He can mesmerize an audience with his solid grooves and deft rhythms on songs by Rush, Dream Theater, The Police, or Tool. He can rock his way around a drum kit in every style of music from afro-cuban to metal to modern jazz. His setup would blow you away, with two bass drums, five rack toms, two hi-hats, and an array of cymbals. His drum score reading is exceptional. In fact, he’s everything you could want in a professional session or touring drummer. And he’s only 12 years old.
Playing drums since the age of three, drum phenomenon Tristan Peterson now juggles the responsibilities of middle school with hours a day of high-gear music study, playing time, three drum lessons a week, and multiple performances in musical groups of all kinds. His drum skills have been recognized and guided by the renowned drummer Gregg Bissonette, Tristan’s drum mentor and one of his musical role models.
Tristan’s natural talent for music goes back to about as far as he does. Aside from banging on things as a baby and in Mommy and Me classes, his first time playing a drum was in Kindermusic. His teacher there had been a high school music teacher and quickly saw Tristan’s potential. She began teaching him guitar, piano, and drums, and by the age of five he was reading drum score better than some of her high school students!
Later his teacher moved to Austin, Texas, but not without recommending that Tristan find an excellent drum teacher. She introduced him to drum instructor Eddie Marz, and in Kindergarten Tristan began taking formal drum lessons every week.
When summer break came around and Eddie had to leave for Detroit until the fall, Tristan started taking lessons from another teacher, Willie Ornelas. When Eddie returned for the next school year, Tristan’s family decided, Why not continue lessons with both teachers?
Then in March of 2007, when Tristan was only seven, he joined a top music education and performance program, where he started taking a third drum lesson every week. With the program, he was placed in various “bands” of other young musicians, with weekly jams and practice. Soon after, he also started on singing lessons and now participates not only as a drummer but also as a singer in the program. He continues to perform with them frequently in their showcases at many different venues all over the state.
Even then, Tristan’s talent continued to extend well beyond his young age. At only eight years old, he was asked to join the high school drum line as a snare drum player, making him the youngest person in the school district’s history to be on a Varsity team. Drumline brought another opportunity for lessons, and he still practices and performs with them regularly.
Tristan’s teacher Willie Ornelas has since moved away, but Tristan still enjoys taking three drum lessons every week from three separate instructors! “It works out great,” he says. “I can learn something different from all of them!” He’s already a genius in a variety of styles, and is unstoppable in his eagerness to learn more.
But Tristan doesn’t take any of this for granted. With a cool, unpretentious attitude, the focused, extremely motivated 12-year-old who could single-handedly play circles around drummers twice his age is the same fun-loving boy who enjoys action movies, comedies, Monopoly, basketball, and vanilla ice cream.
Tristan’s musical influences (apart from Rush and Neil Peart) include Gregg Bissonette, Mike Portnoy, Buddy Rich, Thomas Lang, Terry Bozzio, Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd, Eddie Marz, Willie Ornelas, Chad Smith, Peter Erksine, and Thomas Pridgen. And his personal influcences? “My parents,” says Tristan, as well as his current teachers Gregg Bissonette and Eddie Marz.
As for gear, in his perfect world Tristan would have Neil Peart’s drum kit. He is also fascinated with Terry Bozzio’s set that he had the chance to play at Drum Channel one night. Tristan endorses the Triplet Drum Glove by Lento Percussion.
With a firm foundation in the essence of music, a major endorsement deal, and everything he has already accomplished, it’s not just Tristan Peterson’s teen years that are around the corner. Tristan has his eyes set on his dream and he’s reaching his goals one groove at a time.