[Artwork by Jackson Aubrecht]
Today I want to briefly talk about frustration. Everybody, especially musicians, has moments in their life when they feel like they are “spinning their wheels” and “stuck in a rut.” Stagnating is also a term used often to describe this dilemma. I have recently fallen into that trap myself. I am one of those drummers who has to practice frequently in order to maintain proficiency with the instrument. Other drummers, specifically my professional friends, can go long periods of time without playing or practicing and never miss a beat (pun intended). I’m not that naturally gifted and have to work at it. Sometimes I struggle with meter, or musicianship, or creativity. Often this is followed by moments of doubt and self-deprecation. One of the things I do to help guide me through these instances is to keep a practice diary next to my drum set. I use it to record what I did that session, what worked, what didn’t work, and what I need to improve on. By writing it down I force myself to be accountable. The next time I sit down on the drum stool I grab that diary and read over my notes. Only then do I pick up the drum sticks and proceed to play. I also video myself playing and watch it back like a football player watches game film. Just like an athlete I critique my playing and get a different perspective. I also listen to myself and often find new ideas that spawn from the not-so-good ones. By accepting the fact that nobody’s perfect, and reminding yourself that good things are worth working for, you can help to curb your frustration and look at it as a positive experience that ultimately makes us better.