Kirk Kalbfleisch

Kirk (he/him) is a freelance drummer who performs with several touring bands including World’s Finest, Coco Columbia, and Toothbone. Originally from Las Vegas, NV, Kirk attended the University of Portland, where he continued his studies in jazz drumming. Since graduating in 2015, Kirk has been an active member of Portland’s local music scene. Kirk gives each student a strong foundation in technique, rudiments, and stick control.


What age were you when you first started taking music lessons?


Tell us about an early music lessons experience that helped shape you as a musician or teacher:
I grew up with a love of music instilled in me by my parents. My love of rhythm only grew when I was put into dance classes at a young age. When I first started lessons, it was obvious that drums were something I was going to fall in love with. As I started to progress, it became more and more evident that drumming was going to become a major part of life. My parents continued to support my passion, allowing me to continue lessons through high school. My early teachers did a fantastic job of giving me a foundation that I would build on for the years to come. I had several teachers that helped expose me to a wide range of music styles and inspired me to explore drummers that would influence the way I wanted to approach the instrument. These teachers help me understand the importance of practicing rudiments, learning different styles, and learning the role of the drummer in different circumstances. I learned early on how to play the part so that I could serve the music, and also that the drummer was the one who would ultimately control the time on the band stand. It was also these developmental years that I began to shape my musical tastes for jazz, hip hop, soul, funk, latin and other genres other than just rock music. The instrument became increasingly fun to play as I learned to teach myself, through lessons, how to play the parts of drummers I loved to listen to.
What are your favorite bands or musicians?

Earth Wind and Fire, Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters, Lettuce, Snarky Puppy, Butcher Brown, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weather Report, Dave Matthews Band, Doobie Brothers, Toto, Kendrick Lamar, Tupac, Biggie, Outkast, Tribe Called Quest, J. Dilla, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Brian Blade.

Do you have a highlight of your music career so far that you would like to share?
I have many highlights of my music career. A few include touring the country with several different bands, playing to sold out rooms for audiences that are there to see you perform, writing music with some of my best friends and bandmates, recording albums, and leading my own band.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student would be someone that loves to play the drums and wants to learn. I aim to inspire my students to find what it is they love about playing the drums and help them grow in areas that will help them expand on those interests. An ideal student would understand the importance of a balanced approach to learning, which includes learning music that inspires them while continuing to focus on exercises and rudiments that will ultimately make them more controlled and musical. I do my best to teach each student in a way that is customized to their interests around drumming.
Describe what your students should expect in their first few music lessons.
In our first lessons I will begin to introduce some foundations of drumming that can be broken down into learning basic rhythmic notation, counting, and developing control through the means of playing through exercises as well as learning basic drum beats on the drum set. It is after the first few lessons that lessons begin to become more tailored to the students individual needs and what it is they hope to get out of lessons.
Why did you want to become a music teacher?
Simple answer: I enjoy helping aspiring drummers learn how to be successful on the instrument. A lengthier response: As I got more into teaching, it became clear that I really enjoy working with students that want to be there. I love to find new ways to inspire a student to get better. I enjoy breaking down concepts for students that seem too difficult to grasp in the moment. And I want to ultimately help students arrive at the place in their drumming that they set out to achieve. I was fortunate enough to have great teachers that helped me learn the foundation of what it means to be a drummer and I want to pass that information on.
Want to take lessons with Kirk? Follow this link to get started!
Want to check out Kirk’s music? Check out his Instagram!