By Mike Jaquays
 |  Mid-York Weekly

Expensive gear is optional in Taylor McDowell’s new “Bucket Drumming” series of virtual drum instruction videos.

“My goal is to entertain and educate drummers and non-drummers who may be interested in the unique world of street drumming,” McDowell, a native of Hamilton, said. “I labeled the series ‘Bucket Drumming’ because buckets are cheap, accessible and travel-friendly, which is perfect for kids and adults who want to try out drumming without the need for expensive professional drum gear. This is a good way to test the waters before diving right into it.”

McDowell’s first love is drumming and like most drummers that means beating on anything and everything. A severe hearing impairment hasn’t kept him back from becoming one of the most popular drummers in the Central New York area, whether as a street musician playing locally or in New York City, as an instructor or as a pit musician.

His new virtual five-part series will introduce the basics of drumming, including stick grip techniques, drum beats, rudiments, exercises, warming up, using a metronome and tips and tricks for an exciting live performance.

Arts at the Palace in Hamilton is hosting the videos on their website at The only items needed at drum sticks and a drum – or even a makeshift version.

“This kind of drumming leaves plenty of room for creativity with differing percussive materials, producing unique sounds,” McDowell explained. “These materials may include but are not limited to plastic/metal buckets, trash can lids, pots, pans, pipes, pizza boxes and many more.”

Drumming is also a boon to the brain, he noted, as doing repetitive percussive activities help our brains have stronger abilities in performing tasks concisely.

McDowell said when he was a little younger than 8 years old he and his family were in Denver visiting family. His cousin Dillon brought his own drum kit over to his grandmother’s house and McDowell’s life changed.

“That was the first time I had seen a full drum set up close,” McDowell recalled. ”Dillon gave me a brief, casual drum lesson while we were there – and that was when my interest sparked.”

He had already experimented with trumpet, guitar, and piano, McDowell said. Those experiments did not go well, however, because of his severe hearing impairment. His was not able to identify pitches with those instruments but he found drums are more focused on rhythms than pitches and tones.

“When drums came into my life, I discovered that my strong sense of vibration gave the ability to acutely identify timings between each stroke,” he said.

McDowell was the drummer for “Rent” at Catherine Cummings Theatre in Cazenovia, an assistant percussionist for Syracuse Stage and has performed many other local events. He is also a three-time first-place winner at SUNY Morrisville talent competitions and a finalist at the Guitar Center’s “Drum-Off.”

He said music is a great relief during trying times. In fact, it is during trying times that some of the classics were created.

“Some of the best music has been written during the darkest times,” McDowell said. “Music has a way of transporting us and in these days of limited travel that can be a real plus! Music has always been an excellent way to bring us together.”

For more information, look for “Taylor – The Frontman Drummer” on Facebook and @taylormcdowelldrums on Instagram.

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