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Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:58 am
by busyflyin
I took my first lesson tonight and I must say that I was very skeptical of taking lessons from someone that I really didn't know that lived thousands of miles from me, and then over the internet. But, I was very pleased with how it went. Johnny is an excellent teacher.. and patient. I've taken music lessons from some that have turned the lesson into their resume, but Johnny was very humble and focused on what was necessary to help me learn. We have some difficulties with "trails" or "hesitation" with the video for some reason, but I have a Mac and he is using a PC. I sometimes experience the same thing when watching Youtube videos so I attribute this issue to my computer. Johnny started by spending time making sure my drums were tuned properly and then he observed my approach with the drums. Then he worked me through a number of exercises that I can work on in my own time. It was clear that the exercises will help me develop good habits. I am very pleased and would gladly recommend JC for conga lessons. The computer video thing felt pretty natural and like he was almost in the same room. Msg me if you have any questions I can answer about my experience. Thanks JC!!

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:17 am
by Kaban
Hello all,

I just wanted to share a great lesson I received from JC this past Saturday afternoon. Naturally, we started with basic tone development, then mixing it up to get me moving and grooving all over the drum (one drum). There is no short cuts, and he is straight up about this, so he teaches this way. A sign of a man of great character.

Afterwards he educated me to the different ways some great conga players have approached the drums. His ability to drum at will like some legends is uncanny. He went over Mongo Santamaria, which true be told, I never liked, because when I first heard a tune of his back in the day, I thought he played lobby music. JC quickly corrected me, by answering my question of why I should listen to Mongo; he also introduced me to Spotify, where I subscribed to JC's playlist -tons of Mongo. I put on my headset that night, and i don't know if it's because i am older...but i LOVE the music. Not to mention the fact that Mongo's swing is amazing! I recommend to those lucky enough to get some classes by JC to also take advantage of the knowledge of the man by asking questions; it just might enrich your life, like it did for me. :D

Question: From watching a youtube vid, what size was Mongo's drums?


Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 4:40 am
by JohnnyConga
Miguel Valenzuela from Chicago-New Online Conga drum student...May 2012...
Miguel Velazquez-Chicago May 2012.jpg


PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 12:15 pm
by Gallichio

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 6:37 pm
by JohnnyConga
will do!...

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 5:02 pm
by JohnnyConga
New testimonial from new online lessonaire John Dinovo from Dallas TX...

"I've had 6 hours of lessons with JC so far and all I can say is IT WORKS! I was a little skeptical of the online thing, but JC is so organized and so knowledgeable about how to teach, learn, and play the drum that he can make corrections and suggestions that modify your sound and playing style right away. JC knows how to teach...period. He knows how to impart the skill he's developed over the years and is dedicated to sharing his knowledge. He is very structured, gives specific skill building exercises, and helps you climb the mountain of new learning. All the student needs to do is like to play the drum, listen to JC and follow his instruction, and practice. Worth every penny; I can't imaging changing at this point. "

John D. Dallas

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 3:19 am
by JohnnyConga
Latest review from Wayne Sinclair ,London England....

Conga Intensive Review

I have just returned a few week ago from the 5 day intensive conga session with JC and am happy to provide some feedback on the experience.

I had been learning for about a year and was able to learn how to play some rhythms either from a teacher or other instruction led material, but felt I lacked a good solid foundation of fundamental technique and sound. I signed up for the intensive to try and get some inspiration and set me on the right direction. I could not find any other similar experience being offered anywhere else to provide concentrated attention with a professional who can teach as well as play . JC asked me to send him a brief demo of me playing some basic rhythms so he could get an idea of what to focus on well before I arrived. During the week I acquired an informed critique of my overall technique and sound and JC pointed out and corrected some bad habits which would have limited any further progression. We started with a wide variety of time efficient exercises which cover effective use of the five points of the hand method, exercises to develop good sound and exercises to develop hand movement on multiple drums. These methods are designed to be worked on and implemented as part of the ongoing learning process. However, JC used his in depth knowledge and experience built up over decades to focus on critical and time efficient exercises, saving potentially years of frustration when using unproductive practice routines. We also covered a number of rhythms including some great sounding tumbaos based on Guaguanco rhythms and those developed by JCs mentor, Mongo Santamaria. During the classes, JC gave me a few stunning demonstrations by playing the drums over some of Mongos tracks and it was motivating to see the drums being played in that way.

A highlight was going to see JC rehearsing for a gig with a local band in the living room of a band members home in a quiet suburban Seattle neighbourhood. The living room was packed with three trombonists, a timbalero, a base guitarist, a vibraphonist, a bongo player and JC on congas and they certainly woke up the neighbours on that Sunday lunchtime. JC provided access to his huge music CD and vinyl album collection and hand picked many to play for demonstration and provide some interesting insight into the artists in the industry and how the music has developed over the decades. There was planty of interesting videos from music and dance in Cuba and lots of reading material on conga drumming and afro cuban music to keep me occcupied.

All in all, it was a totally rewarding iimmersion experience mainly driven by JC enthusiasm and genuine interest to impart knowledge combined with a comprehensive teaching ability to develop others on the drum. I would highly recommend it for anyone who has been thinking of giving it a go. There was no messing about and it was the real deal and intensive means intensive. I will continue to implement what I learnt during the week and would certainly want to return later in the year and begin to develop other aspects of conga playing.

Thanks JC

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:49 am
by JohnnyConga
Re: CONGA CAMP - Study with Johnny Conga

Postby JohnnyConga ┬╗ Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:25 pm
Latest critique from my last Conga Intensive with Daniele Besana from Italy...

After 2 years talking by e-mail with JC, I finally had chance to meet
him and join a 3 days intensive Conga Camp in Seattle!!

What a GREAT experience!

We all know that a great player is not necessary a great teacher, right?
Well, JC is not only a great player AND a great teacher, he's also a
great guy with so much passion and knowledge on Congas and Latin music
that he could inspire to play even a horse (yeah, pretty interesting

Going to a Conga Camp is not "only" about taking Conga lessons.
It's a serious full-immersion, living for 3 days side-by-side with a
real expert and patience teacher, in a basement full of congas, music
instruments, old LPs, CDs, videos of Cuban rumba and books about music
to keep you busy days and nights.

I've been "playing" congas since 3 years now, and I really felt like I
needed to fix my technique and get working towards the next level.
I sent JC a video from the last performance I did here in Amsterdam
with my band and his critique was merciless but very honest and
clear.... I had A LOT of work to do!

We started the 3 days with the foundations - going through the
different tones with a focus on technique and sound development.
I've learn about the five points of the hand, how to balance the
hands, and how to practice to make the most out of the time I exercise
on the drum.
JC filled in 6 papers of exercises to develop both sound and hands
movement, to be integrated in my practice routine.

We moved on to a great number of rhythms, from different Tumbao
variations to Guaguanc├│, Pilon, Mozambique, Yambu, Bambiche, Bomba,
Plena, Cumbia.... so many! Don't forget your camera, JC was recording
every rhythm for me so I can work on them later on.

We also played along with the music or the great Mongo Santamaria
(JC's favorite!) and Ray Barretto, that was good practice as well as
good fun.
JC played too and it was amazing to see what he could do on Congas!

I DEFINITELY recommend planning to attend a JC Conga Camp, what you
learn there is PRICELESS.
it's an amazing experience and what you learn in few days will keep
you inspired & busy improving for a very loooong time!

Many thanks JC... you're THE MAN!

Daniele, from chek this site out guys!...

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:10 am
by dabesa
I confirm everything...


Thanks again JC!

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:07 am
by Kaban
Greetings fellow drummers,

I just wanted to share my lesson with you guys, and with those that are thinking of taking lessons, so you know what to expect.

Finally, after my chaotic work schedule, and the kids soccer season winding down I got a chance to hook up with JC for a lesson. After my warm-up/tone development exercises, we started on developing my two drum approach with new rudiments, with where all built on what I was thought in past lessons (progressive steps), which on two drums sound really cool. He kept picking up I wasn't relaxed through my body language, and I confessed to being stressed out lately, so he stop the current focus, to address this problem (JC is observant & will address your needs). He went into how important it is to relax to achieve speed, focus, and endurance. He first covered what he learned from his years of doing martial arts; theory and technique to clear your mind/relax. As that wasn't enough he then dug up some of his notes on meditation and went over it with me (specialized care). After that we had time to review the new two drum exercises, and finished with teaching me a cool tumbao. I hope that helps a few people out there to know what goes on with a JC lesson; I know I was curious.


Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:00 am
by JohnnyConga here is a fun exercise..listen to the rhythm of it as well....also do it with alternating the Heel Tip hand...equal time...

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:41 pm
by JohnnyConga
Latest Conga Camp attendee all the way from St. Petersburg Russia-17 year old Ivan Bukhantsova..Very talented and should do very well in music....

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:57 pm
by JohnnyConga
I am offering Online Conga drum lessons, using Skype or Facebook chat..THIS WORKS!..I have been teaching how to play the Conga drum for many years, and now I have been teaching online for over a year. Current 'apprentices' in Canada,Australia, Europe and the United States..all you need is a 'land line' phone and be signed into skype or facebook...this is one on one teaching with a pro player...for those interested in taking your skills on the drum to a higher level I can take you there, or for those that are just starting out. For more information please email me at .

I am also accepting anyone interested in my Conga Intensive...I have openings at this time...Spend 5 days with me and I will teach you for 6 hours a day..2 in the morning 4 in the afternoon with a break at 3pm..private room and food included in Intensive...(See what others have had to say about their individual experience with me about their own Conga Intensive..go to page one of Congazine)...3 day Intensives also available......I look forward to helping you on your road with the drum!...

Re: Lessons With Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:32 am
by JohnnyConga
Great way to create the foundation of proper way to matter what you play... ... ogress.pdf

Conga Camp and ONLINE learning with Johnny Conga

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:58 pm
by JohnnyConga
My latest ONLINE Conga drum apprentice Marcin from Norway. Online learning works! having me in the room with you. for more info or to ask any questions about online learning . Thank you..