Monday, November 3, 2014

What Learning to Play Drums Has Taught Me


     I started playing drums in July, the very first instrument of any type that I've attempted to play. With no prior knowledge of reading or playing music and barely knowing each part of the drum kit I began taking lessons. Lets get this straight; there's beginners... and then there's me, way down below beginner level. Within the first month I was sitting at my drum kit, blurry eyed from tears, staring at my snare drum sheet music I taped to my crash cymbal. In that month I also learned simple beats, including a bass snare bass snare rhythm that is very basic but used a lot, excited I listened for it in every song on my play list or radio. With this, I persevered knowing that "anything worth having doesn't come easy."

     Today I came home from my normal Tuesday morning drum lesson, but today I burst into tears the second I got home. I didn't do well in my lesson today, so bad in fact my teacher told me that if I didn't want to play drums, there's so many other instruments to learn. I'm bad at focusing and during the hour long session of trying to play beats, keeping my counting steady, and obtaining new information I am worn down with trying so hard to focus. This makes me constantly have a serious look, and I can see how my teacher would think I don't enjoy playing drums. I left with a drum teacher prescription dose of "HAVE FUN WITH IT!."

     "Okay now do that again. But, this time with confidence" has been spoken many times by my cheerful purple and pink haired instructor. I thought that I had confidence. I no longer cared what my hair looked like 24/7 or who thought my hot pink tights were a strange Sunday morning church service clothing choice. I thought I had confidence until I started hanging out with people who did, and until I started playing drums. Timidly bouncing my stick against my snare drum and merely tapping my foot to propel the pedal against my bass drum I got through lessons. I can use cheesy pick up lines on a guy at the T-Mobile booth in the mall but I can't hit a drum?! What kind of deal is that! Confidence and a bit of aggression, officially added to my to-do list.

     "I'll play three measures of our basic beat, then you come up with your own fill to add on the fourth measure." Oh boy, did those words make me nervous. Come up with a fill myself, with only the knowledge of the two in a song I was learning and a resource sheet I had played through maybe twice. First three measures played. My time to shine? HAHA nope. I immediately freeze, uttering "UH. UH. UM. UH" and staring at the drum set like it was a foreign object sent from a alien ship that crashed through the wall of guitar center. Three more measures played. With much hesitation I play a fill that I knew from the song I had been constantly practicing, "Falls Apart" by Sugar Ray. I knew in my SOUL, not my heart, my SOUL I could not produce a good fill. Whatever fill I was going to think of was going to sound stupid, be off beat, not impressive enough, too short, and/or too long, it was immediately decided in my mind whatever I played was going to sound like the drums that will be played in hell. If there's drums in hell, its 100% definitely recordings of me. It wasn't until this moment that I truly understood the phrase I see plastered on Pinterest boards "Creativity starts when you lose the fear of being wrong."

     What did I learn from playing drums? Even though its tough, I love it, and its worth all the hours of effort, bruised hands, and tears. I get what I put in. Its all worth it for when I DO get a beat, fill, or song down. Don't be so serious. Get excited about something for once in my teenage life, and act as if I really am excited. Talking to new people is fun and interesting. I may have ADD, and its okay to ask for help. Hit the bass pedal like you're squashing a bug. The more you fail, the closer you are to succeeding. HAVE FUN. It doesn't always have to be good, just try it out. If you don't like something, stop doing it. Confidence is still something I need to work on. Just go for it, even if it sucks. DONT PANIC WHEN ITS MY TURN TO DO A FILL. Be aggressive when necessary. It's okay to be wrong. Stop always automatically assuming that I'm wrong. Music is actually magical. There is a WHOLE LOT of thought and effort put into every one of my favorite songs or albums, appreciate that. What did I learn from playing drums? A heck of a lot about myself, and maybe a bit of drums mixed in there.... 

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