Local musician drums up a living

Alec Tackmann is pictured Thursday, April 7, 2011 at his Rochester home. Tackmann teaches drum, guitar, bass guitar and piano lessons.

Alec Tackmann.


Job:Self-employed drummer/private instructor/conductor.

Company's goal:To gain as much performing experience as possible and to help school-aged kids on their instruments through private instruction on rhythm section instruments (drums/percussion, guitar, bass guitar and piano)

Education:Bachelor's degree in music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, with major in drum set performance. Also, recording studio intern with Capitol Records in Hollywood, Calif.


Experience:Four to five years of giving private lessons and performing in local groups. I started the band "The Jukes of Hazzard" and we've been playing locally for the last three years with regular appearances at Whistle Binkies. We were also fortunate to play at Down by the Riverside last summer. I do many random gigs with local performers, usually in blues and jazz genres for restaurants, weddings, and sometimes get paid to play on someone's album. I also have conducted pit orchestras for Mayo High School's last three musicals.

What book, website, television show or movie has left a big impression on you

within the past year, and why: Probably just the Internet in general. In the last few years, the music world has been flipped around over and over because of it. The business rulebook is constantly being rewritten. While that can make someone in my position unsure of the "correct" method for success, it opens up alternate paths. Some people score the big gig by contacting management companies and agents, some can now do it by getting a lot of Youtube hits.

Do you use social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter?I have a website,, a Youtube page and use Facebook. My website takes care of all the business stuff, like if somebody wants to see my resume or a video of my playing. That could be anyone from a potential bandmate to a potential student's parent. I also have a video section on the site for students when away from lessons. I use Facebook mostly to spam my friends about upcoming shows. I don't use Twitter because I have nothing to say. I don't see the need for it

unless you have a certain degree of fame.

What’s your business philosophy?I'd probably have to say it's to do all of the above. Before college, I would have identified myself as a drummer. I played other instruments but didn't see their worth. I really enjoyed music but didn't see it as something that could even come close to paying the bills. While in college and living on both coasts, I've learned that music can be a real and respected profession.

Since college, I've been taking every music opportunity I've been offered, whether it involves drumming or not, and have stayed plenty busy. I practiced 30-40 hours per week in college and thought my music theory coursework would distract me from working on my drumming career. As it turns out, all those classes in music theory, composition, arranging, conducting helped me get a lot more. If you take the plunge and get a music education, you'll find there is a lot of room between the starving artist and the superstar.

Is it hard to make a living in the music business?It's not too bad if you sincerely enjoy music. Getting denied a performing opportunity is always a bummer, teaching until late hours can be inconvenient, and then there are the student loans. If I find myself annoyed with any part of my job, I remind myself of what I write under "occupation" and it makes it totally worth it.


What do you enjoy most about your job?I enjoy the way I don't think of it as a job. I feel like I'm just hanging out all the time, doing what I would be doing anyway.

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