I have been getting lots of strange questions lately. Maybe its a sign of the times. People are a bit worried about the future maybe. Students have never asked me these types of questions straight out before. For example, “How do you get to make a living with drums!”
Even though times have changed in the “music biz” there is one thing that has not changed in my mind. My definition of success. This definition was embedded early on as a kid. Having parents that were musicians helped in that sense. They had it figured out to a certain degree. What is my definition of success?
To be the best musician I can possibly be!
OK so…it’s easy to jot that down and think that it makes you feel good to say that. But what exactly does that mean? When you say that, it implies that you will be the best you can possibly be. Meaning you will seek out every possibility. EVERY possibility! And that means sacrifice! Oh yes….those words are easy to say, but hard to live! Sacrifice will require that you have vision. A vision of what you want to become. And vision will be blurred, darkened and can lose detail…if you don’t have perseverance. And I mean the kind that oozes out of your pores. The kind that shows in your face. The kind that drives your actions and thoughts. There will be every obstacle you can imagine on your path when you begin. And if you have some success early on, your journey is also just beginning. Because this thing you have chosen to do…is a never ending journey into music and…Self discovery.
Why self discovery? Because it will test your will power. It will test your determination, how much you really want it. How much you are willing to deal with to get where you want to be. In other words, the task of accomplishing this little sentence …(To be the best musician I can possibly be! ) will make a man out of you. (Or woman if you are female)
What can you expect to have as a comparison in your quest? If you are in a top tier music school this will be right in front of your face. You will be interacting with students like yourself who might be as determined as anyone in this world can be. But if you are not…if you are slugging it out on your own, it might be a little less clear. Try to imagine someone who will go to any length to accomplish this goal of being “the best musician you can be!” Including getting themselves into massive debt to go to school. Putting all of the rest of life aside and going for it full blast!! Practicing 8 hours a day or more!! Surviving on top ramen noodles. I have even seen cats sleeping in their practice rooms and waking up to immediately practice! Heck back when i was a student, we were doing what we called “shock the body” / That would be practice all day until you couldn’t hold yourself up anymore. Sleep next to the drums, wake up and before you even go to the bathroom, start practicing. There were times when i would fall asleep while practicing like this. For a brief moment I would basically pass out and in 2 seconds wake up!! The whole time my hands were still moving! It’s almost a transcendental experience, to go into this type of practice mode. Serious isolation is a side effect of this. But you keep at it. The health risks are many! I saw a student once have a mini stroke! And he was a young guy! I would probably never do it that way again, but….this maybe helps you to get a sense of what it means….to try to be “The best musician you can possibly be”
This path is not for everyone of course. And only the most passionate and intensely obsessed with drumming people will do this. If you are one of those people, that’s what you should expect to do. You are not alone in the quest and you are not the first one to do it. So draw from other peoples experience and stay inspired.
Most of all…Persevere!!
All the best