I have a pretty fair collection of “how I knew” moments that I decided I would enjoy writing about. I would like to make this the theme for one post out of each week. What do you think? Today I’ll stay on my train of thought from yesterday and tell you how I knew I wanted to learn the drums.
For starters, I have been a music junky since I was able to walk, which I figure coincides with being a dancer. Dance and music are like lungs and air. One just doesn’t work without the other. Learning to play instruments growing up was always an interest of mine, but I never really stuck with one in particular. I got frustrated with guitar, because I am not very dexterous and have tiny hands. If you have followed along, you know just how well I wasn’t at using my own voice box. Piano and I had a fling, but the chemistry just wasn’t there. We all were forced to play the recorder, but who takes that seriously anyway?
My infatuation with drums started in high school (more specifically I was probably 16). I had a friend who, unlike your typical teenage girl, decided her “thing” was rocking out with her… sticks out. I was always envious watching her play. I remember going to her house and always secretly eyeing her set with curiosity. One day, she caught me staring I suppose, because she asked me if I wanted to learn a beat. Naturally, I pounced at the opportunity. She showed me how to hold the sticks along with a proper cross-stick technique. From that day on, I remembered that one simple beat. I would find myself practicing it just using my hands, with pens and pencils, or with whatever was lying around. To me it just sounded fancy, and I was proud of myself for learning and retaining what she had taught me. Anytime I got lucky enough to encounter a set I would beg to play this sole beat repeatedly. Yet still, it never crossed my mind to pursue anything more. This was probably because at this time I was on the up and up of the dance world, never really leaving room for other passions.
Fast forward to August 2011. There I was, freshly out of college, about three years retired from the dance scene, working my 8-5, newly single, and frighteningly bored. I tried finding an adult dance studio and revive my ballet technique to no avail. I tried picking my tennis game back up, but there was no where and no one to play. I joined a gym only to ever work out at home. I even looked in to joining a pool league, but all attempts at finding something to enthrall me again seemed to fall through. I knew I had to do something that made me feel worth wild again, but I just couldn’t figure out what.
As fate would have it, I actually lived ten feet away from my neighbor who happened to be a professional musician. This cat played guitar, mandolin, banjo, and drums to name a few. Hell, this guy was so musically inclined, had he whipped out a harp I wouldn’t have so much as flinched. Oh, did I mention he sang too? It was pretty groovy to have a fellow young neighbor who was friendly AND performed nightly acoustic performances that I enjoyed from the comfort of my front porch in my long johns. I have a thing for wearing men’s long johns.
There were a few nights where I would stumbling in after hours, and The Musician was still awake strumming and humming. I would zigzag my way across the yard to end up staying up all night listening to his various works in progress and making stuffed animals dance along (I won’t even get into that, but ridiculous things can happen when enough alcohol is involved). Being around all this music got me amped up. I would proudly show off my minuscule amount of percussionist knowledge to The Musician, and that eventually turned in to my revelation that I should buy a set of my own and learn more. This is something that had been enticing me for some time, and now it was right in front of my face slowly luring me in. So, why not?
That is precisely what I did. One day I surfed on over to Amazon.com, did some mediocre researching, and clicked “complete my order” in about an hour. Let me add a note here. I tried using practice pads and even took a few lessons from a friend on a set where he taught me on campus before deciding to buy a full set. While the practice pad is good for – imagine this – practicing, it lacks the resonating sounds and vibrations of a full set that reward you for your practice and dedication. Lessons were just too constricting time-wise for me to get anything out of them. I could only do one lesson a week on a weekend morning for an hour. Then there was the money. TIP: you can learn anything for free if you have an internet connection and patience. It is a little known secret called (shh) YouTube.com.
My first acoustic drum set would be a black Gammon 5-piece set. She was cheap, but she was mine. It took some work to assemble the set when it arrived, however I did coerce a friend in to helping me muscle through, at least with tightening some things here and there. I intently studied several tuning “how to” videos beforehand, so I was able to make at least a half ass attempt at correctly tuning the heads. This process is ultra-tedious, but I looked at it as a bonding experience for me and my set. Did I just say I bonded with an intimate object? Confirmed. When I would crack out my first drum fill or roll on the snare, I would know that the unique sound radiating from that set was the result of my hard work and persistence. I finally quenched that need to feel like I was working towards a personal accomplishment. It may sound silly, but this revived me in a time when I was feeling pretty worthless.
I can give a review on the product itself from initial ordering to playing quality for anyone who is interested. I had it for about eight months and now am planning to switch to electric. Just remember: It is never too late to pick up an instrument if you are committed and enthused. Learning to read music and play instruments is proven to make you smarter too. So yea. Go forth and grow your brain.
- Musicians, Musicians Everywhere… (alansrants.wordpress.com)
- Music Is Life (theredheadchronicles2.wordpress.com)
- Rhythmically Interesting Music (bgmrhythms.wordpress.com)