I was born on September 8th 1967, adopted by Fred and Elieen Mignogna at the tender age of 3 months old. Born with Cerebral Palsy and raised on Long Island, I never let anything get in my way. I started playing drums at the age of 11, after receiving a snare drum from my cousin Vincent. I played that drum incessantly for about a year when my parents finally agreed I should take lessons. Soon after I started taking lessons I was told that I needed a medial hamstring release. After the surgery I was laid up for 3 months with casts on both legs up to my hips. I continued with my lessons: casts and all. When I finally had the casts removed my legs were so atrophied that it was very painful and hard to walk. My dad used the drums as a motivational tool to get me on my feet. He went out and purchased my first kit: a white CB 700 a great starter kit. My father put the drum set in the back of the house and he agreed every time I would take a few steps he would move the drums closer to my room. Well, needless to say, I was back on my feet in no time.

Armed with my CB 700 it was time to find a band. My best friend at the time had just gotten a Fender Stratocaster. We were all of 13 and ready to take over the planet. We found a bass player and off to the garage we went. I think "TNT" from AC/DC was the first song we ever played. For all intensive purposes, we sounded great. Still feeling my way around the kit, using the floor tom as a bass drum not quite as proficient as I am today, my guitarist put a bass drum pedal on the front of the bass drum to help me out. I thought this was great! We even worked out a drum and guitar solo. No one had ever done this before. I stayed with that guitarist for a few years and then my family moved to another town on Long Island. Going to auditions after my band broke up was a great experience. Sometimes it would take guys 3 or 4 songs before they would realize I was using the floor tom as a kick drum. I also got the chance to perform at the Ed Sullivan Theater for the United Cerebral Palsy telethon, where they now film the David Letterman show. This was another memorable moment in my life.

While all this was going on I became involved with an organization called The Coalition for Disabled Musicians (CDM). CDM was a great time for all, we did many gigs on and around Long Island and they also gave me a chance to build my teaching chops working with other disabled drummers. Then it was off to PIT, the Percussion Institute of Technology. This was by far one of the best experiences ever. I remember seeing an ad for PIT in the early 80s and saying to myself one day I would be there. Learning from some of the greats like, Joe Porcaro, Ralph Humphrey, and Casey Scheuerell just to name a few. After graduating from PIT and receiving a special award I played with a top 40 country band in Knoxville Tennessee. I stayed with them for almost 2 and years. After that I moved to sunny Florida and became a stockbroker. During a 7 years stint on Wall Street, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. This was like being hit in the head with a brick and caused me to revaluate certain things, one of those things is my love for drumming hence the birth of "Look Ma No Feet".

"Look Ma No Feet" in my opinion is a practical approach to the drum set for someone with limited or no use of their legs and to the able bodied drummer I ask you to experiment with the Ideas in this book and see what you come up with. At this point in time I would like to give a heart felt thanks to some of the people who have helped me keep the beat over the years My first teacher, Mike Colombo, gave me a solid foundation by teaching me some basic rudiments. He taught me how to play my first song, "Sentimental Journey". Later he gave me the heads up about Dom Famularo. Dom and Billy Cobham were my introduction to the wonderful world of drum clinics. From that moment on, I was truly hooked. Even now when I think back that clinic still stands out as one of the most amazing displays of drumming that I have ever seen. Meeting Dom had a huge impact on me. At our first encounter, Dom told me about a gig with his brother when all of a sudden the strap on his bass drum pedal broke. He had to finish the gig using the floor tom. That story greatly inspired me to pursue playing the drums even though I couldn't use my feet. Dom has been a great teacher, friend and mentor. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for immortalizing me in the pages of his book, "The Cycle of Self Empowerment". There have been so many marvelous teachers in my life like Tony Shay. I will never forget the pulley system he devised over his drum set to help students with their flams, stroke of genius in my opinion. Then there is Frank Cannon who helped get me through 10th grade marching band at East Islip High school. I attribute the work I did with Frank not only earning a first place trophy at the Tri State Marching Band but also a gold medal for a NYSMA snare drum duet with my classmate Hope Allen. Larry Ramsdon, my 10th grade band instructor who really helped me with my sight reading using a device called the Tap Master. I will never forget the look on his face when I did a wheelie in my wheelchair across the gymnasium to accept the 1st place trophy at the Tri State marching band competition in Wildwood N.J, and getting rained on while performing at a New York Jets half time show in Meadowlands Stadium. Those were great times.

Growing up with such powerful influences gave me the mindset to continue to pursue my drum skills. Later on, I met even more greats! Bobby Rondinelli, the consummate professional on all levels. In my very strong opinion, it is not enough for a teacher to lead by example but also, to have the ability to reel a student back in if he feels the student is off task. Bobby had no qualms about stepping in on a personal or professional level if he felt I was doing something wrong nor did he ever pull any punches because of my disability and for this I will always be grateful. Fred Weng aside from being a great teacher was very innovative. He was always coming up with new ways for me to play the drums. Sitting in with his band was a great confidence builder and one of the most enjoyable moments of my life. It's important Joe Porcaro is truly one of the greats. He taught me many things on many levels, most important, a lesson in resilience. When he lost his son, I was attending PIT and he continued to teach after just taking a few days off to mourn the death of his son. For him to keep forging ahead, after suffering such a loss speaks volumes of a man's character. Ralph Humphrey opened my eyes to playing in odd meter time signatures and a whole new way of looking at the drum kit. I will never forget one particular lesson I took with Ralph when I asked him for help with some odd meter grooves without the kick drum. He closed his eyes took his foot off the bass pedal still taping his foot on the floor just playing the top part of the groove. It sounded so cool. That was a great lesson. Casey Scheuerell had a huge impact on my drumming not only orchestrating things on the drum set, but also having the experience playing in his three horn band class was great. Studying with Jim Chapin was an honor and a privilege. He is a wealth of information. The techniques that I learned from him will add years to my drumming.




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