Founded in 1977, The Collective was created by a small group of professional New York musicians who wanted to share what they knew with serious young students. For more than thirty years, this original concept has been the cornerstone of The Collective and has helped make it one of the world’s premier music schools. Having a faculty of active professionals, who have not only the desire, but also the ability to teach on the highest level, is what The Collective is all about. Some of the original faculty included: Lenny White, Narada Michael Walden, and Kenwood Dennard. In 1980 the Collective was taken over by two former students, Rob Wallis and Paul Siegel. It was during this period that Drummers Collective began to establish itself as the world's pre-eminent school devoted exclusively to the study of drumset.
In 1983 the school moved from its original location on West 42 Street to its current one at 541 Avenue of the Americas. It was here that not only new instrumental divisions, but also the world-famous DCI Music Video Company (started in 1982 by Wallis and Siegel) was spawned. In 1989, when the continuing growth of DCI Music Video made it increasingly difficult for the co-directors to run the school, a decision was made to bring in John Castellano, a Juilliard graduate and founder of the SOJ Jazz Studies Center, as The Collective's new Director. Under Castellano's stewardship, the drum school was expanded to include first the bass (1996), and then the keyboard and guitar divisions (2000). The inclusion of the four primary rhythm section instruments under one roof gave The Collective the ability to create an integrated curriculum focusing on rhythm section performance.
The curriculum at The Collective gives students the opportunity to learn in a variety of realistic professional settings and in a full range of important contemporary and ethnic styles. The extensive set of course offerings at The Collective are generally broken down into musicianship, instrumental technique, styles, and professional studies. However, the one constant is that you learn by doing it, playing it, experiencing it.
Over the years The Collective has consistently graduated well-rounded, well-trained young musicians from the US and more than sixty different countries. Many of these alumni have made names for themselves in the world's music scene. Some of The Collective's notable past students include: Billy Martin, Anton Fig, Shawn Pelton, Zach Danziger, Wil Calhoun, Tal Wilkenfeld, and Chris Coleman to name a few.
In 2006, a milestone was achieved when the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) accredited The Collective. This recognition served to recognize and endorse the high quality of The Collective's programs and instruction.
Looking ahead, the world of professional music performance for the musicians of the future and therefore for The Collective, include the impact of technology and the ever-widening scope of musical influences from all over the world. The administration, faculty, and staff of The Collective are hard at work, shaping a curriculum that addresses these needs, while continuing to maintain the same high educational and professional standards that were established thirty years ago by that first group of New York Musicians.