If you are a drummer, you are part of collective dream that we drummers share. As a kid, the magic of how the hi hat pedal worked, the smell of a drum on the inside, the faces of drummers as they play, the feeling of hearing someone live with a deep beautiful pocket, these make an impression on your soul that lasts a lifetime. These feelings are pretty abstract for the average person to understand. It seems like the drums pick you. You do not pick them. And in some cases…they really become your life! Your very being and the thing you live for. You put drums before everything. Before food even. Before relationships with the opposite sex and before a secure future. Something that seems like madness to the average person. If you are one of these people…and you are beginning the journey in drumming…there are a few things you should know to maximize your enjoyment of this life and career. One of the most important things IMHO, is keeping your mind right!!
There might be times where you will feel like the hurdles before you seem insurmountable. When things are stacked so high against you that it starts to affect your mind. Of course we all know the story of many many great drummers having to get days gigs when they were young, to survive while the career things like contacts and the right opportunities come along. This is the most dangerous time. It can be discouraging and lead you to put precious time you need behind the instrument into places that have no other benefit then survival and paying bills.
I get many emails describing these types of situations and how to deal with them. It’s a very important subject. There can be some variations to the situations, different countries, different resources etc etc…but in general they are the same. I have had so many great conversations with great teachers and players about this and maybe if you are reading this right now, it can remind you that we are all on the same journey. It can help to calm the nerves. In cases like these my advice and advice that was always given to me by my greatest teachers is…
1) Restructure your economic and living situation to accommodate drumming. Not the other way around. Reduce all costs. Live at home with family if possible. In the USA this situation has been made to seem intolerable and shameful by the general culture. There could be no bigger BS in the world. In many countries around the world this is a very normal thing. And many people have loving families that actually help you! So keep these relationships close as much as possible.
2) Keep your eye on your drumming and feed the soul with deep content. Like the best music you can possibly see or get a hold of. Be around art as much as possible and always seek to put every ounce of energy into your drumming. Keep your mind engaged in making contacts that will lead to making some dough behind the kit! Not in getting a job in some other area. If you always make sure drumming is first, this will help to maintain your focus. ACCUMULATING BILLS IS A HUGE MISTAKE. DO NOT MAKE PAYING BILLS A FIRST PRIORITY! Be as free from unnecessary expenses as you possibly can and put every ounce of energy into drumming. Don’t let the general culture distract you with meaningless trends or social pressures. You have enough to worry about as a drummer.
3) Make sure you are playing the best you possibly can. Take no shortcuts. Work as hard as you possibly can on the craft! To the point where others think you are bonkers. But make sure the solitude and hardship of this road doesn’t MAKE you crazy. IT CAN. I have seen it ruin people. It’s not a joke.
4) When you are aiming at this high level you will meet other drum freaks like you! And you will realize you are not alone. If possible, develop these friendships and keep them close! You will need them! Not only for inspiration but as contacts! And soul brothers.
5) Keep your long term goals in focus and work on them daily! Did you think once you learn what you wanted the time for practicing is over? Hahaha!!! Not only will you have to maintain the high level stuff you already know, but we need to work on new things and absorb them into our playing. This is also a vulnerable position to be in because it requires that you do keep the ego out of the way. The mind can play tricks on you in this stage and possible make you have issues of self worth. All you need to remember to deal with this, is that you will never ever be the guy that can say “I play all styles” – That simply doesn’t exist. NO ONE can ever achieve that in the short time we have on earth. This will liberate you from any misconceptions and keep your ego in check. Allowing you to maintain your drumming monster at the highest level…in Peace.
There are many many other things I can mention, but lets have a start here.
Wherever you are on your journey in drumming, you are not alone! Enjoy the drums at every moment. You are living the dream!