Peter Erskine

Director of Drumset Studies

Professor of Practice

  • Program:
    Jazz Studies
  • Division:
    Contemporary Music
  • Instrument:


Drummer, composer, and author Peter Erskine appears on over 600 albums and film scores, and has won two Grammy Awards. His discography includes over two dozen albums under his own name. He has played with Stan Kenton, Weather Report, Steely Dan, Steps Ahead, Maynard Ferguson, Joni Mitchell, Kenny Wheeler, Vince Mendoza, Jaco Pastorius, Freddie Hubbard, Michael Brecker, Joe Henderson, Diana Krall, Tierney Sutton & Mary Chapin Carpenter (among many others), and has appeared as soloist with the Berlin, BBC, Oslo, Covent Garden, Los Angeles, Beethovenhalle & London Symphony orchestras. Erskine was recently featured in the NYC Opera production of Anna Nicole at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

As a composer, he has completed musical scores for King Richard II, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Sideman, Honour, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the latter being honored by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle with the award for Best Original Musical Score. He produces jazz recordings for his own label, Fuzzy Music, and has authored several books for Hal Leonard and Alfred Publications, including The Drum Perspective, Drumset Essentials (Volumes 1, 2 and 3), The Erskine Method, Time Awareness for All Musicians, and Essential Drum Fills. His autobiography No Beethoven has recently been released to rave reviews, and his line of iOS Play-Along apps are receiving great notice. The world premiere of the Mark-Anthony Turnage piece, “Erskine — Concerto for Drumset & Orchestra” took place in Bonn, Germany in November, 2013. He is an alumnus of Indiana University and the Interlochen Arts Academy, and received an honorary doctor of music degree from the Berklee College of Music.

Professional experience

Career Highlights:

  • Joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra at age 18 in 1972
  • After three years with Kenton, played with Maynard Ferguson for two years
  • Joined Weather Report in 1978, established longevity record for drummer in that band; won a Grammy Award for work on album 8:30, recorded five albums with group
  • Lived in New York for five years, played with Michael Brecker in Steps Ahead, John Abercrombie Trio, Marc Johnson, John Scofield, and Bill Frisell in Bass Desires
  • Numerous recordings for the ECM label, including four as leader
  • Established own label, Fuzzy Music, in Santa Monica
  • Publishes iOS Play-Along apps

Honors, Awards & Competitions:

  • Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Original Music (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  • Bay Area Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Original Music (Twelfth Night)
  • Modern Drummer Readers’ Poll best jazz drummer award, 10 times
  • Drum magazine “Drummie” award
  • Rhythm magazine awards for best jazz drummer


  • Standards 2, Movie Music, with Alan Pasqua, Bob Mintzer, Darek Oles, Fuzzy Music (2010)
  • Standards, with Alan Pasqua, 2009 Grammy nominee, Fuzzy Music
  • The Avatar Sessions, Tim Hagans and the Norrbotten Big Band, Fuzzy Music
  • Some Skunk Funk, Randy and Michael Brecker, et al, Grammy Award for all soloists, 2007, Telarc
  • Scorched with John Scofield and John Patitucci plus orchestra, 2005 Grammy nominee, DGG
  • Fractured Lines, double percussion concerto written by Mark-Anthony Turnage for Peter Erskine and Evelyn Glennie, Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chandos
  • 8:30, Weather Report, 1979 Grammy Award


  • Bass Desires
  • Sweet Soul
  • Music 4 Guitars and Marimba
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Bulgaria
  • Joy Luck Club
  • A Bird Sings (for marimba soloist & percussion ensemble)


  • No Beethoven, Fuzz/E/Books & Alfred Music, 2013
  • Essential Drum Fills, Alfred Publishing, 2008
  • Time Awareness for All Musicians, Alfred Publishing, 2005
  • The Erskine Method, Alfred Publishing, 2004
  • Drumset Essentials, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, Alfred Publishing, 2003
  • The Drum Perspective, Hal Leonard Publications, 1998
  • Drum Concepts and Techniques, Hal Leonard Publications, 1987

Academic degrees

  • Honorary Doctor of Music, Berklee College of Music, 1992

Other academic experience:

  • Graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy (1971)
  • Studied at Indiana University (1971-72 and 1975-76)

Studied with: George Gaber, Billy Dorn, Vic Firth, Alan Dawson, Ron Carter, Ed Soph, Stan Kenton, and Freddy Gruber

Studied with:

George Gaber, Billy Dorn, Vic Firth, Alan Dawson, Ron Carter, Ed Soph, Stan Kenton, and Freddy Gruber