I love being in my band. We’ve only existed for about a month as an entity, but I’m pretty sure they feel the exact opposite about me. It is really hard for them to play a song that’s recognizable when the drummer can’t keep a beat, and slows down and speeds up, and then just fucks up and plays whatever her arms and feet flail to until she calms down.
But they smile at me in my little corner every now and then. That’s got to mean something, right? I’ll tell you what I love about being in this band. We’re strangers with different ability levels, different musical tastes, different ages, different backgrounds, and different personalities. But when we’re in that room together, we all have a common goal, and we try our hardest. We are kind and patient. We connect through the music, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Now I’ll tell you what I hate. I hate Mr. Jones. Someone had the bright idea that playing the Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones” would be fun. Someone thought it would be a great song to play at our first gig. Let me tell you, that someone was not me. But I’m learning the drummer also gets very little say in matters. Especially if the drummer sucks. I can’t fault them for that.
So there is something about Mr. Jones that just fucks me up. I have spent over 20 hours trying to learn it. But who’s counting? Granted, I’ve come a long way. I am pretty much up to speed now, can mostly play through it, but still mess up, and some grooves are just not quite right yet. My timing is a little off, much like the rest of my life. But apparently in music, that matters a great deal.
At our last band practice, I was very, very anxious. It was not pretty. I was very down on myself about this, because the rest of the band has to speed up or slow down to my beat. That’s a lot of pressure. They’ve all been playing for much longer than I, so I’m already feeling inadequate. I don’t like feeling like I let anyone down, and I don’t want to mess them up. So of course as I’m feeling Not Enough and anxious, I mess up even more.
After practice, we were talking and they assured me I’d be fine by show time. I know that. But I felt foolish and stupid and like I let them down, and like I’m not pulling my own weight. I apologized profusely as I was sweating under the spotlights. Our bassist offered to record us to show us how we really sound.
He told me that the recordings we hear on the radio are really several of a band’s best takes, spliced together. Of course. That musicians usually play slightly different arrangements each time. Of course. That there is no perfect. Of course. That what we hear on the recorded single is not what was actually played in one take. Of course.
Huh. I realized I was under the illusion of Perfect again. Of course. I know women don’t have perfect bodies, we don’t have perfect houses, we don’t have perfect jobs or husbands or kids. But songs? I had no idea those weren’t perfect either. Professional musicians? No clue their playing also was not perfect.
Perspective is everything. I fell into my Not Enough hole. Thank God my bandmates are kind and full of grace. They hugged me and reminded me to have fun. They pointed out that I don’t stop when I mess up and I jump right back in where I’m supposed to, and keep going. They reminded me that’s all you need to do–just don’t give up. Jump back in and keep going. Hello, life lesson.
Let me tell you, this band thing is a big deal for me. Because of my propensity to fall into a Not Enough hole despite my best efforts. Because I have a smidge of social anxiety. Because I hate being the center of attention for anything, much less be on a stage. Because I am an introvert. Because I’ve only been playing for 6 months. Because truly I can’t keep a beat and I can barely count. Because I don’t want to let people down. Because I’ve told everyone and their mother to come see me and I’m highly allergic to failure.
Let me also tell you, none of that is news for me. Those are also the reasons why I’m doing this. Because no matter how badly I suck, I love drumming. I love rising to challenges. I love doing hard things. I love not giving in to my fears. Because I love growth. And truly, this will not kill me, but it will make me stronger. It won’t make me perfect. And I’ve been reminded I don’t want perfect. I want fun. And I can’t think of anything more fun than a drummer that keeps you guessing.