DES MOINES, Iowa. — 13-year-old Ashley Miller received his first drum lesson last week from Stan’s Music Shack owner Stan Bolte, reportedly spending the full hour learning to do “that twirly thing with the drumsticks.”
“I got my first drum kit and a series of lessons for Christmas, and I know I need to start with the basics. I thought we were going to do the Two and Four, or maybe the One Drop,” said Miller dejectedly. “But [Stan] said the first lesson of drumming is ‘showmanship.’ Then, he just flicked one drumstick in my face, and threw the other one so it got stuck in the ceiling.”
Bolte is known for insisting new students learn the “fundamentals” before even getting behind a kit.
“We got the Twirl, the Countdown, the Flip-Up-And-Catch, the Toss-Out…” said Bolte, rigging up a harness to help students play upside-down. “90 percent of drumming is giving the audience a show. Do you wanna be some bland nobody like Art Blakey? Or do you wanna shine — like the great Tommy Lee? He played on a roller coaster!”
Miller, who has dreamed of playing drums since hearing Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss play, was sadly underwhelmed by her first lesson.
“He kept saying, ‘It’s in the wrist,’ and, ‘You’re doing it wrong,’ and ‘Watch me, like this,’” said Miller while standing outside in the parking lot, waiting for his ride home. “And instead of actually practicing, he told me to watch Gene Krupa, Steven Adler, and Neil Peart videos on YouTube.”
Meanwhile, one of Stan’s former students claimed they didn’t even get to try “Four on the Floor” until the 10th lesson.
“I’ve had a long, drawn-out battle with carpal tunnel syndrome from spending hours wiggling a drumstick between my fingers and swirling my wrist. It’d be way more worth it if I ever learned how to actually play drums,” said former student Joe Brady. “There were times where we didn’t even have a drum kit in the room — we sat on barstools, spinning sticks with some box fan blowing in our faces. The only thing I really learned was the best way to tie a bandana.”
At press time, Stan’s Music Shack received notice of a class-action lawsuit, seeking reparations for injured, beginner guitarists who were taught to do “that thing where you swing the guitar all the way around you.”