Pheeroan akLaff believes that the arts are a way to give thanks and to work for change. He is a musician who has kept New York vibrant with live music and emerging performance art for over thirty years. His personal style of drumming with adventuresome composers has been documented in several areas of Creative Music. As a young artist Pheeroan akLaff toured countries of Africa Asia and Europe. His associations with Wadada Leo Smith, Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Henry Threadgill, Sonny Sharrock, and eventually Yamashita Yosuke, Liu Sola Henry Brant, and Andrew Hill presented him with opportunities to perform and record challenging musical systems.

He lived and worked in Abidjan, Cote D”Ivoire with Marie Rose Guiraud’s dance troupe. He met Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Sonny Okosun, and Steve Rhodes with  Dr. Frank T. Fairfax III,  in Lagos Nigeria. He participated in U.S. State Department tours of Malawi, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo and Swaziland, India, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and Syria in. He has recently conducted workshops in Japan, Korea, Colombia, Poland, and Denmark.

Independent Study

Summer Intensives begins early this year. Register now for a 5 week intensive or 12 week semester instruction.

Rhythm Adaption recognizes levels and degrees of rhythmic fluency and guides students to correlate the activities and patterns of daily routines with those of musical settings. The primary goals include: Awareness of posture. Regulation of fine motor coordination.  Active centering. Coordinated movement for inner and outer dancing. 


Beginners: Recognizing musical patterns and using standard notation for drum-set. Synchronizing oneself with recorded music and playing along. Regulating of self criticism, embracing joyful abandon.Stimulating internal reward systems with fitness, and confidence.

Advanced: Developing a discerning ear and an expansive musicality. Solving puzzles of arrangements or drum-set orchestration 

About drum-set lessons with Pheeroan akLaff students proclaim to have enjoyed: New levels of music appreciation. Learning to play things heard. Learning to improvise. Acquiring methods to build a library of "grooves". Learning to compose and record music tracks for the percussion.  Recycling positive energy, getting out of stuck places, creative probing without judgement. Regulating of self criticism, embracing joyful abandon. Stimulating internal reward systems with fitness, and confidence.

Who can benefit from Drum-set lessons?

Musicians who would like to understand how to write and/or orchestrate best for the drums and cymbals.

Non-trained enthusiasts who have wanted to read basic American drum-set patterns and play them with authority. 

Drummers who want to refresh their skills, prepare for auditions, or dig deeper into the function of rhythm section commandeering.

Anyone who wants to enjoy physical release of tension, creative imagination, and organic dopamine as a controlled substance. 


Pheeroan on music, health and projects for 2020:
I have always focused on physical development and spiritual restoration in music. My collaborations with Dr. Julian F. Thayer and Dr. Psyche Loui in music, neuroscience and psychology have been extremely rewarding. Dr. Thayer introduced me to neural networking as early as 1991. He has recently introduced ground breaking research on music and emotionsand we are presently focusing on projects with musician and scientist Milford Graves. My fortunate cooperation with Dr. Psyche Loui's leading research on improvisation, creativity and brain function produced a paper with my contributions. In 2017, Dr. Loui and I invited Dr. Thayer as lecturer for a Creative Campus Module class that we piloted at Wesleyan University.

I have over 600 personal stories and accounts of learning processes from my 27 years of teaching private lessons.  Some of them have been remarkable enough to remember and important enough to share. Here are two with simple and uniquely noteworthy outcomes. 

Georgette and cross-referenced coordination: I once had an adult student who heard me in a performance and approached with with a request for lessons. At the time she maintained a career as an executive at a well know women's apparel company. Her enthusiasm was fueled by the fact that her mother had an onset of an early Alzheimer condition. She was intent on using some kind of preventative method to fortify her mental activity with complex motor skills. She had been a semi-professional ice skater, and imagined that there was a similar coordination used in playing the American drum-set. Georgette took weekly drum-set lessons with me for approximately one year, and gained remarkable skills. She adapted at a rate that was fairly advanced to reach a beginner/intermediate position. I am not sure that the ice skating ability was the only factor, as she was an avid listener to recorded music as well. Though I can assuredly bet on her ability to easily recall this information with refreshing her study, or joining a recreational music activity on short notice.

Kohe and the 8am lesson:  I often tell this story to students who imagine that early morning is anytime before 10am. Kohe came to me late in the semester's audition process. He was a complete beginner. My schedule was full, though I do not always put more experienced students before beginners. I asked him if he could see himself making it to class at 8am. He agreed. We began promptly on most of our Tuesdays at 8am. In my years of teaching I have occasionally come across a pupil who struggles to retain the information learned in class and advance in the subsequent lessons. This seemed to be the case with Kohe. Each lesson took a toll on both of us. If there was any progress during the lesson or in his practice time that followed in that week, it surely did not stick enough for him to display any results. This went on for twelve weeks. In the mid-term period I had begun to wonder if this early meeting time was a mistake. I also began to question my teaching methods or his individual capacity for memory. In our final last meeting of the semester Kohe did something that I had never seen, and have not seen since. He regurgitated every one of the fundamental four part patterns in his repertoire. He played these apparently locked up bits of complex information with ease. He not only shocked me, but visibly shocked himself, as he bandied about effortlessly on the drum-set with a grin that I can still see in my mind's eye today. 




 FREEDOM OF SOUND FESTIVAL 2014 presented by Seed Artists LEFT to RIGHT Jerome Harris, Andy McKee, Jay Hoggard, James Brandon Lewis, Ted Daniel, James Newton, not visible; Alfred Patterson, James Newton (conductor) not visible; Pheeroan akLaff, Jun Miyake, Marty Ehrlich


Artist Residency, and Performance - Par Do Tu, Warsaw Poland

 Jazz workshop - Nagoya Japan  

"Dear Freedom Suite"で来日します。check it out!

Pheeroan Aklaff
自身の音楽表現を拡大してきた。 彼はジョン・コルトレーンの精神的音楽に捧げるダブル・デュオを率いている。メンバーは、

Residency with
Jazz students University De Javierna - Bogota     July 2012        

Drum-set students - Nagoya, Japan Summer 2012

Professor Sunny Kim ensemble at Jazz club "Monk" Changwon, Korea Summer 2012

Youth Workshop in Iida village, Nagoya prefecture Japan August 2008 



Don't let this happen to you!

Don't let this happen to you!