gotta have

a system”

“find an excellent teacher”

“keep your mind open”

“like an athlete, always train”

“learn from everyone”


“be a student

of your instrument”

“reading is the key”


not competition”

“practice every day”

Sam Ulano started teaching others to drum almost right from the beginning - even while he was still a teenager.  He opened his first drum studio in the Bronx when he was 17 ( kids coming over to the house to drum were getting to be too much) and has been teaching and writing about the drums ever since.

“I taught what I had learned and then kept learning and kept sharing,” Sam says.

Over the course of the 76 years Sam’s been teaching the drums, he estimates he’s taught 10,000 students. 

Well-known for his unique system of drum teaching and his progressive approach to writing about the instrument he loves, Sam has written over 4000 drum instruction books, illustrating and publishing them himself. 

His pioneering percussion books, known for generations as "The Source" for drummers who want to become musically literate,

have been the key to economic survival for many players.

Sam's books are essential for building the skill set needed to be a working drummer.  Consistently applied, his system proves that if you can read music, you can work any gig that comes your way.

“Lots of drum instructors insist that students memorize rudiments.  I don’t think memorizing drum rudiments is the way to teach modern drummers to drum.   I learned rudiments when I studied drums 75 years ago - they didn’t work then for the music I wanted to play and they don’t work now for modern drummers.”

Rudimental drum strokes were created hundreds of years ago as signals and patterns for large military marching drum corps, where each musician played one drum with his pair of sticks.  As far back as 1911, Edward B. Straight and Harry A. Bower wrote books suggesting that educators move away from the rudimental strokes because there was another way to play the drums.  They wrote about the need for educational material to help drummers learn to play the music of that time - jazz, rags and ballroom dance tunes.

In 1909 Chicago-drummer William F. Ludwig designed the first spring-driven bass drum foot pedal, revolutionizing the drum set so drummers could use all their limbs to play different percussion instruments faster, more efficiently, and for longer periods of time.  In 1920 Ludwig rearranged the drum set into a kit of drums - his "Jazz-er-up" outfit consisted of a bass drum, a snare drum, bass drum pedal with cymbal striker, suspended cymbal, and hoop-mounted wood block.

With the invention of the modern drum kit, overnight the skills required of a modern drummer became much more complex and varied than the days where rudiments were “de rigueur.”  The fact that a single drummer could play a multitude of drums, cymbals and sound effects all at once was now light-years beyond that marching drummer with a single drum around his neck holding his pair of drumsticks.

“A lot of people are still putting a few pages of rudimental strokes in the beginning of their books, because it’s a traditional way of showing drum education,” says Sam.  “Sometimes, though, tradition can be a dangerous thing.  If it’s stopping you from accomplishing what you want to do (like swing with a band), you’ve got to have the guts to leave it behind - just trust your gut.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of updating, and making sure what you’re learning today is the most current material.  We must get rid of the idea of rudimental strokes.  We need to replace the traditional with new rudiments for current forms of music - like the ride cymbal beat, the shuffle, the two-and-four, etc. – the foundational elements for real-world drumming.”

Sam’s Drum Reader Series books don’t have rudimental strokes in them.  He taught people how to read music so drum musicians could communicate with and support the other musicians in a band.  He’s eliminated things that don’t work.  You’ll never see letters under notes in his books.  Sam said they don’t tell you what’s expected of you when you sit down to play.

“You need to know how to keep time, how to play with a band, how to deal with a studio session and other professional situations that you encounter as a working drummer.  My books help you to survive as a professional musician, using concepts that can teach you to play in any situation.”


“love what

you do!”

Sam’s Monday night drum seminars

in his Bronx studio in the 1950s