Focus on Joel Rothman [interview]

Interviews, News | Posted on by Joel Rothman

Where are you from and where do you live now ?
I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1938, but I’m married to an English woman, so I now reside in London, England.

Since when have you played the drums ?
I came from a separated home. My father was not there and my mom had to work, so we were pretty poor, and I couldn’t afford to take music lessons. But I started delivering papers and working odd jobs to pay for lessons myself from the age of 11 or 12.

Who or what inspired you to play the drums ?
I always listened to my brother’s old swing records with Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich–they were very inspirational. In time I progressed to more modern jazz, and was inspired by all the great drummers, not necessarily just one.

Where did you study ?
I studied from all the great players and teachers in the New York City area at the time including, Sam Ulano, Ed Shaughnessey, Joe Morello, Sonny Igoe,
Morris Goldenberg, and many others. One of the best teachers I had was someone nobody ever heard of–he was just a drummer around town who did some teaching on the side–his name was Billy Moschetto.

How much time a day/a week do you practice?
I practiced for hours every day after school and on the weekend.

Since when have you been professional ?
By the time I was 14
I was already playing with guys much older, playing small gigs for little money. I started teaching around that time as well, and over the next few years I built up a teaching practice. I started gaining a name around town as well, so a lot of work began to come in from a very young age. All the time I continued taking lessons on drum set, mallets, timps and piano.

 Who did you begin you career with ?
My career has been playing around the NYC area, doing all kinds of different gigs–I kept myself a free lance drummer and never wanted to play just one kind of music with one band. I enjoyed playing semi jazz or jazz gigs, weddings, broadway and off-broadway shows, night clubs, rock, etc. I alway preferred new challenges rather than playing just one type of music.
After graduating from university I wound up teaching in the New York City School System, So my career was very varied–I taught privately, then in school, played gigs, and wrote music method books for drums and percussion.

What is your approach to teaching ?
I started writing books from when I was 14 and published my first one “PHRASING DRUM SOLOS” when I was 16. After graduating from university I wound up teaching in the New York City School System, So my career was very varied–I taught privately, then in school, played gigs, and wrote music method books for drums and percussion. I established my own publishing company with my first book, and I just kept writing and publishing, until today I have almost 100 different books on my catalog, which have sold well over two million copies since I began.

Do you have any shows or album releases coming up?
I’m now 76 years young, so I no longer play with bands. Instead I continue to write and publish books, and I have a very busy teaching practice, mostly for advanced students and professional player who come to me from all over the UK, as well as many parts of Europe. In my spare time I practice piano to relax, and try to think of new jokes to keep my students and wife amused.

Most people don’t know this, but I also write humour books for children and adults. I even did a short stint as a standup comic.

Post your comments

Comments