The photo above was taken in 2010 when I was attending UNCP. This is around the same time I had to make a tough decision to leave school to pursue my dream of teaching and playing full-time. I had one of my good friends Michael Graham take pics so that I could create a website, flyers, business cards, and have promo pics for social media. My mind was in a scary place thinking about how I was going to make this happen for myself, how would I be able to tell my instructors and family that I was quitting… There was also a feeling of excitement because deep down I knew how much I loved teaching and just simply playing the drums. I kept that idea fresh in my mind of how it made me feel. It was what fueled me through any negativity that I faced. It was real, and it was sincere.
Why do you play drums?
This is a question that comes up from time to time, or should at least be a question you ask yourself. Do I do this for the pursuit of money and fame, for likes on YouTube and Social Media? Is it just the simple fact that I love how the sticks feel in my hands when I strike a drum or pad? Why am I doing this!?
You hear people speak of getting to the root of the so-called “problem” or that the root of anything is the key source. That’s where we find those answers we have been seeking. What is your root? What made you interested in playing drums? What made you interested in making this a career? These questions need to be in your thought process as a reminder to why this is important to you. If you chose this instrument to make lots of money and have tons of recognition then you might just be doing it for the wrong reasons. There isn’t much money out there in this industry and it’s a saturated market of people who are popping up everyday. I don’t say this to discourage you but to put things in perspective. If you are doing something for a vague reward then you will almost definitely be left disappointed when things don’t turn out how you envisioned it. If you truly love this instrument and the community then you will find that inspiration to keep it alive. It takes that to persevere through the hard times.
Tough Times Come And Go
I get the occasional text or call from friends who have chosen drums as their profession telling me that things aren’t going so well and that they wonder if it’s even worth it to continue with the dream. Maybe business is slow, someone in the industry has double crossed them, or they are just tired of feeling defeat. I feel their frustrations and anxiety because I have dealt with it in my own journey.
I have moments where money gets tight and maybe the goal I had in mind doesn’t play out the same way I envisioned it. These type of things happen to us all. The funny thing is it’s usually not the issue that causes us to give up, but our self-doubt. Sometimes we can talk ourselves out of what we really want because of tough times, isn’t that funny? The person who came up with the dream now says it can’t be done and it’s not worth the time. Tough times are temporary just like seasons. Be patient and you’ll see the change.
This January (2017) makes fourteen years I have been teaching private lessons and fourteen years that I have chosen to embark on my journey to make a living at something that I love with all of my heart. That’s a big statement and a corny one, I know haha! It’s true though! I have a passion for this instrument and the community that has been built around it. There really hasn’t been many comfortable moments to note at all as far as financial reasons. There are weeks where I may have students cancel, or stop taking lessons. Maybe a gig that pays well falls through or gets cancelled, money is then lost and I still have bills to pay. Why on earth would I continue to put myself through these situations? Because I love it, and because it’s a part of who I am. There is something about the way the sticks feel when the vibration travels up from my fingers to my arms. There is something about locking into a groove with another musician, a form of communication without words. There’s something about being a part of a community of people who show no prejudice to others regardless of race, religion, or political views. It’s a self-expression tool that I have a relationship with and I’m learning more about it each day!
Keep your head up and keep pushing hard if you really want to do this! Don’t be blinded by what others do, do your own thing! This is your self-expression and that should get you excited! Can’t play fast? Can’t play all of the standard rudiments? It’s OK! You can educate yourself and equip yourself with the tools needed to say what you gotta say. Work hard and work smart. The hustle keeps us on our toes and being comfortable can sometimes hinder us more than benefit us. Remember the reason as to why you do this and be true to yourself. It’s a journey with no end so stop looking for the end result. Focus on what is happening right now.