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One of a kind

By Sylvie Grifthins

He made his home in London 25 years ago. The school that he created is quite unique, not to mention his life and his "students" count among the most famous musicians...

Francis Sériau was born in Salins Les Bains in JURA in 1958 and was raised by his grand parents in a small village. His French mother and Tunisian father had separated when they were students and left him with his grand parents

How you discovered music?
I always remember being interested in percussion and already at the age of 4 kept on wanting to play the drums. Around the age of 4 or 5 my grand parents got me a little toy drum kit, which I destroyed in no time! In addition to living in a small isolated village near the Swiss border, as a family we had very small financial means and I was not able to take any lessons or get a real drum kit. So I made drum kits out of washing up powder containers and metal things, and set up a small stage in my grand father's shed (hangar). When I went to weddings with my parents there would always be a drummer in the band. I used to sit and watch the guy for hours. I remained passionate about playing and music and practice playing to records hitting my desk or miming, hitting an imaginary drum kit. Effectively, I learnt to play the drums with no drums.

At, 17 he bought a drum kit with his little savings and his grand-parents authorisation, (a girl friend had told him there was a band looking for a drummer the week before) learned how to play and went to the audition and got the part. "I was not good academically at school. I wanted to be a musician....Having been asked to leave one school, I met the most amazing headmistress and teacher and will always be grateful to them. On hearing that I played the drums, they got a kit they kept in a cupboard out and gave me a room for my private use with the kit for me to practice. During two years I practice every free minute I had. This place was god sent! No one in my family was musical. Until I met my genetic father at the age or 25. He had 3 other kids from a different woman than my mother. Two were boys and were both into percussion!! We had not met until that time. It must have been in the genes. My father quickly got this out of my half brothers."

"I kept playing in various regional bands and quickly realised that to do something on an international level I would have to leave my Jura. I was living with a young "petite anglaise" and decided to go to London. I took the heads off my drums, put my clothes inside, put the heads back on, loaded the lot onto a commercial transport lorry and left for London on 1 August 1979.

I quickly got gigs and started to make a reputation for myself. I played in many bands but was never suited to being told what to do all the time and be dependant on others. I started teaching on a part time basis whilst maintaining my playing career. In 1983 I gave my teaching place a name by calling it Drumtech. A school was born."

what were the crucial moments in the development of the school ?
Me teaching big names like Bill Bruford (Yes and King Crimson) Pick Withers(Dire Straits), the creation and running of the One Year Diploma, the first full time course for contemporary musicians in the UK, our courses being accredited, being asked by Universities to deliver big programmes like a Degree, moving premises to where we are now, being endorsed by major instrument manufacturers...

What qualities were important in your success ?
I came to realise that I was "given" some talent and abilities at birth. Things came naturally to me. Of course I practised and worked hard at every stage of my career but I had been given the main elements: rhythm and feel, inspiration and a vision. I have also always been very determinated and paid great attention to detail, so that helped.

what is your unforgettable moment ?
Being given an Honorary Doctorate for my outstanding achievement in contemporary music education

What are you most proud of? What I have achieved; to have provided for hundreds of musicians from around the world a unique type of education which has in many cases changed their lives and helped them becoming the musicians they wanted to be. And of course to keep doing so.....

The School now
Offering a new approach to drum tuition, Francis' unique teaching methods for performance, concepts, technique building and learning to learn, soon drew attention from the drum community and Drumtech quickly attracted many established pro players for private lessons. Amongst them were Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), Pick Withers (Dire Straits), Hugo Burnham (The Gang of Four), Rat Scabies (The Damned), Phil Selway (Radiohead), Jason Cooper (The Cure), Jed Lynch (Peter Gabriel), Mick Avory (The Kinks), Richard Noriss (The Specials)...

Francis had put together a strong, structured curriculum based on conceptual teaching. His philosophy and approach to teaching were very much based on training students for the real world and "starting with the end in mind". That is: what exactly is needed to be an effective player. He rejected the whole traditional teaching approach, which made students good at drum lessons and not good players.

"We excite talent, nurture it, develop it. Don't expect convention - expect results." Francis Seriau - Director

What started as a part-time venture with Francis as the only teacher and two small booths with each a practice kit, at no 10 Stanley Gardens in Acton London W3, occupies now four buildings with 3 schools :

Drumtech, Vocaltech and Guitar-X enjoy a unique international reputation with a teaching team of around 50 and students coming for all continents. Studies can be done part-time or full-time, up to 4 years for the committed and dedicated students.
The schools now cater for all part time musicians and children and offer many part-time courses and private lessons for all types of student, including beginners 7 days a week and 51 weeks out of 52.
Tel: 020 8749 3131
Administation: The Brilliant Building, 76 Stanley Gardens, London W3 7SZ.
If you want to discover more about the schools you can go to the dedicated websites


13/04/2012 - marlei said :

Review by J. Byrne for Rating: This is the Dream Cheeky USB drum kit. Buyers must be prepared for one quirk: the prdcuot stinks. Literally. It smells similar to a tire store but worse. If you're going to give this as a gift, I suggest removing it from the box to air it out before passing on.The software is easy to install, starts up quickly, and is somewhat easy to use. I wish it had a mode like guitar-hero for practice. (At least, I haven't found such a mode.) It comes with various loops and beats and has graphics reminiscent of GH.The pad itself is small and sensitive to hands as well as drumsticks. I bought this for my young son, but I think even an adult player would find it useful/fun.


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