Jason has over 35 years of teaching experience and is one of the most in demand drum set educators in his field. Jason is currently on Faculty at University California Irvine, (2004-present), the Musicians Institute in Hollywood (2005-present) and most recewntly was asked to join the prestigious jazz faculty at Cal State University Northridge/CSUN (2019). Recently, Jason has performed as a guest lecturer at CalArts, Cornell University, USC, UCLA, UNR, Saddleback College, Kansas University, Morehead University/Kentucky and Cuesta College. Through his career, Jason has performed clinics, workshops & master classes literally all over the world.
If you are interested in contacting Jason regarding lessons, please contact him directly at or use the link below. Skype lessons are available for those who live outside the Los Angeles area.
"Very few people love music the way Jason Harnell does. His love of and respect for drumming is inspiring, contagious, and reflected in his teaching. Jason is a master drummer and a leading voice in modern jazz drumming. Yet despite his mastery, he explores music with the curiosity and joy of a child. As a lifelong student, Jason considers ‘practice’ to be something sacred; something that strengthens his ‘relationship’ with music. Through creative concepts, approaches, and practical exercises, Jason invites his students to join him in his never-ending quest for creative freedom.”
-Scott Wittenberg, Educator Musicians Institute/Drum Program
"Jason is one of the rare teachers that can can target any and all aspects of playing (technical, ear training, style, ensemble playing, soloing, etc.) and offer insightful, challenging, and helpful information. Jason brings together "book knowledge" with his own exercises, listening, and his many many years of experience playing with wide rage of musicians to help his students grow not only as drummers, but as artists. Jason's unique approach has led me to have greater rhythmic freedom while improvising, a better feel for odd time signatures, and a vastly improved sense of time. Most importantly, my sense of form, listening, and accompanying have grown and continue to grow. He has the ability to help a student tackle these challenging concepts through creative, challenging and clearly articulated sets of exercises. By studying with Jason I've not only improved my playing, but learned much about my own learning process which has led me to be more creative, effective, and dedicated with my practicing." -Andre Copher, CSULB graduate, Long Beach, CA
"Jason Harnell is the best drum teacher I've ever had. He is enthusiastic and thoroughly knowledgeable about the instrument, and is extremely easy to communicate with about drums, music, and musical goals. He had a very positive influence on me during challenging times while I was a student. On top of that, he challenged me musically and allowed me to have as much input as I wanted over what areas we would work on in lessons, which maximized my potential and allowed me to grow in the direction I wanted to go. Thanks so much Jason!"
-Rivkah Ross, Musicians Institute (Bachelor Program) graduate, Hollywood, CA
"Not all great musicians are great teachers. Not all great teachers are great musicians. Most students of music know it is rare to find both qualities in one artist. Jason personifies this rare combination. Listening to his playing, you hear a spirit of generosity, creativity, thoughtfulness and sense of humor. Studying with Jason is no different. These same qualities make his lessons highly rewarding, inspirational and fun. I feel extremely fortunate having such a valuable asset to my growth as a musician." -Rick Vena, USC master's degree program, age 35
"Every year that I’ve studied with Jason I’ve felt a tremendous growth in my musical abilities. Each lesson has a specific, focused direction formatted for the individual student, introducing new ideas and concepts that are challenging, fun and rewarding. Every aspect of my playing is connected to his teachings, musically speaking and of life in general. He is a truly dedicated educator and I would greatly recommend spending as much time with him as possible to absorb his knowledge, stories and wisdom. Studying with Jason has made me a better drummer, musician, and person." -Jacob Wendt, UCI graduate, Long Beach, CA
"I started studying with Jason Harnell when I was 14 years old when I had only been playing drums for about 6 months. He took me through all the the reading, technique, and independence necessary to be successful as a drummer in today's vast musical spectrum. As I progressed, Jason continued to expand my horizons, turning me on to jazz music and the art of improvisation, taking me from being not only a drummer, but a musician and an artist. I still go back for lessons with Jason today for the inspiration and growth not only as a musician but as a person."
-Chris Lammers, CSUN graduate, Los Angeles age 28
"I've had a handful of lessons with Jason, and each one has proven to be absolutely invaluable. I've left each lesson not only with a ton of new ideas and concepts to work out, but also a renewed sense of spirit and motivation to tackle these challenges. I'm sure that in all the years to come I'll still consider him to be one of the pivotal teachers in my musical career." -James Yoshizawa, CSULB graduate, Long Beach, CA
"Jason's patience and sense of humor makes each drum lesson inspiring and filled with fun. His vast knowledge of music is AWESOME!"
-Eli Ure, Los Angeles, age 13
"One lucky day I saw a classified ad for a snare drum made from a single ply of maple. I called the seller, brought the money to his house, tapped on the snare and looked it over. I was ready to buy it, but I wanted to hear it from the other side of the room so I asked the man selling the drum if he would play it. The man happened to be Jason Harnell, and in just thirty seconds an easy sale was completely ruined: Jason held that snare drum between his knees and played a solo - no, told a story - that changed my life. I suddenly realized I didn't need a better sounding snare. I needed better sounding hands. I studied with Jason weekly for five years [and evolved from playing simple rock beats to telling my own stories]. Finding him by chance on that afternoon in the valley changed my life from being a consumer to being a creator, and it feels divine. He has endless facility on the technical aspects of playing the drum set. If you want to be a better reader, get a deeper groove, achieve a better sound, play musically, learn how to play jazz (or any style), improvise a meaningful solo, articulate ideas more clearly, or even be a better listener, you can't find a better teacher. But I've come to realize that the thing that sets Jason apart is his ability to demonstrate how these tools actually apply on the bandstand and beyond. To watch Jason complimenting some of the great players he works with, or just tapping his feet and hands to the radio, is to witness musical bliss. He taught me (by example) what it means to get past the fear and play with pure joy."
-Salvatore Mander, New York City, NY age 38
"Jason Harnell is an incredibly enthusiastic and helpful teacher. He has some of the most fun and creative methods for development in all levels of ones musicianship." -Andrew McAfee, CSULB graduate, Long Beach, CA
"Jason is an amazing teacher. He knows what he's doing and he knows how to break down and explain the lesson material so that there is absolutely no confusion. He's just a great person and is a "no b.s." type of teacher, which is great for players who are serious about what they're doing. Most importantly, he is truly an educator who loves the music he teaches and motivates his students to grow deeper in love with jazz; his passion and respect for the art is genuine and contagious. I still have so much to learn from him...." -Grace Chin, Musicians Institute (Bachelor Program), Hollywood, CA
"I took lessons from Jason for 12 years and have come to this conclusion: There are those who are gifted teachers but horrible players. There are those who are gifted players but horrible teachers. Jason is gifted beyond reason in both areas. He is a rare breed." -Dusty Moon, Los Angeles, age 24
"Jason is no doubt one of the best teachers on staff at the Musicians Institute. Not only that, he's an awesome, down to earth dude who exhibits great patience with all of his students." -Brian Camara, Musicians Institute, Hollywood
"Jason has performed as a a bandleader and/or sideman with almost every notable jazz musician and ensemble in the Los Angeles area. His colleagues hold him in the highest regard and find his innovative playing notable for its nuance, dynamism, and deep engagement with the history of jazz drumming. Over the years I have met several of his students and know that Jason's charisma and generosity as a teacher helps developing musicians hone their craft. Percussionists at every level can learn from Jason; his knowledge of the drum set is encyclopedic, and he is a true master of the repertoire. In addition, he has developed a unique and sophisticated approach to rhythm, including extensive, well-formulated, and versatile drum patterns and formal ideas that contribute to an ever increasing vocabulary. These ideas, along with Jason's skill as an improviser, within both formal and free contexts, place him among the very top of his field." -John Crooks, Bass Player/Educator, Los Angeles, CA
"Jason is one of those rare individuals who has maintained a rigorous work ethic and practice regiment throughout his entire career. He is constantly learning new things, polishing his craft and has the patience and ability to teach others how to do what he does. He has given me personally (as a saxophone player) many valuable exercises and lessons on rhythm, meter, listening, improvising and musical interaction which has both improved and inspired my playing to this day. He's so good, it's disturbing..." -Matt Otto, Saxophonist/Educator, Kansas City, MO
Some of Jason's teaching methods include:
• Technical studies (hands and feet) -- grip, posture, balance, rudiments, Moeler stroke, Wilcoxon, Cirone, Chaffee, Dawson, Riley, etc.
• Developing your touch/sound on the instrument
• 4-way Coordination/Independence
• Swing, Bebop, Post Bop and current jazz drumming styles
• Establishing an effective daily practice routine
• Soloing on the drum set (in all meters- over song forms, vamps, etc.)
• The art of accompanying (comping)
• Odd meters/Compound meters
• Brush technique
• Ride Cymbal approach
• History of jazz and jazz drumming (past and present)
• Funk Drumming concepts
• Linear and Layered Sticking patterns
• World Music studies (Afro-Cuban; Brazilian; Indian; African)
• Drum set adaptations of Ted Reed's Syncopation book
• Developing vocabulary on the drum set
• Developing your inner clock
• Improving your feel/groove
• Metronome techniques for developing a stronger inner clock
• The history of the drum set
• Professional and music business skills
• Transcribing/memorizing solos
• Advanced rhythmic techniques (displacement, polyrhtmic overlap, rhythmic expansion/contraction, etc.)
• Odd Groupings/Polyrhthyms
• Drum Solos: The art of developing a musical/logical drum solo
• Balance (in life and behind the drums)
• Learning to play by ear
• Memorizing tunes/chord progressions
• Live performance and recording techniques
• Developing a personal sound/approach on the drum set
• The art of improvisation
• Drumming in the now. "Don't think...feel"