The M.M.D.C.
The Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum
designed, researched and written by Chris Quinlan.
(copyright 1995,2009 C.Quinlan)

The M.M.D.C.
(Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum)
is a fully integrated programme for Drumset from Preliminary Grade, Grades One through Eight and on to Diploma levels.

First released in 1995, It was the first curriculum of its kind written in Australasia.

Hey Chris! You're on the right track with the books! Go for it!
All the best, Bill C.

... email from Billy Cobham, March 1999

"I finally had a chance to go through your drumset manual. This is excellent! The information is clear and very well laid out. This is a great teaching curriculum for any instructor worldwide. I am also very impressed with the Drumset Syllabus you had written. This is complete and succinct! I wish I had this when I was younger first learning how to play the instrument! You should be very proud of this! I would highly endorse the syllabus and the drumset manuals .... it is precisely the educational tools like this that will bring modern drumset playing into the next century!"

... fax from Dom Famularo, 1996

Hi there, My name is Chris Quinlan; I am writing to all Secondary School Music Departments, Private Music Teachers, Students and Parents to introduce The M.M.D.C. (Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum).


The M.M.D.C. is a fully integrated programme for Drumset from Preliminary/Grade One through Eight and on to Diploma levels. It is designed to deliver a co-ordinated approach to Drumset Tuition in both Secondary Schools and Private Teaching Studios, offering a fully tried and proven Curriculum and Book range to aid Drumset Students from Primary School age through to Secondary, VCE levels and beyond. First released in 1995, It was the first curriculum of its kind written in Australasia. It has been used throughout Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Now, in 2009, I have added extra elements and updated the Drumset Curriculum bringing the Programme and Manuals up to date with what is happening right now in Drumset music of all genres.

The M.M.D.C. can offer Independent Assessments, Workshops, Consultancy, Concerts, Clinics and most importantly, Media support with M.M.D.C. lessons available on the Internet and Television via the Award-winning Channel 31 Show "Melbourne Musos".


Back in early 1995, I started to get upset! I'd been teaching drums (and guitar) since 1978 and was basically fed up with having students come to me from various lessons elsewhere, being taught a lick here, a fill there, no attention paid to correct grips, be fluent in one style of drumming and have absolutely no idea of another, basically, no set course of studies.

It has often been the case that Australian Year 12 VCE Music Students who have had a year or two of music tuition have been given listed pieces way beyond their current capabilities, and have led to ill-prepared VCE performances, low marks, loss of confidence and worse still, the student giving up the instrument altogether; combine this with Music Examining Bodies adopting policies of sending so-called "multi-instrumental" Examiners with little or no experience in Drumset to examine these students and it is little wonder that the Australian Musical Education System in Schools was officially declared "in a state of crisis" at a 2006 National Music Conference chaired by the then Federal Minister of Education.

So, back to 1995; I typed, played and researched, played, researched and typed some more and eventually developed a Curriculum that deals with all areas of musical study for the Drumset. It was the first drumset syllabus of its kind written in Australia, with books now available for each Grade, and, as at 2009, I have been very happy to find it has had quite successful results in the fifteen years since its creation.

I would also like to extend many thanks to teachers throughout Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia as well as drumming greats Billy Cobham, Dom Famularo and the Percussive Arts Society for their support and encouragement since 1995.

So, What's it all about?

The Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum is designed with Secondary School year levels in mind; Grade One is equivalent to Year 7, with M.M.D.C. Grades Five and Six equivalent to VCE Years 11 and 12; M.M.D.C. Grades Seven and Eight ongoing to Tertiary levels and further to Diploma levels.

If a Student begins the M.M.D.C. Preliminary/Grade One Curriculum at Year 7, and continues at a Grade per year, that student will be excellently prepared for any School Band or Ensemble and all areas of VCE Music at Years 11 and 12.

In essence, this Curriculum is complete and succinct, with books written for each level and supported by the Award winning Melbourne Musos TV Show which provides a complementary platform of integrated workshops and lessons discussing and performing the requirements of each M.M.D.C. level.

These lessons are available on Channel 31 Melbourne, the website: and YouTube, giving Teachers and Students alike unprecedented access to information, education and advice.

The Melbourne Musos TV Show

Melbourne Musos has been one of the most popular and consistent TV shows on Channel 31 with 400+ shows being produced for Community TV since 1995; Best described as a “musical cooking show”, with on air drum tips and playing advice, the show has won the 2000 award for “Best Educational Program on Australian Community TV” and was nominated in 2004 for the “Award for Special Achievement”.

DW Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Evans Drumheads and Vic Firth Sticks
have been National Endorsees since 1997.

The combination of the Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum and the Melbourne Musos TV Show makes this Educational Platform unique.

Why should I implement it?

For Schools and Colleges:

It is often the case that Instrumental Music Teachers for Schools and Colleges have been employed on a "sub-contractual" basis; The particular teacher being in most cases a professional working musician specialised in Drumset, being employed based on their experience.

This has often been a two-edged sword for Schools; Good Musicians are highly sought after and it is common that the very reason why a professional Musician is employed is also the same reason they leave; they are in demand, therefore creating a high staff turnover for the School and a fractured learning experience for the Student.

By adopting the M.M.D.C.; The School, The Drum Teacher and the Student alike will have a clear and concise curriculum to follow which is robust, tried and tested, easy to use and adaptable from Teacher to Teacher.

For Drumset Teachers:

The M.M.D.C. provides a comprehensive Curriculum which takes a student through all areas of the Drumset; it's use provides the Music Teacher with a platform in which to create and nurture an ongoing and ever growing clientele of students through it's Grading system and Books.

The Teacher and Student alike are presented with a tested and proven cohesive programme built up over 15 years that has International recognition and proven results.

For those Teachers with (or wishing to begin) a Private Studio; this Curriculum provides support, recognition and development through Consultancy, Assessments, Workshops and Media.

For Students and Parents:

Most importantly, the Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum provides accountability .

The M.M.D.C. provides a complete structure for the implementation of material and learning tools that gives priority to Musical Literacy; Technique; Style and Versatility on the Instrument.

As well as this, Interactive workshops can be organised to provide an Independent Assessment of a Student’s progress.

Private Music Tuition is also one of the last areas of independant education that is not regulated by any Authority that checks such areas as Teachers being able to actually read Music themselves (sad but true), qualifications and relevant experience to teach the instrument. i.e. A common occurence is that of a teacher of one Instrument giving extra lessons on Drumset with which they have little or no knowledge of.

All of these areas are addressed by the use of the M.M.D.C. and its Assessment system.

How does the M.M.D.C. work?

There are six main areas to the Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum:

1) Technical Work
2) List Pieces
3) Sight Reading
4) General Knowledge
5) Aural Studies
6) Improvisation

1. Technical Work: The drummer's "scales"; rudiments and snare drum studies designed to improve technique and control.

2. List Pieces: Contrasting pieces to be played showing the candidate's facility with the instrument. From Grade Two, candidates have the option to write an original piece for the drums if they wish. This is designed to encourage originality, discipline and flair and eventually the facility to write their own book.

3. Sight Reading: To foster and promote strong reading skills.

4. Aural Tests: Clapping, tapping and recognition of beats, rhythms and time signatures.

5. General Knowledge: An understanding of the history and development of the drumset, and an awareness of the rhythms and music genres of the world. The aim of the syllabus is to foster a "grass roots" understanding of the disciplines of the drumset, and to provide the student and teacher alike with a focus for drumset studies.

6. Improvisation: Developing the ability to improvise over a complete range of styles and genres.

Factoring in Original Composition and Improvisation address any concerns raised re: "production line teaching methods".

Services the M.M.D.C. provide:

The Melbourne Musos Drumset Curriculum provides the process, books, workshops, ongoing consultancy, assessments and media support via Melbourne Musos, the website and YouTube.

Please feel free to contact me anytime in regards to the Curriculum, I would be happy to arrange a time to discuss the possibilities this exciting new initiative offers.

Yours sincerely

Chris Quinlan (f.dip.a)

Go to The MMDC Catalogue for a listing of the books.

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