Short Biography

Karen has experience playing and teaching drums/percussion for nearly 40 years.  Although she was not a music major (minor in music), she attended college for a medical career on music scholarships.  She has performed in a wide variety of settings including Drum and Bugle Corp, countless symphonic/ jazz ensembles, musical theater, nightclubs, corporate events and weddings.  Since 1995, she has consistently taught at numerous music stores/studios and continues to teach private lesson students individually as well as directing them in various percussion ensembles.  DVDs and audio samples of student percussion recitals as well as Karen playing are available upon request.

Teaching Philosophy

I believe music is an amazing and powerful gift.  I also believe that it is ones duty to share it with others who seek it.  It lives in the soul and is difficult to define or explain.  It provides inspiration, strength, joy and connects us all to each other and to the world in a way that nothing else does.  I can't imagine living without it.


#1: facilitate the learning process and make it fun

#2: respect the student and treat them as an equal partner during the educational experience


#1: efficient, organized, high quality education

#2: exemplary professional attitude and behavior

Personal Mission Statement:

Seek to make a difference in the lives of others in all that I do

Personal Vision Statement:

Assist students in the pursuit of learning so that they can make a difference in the lives of others in all that they do

An Interview with Karen Newell

How and when did you first begin playing drums?

I traded a large hunk of clay for a used pair of drum sticks with a neighbor boy named Georgie. I began by playing on the seat of a vinyl chair while listening to 45 records.  At the age of 9, I began playing in the school band program. I started taking private drum lessons in the 6th grade. Throughout junior high and high school I played in every conceivable school/church/local event.

Who were your early influences?

My first musical recollection was wanting to learn the drum part to the theme to the TV program Hawaii 5-0. I later got hooked on Earth, Wind and Fire/ early Al Jarreau, David Sanborn and Spyro Gyra.

Who do you listen to now?

Rick Braun, Boney James, The Rippingtons, Cirque Du Soleil, more recently I have been digging Eric Darius and Jay Soto.  

Favorite drummers?

I appreciate Dave Weckl for his exceptional chops and technique.  He also has much wisdom about music, drumming and its connection to the world.  I have always enjoyed the playing of Steve Gadd for his ability to play just the right thing at just the right time in just the right way.  Very subtle and tasty.

What drum sets do you play?

the first was a Tempro (Japanese) Blue Sparkle (received about 6th grade) when Karen’s parents asked for her to help retrieve groceries from the car trunk, it was an awesome surprise

Ludwig Green Vistalite Power Factory (July 15, 1978 it arrived after special order, Karen waited about 6 months for it to arrive, she was known for calling the store frequently to check on its progress) (see photo below)

Yamaha Recording Custom (Black finish ala Steve Gadd) (early 1990s)

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