Providing inspiration and education in equal measure, the nine expert clinicians who made the cut for 2019 are a collection of technical wonders whether they hail from the world of progressive metal, if they’re leading the way in the art of V-drumming, or if they’re all about the groove.
This year’s winner was a clear favourite, snapping just over a quarter of all the votes cast, but if you’re looking to lift your playing up to the next level, you can’t go wrong watching any of the drummers on this list if they should ever come to your town.
1. Matt Halpern
Apparently playing physically challenging progressive metal every night on tour with Periphery isn’t enough to keep Matt Halpern out of mischief, so during the band’s 2019 UK tour, Halpern offered lessons every day on the road. This year also brought the release of his new sample library through GetGood Drums.
2. Thomas Lang
His prodigious technical ability is already legendary and Thomas Lang’s reputation enables him to assemble some of drumming’s biggest and brightest stars every year for his five-day Big Drum Bonanza in California. In constant demand as a clinician, Lang still found time to release a new album, ProgPop, this year.
3. Anika Nilles
This year saw Youtube breakout star Anika Nilles undertake major clinic tours through Scandinavia, Asia, the USA, and Italy. Add to that The Drummer’s Odyssey Camp in Bristol and the International Drum Camp in Montreal to confirm Nilles’ as one of the most in-demand educators and performers in the business.
4. Benny Greb
The man who energised the drumming world with The Language Of Drumming still shares his wisdom far and wide ten years later. Throughout 2019, Benny Greb could be found hosting his masterclass drum camps from the United States to Germany, Italy to Taipei, offering students a deeper understanding of musicianship.
5. Matt Garstka
Playing mind-boggling progressive metal with Animals As Leaders helped propel Matt Gartska into the rhythmic spotlight but he first started teaching drumming at the tender age of fourteen. Now he’s sharing his knowledge through online lessons covering topics like his Universal Function approach to coordination and his Mastering Time course.
6. Steve Smith
The always inspirational Steve Smith’s remarkable year included a month-long residency at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, with Journey, tours with his Groove Blue Organ Trio and Vital Information, teaching at the Drum Fantasy Camp, and a drum clinic in Beijing celebrating the Mandarin edition of his Pathways Of Motion book.
7. Michael Schack
Another busy year for the Belgian V-drumming specialist, taking his electronic kit all around the European continent and he even recorded a new track, Order!, inspired by John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons. Off the road, the clinician is a consultant for Roland’s Digital Percussion team.
8. Mike Johnston
When he’s not making videos for his website, Mike Johnston can be found at drum clinics and hosting up to ten drum camps every year in Sacramento, catering to intermediate and advanced players, as well as drum teachers and anyone who wants to learn how to make better drum videos.
9. Josh Dion
He drums, he sings, and he plays keyboards, even doing all three at the same time, so Josh Dion’s drum clinics tend to be a little different from the norm. Hugely animated behind the kit, Dion brings his deep pocket and love of groove with him everywhere that he performs.
The MusicRadar Best in drums awards are brought to you in association with Allianz Musical Insurance - the UK's Number 1 Specialist Instrument Insurer (opens in new tab)