Roy Van Tassel
Founder/Instructor, NJ Drum School
Roy Van Tassel is a dedicated, professional instructor and musician with 18 years of experience teaching comprehensive drum technique along with 25+ years of experience as a successful live and studio drummer. A knowledgeable, highly skilled technical drummer, he has studied under such drum masters Karl Latham, Matt Patella and Jack Kuhn. He also has a rich musical education in a number of instruments and techniques including 2 years of classical guitar study under Carol Hamersma.
Roy is a hands-on teacher with extensive experience tailoring fun and enriching lessons for students of all ages and skill levels. Individual lessons center on proper technique, coordination and music sight reading. His patient teaching style along with the comfortable learning atmosphere of NJ Drum School help students develop the skills they need for a rewarding life in music.
Beyond teaching, Roy has accompanied international recording artist, Stuart Hamm on music clinic dates in NY and NJ, he currently plays in WTF!?! and The Vinyl Attic. In July 2012, the third Suit of Lights album, “Shine On Forever”, was released, which features Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle/John Zorn/Secret Chiefs 3) on bass, Dan McGowan (The Tea Club) on guitar and Scott Chasolen on keys. Past bands include Rachel Allyn, and Our Black Friday.
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Music has always been a huge part of my life. I can’t remember a time before music. My earliest real memories of music come from driving around with my mother. Staple listening was popular, easy listening groups, a mainstay of AM radio. From artists such as Air Supply and Anne Murray, the landscape wasn’t particularly challenging, but the seeds were still planted for my musical future at this impressionable age. What made a true difference to my young ear was a 1981 “Best Of” compilation by Queen, which was a truly enlightening experience. They would go from one genre to the next, keeping a continuity within their work which granted them a chameleon-like quality that not many artists could contend with.
Fast forward a few years, somewhere betwen 1983 and 1984. I was introduced by a friend’s older brother to Iron Maiden, Metallica, Metal Church, and various other rock and metal bands. These bands made a huge impression on me and have become the root of my passion for drumming and music in general. I was in 4th grade, scribbling in my notebooks about the 1984/1985 “World Slavery Tour” for Iron Maiden, with Accept opening.
That Christmas I made sure to ask for nothing but music. Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil”, Dio’s “Last in Line”, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”, Iron Maiden’s “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave”, my list contained many albums, and and have never looked back. I was enthralled by Heavy Metal, and that Christmas received many tapes that would shape my musical future. Iron Maiden, Metal Church, Metallica, Dio, Motley Crue, etc. I enjoyed other music but was really impressed with the technicality and power of Heavy Metal. My interest would move to the next level in 1988 when I purchased Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” album. From the first notes of “Blackened” to the last notes of “Dyer’s Eve”, the technical prowess and dark, dense compositions lifted my spirits to another plane. I had always loved the drumming of the metal records I listened to, but Lars Ulrich’s performance on AJFA pushed me over the edge.
That year, before summer vacation began, I made a promise with a friend that I would start playing drums that summer. He promised to start playing guitar, and once our freshman year of high school started, we would start a band. I have no idea if he ever picked up an axe, but that summer I started taking lessons with Jack Kuhn, and playing with a bass player on my street and never looked back.
I spent hours playing to Metallica records, particularly “Master of Puppets”, as well as Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil”, Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health, and Metal Church’s debut album. I wanted to combine the progressive complexity of AJFA with the groove of SATD.
I took my lessons seriously and wanted to learn everything I could. Along with the drums I picked up guitar and found a love for audio recording. I began writing and recording music when most people were out with friends. Since then I’ve played in numerous bands (Homicide, Stereotyped, Deadman, Social Outcry, Screwhammer, Rasputin, Calling All Gods, Ghost Orgy, Suit of Lights).
After playing for about 10 years I started teaching while I was in college. I taught through a store for about 3 years and then taught privately ever since. My teaching style is a balanced approach, incorporating reading (music), technique (hands) and coordination (drum set). I believe this balance provides for a well-rounded learning experience that results in a strong player.