Instructor Spotlight: Eric “Rain Man” Gaston (Drums)

DIME’s Night of Drums “BackBeat” is happening TODAY at the Underground at DIME, featuring faculty, alumni and student performances, and special guests. We sat down with Head of the Drum Department, Eric “Rain Man” Gaston to talk about what inspires him, his teaching at DIME and what’s made him proudest as an instructor.

Rain Man Drum Department

Rain Man and DIME Drum Department (3D!), 2015

What inspired you to start a career in music?

My inspiration comes from growing up in the church. I had front row access and inspiration from some of the world’s best players living right here in Detroit. From church to Motown to funk to jazz, Detroit’s legacy of musicians kept me inspired and always aspiring to be better.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

My nephew Alex “Buddy” Brown was my inspiration to teach. Helping to babysit him meant I was around him a lot. When he wasn’t playing with his toys, he was trying to grab Uncle Eric’s drumsticks. When I noticed his genuine interest, I began to teach him everything I knew. He had a natural God Given talent. Seeing his progress inspired me to teach him more and more. He is now a professional drummer with a successful career.

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Rain Man on tour!

What do you like about teaching at DIME?

DIME offers a unique and diverse environment that breeds creativity. From the amazing resumes of the staff to the cool, artistic decor and design, DIME is the place to be.

What kind of growth have you seen in your students here?

I’ve seen students turn their dreams into reality. I’ve seen high school graduates come and earn their bachelor’s degrees, drummers become songwriters,  and guitarists become proper frontmen for their band. I’ve watched singers form bands, business students close deals and get internships, countless students go on tours, record in studios, and perform at local and national levels. Most importantly I’ve seen amateurs become professionals and co-workers.

What kind of things are you involved in outside of DIME that filter back into the classroom?

I have my own entertainment company (RME – Rain Man Entertainment) which provides stage and production management for various venues, artists, and organizations in Metro Detroit and across the country. I recently was honored to play drums for the official Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert in Detroit which was sold out and viewed by millions across the world. I also am a part of the last leg of the 24K Magic World Tour featuring Bruno Mars with special guest Charlie Wilson.

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Rain Man with DIME Directors, Kevin Nixon and Sarah Clayman at the 2017 Graduation Ceremony

What’s one of your proudest moments thus far as a teacher here at DIME?

One of my proudest moments as a teacher has to be graduation. It’s priceless to see my students receive the degrees that they’ve worked hard for and earned.

Anything else you want to add about your experience at DIME?

DIME has continued to provide students with a first class education and access to the music industry’s best. I’m honored to be a part of the DIME Family.

Backbeat takes place TONIGHT at the Underground at DIME. Expect awesome faculty, alumni and student performances, and some VERY special guests! 

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DIME Detroit offers programs in Commercial Music Performance (Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Vocals), Commerical Songwriting, and Music Industry Studies. In partnership with Metropolitan State University of Denver, students at DIME Detroit can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Music on our innovative program. Our next semester starts on January 22, 2019! Find out more about all of our programs and how to apply by clicking below:




3D Spirit Week Kicks off!!

DIME Drum Department (3D) is showing their DIME spirit this week with 7-days of events including BACKBEAT: A Night of Drums, on Wednesday! 


Over the weekend, our DIME Drummers helped to pack boxes of food that will feed over 14,000 people at Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit.

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This morning, drummers Chris Kaszuba and Dadreeon Underwood joined our Head of Drums, Eric “Rain Man” Gaston on WDIV’s Live in the D to give viewers a taste of what’s to come at BACKBEAT! Stay tuned for the video of their awesome performance!


Don’t miss BACKBEAT: A Night of Drums, presented by 3D on Wednesday night:

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Make sure to stay locked in with all of our social media accounts to keep up with the events each day! INSTAGRAM: Follow @dime_detroit and @dime_drummers
FACEBOOK: /dimedetroit
TWITTER: @dime_detroit

For more information about programs in vocals, songwriting, guitar, bass, drums, or music industry studies, click here or get in touch with us today! 

Call 313-223-1600 or email 

We’re Hiring! Faculty Positions Opening at DIME for Spring 2019

DIME and MSU Denver are looking for talented, passionate professionals to join our faculty for the Spring 2019 semester! DIME is a music institute like no other – designed for serious musicians who desire a long-term, professional career in modern music. DIME’s programs are designed to build strong musical foundations that will lead to long and sustained careers in the music industry, alongside gaining an academic qualification.

DIME partners with Metropolitan State University of Denver to offer the following programs:

  • BA in Commerical Music Performance (Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals)
  • BA in Commercial Songwriting
  • BA in Music Industry Studies


Music Faculty

We are seeking qualified applicants to teach classes in commercial music performance, musicology, music theory, and songwriting, and/or music industry studies. Qualified applicants will be placed in the departmental pool and will be considered for adjunct/part-time employment as needs arise.  Please apply by following this link to the MSU Denver Faculty Job Pool.

Required Qualifications: Master’s degree in music, or bachelor’s degree in music plus significant local recognition as a commercial musician, commercial performer, songwriter, or music industry entrepreneur.

Preferred Qualifications: ABD or Master’s Degree in music plus significant local recognition as a commercial musician, commercial performer, songwriter, or music industry entrepreneur. College teaching experience with demonstrated effectiveness in undergraduate teaching is also preferred.


General Education Faculty

We are also looking for faculty to teach the following General Education classes:

ART 1500 – Art and Visual Literacy. Please click here to access the post in the MSU Denver Faculty Job Pool.

THE 3213 – Staging Cultures– Theatre, Drama and Multiculturalism.Please email your résumé to the MSU Denver at DIME Campus Manager, DeAnna Johnson at

How to Contact Us

If you are interested in becoming a part of our team, we would love to meet you and give you more information about our program.  Please call 313-223-1600 to talk to the MSU Denver at DIME Campus Manager, DeAnna Johnson. You can also email DeAnna at  If you would like to book a tour of our Downtown campus, please call us to set up a time!

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Student Spotlight: Dalton Thomas (Drums)

 Dalton began working towards his performance degree in drums at DIME Detroit, but was offered a full-time touring opportunity and switched to DIME ONLINE. Dalton is now employed full-time in the music industry. Check out his interview to learn more about his musical background, current performance opportunities, and his experience studying at both DIME Detroit and DIME ONLINE!  

Don’t miss Dalton representing DIME Drum Department (3D) at Backbeat: A night of Drums on Wednesday, November 14th! The show will feature DIME students, alumni, and faculty performances, along with special guest, Buddy Brown, and giveaways from Evans, ProMark, and Sabian! RSVP here.

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DIME Detroit offers programs in Commercial Music Performance (Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Vocals), Commerical Songwriting, and Music Industry Studies. In partnership with Metropolitan State University of Denver, students at DIME Detroit can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Music on our innovative program. Our next semester starts on January 22, 2019! Find out more about all of our programs and how to apply by clicking below:




BACKBEAT: A Night of Drums – Wednesday, November 14


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Presented by DIME Drum Department (3D) and hosted by Rain Man, BACKBEAT: A Night of Drums will feature performances from DIME students, faculty, and alumni, as well as featured special guest: Buddy Brown!

Drummers, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn more about DIME from the legendary 3D (DIME Drum Department) themselves! BACKBEAT: A Night of Drums will be an event to remember.

More about DIME Detroit…

Our degree program offered in partnership with Metropolitan State University of Denver allows our students to study drums with industry professional faculty through the lens of current music. If you are interested in improving your ability playing rock, pop, funk, R&B, then look no further. With locations in Detroit and Denver, Colorado, DIME offers the MSU Denver at DIME bachelor’s degree programs as well as short courses, masterclasses, and events just like this one to help you network with top industry professionals and hone your craft.

Thanks to our sponsors at Evans, Promark, and Sabian who will also be providing giveaways for this event! 

RSVP on Facebook, here.

1265 Griswold
Detroit, MI 48226

Wednesday, November 14th, doors at 7pm, no cover! 

Rolling Stone: Alessia Cara performs with DIME students!

Alessia Cara at DIME in Rolling Stone

2018 Grammy-winning Best New Artist, singer/songwriter, Alessia Cara, visited DIME Detroit on October 5th to speak to students and talk about her highly-anticipated album, Growing Pains. Excitement ran high in The Underground as students and guests waited for the “Scars to Your Beautiful” and “Here” singer to arrive. The event kicked off with a screening of Alessia Cara’s music video for the title track of her upcoming album, “Growing Pains.”


Interviewed by Metro Times Music Editor, Jerilyn Jordan, Alessia began the interview by explaining, “I started off like every other artist… aspiring to do this for a living, and kind of being told pretty much my whole life that it wasn’t something that was plausible or possible. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I think it’s so important to talk to a bunch of people that want to do the same thing, and give them any insight into how I got started, or any help that they might need.”

InverviewAuthenticity, honest songwriting, and independence were major themes of the interview. When discussing writing Growing Pains, Alessia explained, “On this album, I didn’t want to have to rely on anybody.”

“I think that when people see a young woman in the industry, it’s very difficult for them to think that you’re responsible for your own success, unfortunately.”  She continued, “That was frustrating and I wanted to prove that (I could do this), not only to myself but to everyone else that was saying that.”

DIME Detroit’s students had an opportunity to ask questions to the  and when discussing how best to get started in the music industry, Alessia encouraged the students, “I think the no’s are really helpful, even if it stings in the beginning…”

“It just takes one ‘yes’ that counts and that matters to get you where you need to be.” -Alessia Cara


Alessia was totally surprised to find out that DIME Detroit students had learned a few of her songs, and jumped up to perform “Here” with vocalist, Jamiliah Minter, along with Daedreeon Underwood on drums, Julia Shuren on keys, Donnie Clark on guitar, Donavan Moorehead on bass, and Devin Woodson and Sara Berger on background vocals. Check out the video below, or read the article on Rolling Stone!

DIME would like to thank Alessia Cara, Def Jam Recordings, and Universal Music Group for making this such an incredible experience for our students! 

Alessia Cara signing DIME wall










For more information about programs in vocals, songwriting, guitar, bass, drums, or music industry studies, click here or get in touch with us today! 

Call 313-223-1600 or email 

Instructor Spotlight: Antea Birchett (Songwriting)

DIME Detroit’s Live and Lyrical Songwriting Showcase is tomorrow! Today we are putting the spotlight on the Head of the Songwriting Department, Antea Birchett!

In addition to teaching songwriting and vocals at DIME, Antea is one half of the duo Aplus. With her sister Anesha, Antea has written for artists such as Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Ciara, Mary Mary, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Beyoncé, and Candice Glover.  Aplus are also artists in their own right, and will be gracing the stage at tomorrow’s showcase.

Antea SheltonHow would you say the current academic year is going for students in terms of their development?

I think everyone is doing well! I’m especially impressed by this year’s Freshman group—they’re very talented and quite advanced for Freshmen in college. I’m a woman in the industry, and all of our Freshmen songwriting majors are women, so I am quite thrilled to see women taking interest in becoming songwriters. I think it’s fantastic!

What have been some of your proudest moments this year?

I’ve been watching a lot of students who have previously been timid, been afraid of their emotions or of being vulnerable on stage in front of their peers, get past that this year. These students have been taking the advice of their instructors, and just leaving it on the stage. It can take performers years, even a lifetime, to learn how to do that, and we have young artists and songwriters already taking that leap. So, it makes me quite proud to see these students being so fearless so early in the school year.


Antea with DIME students who she coached to perform with Don Was at Concert of Colors


How was the audition process for the Live & Lyrical Songwriting Showcase, and did you see anything that might excite the public?

It was great! We had quite a few students audition, and not just songwriting majors but vocal majors, bass majors, and drum majors. I think the most exciting thing for me is having students who are not songwriting majors audition original songs, and songwriting majors who aren’t performers perform their original songs. Everyone was at a high level at the audition—great lyrics, great stage presence—specifically the Freshmen. I was very impressed.

What are you involved with musically outside of DIME Detroit?

    1. My sister Anesha and I are working with a lot of established artists at the moment, including Monica, Syleen Johnson and Keyshia Cole.  We have also received some major film opportunities that we’ve been working on. And, of course, we are always working on new artists, including our own project, APlus.

Where do you see the songwriting department heading in the next couple of years?

I think a lot of these students are going to be working well before they graduate because they are so advanced and in-touch with what inspires them. I see a lot of opportunities being taken advantage of because they are prepared, and this goes for second and third-year students as well. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of headlines, student features, and song placements. And these students are fearless! They are not afraid to network and put themselves out there, so I’m looking forward to the upcoming months and years, and what’s going to happen for these students.

Is there anything that we should look out for at the Songwriting Showcase? Any songs you’re excited to hear?

We do have some alumni come back to perform along with some of our faculty. We will also have a surprise special guest… And I know I’ve said this before, but the Freshman songwriters are really pulling out all the stops—full bands, the works. They’re artists as well as writers. I’m looking forward to that!

Songwriting instructor Antea Birchett

Anesha and Antea from Aplus


For anyone coming to this show, who is also having their first experience at DIME, what is some advice that you would give them going into an audition?

I would tell them to keep coming to events first and foremost. Talk to some of the students and faculty and get a feel for what the DIME family is about. Outside of that, write and record often, even if it is just on garage band or voice memos on your phone, so when it is time to audition you already have songs to choose from, and you’re not scrambling to write something new.

RSVP to our Live and Lyrical Showcase on Facebook!

Follow A Plus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud!

Interested in learning more about the Commercial Songwriting Program offered at MSU Denver at DIME Detroit?  Find out more about all of our programs and how to apply HERE:



Student Spotlight: Julia Shuren (Songwriter)

Continuing with our build up to DIME’s first Live & Lyrical songwriting showcase, which is taking place this Friday, October 19th, we are putting the student spotlight on first-year songwriter, Julia Shuren!

Since starting at DIME in August, Julia has quickly made a splash in the DIME community, accompanying Grammy-nominated artist Alessia Cara on the DIME stage, performing with other DIME students on WDIV’s Live in the D, and being selected to play at the Live and Lyrical showcase! We chatted with Julia about her first few months at DIME and what she’s learned so far.



You recently were given the opportunity to perform for Grammy Award-winning artist Alessia Cara! Can you describe this experience?

It was surreal! The whole time I was playing, I was smiling from ear to ear, especially when she joined us on stage.  It was awesome to see Alessia Cara have such a great time with us and it really made our day. It’s amazing that it’s only my first year here at DIME and that I’ve already been given this opportunity. Looking back on the other colleges that I got accepted to, I selected DIME because I knew it was going to be a family community. Everyone helps each other out here. When I compare this to my other college experiences, it’s really refreshing to have this feeling in an academic setting.

How has your experience been as a first-year student here at DIME? 

The proof is in the pudding! (laughs) Everything that I have been able to be a part of so far shows it to be true. Within my first few weeks here, I already had a band together. I reached out to some students, and since the atmosphere is super friendly and close-knit it was really easy to get a band together. We already have a few shows booked, and its only been what maybe a month? DIME has made all of this really easy for me.

You recently performed on WDIV/Channel 4 “Live and The D” for the first time, with the same song you played with Alessia Cara.  How did you prepare for this performance?

We were informed very quickly about it, which was exciting!  I had seen the older students perform before, so getting a chance to do the same as a first-year was amazing and I’m really grateful for that. As far as preparing for it,  we did a lot of preparation for the show with Alessia Cara.  We met with our Musical Director, Kern Brantley, only 24 hours before the performance, but we all thought it was really great that everybody came together and was able to jam out and nail the performance so quickly!



Has DIME Detroit strengthened you as a songwriter?  

Hmmmm… Oh yeah! I wasn’t even going to apply for a songwriting degree because I thought, “either you are a good songwriter or you’re not.” Then, I told myself I would apply at DIME and give it a shot! After seeing the classes and learning all the new exercises and perspectives that I would have never thought of before,  it’s become so clear that the tools that they give you are super useful. I’ve already written so many more songs using the tools the instructors have given me, and it’s really nice to have a different outlook on things.


Who has inspired you musically?

I have a lot of artists that I look up to, and I take from each artist and add my own style to it. I would definitely have to say, Stevie Wonder, as he has a large variety of music from happy songs to love songs and that best summarizes my music as well.

You are performing at the Live and Lyrical Songwriter Showcase featuring Thornetta Davis and Aplus. Can you tell us how you will be contributing to the show? 

I am really looking forward to this opportunity because this will be the first time I will be performing my own original songs here at DIME.  My own songs, my own voice,  my band. I’m really excited, as my music is really upbeat and happy, feel-good music, and this will give me the chance to show the DIME community who I am as an artist.

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RSVP to our Live and Lyrical Showcase on Facebook!

Interested in learning more about the Commercial Songwriting Program offered at MSU Denver at DIME Detroit?  Find out more about all of our programs and how to apply HERE:



Songwriting Instructor Spotlight: Audra Kubat

DIME Detroit’s Live and Lyrical Songwriting showcase is this Friday. To celebrate, we sat down with Detroit-based Singer-Songwriter and DIME Songwriting instructor Audra Kubat to talk inspiration, work-life balance, and what she’s most excited for at Friday’s event!

How did you become interested in music?

I grew up listening to a lot of different music in my household because my family didn’t watch a lot of TV. We would listen to soul music, Motown and rock’n’roll albums on the record player. We also owned a piano, so at the very young age of four years old, I would tap out melodies on the piano to different songs. It wasn’t until high school that I began to write my own song lyrics. Initially I thought I was going to be a poet, but eventually, I began to put the melodies to the poems that I have written in order to create songs.

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Did anyone inspire you to become a songwriter? 

Yes, a couple of people; one, in particular, was my High School acting teacher  – Brenda Perryman –  a well-known actress in the Detroit area. She told me I had something special, and although I think she said that everybody,  I believed her! She told me I was talented and we still talk frequently even to this day.  Another singer-songwriter I’ve been really moved by is Joni Mitchell. She has such a natural ability to bring lyric and melody together. Singing along to her songs really helped me in a way form my own lyrics and melodies.

How do you balance being a full-time musician and a DIME Songwriting Instructor? 

It’s a balance! I got involved in teaching around ten years ago. I started by teaching guitar and since I was a songwriter people would often want to show me their original songs and would ask for my feedback. This helped me to develop my own program and language around how I was instructing songwriters. To my knowledge, before DIME Detroit, there wasn’t a songwriting degree offered in Detroit, so a lot of my teaching came from my own songwriting experiences.

Teaching songwriting has enabled me to continue to be a full-time musician – one really couldn’t exist without the other for me.  Being a working, full-time musician can be tough, as you can often do jobs that have little to nothing to do with your artistry in order to stay financially afloat. So teaching songwriting allowed me to really focus in on my passion and what I really love to do, which is writing songs, playing songs and help others with their original bodies of work. Working with DIME students has really inspired my writing and has inspired me to become a lot clearer on what my songwriting processes are.

Songwriting instructor Audra KubatWhat kind of songwriting tips and tricks do you give to your DIME Students? 

There is a science to songwriting, but as artists, we are always negotiating with ourselves on what exactly is good songwriting, particularly in today’s pop world, I often instruct my students to have a timely sensibility of the world and its current events. I also instruct them to have a pop sensibility and to write within that framework. I encourage them to really speak with their authentic voice because that is what is going to help define them as songwriters. It’s not enough to just write great song hooks, you need a message too, and having a message within that format will make a song timeless. Artists like Rage Against The Machine and more recently Kendrick Lamar have really pushed the envelope on messaging in pop music.  In a lot of ways, songwriting is exactly what DIME stands for: “simple done well”

What has been your proudest moment as a DIME Instructor? 

Well, I would say there’s been a few but one, in particular, would be seeing the first cohort of DIME students graduate. Seeing their progression as students to musicians was very remarkable and was a pretty amazing moment for all of us here at DIME. I think to point out any other particular moments would undercut all the special moments here at DIME. Each day that you are here at DIME, something special happens which makes you say “Wow that is so great”. I really can’t say enough about how many proud moments I have experienced.

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What can we expect from the upcoming Live and Lyrical Showcase on Friday, October 19th?

You are going to hear a lot of young and upcoming songwriters sharing their work, some of them maybe for the first time on stage. They are really hard at work polishing up their songs with the help from their instructors here at DIME. There will be a real range of styles and fresh sounding music in the show. The student performances are really going to highlight the key elements of the songwriting program.

We’re also going to have a few performances by our talented instructors, I will be among them so I am really looking forward to that. Also, DIME’s mind-blowing Artist in Residence, Thornetta Davis will be taking us home that night. So if you are at all interested in music or DIME, this night will give such a broad stroke of variety here.

RSVP to our Live and Lyrical Showcase on Facebook!

Find out more about Audra by clicking the links below:

Official website:




Kern Brantley Artist In Residence, Masterclass

DIME Detroit is proud to announce that Kern Brantley will join us as an Artist in Residence for the  2018-2019 academic year! 

As a bass player and musical director, Kern Brantley has worked with artists like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Puff Daddy & The Bad Boy Family, David Foster, Jeezy, Ne-Yo, Brandy, Ciara, Chris Brown, Destiny’s Child, Lil Wayne, Faith Evans, R. Kelly, Ginuwine, Salt N Pepa, 112, Boys II Men, Blackstreet, New Kids on the Block, Aaliyah, and many more. He has performed in over 2,000 live shows, including 20+ concert tours. He has 50+ TV appearances including the Grammys, Oscars, The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Ellen, Oprah, SNL, and more. He has over 100 recording credits that include Grammy-winning and multi-platinum selling albums.

Kern Brantley will kick off his residency with a masterclass on Friday, October 19th from 1pm-3pm! Kern will take the stage to discuss his career experiences and answer audience questions, as well as perform songs from the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, with DIME students.

Learn more about Kern at

Friday, October 19th 1-3pm

1265 Griswold
Detroit, MI 48226

DIME’s artist in residence program allows our students the opportunity to have regular contact and instruction from artists who have experienced sustained and successful careers in the music industry. If you are interested in learning more about programs at DIME Detroit, including bass, guitar, drums, vocals, songwriting, and music industry studies, please get in touch with us at 313-223-1600 or email

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