Friday, October 17, 2014

Ye Olde Ego

It's amazing how ye olde ego can sneak up on you.

I have, of late, had a bit of a drummer's resurgence. I have been a drummer since the age of fifteen. I have been in a working band since the age of twenty-ish. I have always enjoyed going out to play drums. But, somewhere between the ages of, say, thirty-ish and forty-ish, I started to put my songwriting and composition first and I started seeing drums as a small part of the big puzzle.

The new drums, on a gig. 
Then, I, for whatever reason -- I think it had a lot to do with having been inspired by the drumming of Gavin Harrison, recently -- I got psyched up for the skins again. I upgraded my beloved but tired old drumkit and bought new cymbals and, then, I started...dare I say it? I started practicing again, because, now, that tired old kit is in my little studio, permanently set up. (I have gone years without an actual acoustic kit set up in my house, warming up on practice pads and electronic kits, but it just ain't the same...)

But here's the weird thing: I have been practicing poorly. I just realized it the other day. You know what I have been doing? I've been playing stuff that is easy for me. Any novice musician knows that is no way to grow. I know it full well. Still...

...the other day, I tried something: playing patterns over a steady 3/4 (waltz) rhythm. (Inspired by Max Roach's "The Drum Also Waltzes", but with a slightly more complicated foot pattern.) Anyway, whatever level your musical knowledge is, let it suffice to say that doing this is more difficult than it sounds and, most importantly for this piece, much more difficult than I thought it would be.

I tried it a few times and just quit. Just stopped and moved onto something simpler. Today, driving in the car, it occurred to me why that was. I wasn't conscious of it, but I was saving face.

The old kit, home sweet home. 
I'm a pro-level player. I'm not supposed to sound bad. And since when you practice your drums, everyone from your family to your neighbors knows it, some subconscious part of me was paranoid. I kids could hear me up there. What would they think if I was stumbling and kerplunking my way through a pattern?

I was quitting because I was embarrassed to be heard playing badly, whether I knew it or not. Stupid.

I'm going back to it this weekend. No more dumbness.


  1. I've been having the very same issues with my guitar for the past year. Every single one of these thoughts and feelings, especially the one about people hearing me (I'm not pro, but I'm supposed to be pretty good) fussing around with the old axe and completely failing. Perhaps I should pick it up again...

    1. You should, indeed. And, of course, the better one gets, the harder it is to keep getting it's to be expected!