From the ancient past when drumming was used as a medium for communication of messages and alerts, to the current day usage of supporting songs live and in the studio, there have been drummers and rhythm artists. We are fascinated by rhythm, creating our own rhythm songs and grooves, and providing musical art to move people’s spirits. For me, the feeling of communication and being part of something bigger is definitely part of the attraction. A drummer by himself can call the spirits down and lift the mood of audiences by getting the blood pumping harder and the brain firing faster, inspiring us all to believe in the truth and the trance of rhythm.
In our country, the origin of the drum set started when many field drummers for armies turned to supporting brass bands and orchestras for fun and profit. Before long they dreamed up some cool ideas and experimented with ways to provide a full percussive sound played by one person!
Early drum sets included lots of instruments from other cultures, Turkish cymbals, Chinese tom toms, wood blocks, crazy hardware inventions (the bass drum pedal and high hat stand, for two), using household tools and implements as additions to basic drum sets.
Young drummers have been known to use almost anything to create a groove. And, a drum set is what you say it is! How many of us have marveled at the street performers using plastic buckets to show their ability? Many of these players have amazing talent and “chops”, showing jaw-dropping moves and facility to drive a beat all by themselves. A time-honored tradition in childhood is laying out some pots and pans and making fun noises happen.
I fell in love with drumming as a very young kid, although it took getting to high school for me to really find the focus and energy to explore and develop my ability. After my freshman year at Garfield High in Seattle, I was hooked.
Like many drummers, I did anything I had to, to find a place to play, to get an instrument. The police were called many times by my neighbors in Seattle (I’m so sorry for all the racket), as I developed my ability and desire, and tried to turn my passion into the opportunity to play more. I acted as if I could play things that were far above my ability, I learned how to learn on the bandstand and in the recording studio, and I used the love of drumming to find an identity and a purpose. I fell in love with music and musicians, and expanded my horizons as I reached out to a greater world to learn more.
I can’t stress enough how important getting good teachers and listening to what they offered was for me. Please, please get a good teacher and let them guide your study of your instrument. This could be in your school, in your community, or a guy passing through town with a cool band. Different teachers teach differently, and you can study one thing with one teacher, and another thing with someone else! Find a way to reach out to these people, to give yourself permission to learn! Learn as many instruments as you can. I am always amazed by those who can play a few different instruments well. I’ve loved watching Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Jack White and Prince as they navigated different instruments and used them to fill out their ideas for music.
At the bottom of my passion, though, is a fundamental desire to communicate the joy of music to others. If you want to play an instrument, don’t second guess it! Find a way to express yourself with the love of playing. If you want to learn more about music, talk to musicians! In my travels, I always ask people to contact me to share their stories, ask questions, learn about performing, or share their joy and love of music.
You are not alone, don’t be scared to reach out to the greater world
to share your love of drumming!