NOTE: I was planning on writing a blog full of "brilliant" observations about music, but I ended up writing about how I started playing drums. Oh well, I hope you'll enjoy it anyway!
One of my greatest joys in life is music—both listening to and playing it. I owe this in large part to my mom. She loved music and passed that love along to my siblings and me.
The summer before I turned eleven, I started school band, following the example set by my aforementioned siblings. The previous spring, the band director at my school held listening tests to help gauge musical aptitude in the kids my age. This helped him determine who got to play which instruments.
I REALLY wanted to play percussion, just like my big brother. I remember taking the rhythm portion of the listening tests with a great deal of anxiety. I kept second-guessing myself and checking with my classmates to see how they answered each question.
When the results came back, I did quite well on all the tests…with one exception (I’ll let you guess which). I was distraught. The band director recommended I play trombone, but my parents went to bat for me, advocating that I get to try percussion, and he reluctantly gave in. I was relieved more than anything.
On the first day of summer band, the new percussion recruits gathered in the band room at Lincoln Elementary school. I don’t know how many of us there were, but my memory suggests there must have been upwards of twenty eager wanna-be drummers.
We took our places in a large circle, with each of us positioned behind a metal music stand. The director used masking tape to mark a square target area on the stands, which were tilted flat as makeshift playing surfaces.
I clung carefully to my new pair of size 2B drumsticks. My brother had previously taught me how to play using the “rudimental grip,” where the left hand holds the stick at an angle, different from the right hand. I was mildly dismayed when the band director instructed us to use “match grip,” in which the grip is the same in both hands. I thought rudimental grip was way cooler.
The clamor that erupted when we played our first exercise caught me off-guard. I can only imagine what it was like for the director, standing in the middle of the ring of cacophony.
Over the course of the coming days, the group was whittled down, and we were able to enjoy more personalized instruction.
I can vividly recall my pride at receiving the director’s evaluation at the end of lessons: “Watch out—gonna be good!” I was happy not only to avoid playing trombone, but to know my parents’ efforts were not in vain.
I was on my way.
I've included some old blogs along with the new. Should you ever find yourself suffering from insomnia, this is the place for you! That's as poetic as I get...