Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Bouton.
Heather, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began playing drums and percussion at the age 10 by joining my school’s orchestra band. From there, I studied under the direction of an excellent band director in junior high and high school, as well as took private lessons from an area music store on drum kit. After high school, I studied business and Latin percussion at Elgin Community College. I worked a business management day job like most others for a while but I discovered that, my love of music and playing drums was my calling for a career. More importantly, paying it forward and passing on knowledge to those wanting to learn.
It was then I opened a teaching business out of my home in 1998 and accepted almost 25 students immediately with minimal advertising. It did not take long to grow a good student base since there was a demand for quality, private instruction in the area that wasn’t just on snare drum and drum kit. I also offered lessons on orchestral bells, xylophone, and marimba, and timpani, as well as auxiliary percussion, this set me apart from other instructors in the area. I prided myself on not being the typical “revolving door” music store with sometimes unreliable, unqualified instructors, putting their personal music careers and gigs above their students’ best interests.
It was my mission to attract long term, dedicated students of the drums by being a dedicated drum instructor. Continuing my education was and is still a priority to stay on top of the music industry learning curve and to educate my students. In 2000, I entered DePaul University School of Music, earning a BA in percussion performance. I invested in more percussion instruments to equip my suburban teaching studio with the best gear that no other instructor seemed to own. My student base began to grow even more, catering to the local performing arts high school and college,
I also accept a range of ages as young as 5-6 years old on snare drum and drum kit. There’s a growing demand to get young boys and girls involved in music at the earliest age possible. The ideal age to begin is 7-8 since playing drums is very physically demanding and requires 4-limb coordination, but a few of the very young ones will surprise you! Learning to read music is also important to begin at a young age. I also feel that being a female drummer and percussionist myself has filled a market to inspire other girls to begin playing the instrument.
Now, roughly 20 years later, I have a student roster of about 70 students weekly, taking either 30 minute or 1 hour private lessons from me. I also have another instructor giving lessons on piano, acoustic and electric guitar, and bass guitar. I’m always looking to expand and take my studio to the next level by offering students rehearsal spaces for their rock bands, personal practice time on marimba and timpani to prepare for their performances, and show casing them on my studio’s You Tube channel.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Some of the challenges along the way have been to establish consistent policies for students on payment and attending lessons regularly. This challenges many private music educators as well as music stores offering lessons. I’ve adjusted my studio’s policies over the years from when I first began so I have little problems now. I attribute the success to being a dedicated instructor first and foremost myself. When you expect the best from yourself, that tends to attract dedicated students who do the same.
Please tell us about Heather’s Studio of Drum & Percussion.
I offer lessons on the following drum and percussion instruments: orchestral percussion, which is classical snare drum, bells, xylophone, and marimba, timpani, and auxiliary. Also, I offer lessons on all styles of drum kit playing from jazz, Latin, rock, funk, metal, and progressive. Marching percussion as well, which includes a snare field drum, tenors, bass drum, cymbals, as well as front ensemble. Also, hand drum percussion, bongos, congas, and djembe.
I am most proud of my versatility in playing and performance experience. Being able to play and perform on a wide range of instruments and situations has helped me immensely in getting personal performances opportunities, as well as being able to pass this knowledge to my students.
What sets me apart from others is my dedication to developing my students. Results with students speak very loudly on how good their instructor are. Their success is so important to them becoming the musician they want to be. There is much gratification I take in their successes. Other up-and-coming players see that, and want the same achievements.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from child hood is easily my first jazz band concert performance in 6th grade, under the direction of Mr. Eugene VandenBosch. “Mr. Van” we called him, gave me my first drum set lessons after school for free mind you, and dedicated his time to me because he saw something in me. I prepared and rehearsed with what was called “varsity” jazz band and I was so very nervous yet excited for my first performance. The songs were “Groovy Kind of Love” by Phil Collins as well Freddie the Freeloader by Miles Davis.
- 30 minute lesson rates are currently $28
- 1 hour lesson rates are currently $56
- Single one time lessons are currently $65/hour session
- Address: 2090 Larkin Ave., Suite 23, Elgin, IL 60123
- Website: www.heathersstudio.com
- Phone: 8474681251
- Instagram: instagram.com/headdrumchick
- Facebook: facebook.com/heathersstudio
- Twitter: twitter.com/headdrumchick