Thomas Gettys

Drums with Purpose and Play



2009, B.A. Philosophy and Russian Studies, Double Major, Summa Cum Laude, from Iowa State University

2005, A.A. Professional Music, from Southwestern Community College, School for Music Vocations



Thomas Gettys is a drummer, a teacher, a husband, a cat dad, a brother, an uncle, an Iowan, a Californian, a practitioner of Adamantine® Yoga, a coffee addict, and a Four. He lives with his wife and cat in Berkeley, CA.

Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, he spent his 20's playing, touring, and teaching. He played jazz of all kinds, was in an indie folk band, a salsa group, did some country gigs, and an odd assortment of musical theater shows from Judy Garland to Reefer Madness. Currently, he is sitting behind the kit for SF-based rock 'n roll band, Smokin' Ziggurats, who released their self-titled debut album in October 2016, and are getting ready to release their sophomore effort this summer. (Check out the 'Music' page for playing examples.)

Since moving to the Bay Area, Thomas has been specializing in working with adult drum students. Much of our adult days are spent in our heads, and getting onto the drumset is an incredibly fun and invigorating way to get back into the body. Beyond the actual drumset, the more familiar you are with rhythm, the more you'll start to see, hear, and feel it everywhere. Rhythm can become a whole new way of relating to the world. Whether you've always wanted to play or it just recently occurred to you that drums are the best instrument ever, Thomas will help get you going on your path. 


developing your own sense of purpose and play

As a teacher, my goal is to help you sound like you!  Some of this work is technique, and some of it is self-work. The technique work is foundational, and mastery is always the aim. This is the 'How' of the work. It's like the language you grew up speaking. You learned how it worked by listening to its use around you, by trying it out with success and error, and now, more or less, it just rolls off your tongue! Equally important is the 'Why' of the work. Why do you want to play drums? The work of self-awareness is crucial to connecting with your unique style and energy. This energy is a part of your voice; the voice that is uniquely expressed through you. It is your flavor, your way of speaking, the unique spin you put on the world around you. Connecting with this energy is, in my opinion, the thing that will keep you coming back to the drums for more! 

Depending on your goals and interests, your drum lesson may include work on any of the following concepts:

  • Mechanics of Grip and Stroke
  • Posture and Breath
  • Sticking Patterns / Rudiments
  • Dynamic Control and Sensitivity
  • Limb Independence and Coordination
  • Basic Grooves / Elements of Style
  • Learning and Performing Songs
  • Melodic Drumming
  • Group Interplay
  • Improvisation 
  • Soloing
  • Rehearsal and Gig Preparation
  • Equipment Maintenance

Again, my goal is to help you sound like You. Not like me, not like that guy from that band, or that girl from that other one. Technique and mastery of the basics will give you the vocabulary and skills you need to control the sounds you make. And with growing self-awareness, it can become the vehicle by which you communicate, through your music, with the world. 


There is no magic number; the more you give, the more you receive. I will do my best to give you enough material to work with each week, and it is up to you to give your best at working with it. I am committed to each of my students growth and development, and I ask that you be committed to these things as well. We're in this together!

Scheduling and Rates

It has been my experience that weekly lessons at a consistent time are the most beneficial for both the student and the teacher. This gives the student ample time to review and solidify past work, as well as develop and integrate new material, and allows the instructor to effectively observe and assess the student's progress and needs and plan subsequent lessons accordingly. I offer 30, 45, or 60 minute lessons depending on the needs and interests of the student. 

Please contact me about rates, availability, and studio policies.



A Sampling

by Smokin' Ziggurats, The River Monks, I Say Yes, Michael Giles (The 3x5), James Biehn, with Thomas Gettys, drums.

'Psychic Palms', from Smokin' Ziggurats' self-titled debut album. Direction - Akhil K Bhatt Cinematography - Nick Farago

'Beasts', from The River Monks' second album, Home Is The House. Music by The River Monks, video by DEFT.

'I Am A Lake', from The River Monks' second album, Home Is The House. Music by The River Monks, video by DEFT.


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