Mike Semerau (owner)
Chicago's # 1 Drum Lessons was founded in February 1995 by
Mike Semerau. Mike started playing the drums at age 4, getting his first drum set on Christmas Day 1979. A few years of lessons under his belt, school band etc. Mike always had watched, listened, and emulated some of the biggest drummers in world, which was very helpful in his natural ability in learning the drums.
Getting into his first band in August 1986, Mike, today is still extremely active performing in bands, clinics, session work, live performance etc. In 1997 Mike won the preliminary, store, and district final for the Guitar Center Drum Off, placing 2nd in the regional finals in which he received his first endorsement deal which is Promark. Out of thousands of drummers that competed in the midwest region of the US, Mike was 2nd.
In the beginning he drove miles and miles to students homes with a pair of sticks in one hand, and a boom box in the other. At the end of every lesson, Mike would start talking, playing and recording the lesson on his boom box to leave a tape with that student so they had no questions, wrong way of learning, or improper sight reading.
1995 lessons were recorded on cassette tape, 1997 cd, 1999 vhs, then in 2001 over 1,500 professionally recorded lessons were converted and put on DVD. Technically 1995 is when a curriculum started to be designed into what it is today. Mike is always tweaking, adjusting, and recording ideas to come up with new ways to get the point across quickly, efficiently, and effectively. Everything a student learns is Mike's unique and original secrets he composed over a 38yr. career and counting, that you can not get from another drummer, teacher, book, etc.
1999 was the year that changed the way Mike looked at his teaching.
10yr student Nick Campione, suggested that he should brand it, give it a name and expand. Nick became the very first contractual student teacher/sub and right hand man to help take CDL to the next level. Website, t-shirts, flyers, ads in papers, part take in parades and local tests, tv commercials, drum set rentals, accepting credit/debit cards etc. M.S.O.D. (Mike's School Of Drumming) was born. This name was short lived under a year and Mike changed it to Chicago's # 1 Drum Lessons (CDL).
This was also the year Mike ran his first tv commercial that had aired for 6 months on major cable networks such as Mtv, Nickleodeon, Cartoon Network, Sci Fi, to name a few. This created a stir locally and Mike went from part time teaching and driving to students homes to where he became full time teaching with a wait list of 25 students. In 2003 Mike ran 2 different commercials on more major networks. Nick at this time was brought on staff and was capable of teaching CDL method to students below his personal level.
Unfortunately Nick passed away at the age of 22 on July 26th 2009.
Mike inherited his drum set which is pictured here to the right. The drums, rack, and hardware are played by students at the Bolingbrook location. His cymbals, seat, and pedals are at the Chicago studio. Mike also just recently was given Nick fathers (Lou) drum set a 60's Blue Sparkle Ludwig. This was Nick's official set when he was 9. Nick was and still is here as a big part of every day functions of CDL at every studio with Mike watching over all students with a smile, and channeling his spirit through Mike as his right hand man still.
Mike has been a clinician for The Chicago Vintage Drum show in 2005 where he performed right before the great Ed Schaugnessey
( Johnny Carsons drummer ) and Mike performed again in 2014.
May 2006 CLTV news aired a full news story on Mike and his superb video teaching method. We encourage you to check out this video and the others located under the video tab.
December 3rd 2011 Mike performed on The Drum Channel located at the DW Drums headquarters in Oxnard, CA.' with world renown drummer Terry Bozzio as the shows host. This was a dream come true and another major boost of Mike's personal and professional teaching career as the entire show was focused on how Mike started CDL.