Student Reviews

Creative, artistic and pedagogically informative, Massimo Cusato was able to set new impulses for playing the drum set due to his excellent playing as a Multi-Percussionist, Drummer and Product Developer at REMO. He gave very clear instructions and showed a very precise Power-Point presentation about the cultural background of the country and its traditions as a base to teach the technique for playing the Tamburello as a solo instrument, but also as part of an extended set-up in combination with Bass drum, Hi hat, Conga, Djembe and Cow-Bell. His trademark, the Tamburello, used as a part of the drum set, appeared in a new light to me. The poly-metric combinations between the drum set and the Tarantella – different variations were part of the workshop – were shown in a methodically and didactically elaborated way.

Massimo’s masterclass is definitely an enrichment for the further training offerings of PH Heidelberg.




PH Heidelberg, Germany

I really appreciated your introduction to the historical and cultural background. It really seemed like a trip through culture, history and music. Even as beginner on percussion instruments I felt ready to play the given pattern. After the weekend I’m much more fascinated by playing the percussion music for my self.
It was a great chance to get to know several different rhythm styles.
I also liked the closer look on the tamburello, its use and the method to play. The furthermore you showed us the way of playing the pattern on other percussion instruments.




PH Heidelberg, Germany

Last Tuesday’s guest appearance by the eminent Calabrian percussionist Massimo Cusato was a special window into a world I had never before considered or even imagined, and I felt very lucky to have the chance to experience it. Besides his obviously impressive technical skills, Massimo’s presentation showed an extraordinary understanding of and appreciation for the historical cultural importance of his art form, and he delivered a sweeping and well-integrated set of insights on the tamburello and its context.

I left not only amazed by his talent but also deeply impressed by his humility and generosity. I was thrilled, in addition to hearing him in group concert on Wednesday evening, to be able to be able to experience his playing up close in a more relaxed environment.

Massimo’s coverage of historical context was very impressive. I found it admirable that he didn’t limit his presentation to just the significance of the tamburello in Calabria, but rather included a wider history of the frame drum going all the way back to the ancient Mesopotamians. It spoke well of both Massimo’s in-depth knowledge of his subject and his commitment to presenting a comprehensive account of the music that forms the core of his identity.

More broadly, it was Massimo’s accounts of the cultural context within which the tamburello is employed that struck me as the most interesting part of the presentation. His words and images, including some vivid videos, described a gripping set of rituals and festivals to which the tamburello is central.

The most interesting comparison I found in this area was a contrast: such scenes as Massimo described, and as were shown in Brazil and as are common in my home in the Virgin Islands.

I am deeply grateful to have gotten the chance to experience the joy of Massimo’s life work.




Bennington College, Vermont

What I learned is that Massimo Cusato is an incredible and humble musician! The way that he mixes traditional and contemporary styles along with different world rhythms creates a new rhythm all together that he refers to as “Mediterranean Funk”. The instrument that Massimo has mastered and has incorporated into a lot of his work is the tamburello. Massimo has an incredible ability for how to synthesize new rhythms from various pre-existing ones around the world. A great example of this was when he played a song on the tamburello whose rhythm was rooted in ZZ top using the american shuffle and traditional tarantella. The two are incredibly independent of each other yet when they overlap at just the right point it creates a invigorating and groovy beat. Another incredible skill that Massimo has is his ability to play alone, but make it sounds like there is more than one musician. The way that he started doing this was with his revolutionary idea of playing the tamburello and his drum set simultaneously. I saw him do this in a very impressive video in class and I also saw him perform this way live on wednesday night with John McDowell. If I took one key thing away from Massimo’s extraordinary playing and personality it was something he said “ you have to go inside the music.”




Bennington College, Vermont