About Mark

Mark Valdes is an award-winning drummer, percussionist, and composer based in Los Angeles.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Mark began playing drums and percussion at the age of 13. He has been nationally recognized by festivals and institutions for his work in the jazz idiom.

In the early stages of his musical development, Mark was fortunate to receive scholarships to participate in the Colburn School of Music Community Jazz Workshop's "Thursday Night Band" and "Big Band." Under the direction of Lee Secard, both ensembles became finalists in the Next Generation Jazz Festival, won multiple DownBeat Awards, and even had the opportunity to perform at the 62nd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival.

Mark graduated with a Bachelor's of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California in the Spring of 2022. During his time at USC, he studied drums with Peter Erskine, Aaron Serfaty, and Roy McCurdy. He also received mentorship in theory and composition from renowned pianists Russell Ferrante and Alan Pasqua.

Performing at venues and festivals across the United States, Mark has shared the stage with world-class artists such as John Daversa, Poncho Sanchez, Bob Mintzer, Barbara Morrison, Gordon Goodwin, Wayne Bergeron, Francisco Torres, and Willie Murillo. Some notable venues and events where he has performed include the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Central Avenue Jazz Festival. He was also slated to perform at The Oasis Music Festival in Palm Springs, California, in early 2023.

Mark has received awards and scholarships from The Music Center Spotlight, as well as from the National YoungArts Foundation. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, which was presented to him by SCSBOA Director and Educator Maurice Mikel Limon for his musical proficiency and contributions.

As a teacher, Mark enjoys teaching all styles of music to students of all ages and skill levels. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences while maintaining a positive and inspiring connection with his students. Mark believes that the key to a brighter future in music lies in the mentorship and education that future generations of artists receive. Continually striving to further his freelance musical endeavors, he holds the philosophy that the best players teach, and the best teachers play.

Q&A with Mark

Which musician would you like to play with?

Alan Pasqua

Which musician has influenced you the most?

Bill Evans

What can you teach me better on your instrument than any other teacher?

The Importance of Tone on the Drums

How did you learn to play your instrument?

Self Taught for 3 years, Mentored and Taught for 6

What equipment do you play on today?

Canopus Drums, Vic Firth Sticks, Dw Hardware, Zildjian Cymbals, Craig Lauritsen Cymbals

Which personal trait helped you the most while practicing?

Curiosity or Determination

What does your instrument have that others don't?

The deepest connection to the human anatomy, your heart beats in rhythm.

How do you handle children?

Extremely Well, I am very patient. I Love to find new ways to explain and teach concepts in the most clear and concise way possible. And I also strive to give children the mentored experience I wish I would have received at their age .

What has been your greatest experience as a musician so far?

Playing with John Daversa, that man lives and breathes musicality.

What was the biggest stage you played on?

Walt Disney Concert Hall or The 62nd Annual Monterrey Jazz Festival.

Which record would you take with you to the desert island?

Bill Evans - The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings

Besides music, what else is important in your life?


Music style(s)

RockFunkFusionJazzLatin JazzAfro CubanContemporary

Level(s) Comfortable Teaching

Beginner to Advanced/Professional

What languages can you teach in?



Bands, Projects, Notable Performances, Collaborations

The Painted Birds\ Strictly Trio\ JSQ!

Other Music-related work / goals

Touring places such as Europe, Japan, and Australia are priorities in terms of my music related goals.


National YoungArts Foundation Award Winner in Jazz Percussion 2018\ Music Center Spotlight Semi-Finalist 2017, 2018

Personal Interests

Barbering, Video Games, Production

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