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About Our Lesson Program

Rhythm Traders offers private and group lessons, including Ongoing/Drop-in and 6 or 8 week sessions. We have 3 dedicated teaching studios: 2 for drum set/private lessons, and 1 for our group classes which are limited to 10 students. Our All-Star teaching staff is comprised of local professionals with proven track records in creating great players in a fun and supportive setting with all the resources of a full line drum shop.


These group classes afford students an opportunity they can’t get from one-on-one, private lessons or on YouTube. Many of the world’s rhythms are made up of multiple drums, bells, and shakers that each play a significant role in creating the overall rhythm. Rumba is unthinkable without clave, and djembe rhythms are likewise incomplete without the dununs/bass drums that accompany them. Students in group classes will gain an understanding of the construction of the rhythm as well as the role that each instrument plays.


Group Lesson Sign Up Here!

School of Rhythm Group Lessons


Rhythm Traders’ School of Rhythm is currently accepting drop-ins for the following classes: Djembe Explore!, Intermediate Djembe, and Conga Explore. Many of these classes have the opportunity to socialize together and play for various events in the community each year as well.

We encourage all students, from true beginners to music teachers, studio musicians, and local professionals alike to eventually take classes from all of our All-Star teachers. Collectively they’ve traveled the globe, studied with the Masters, and played professionally to bring this expertise to you. Each class is unique, focusing on different rhythms, different instruments, different genres, and different time periods. Together they will help all musicians develop a mastery of rhythm. We hope you’ll begin your journey today and continue for a lifetime.

How to Book
Please fill out the form below for Private lessons. Pre-registration is encouraged for Group lessons but not mandatory and classes are limited to 8 participants. Drop -ins will be accommodated as space allows. Payment can be made online by credit card. Please visit our registration page by clicking the link below. You may also pay by cash at the beginning of class – please have exact change.


Please email jt@rhythmtraders with any questions or call us at 503-288-6950. We look forward to beginning your rhythmic journey with you!


Group Lesson Sign Up Here!

Rhythm Traders School of Rhythm Group Lessons

Private Lesson Pricing
Prices vary by instructor. Once you are matched with an instructor,
they will tell you their pricing.

Our Instructors
For decades, Rhythm Traders instructors have helped students of all levels learn, grow, and perform.
Graduates of our lesson program have gone on to perform at national and international stages.

Israel Annoh
Specialties: Jazz, Latin, Funk, Afro-beat

Born in Ghana, West Africa, Israel’s own style comes from jazz greats such as Max Roach, Cosy Cole, & Elvin Jones. In addition to jazz, Israel is a specialist in percussion, and congas.

Tour History: BBC studios in London, traveled through Africa, Europe, and the US. He’s played with Highlife pioneer E.T. Mensah, Obo Addy, and the Ghana Broadcasting Orchestra. Currently, he drums for Michael Allan Harrison and other top groups in town.

Jolie Clausen
Specialties: Rock, Blues, Folk, Country, Jazz, Reggae, Indie

Jolie Clausen has been playing drums professionally for 30 years all over the Pacific Northwest and has been teaching for 15 years. She loves the musical diversity in Portland and the chance to play many different styles of music. Jolie welcomes drummers of all ages, styles and levels, especially beginners!

Tour History: The Norman Sylvester Band, Robbie Laws, James Lowe Band. She currently performs with Ashleigh Flynn and The Riveters, an all female Rock/Americana group based out of PDX/LA.

Catón Lyles

Specialties: Group Djembe Lessons, Group Conga Lessons, Afro-Cuban

Catón Lyles is an accomplished Pacific Northwest artist who is a night club and concert favorite.  As an instructor for many years, Catón’s performance experience as a musician and actor has engaged and enriched the community. For over 30 years he continues to be a dance accompanist often working with several school districts, world-renowned choreographers and dance educators. While specializing in traditional West African and Afro-Cuban styles of hand drumming, he was the accompanying and lead djembe drummer for nearly 20 years with the internationally acclaimed Northwest Afrikan-American Ballet.

Ryan McPhaill
Specialties: Rock, Jazz, Metal, Indie, Pop, Soul
Ryan has been teaching individualized drum lessons in the Portland area since 1995. His lessons are tailored to the student — stressing technique, independence, reading, transcription, preparation, and above all, confidence. Beginners are always welcome!

Tour History: He currently plays around Portland with the bands Hound the Wolves (Post-Metal/Psychedelic) and The Tumblers (Country/Alt-Country).

Dave Averre
Specialties: Jazz, Swing, Brushes
Dave began studying drums at the age of five and played his first professional job at fifteen. As a young student, Dave commuted to New York City, studying with the prominent drummers Joe Cusatis, Charli Persip, Jim Chapin, Michael Carvin and Joe LaBarbara. In 2010 he was inducted into The Oregon Jazz Society Hall of Fame with the long-standing group Tall Jazz.

Tour History: Molde and Voss Jazz festivals (Norway), Dave Captein, Toni Pacini, Jerry Hahn, John Stowell, Randy Porter, Rob Davis, Ed Bennett, Steve Christofferson, George Mitchell and Chuck Redd.


Reinhardt Melz
Specialties: Drumset, Congas, Afro-Cuban Percussion

Reinhardt Melz has been playing drums and percussion professionally for the last 33 years. He has been touring/gigging/recording with bands and artists such as Lloyd Jones, The Bobby Torres ensemble, Curtis Salgado, Gino Vannelli, Tom Grant, Randy Porter, Pink Martini, Les McCann and many others. He has also been on single performances with superstars Earl King, Steve Miller, Buddy Guy and Stevie Wonder. Reinhardt is an eclectic musician who gets hired by artists and bands of many genres, including rock, R&B, Afro Cuban, Jazz, Fusion, Country, and Klezmer. As a student of Reinhardt's, you can expect to learn fundamentals in drumming, music and tools that will help you become your own teacher. Reinhardt is available on a limited basis to intermediate and advanced students.


Nate Wright
Specialties: Rock, Jazz, Shuffle, Rudimentary, Four Way Independence and Coordination
Nate Wright began studying drums at the age of seven in St. Paul, MN. Throughout the Jr. High and High School he was heavily involved with Indoor Drum line and Marching Band. He participated in Drum Corps with The Cadets of Bergen County out of New Jersey and studied Music Education at the University of Arizona. He has taught, directed, and composed for high school indoor percussion ensembles and marching bands in the Twin Cities area and in the Portland metro. He taught at the Colts Drum and Bugle corps in Dubuque, IA as well. Nathan currently resides in Portland where he plays and tours with Tigers On Opium, A//TAR, and Hound The Wolves.

Tour History: Coho, The Royal Bear, Tigers On Opium, A//TAR, Hound The Wolves

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