Tarn Softwhip

Tarn Softwhip is a soft-spoken young drummer from Thailand whose librarian glasses belie her fierce attitude and impressive complement of drumming skills. Tarn’s combination of chops, groove, power, taste, showmanship and more has made her a drum hero in Thailand. And, with nearly 120,000 Instagram followers, more than 300 Million views on YouTube and a whopping 850,000 followers on Tiktok, it’s only a matter of time before she is as well-known and respected outside of Thailand as she already is in it.

Karen Wulff

Karen has been a drum educator for 15 years and has been playing and learning the drums for more than 35 years. 

From the age of 10, Karen toured Northern California with her family band playing cover songs from the 50’s, 60’s as well as top 40 hits. She was on cable television weekly and received scholarships for outstanding achievement on multiple occasions.

Karen participated in the very first Drum and Guitar City drum off as a minor and as the only female in the adult competition. She made it to the finals placing in the top 10 out of hundreds of contestants.

Fifteen years ago Karen left her desk job as a computer programmer and started her own successful business as a fulltime drum educator. In addition to teaching fulltime, she has taught six all female drum camps and wrote drum books specifically customized for each of the camps.

Karen currently plays drums for Bayside Church, the largest church in the Sacramento metropolitan area having over 19,000 participants.


Elisa Montin born in Venice (Italy) in 1994, started playing drums at the age of 6. At 14 years old she joined for 2 years the master class of Sergio Pescara, a renowned Italian drummer. From that point her passion for the instrument became stronger and she wanted to become a professional drummer.

At the age of 14 she was already playing in pubs, live clubs and at some open air festivals with cover bands and original music projects. From the age of 18 she started touring with different projects in many different countries.

Her first original project was a death metal band called Livyathan. She also performed in electronic projects, playing music genres like drum n bass and hardcore music.
– In 2012, at the age of 17 she won her first national contest only for female drummers “Ragazze ke drummano”.
– In the 2014 she won “FBT Cerca batteriste” another drums contest only for girls.
– In the same year she won “V Festival del Ritmo”, but this time she was the only girl in this contest.
– In 2017 she won “Hit Like Girl” and was invited to play in America at Pasic in Indianapolis, at Drum Channel in Los Angeles and Musicians Institute in Los Angeles as well.
– In the 2021 she won “Drum Off Global Itally”.

Helly worked not only as a live session drummer, but also as studio drummer. The most important jobs, were made for the recordings of 2 albums of Docker’s Guild. It is a progressive rock/metal made by Douglas Docker, with a large international cast: Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper), Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), Anneke Van Giersbergen (Devin Towsend, The Gathering), Amanda Somerville (Epica), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Sasha Paeth (Avantasia) and others. Helly is also a composer. In 2019 she created her solo project: a mix of electronic music, visuals and of course drums live performance.

Nowadays she is a founding member of Hand of Juno, an industrial metal trio, signed with Out of Line Records from Berlin and Jeff Keller Management from Northern California.

Zoë Brecher

Zoë Brecher is a drummer and singer/songwriter based in NYC. She started drumming when she was 10 and it only took one lesson to know she wanted to do it forever.  

She has studied and performed diverse styles of music and played 20+ national and international tours and music festivals, including Lollapalooza and, several times, SXSW. She performed with Bruce Springsteen, supporting his new album, Only the Strong Survive, four times last year on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She’s also performed with Mark Ronson, Benson Boone, Sad13, SAMMUS, Kalbells, Palehound and many others. You might have seen her on Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, or Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. She also recently was the guest drummer with the 8G Band on Late Night With Seth Meyers for a week this year.

Zoë is also a session drummer and has played percussion/drums on several albums and songs, including  Haunted Painting by Sad13, one of Rolling Stone’s top albums of the year in 2020.  She also has a solo passion project, HUSHPUPPY, for which she writes, sings, plays all the instruments, and produces and engineers the music. Her song “Nervous” was featured in Hardly Art’s 15th Anniversary Singles Series.

Emma Ford

Emma Ford is an Australian born, classically trained drummer and percussionist. She received
her Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance) from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2011.

She was a member of the all female drumming group Drummer Queens and has
performed as a freelance and session musician in both Australia and the United States.

Emma is a well known Musical Theatre drummer, she has been performing professionally in
the Australian Theatre scene since 2014 on shows including The Illusionists 1903 Tour, In the
Heights, Pippin, Jagged Little Pill and Emma recently made history as the first woman in the
world to play drums for Hamilton the musical.

Since moving to New York at the age of 25, Emma has performed on multiple Broadway
shows including Head Over Heels, Tootsie, Come From Away, Jagged Little Pill, Almost
Famous and Moulin Rouge. In 2022, Emma was the drummer for Paradise Square on
Broadway, and the Broadway bound musical Come Fall In Love.

Amongst the multiple podcasts Emma has been a guest on, including Broadway Drumming
101, Emma also recently recorded drums for the Booking.com Superbowl Commercial
featuring Melissa McCarthy.

In 2023, Emma will be playing drums for the new comedy musical Shucked on Broadway.

    Mika Watanabe

    Mika Watanabe was born in Yokosuka, Japan in 1988. Mika started playing drums at age of 16, as a member of “Spitz” cover band formed by her high school friends. She decided to be a professional drummer at the age of 18, and joined so many various jam sessions.

    Since then, Mika has been working professionally and performed for numerous bands and artists in Tokyo, Japan. She studied at the drummers training institution “Muraishi Drum Dojo”  for about 3 years, and now, she continues studying with well known drummer, Shiino Kyoichi.

    In 2018, Mika was selected as the finalist of the Hit Like A Girl Contest in the over 18 age group. In 2020, she was selected as the Japan Regional champion in the over 18 age group. In 2022, Mika participated in a “GADDIMENTS CONTEST” and won. She started her own band “Hodie” in 2020, and released 1st album “Remember the moment,every moment” last year.

    Mika likes music irrespective of the genre that floats in various scenes. Especially loves Stevie Nicks, Alicia Keys, Hikaru Utada, YUKI, Kazuya Yoshii, Dave Grohl.  Her dream is to perform with them in her own band. Continuing to explore roots of many music, art, and culture deeply through the drums is her lifework.   

    Kristen Gleeson-Prata

    Kristen is a Los Angeles-based drummer, percussionist, writer, and educator originally from Cleveland, Ohio. She has a bachelors degree in Drumset Performance from Berklee College of Music and a masters degree in World Percussion from California Institute of the Arts. 

    She has studied drumset with John “JR” Robinson, Chris Coleman, Aaron Sterling, Kenny Aronoff, John Blackwell, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kim Plainfield, Jamey Haddad, Bill Ransom, Steve Wilkes, and Dave DiCenso, and world percussion with Randy Gloss, Andrew Grueschow, Yeko Ladzekpo-Cole, Joe Galeota, Jamey Haddad, Marcus Santos, and Eitetsu Hayashi.

    She has toured and recorded extensively with BØRNS, as well as worked with CAM, Scary Pockets, Trixie Mattell, ELLA VOS, Mike Taylor, LPX, Wilder Woods, Total Brutal, and more. She has performance credit on platinum-selling single “Electric Love” and gold-selling album “Dopamine” (BØRNS), has contributed drum samples and live loops to Output software Arcade, appeared on the TV show “School of Rock”, and was featured alongside Sheila E., Stewart Copeland, Kenny Aronoff and Evelyn Glennie in Hunger Relief International’s 2018 campaign. She was featured in Modern Drummer in 2017 and was nominated in the 2018 Modern Drummer Readers Poll in the “Up and Coming” category. She is known for her impeccable time, feel-good pocket, powerful yet tasteful touch, stylistic versatility, and bright personality.

    Her playing was recently featured on the ABC show “A Million Little Things” and in the score of the Netflix show “Uncoupled”. She developed the curriculum for “Groove Theory” and “Arrangement” courses at ICON Collective College of Music, has taught African Drumming at AMDA-LA, is trained as a drum circle facilitator by Arthur Hull and Christine Stevens, and has an extensive private student roster. She is endorsed by Tama drums, Paiste cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks and Remo drumheads and percussion and writes for Modern Drummer and Tom Tom magazines. 

    Kristen is passionate about providing outreach to women and girls in the music industry. She is a regular volunteer at Rock and Roll Camp for Girls LA, created the femme community group “Femme Frequency” at ICON Collective College of Music, and is a judge for the Hit Like A Girl drumming contest. She also spearheaded a campaign to send online lesson memberships, drumsticks, and drumheads to the displaced Ukrainian drummers who competed in the contest in 2022.

    Notable TV appearances: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, CONAN, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Last Call with Carson Daly

    Notable festivals and venues: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Coachella Festival, Lollapalooza Festival, Falls Festival, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Outside Lands Festival, ACL, PASIC, Greek Theater LA, Hollywood Bowl, Radio City Music Hall, and Amoeba Records

    Zhong Hua

    • Founder of Zhong Yi Music
    • Director of IPEA International Percussion Education Association
    • Director of China Percussion Society
    • Director of China Drummers Federation
    • Executive Director of China Marching Percussion Federation

    Liza Yurina

    Liza Yurina is a well-rounded individual with a passion for drumming and a successful career in the tech industry. With 13 years of experience as a drummer, 3 years experience as an educator, and a background in drumming competitions, Liza has honed her skills and continues to inspire others with her performances.

    She was a participant in the “Hit Like A Girl” contest 2 years ago and served as an ambassador for Russia, showcasing her commitment to empowering women in the drumming community. Currently, Liza is an endorser of Paiste cymbals and continues to support the “Hit Like A Girl” cause through her drumming and advocacy efforts.

    Aside from her drumming passion, Liza is an IT specialist working for a software company, representing the ideals of a woman who is capable of achieving success in multiple fields. With her dedication to drumming and her successful career in tech, Liza is a true inspiration to others.

    Hazel Fruitman

    Hazel Fruitman is from Toronto, Canada and a music graduate from Humber College. She has performed in rock and jazz acts as seen on CityTV’s Breakfast TV and CBC Music. She was also interviewed on radio’s 98.5 Afternoon Drive. 

    Hazel has played in the local music scene since the 1990s with noteworthy bands include My Dear Heretic and Miss Conduct. Today Hazel can be seen backing up artist Wendy Bouie. 

    Hazel has recorded for studio sessions and teaches drum lessons. In lockdown she even participated in a drum-related Guinness world record. 

    Hazel supports the female drumming community as a team lead on the Facebook group Drummer Girls United and recently built and curates a community from a female drummer’s perspective on Instagram’s @Drum.Love.Central.  

    As a past contestant in HLAG competition Hazel understands what judges look for to become a finalist. She sends good wishes to all of this years contestants and is excited to participate as a judge. 


    Leah Bluestein

    Leah’s journey as a drummer began in 2008 when her family got the video game Rock Band. As soon as her father opened the box she was immediately drawn to the drums. After a year of shedding the game, she could play Tom Sawyer on the expert level. At that point, her mother decided it was time to buy a real drum set.

    Since that day, Leah hasn’t put down her sticks. She went on to study at Berklee College of Music and graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in drum set performance. While studying at Berklee she met and joined her band Groundlift, and continues to play shows and release music with them today.

    In early 2022, Leah started creating short videos on her social media accounts covering her favorite artists – Rush, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and more. After a few posts went viral, she has amassed over 100K followers on Instagram and about 20K on TikTok. 

    She is excited to be one of the judges for the 2023 Hit Like A Girl Contest and is looking forward to hearing all of your entries! 





    Saray Sáez

    Saray Sáez, independent drummer and teacher in Madrid. She is currently on tour with Alba Reche, Tremenda Jauría and Ainoa Buitrago. She has also been part of musicals such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or The Beyavu Experience.

    Jason Gianni

    Drummer/Author Jason Gianni is an instructor at the prestigious Drummers Collective in NYC and an adjunct instructor at the New School in NYC and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  He holds a Master of Music degree from Pennsylvania State University, a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Delaware (both in Percussion Performance) as well as a Jazz minor degree. 

    A session drummer for countless television and radio commercials, he is most known for being the drummer for the theme song for the popular cartoon, ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ He is the co-author of the popular drum book entitled ‘The Drummers Bible‘ and is the featured drummer on the 2008 Hudson Music DVD called ‘Set Up, Tune and Play Your Drums.’ 

    Jason was also the back up drummer for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and is a guest artist on their popular platinum selling CD entitled, ‘Night Castle.’  He was a regular sub for drummer Mike Portnoy for progressive artist, Neal Morse, he had been an active drummer for the Broadway & touring hit musicals ‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘Kinky Boots,’ ‘Americano,’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ is the drummer for the Mark Wood Band (original violinist of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and was the house band drummer for the Hispanic version of the TV show ‘The Voice’ entitled, ‘La Voz, Kids‘ on the Telemundo network. 

    In recent years, Jason has toured with the Ed Palermo Big Band, Marc Martel & the Ultimate Queen CelebrationRebel Rebel: The Many Lives of David Bowie, The Royal Scam: Tribute to Steely Dan and Rubix Kube: NYC 80s Tribute. As a clinician, Jason has performed & taught classes throughout Italy, Switzerland, China, in Spain at the La Rioja Drum Festival, and was a featured performer at both PASIC and Philly DrumPhest. 


    Eleni Nota

    Eleni Nota was born in 1994 in Rhodes, Greece. She started playing the piano at the age of seven and the drums at the age of twelve. In 2012 she moved to Athens, Greece where she joined the Professional Program of LAB Music Education and, 2 years later, she received her degree on Music Performance (Drums).

    From 2020 to 2022, Eleni was the drummer of the Brazilian thrash metal band NERVOSA (Napalm Records). While in NERVOSA, she recorded the drums for the critical acclaimed album PERPETUAL CHAOS, toured extensively around Europe and North America and played at several big festivals in Europe and Mexico.

    Currently, Eleni is working as a session drummer and a drum instructor. She has recorded a wide variety of albums, EPs and singles for bands and artists from all over the world. She has also worked on many Greek TV talk shows and theater productions as a live drummer/composer. As of September 2022, Eleni is the new drummer of the Spanish metalcore band ANKOR.

    Michaela Naydenova

    I started with drum lessons at the age of 15 and afterwards I decided to continue my professional path in that direction. I have a bachelor’s degree from the National Music Academy in Pop and Jazz drumming. In 2021 I continued my university education and now one of my main activities is teaching drums.

    Three years ago I won 3rd place in the international ‘Hit Like A Girl’ contest and later became the first Bulgarian artist to be signed by Meinl and DW. I have played in several bands here as KhanЪ, Ember & Dust, Phyx(session live member), Bloodrush (session live member) and will soon announce couple of projects I currently work on.

    In 2022 I played on my first drum festival – Sofia Drum Fest – with Krimh and George Kollias as headliners.