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Drummer is dad first

When life hands you drumsticks, you play drums. Even if it's a toy set.

Craig Aramaki did -- and still does -- and it has taken him places.Aramaki of Salt Lake City started playing the drums when he turned 5 and his parents bought him a toy drum set. When he was 9 years old, he started taking private lessons. In high school, he was teaching junior high-age children. By the time he was working toward completion of his undergraduate program for law at Brigham Young University, teaching drum lessons was paying his way through school.

He started out being influenced by jazz drummers like Buddy Rich and Dave Weckl. A lot of the really great drummers have been jazz drummers at one point or another because, technically, it's more difficult to play, Aramaki said. From instructors older than himself, he learned jazz drumming initially.

Gradually, though, Aramaki began to listen to more and more rock 'n' roll-based drummers. Journey's Steve Smith and Rush's Neil Peart were just two of the drummers he relied on when developing his style of drumming. Even rhythm and blues had a hand in his development.

"When I was really little, I was heavily influenced by one of my uncles who listened to a lot of Motown and R & B. Even in grade school, I liked the Temptations and the Four Tops," Aramaki said.

When teaching drum lessons at the Musicians Pro Shop (now Summerhays), he would teach an average of 50 to 60 students a week. Both he and the other teacher were hired by their former instructor, Steven Gustaveson, who owned the shop. He'd hired them because they were his best students. His friend is still playing drums for a living, Aramaki is not.

"Jason went on to New York to make a career out of music. As far as I know, he's a successful studio drummer now. I went a different route. I had my family, and I didn't want to expose them to that kind of a lifestyle."

After briefly working in a law firm, he switched to advertising, where he remains today. One of his friends who works with him at DSW Partners -- Chris Drysdale -- plays the acoustic guitar and arranged some nursery rhymes around his playing. His friend would sing them to his children as they went to sleep. There was such a response to it from the children over the years that Drysdale is currently working on putting them on a CD. Aramaki has been collaborating with him about getting into a studio and adding some percussion to the music.

He has also played with an in-house band at one of his company parties. But it's clear his family takes precedence as the most important thing in his life.

"I'll always have the drums. I would love to play in a little band that plays on the weekends eventually, but not now, with how young my daughters are."

Aramaki has found that another way of staying close to his daughters is by learning the instrument they're playing: the piano. Two of his daughters have started to take piano lessons, and he has started to teach himself on a keyboard. He's currently looking for an instructor to help further him in the learning process.

"Once I got into high school, I found there was a limit to what I could do with the drums. The piano is a much more expressive instrument."

Aramaki graduated from the University of Utah and went to BYU's law school. He is currently account director for DSW Partners, where he works on Intel interactive advertising and interactive content. He also works on their Minolta printer division.