About Matt Zajac
Matt Zajac is a Berklee College of Music graduate (2018), and international performer. In addition to touring with his band Long Shadow Sheep, Matt has a passion for teaching drums to students of all levels and has taught drum-set with AYDM since 2019.
Through personal experience, (Matt started playing drums at age 5) and by teaching young beginners ages 7 and up, Matt has seen how early exposure to music can shape the course of a young person’s life for the better. Matt loves sharing his passion for drums, but his greatest joy is seeing the energy and connectedness drumming can bring to a community. As a member of the organization Crocodile River Music, he also helps provide African music workshops and performances to local elementary and middle schools.
Even though he is a technical wizard, Matt never lets his experience get in the way of connecting with students as fellow musicians-in-training, whether they are total beginners or seniors applying to music programs like Berklee (where one of Matt’s students was accepted into the collegiate music program last year.)
Matt fine tunes each lesson to draw out the best in every student while allowing them to find their way with the instrument, achieving milestones of growth and development. Students will find Matt’s coaching clear and to the point, helpful, and positive.
Want to listen? Check out some tracks below by Matt’s band, Long Shadow Sheep!
How old were you when you first started playing?
I grew up in a household where music was revered. My father is a working musician, a teacher and performer. I have pictures of me as a kid climbing up to the drum throne and banging away before I could even speak. I began playing at five years old.
Where did you go to music school? What did you study there?
I graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2018 with a degree in Professional Music. I also studied at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. Over the years I took classes in music theory, technique, ear training, various drum labs (rock, funk, jazz and Afro-Cuban), chart reading, world percussion and improvisation.
What are your favorite kinds of music to play and why?
I love playing rock n’ roll, funk and blues which all have an underlying thread of jazz. Improvisation is a big component of my playing but only possible from years of study and practice. I like to be able to communicate on the fly and have a “conversation” with other musicians as opposed to always reading written arrangements.
What are some of the musical styles you teach?
Like most Berklee grads I play and teach many different styles of music across cultures. Rock, jazz, metal, Latin… I like when my students are well-rounded, studying the similarities and differences between musical styles. This makes them better suited for any musical situation.
Where are some of the places you’ve performed?
I’ve been performing across New England since I was in elementary school. In more recent years some of the more exotic concert locations around the world include London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Valencia and Ibiza.
Who are some of your favorite bands and musicians?
I love classic rock, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and more are always in my rotation. I also love classic jazz from artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Among my favorite blues artists are Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Modern day groups I appreciate include Lettuce, Gary Clark Jr., Alabama Shakes, Norah Jones and Ray LaMontagne.
What are your other musical pursuits and accomplishments?
I sing a little bit but I try and leave that to the professionals. My dad and brother have fantastic voices and I never really live up to the pure bliss that their voices emanate. I tend to leave most all of my practice time towards bettering myself on the drum kit. I play in several different groups right now and take calls for various recording sessions. I gig weekly and I co-write songs with many close friends and family members.
What are some of your artistic goals?
My artistic goals include producing more content for people to hear and to write more songs. I always love playing shows and have a goal to play more festivals and expand my audience. Artistically speaking I plan to keep playing the drums with passion until I’m old and grey.