Chris Milillo

For over 30 years, Chris Milillo has enjoyed a successful career in music performance and education. Chris is an in-demand drum set artist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, and the sole proprietor of the Chris Milillo Music School in Brewster, NY. (est. 2008)
Building on a career in private music education that began in 1988, Chris established Pondside Music Studio (now known as the Chris Milillo Music School) in 2008, realizing his longtime vision of having a private music school and project recording studio of his own. Chris' passion for teaching music, backed by a wealth of knowledge, and decades of real world, professional experience, have allowed him to enjoy a long, fulfilling career in music education.

As a Music Educator

Since he gave his first lesson in the summer of 1988, Chris has taught literally hundreds of students of all ages and levels, and directed band workshops and summer rock camps in New York's Putnam, Westchester and Dutchess counties. From 1994 through its closing in 2017, Chris was on the teaching staff at Let's Jam Music in Poughkeepsie, NY. Chris also spent 7 years (from 1995-2002) on the teaching staff at a well-known private music school in Ossining, NY.

In 2005, Chris launched, a site where he shares free drum lessons and original articles related to drumming and music. Chris self-published his first book in 2007, titled "Foundations in Rhythm"; a comprehensive study of rhythm for all instruments, which is available in his online store.

Chris has extensive experience working with children, and trains many students who are now participating in school music programs and working toward annual NYSSMA evaluations. Many of his students have gone on to study music in college (USC, SUNY Purchase, SUNY New Paltz, The Collective School of Music) and several have gone on to pursue careers as professional musicians and educators in their own right. Notably, former student, Alex Nolan was a member of Meredith Vieira's house band (the MVPs), performing daily on NBC TV, and is now the guitarist with Cyndi Lauper, and on Broadway shows.

The keys to Chris' popularity among students and longevity in the field of private music education are his dedication to, and love for, music and teaching, his extensive knowledge and experience, his personable and easy-going demeanor, and his ability and willingness to patiently and thoroughly explain and demonstrate the subject matter. Never content to rest on his laurels, Chris continues to study and practice several instruments in order to further develop as a musician, composer and educator, and to remain inspired and up to date on current techniques and musical styles.

As a Performer
Since his very first gig at age 15, Chris has been an in-demand working drum set artist and multi-instrumentalist, performing and recording in many styles and settings. While Chris is based in  the New York Tri-State area, he has performed all over the U.S (including Hawaii), as well as in Europe, Canada, and Mexico, in venues ranging from small cafes and local pubs, to Skydome in Toronto, and the 68,000 seat Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. Chris' bands have performed in support of such artists as Stone Temple Pilots, The B52's, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Barenaked Ladies, The Smithereens, and many others. Chris continues to perform regularly, both live and in the studio.

Chris' recorded work, with blues rockers Tony Bellantoni and the Swag Hooks, has been featured on CBS television's "Late, Late Show" with Craig Ferguson, and material from sessions he did with producer Bobby Lustgarten appeared nationally on country radio. Chris works frequently with producer Steve Esposito, at Electric Blue Velvet Records in Pleasantville, NY.  and has also worked with notable producer/engineers Paul Orofino of Millbrook Sound Studios, Chris Cubeta of Galuminum Foil Productions, and Fred Guarino at Tiki Recording in Glen Cove, NY.

Chris is currently freelancing as a live and studio drum set artist and vocalist. He performs internationally with renowned Chicago tribute, “Beginnings”, nationally with Mike DelGuidice (currently on tour with Billy Joel) and "Big Shot", and works with cover bands, “Them Bones” and “Anchor Management”, as well as writing and recording original jazz-funk music.

Chris' Music Education

  • Chris began playing drums at age 10, when he began studying privately with Nick Mangini; this marked the beginning of a 21 year mentorship that prepared Chris for a career as a full time professional musician and educator.
  • Chris attended Lakeland schools in Shrub Oak, NY, and participated in the school band program as a percussionist, with snare drum as his primary instrument.
  • From 1995-1998, Chris was a member of the Music Conservatory of Westchester's Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Ken Wessel (Ornette Coleman).
  • From January through April of 2000, Chris studied weekly with legendary jazz/funk drummer and "godfather of linear funk drumming", Mike Clark (Herbie Hancock, Headhunters) at Drummer's Collective in NYC. This period of study completely changed the trajectory of Chris' approach to drumming.
  • From 2002-2006, Chris studied with late NYC legend Sam Ulano, focusing heavily on advanced reading and rhythm theory. Sam inspired Chris to complete and publish his first book, "Foundations in Rhythm", which was released in 2007.
  • In 2004, Chris had a private intensive session with world renown drummer/educator Billy Ward. Several of Billy's concepts, most notably his physical "mechanisms" for keeping time, have made a tremendous impact on Chris' groove and feel, and have become an integral part of his teaching.
Guitar/Bass/Keyboards/Music Theory
  • At age 15, Chris began switching instruments with his band mates after rehearsals and took an interest in playing guitar and bass. Before long, he bought his own guitar and bass, began practicing regularly, and learning by ear from his favorite recordings.
  • After several years of teaching himself, Chris decided it was time to get more serious about guitar and began studying with local guitar legend, Lou Ubriaco, at Ossining Music Center. This two year association formed the foundation of Chris' guitar technique and music theory knowledge.
  • From 1995-1998 and again from 2008-2012, Chris took weekly 2 hour lessons from longtime friend and musical colleague, Berklee College of Music graduate, John Fiscella, studying guitar and bass technique, music theory, jazz harmony, and composition.
  • In 2013, Chris studied jazz-funk piano with Declan McKenna, and found that he could most effectively compose music on piano, despite it being his 4th instrument.  

Performance and Instruction

Chris plays guitar with 9 year old drum student,
Shane, who makes no secret that his favorite
part of lessons is jamming!
Chris demonstrates and explains the "Free Stroke" technique to Shane A.
Chris, performing with arena rock cover band,
Almost Famous, in Clifton Park, NY.