Ep. 16: A Drummer & Educator Navigates His Finances, Family & Future

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Stockton Helbing is not very good at sitting still. If he is not playing the drums he is busy being a composer, arranger, producer, bandleader, educator, music director, author, and entrepreneur.

Stockton maintains a busy schedule of performing, recording, and teaching around North America with his trio, quartet, quintet, and sextet. He is a frequent guest artist at colleges and high schools where he clinics, rehearses, and performs with their small groups, big bands, and percussion ensembles. Since 2011, Stockton has been heard across the United States playing drums for American music icon and trumpet player extraordinaire Doc Severinsen.

Stockton has released seven albums to date: Lodestar (2005), For Nothing is Secret (2007), Battlestations & Escape Plans (2010), Crazy Aquarius (2012), Handprints (2014), Patina (2015), and Swimming in Place (2017), his most recent. Each album showcases not only Stockton’s drumming abilities, but his composing, arranging, and producing skills as well. Stockton has also authored two books; Big Band Drum Set Sight Reading Etudes Volume 1 and Studies in

Since 2016, Stockton has directed a Jazz masterclass and small group program called the Helbing Jazz Initiative. Through a close partnership with Williamson Music 1 st , Stockton and his sextet have provided Jazz masterclasses for thousands of elementary, middle school, and high school students throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area. Helbing Jazz Initiative masterclasses focus on celebrating the Jazz masters of the past through performance and discussion of their
musical and social contributions to Jazz history.

Stockton has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists including Maynard Ferguson, Arturo Sandoval, the Maniacal 4, Erika Badu, David Braid, Steve Wiest, Jennifer Holiday, Blue Lou Marini, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Denis DiBlasio, The Cincinnati Pops, Chip McNeill, Darden Purcell, Clay Jenkins, Phil Woods, Wayne Bergeron, Randy Brecker, The Imperial Brass, Mary Wilson, Paul Tynan, Andy Timmons, Tom “Bones” Malone, Ernie Watts and many more.

Stockton currently teaches drum set at the University of North Texas as an adjunct professor of music. Stockton has appeared as guest artist at schools including the University of North Texas, San Jose State University, Southern Wesleyan University, the University of Illinois, Simpson College, George Mason University, the University of South Carolina, St. Francis Xavier University, Oklahoma State University, and Troy University.

Stockton lives in Dallas, TX, with his wife Denise, John their son, Liliana their daughter, Jack the dog, and Aquarius the turtle.

In today's interview we discuss:

  • Proving to parents a music career is possible.
  • The difficulties of attending a competitive music school.
  • Learning from failure.
  • Touring with Maynard Ferguson.
  • Finding love on the road.
  • Losing a full-time gig overnight.
  • Money mindset.
  • The financial impact of health issues.
  • “You should always save money.”
  • The dangers of credit cards.
  • Navigating finances with your spouse.
  • Considerations for moving to NYC.
  • Playing 7 nights a week.
  • Financing an album.
  • Making financial decisions through struggle.
  • Waiting for the right time to buy a new car.
  • The reality of tour life.
  • The gig triangle.
  • Personally defining what success means.
  • Differentiating money and art.
  • The “business” in music business.
  • Taking an interest in personal finance.
  • The power of compounding.
  • Achieving financial balance.

Resources and names mentioned:

Connect with Stockton:

[email protected]




Thanks for listening and keep thriving!


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