to exams.
I always wanted a drum kit and every time I would ask, my parents would say, when you finish with school. Didn’t happen, then the response was to finish with University. Didn’t happen!! Finally I started working and had saved up some money and after much persuasion, managed to get them to chip in and bought my first 2nd hand kinda crappy drum kit. I was aged 21. Two months after buying the kit, I joined up with local friends and we forced ourselves on stage to perform at Mumbai city’s biggest University festival, “Mood Indigo” (1981) which still is very much a part of the Mumbai Festivals to date, attracting highly reputed International Acts as well. The crowd loved the band…we did Led Zeppelin, Beatles and few other Rock covers and the rest was history. I never looked back and kept performing.
Whoever thought I’d end up teaching? That happened quite by accident. 1997, at 37, I had a heart attack in HK with work stress in the travel industry and performing with bands (and possibly 3 meals a day at Mackers, KFC and Pizza Hut!!!) to try and earn a living. 17 hour work days!!! After the attack I was in recovery for a year at home and a band mate suggested I come teach at his Primary school. I refused, as I wasn’t sure I could do this, especially kids aged 7-10 years. He kept insisting and after a year I finally gave in and went. 3 months later I was stoked to see these kids could actually play what I taught them. It was a trial year for me, as I did not know how to tackle lessons for these youngsters. There were no books that catered for drum lessons for kids at this age. I formulated my own lessons. (I still use this method today. It is all performance oriented.) Within a year, other schools approached me to teach and by the time I left HK for NZ in 2005, I was employed in 7 of HK’s prestigious International schools, teaching 70 students a week (individual lessons), with a massive waitlist for lessons. I moved to NZ and started all over again but could not get work at any of the schools on the North Shore where I live. I started my own school and this has kept me busy with almost 50 students a week. Details at www.drumadiddle.co.nz
What is your favorite genre to play and why?
I love all kinds of music and enjoy playing all styles, though will have to admit, playing Rock always gets the adrenaline pumping…
Do you ever get time to just play just for fun?
It’s always fun playing, no matter what the situation is. I’ve been playing for the last 30+ years from Rock gigs, Studio sessions, in the orchestra pit, Blues, Funk, Big Band, Country and more recently Bollywood and every situation is different and I enjoy it for what it is…it’s never boring and never considered work, even if I’m being paid for it.
I know you are part of the orchestra for lots of local productions. What was the last show you were in and do you feel any pressure?
This year (2015) I’ve been a part of 5 Stage Musicals, started the year with Chess The Musical, followed by Little Shop of Horrors, The Producers, Narnia The Musical and then The Prisoner with different Musicians each time and different Musical Directors. There is always a little bit of pressure till the show eventually opens, trying to manage all the music for each of these productions, besides all my other work teaching, band gigs and generally maintaining my personal life…but it’s always a blast. Time Management and I am getting better at this every year. It’s about being organized.
Already tentatively booked for 3 Musicals for 2016
You raised a lot of money recently via the Himalayan Trust. Tell me a bit about that.
Yes!! The earthquakes and the devastation I saw moved me. I have been to Nepal on a few occasions to perform with
my band and when I worked in the Travel Industry in Hong Kong planning and conducting Adventure Travel to this region. I have been to Kathmandu and also rural Nepal and think the Nepalese are a wonderful people. They don’t have much and this kind of destruction would certainly require International Aid to support their rebuild. I did my small donation of $ 20 as that was all I could afford via my very limited musicians wage but wanted to do more. I spoke with my band and some musicians and asked if we could do something to help by offering our talents as musicians and performers. They all stepped up. I was directed to Sir Edmund Hillary’s Legacy – The Himalayan Trust. It was a lot of work and despite no financial support or sponsorships, we managed to do an upmarket corporate Dinner/Dance and Auction combining Western Music with Bollywood and it turned out to be quite a night. We raised $11,850 for the Himalayan Trust. I was stoked and thankful to all the people who came forward in the last week to attend the event. Details can be found at www.nashaentertainment.co.nz. This is an event company I now own & manage.
You are an awesome teacher, and my son is just as excited to go to lessons now, as he was 4 years ago. What’s your secret?
Enjoying the lesson as much as my students, making it fun for them and me. This always gets the best out of them, ensuring the motivational factor is an integral part of the lesson. The lessons MUST have structure and direction. Being organized also helps!!
Finally, who is your musical inspiration?
MUSIC in itself is my inspiration….
Mark is an amazing man, an inspirational teacher, always giving back. A force to be reckoned with. He organises concerts for his students too, when he can, so they can all perform on stage. In his own time and at his own expense. Check out his website for more information. Thank you for sharing Mark.
Drum students 2015 – Mash up Part 1: Watch some of Mark’s students here