Today I want to take a step back and discuss what attracts me to the instrument. Perhaps you will be able to relate. That’s the purpose of this post.
Whether I am speaking of the drums or the piano there are several factors that have always been prevalent. First is the challenge. Learning how to play an instrument with any kind of competence takes practice which takes tremendous determination. You must put in the work if you want the desired results. The more work you put in the better you will get. That’s just logical. I have spent years, as you probably have, pursuing the instrument to be better each time I sit down on the stool. That is where the challenge lies. Second is the sense of accomplishment. There is no better feeling than to finally get something down after spending countless hours attempting to play it. Pushing past the frustration and getting to the level where you have begun developing muscle memory is divine. Third is for the pure enjoyment. Playing an instrument is fun and at times it can be spiritual. Sitting down behind a drum set, or recently in front of a piano, is an opportunity for me to perform what has been written and also create my own music. What could be better? Playing music is an art form and musicians can appropriately call themselves artists. Here are some examples of my experiences with these three categories.
- The Challenge: I’ll break this down into both instruments. Drums: Rudiments are the language of the drums. In my opinion they are essential to expressing yourself. Rolls and Paradiddles are the most fundamental and widely used. When someone is starting out drums for the first time chances are they are taught these three rudiments: Single-Stroke Roll, Double-Stroke Roll and Paradiddles. They are very challenging for someone who is just starting out. I worked very hard on learning these and I am still working on refining them to this day. My rolls can get sloppy if I don’t use them in a while. Piano: Scales are the rudiments of the piano. They are the foundation too. The most difficult part of scales is independence. Being able to play scales with both hands at the same time is much harder than it seems. I am still working on this and have a long way to go to be comfortable. I have just started my journey on the piano and it is much more challenging than the drums in my opinion.
- The Accomplishment: There is no better feeling as a musician in my opinion than the feeling of accomplishment after nailing something you have been practicing for a long time. As a drummer, muscle memory is the key to playing the instrument. This counts with rudiments and on the drum kit. Drummers do four different things with their limbs simultaneously. Like a dancer this requires repetition. As I mentioned before, rudiments are accomplished by practicing them over and over. Eventually your mind becomes relaxed, and your hands take over. The same goes for the piano. Eventually your hands know where the keys are. I’m not the kind of person who automatically picks things up. I must struggle and practice to get where I need to be. The sense of accomplishment is what keeps me going.
- The Enjoyment: Playing music is the most enjoyable activity I have ever done. From the time I started playing drums at the age of 13, to today when I head downstairs to my drum room, the smile on my face is always there. The drums are a part of me. They have intruded on my life. I’m a professional writer. On the side I’ve written a book, many articles and a blog on the drums. Taking up the piano at the age of 49 was for fun. I’ll never play piano anywhere outside of my house for any reason. I was given a 117 year-old piano by my church and I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to play. Is it hard? For me, yes. I spend hours watching piano videos on YouTube. Do I suck? Currently, yes, but I’m learning. That’s the key. Loving playing music whether you are good at it or not. I’m a pretty good drummer but as a pianist I’ve got a long way to go. I enjoy playing both instruments. That’s why I do it. Why do you play?