Reason #79 why I love my band: Their sense of humor–not everyone would agree to referencing blood sausage in their band name.
This motley crew who gather weekly with me are my Church. Which is strange because one is Jewish, I’m not a religious person, and there’s a good chance the other three are atheists. Church, to me, is where I feel my spiritual God. The beach and the ocean are Church for me too, and there’s no crucifix in sight.
Church to me is where my soul settles and is home. Church to me is where grace and redemption and kindness are offered, no purchase necessary. Church is the tribe of people who remind me, through their example, to be patient and kind and gracious. Church is where truth lives, and love and acceptance are given unconditionally. Church is the space that encourages me to be vulnerable and authentic and take risks, and is the soft space that allows me to fall and falter and fail. And they let me come back the next week after I’ve shown them I’m human and flawed.
I’ve discovered making music is holy. Making music with others is magical and mystical and awesome. To this day I’m in awe that I can keep a steady beat. When I can contribute to something that resembles a familiar song, I’m ecstatic.
Despite said ecstasy, I am not at all talented and still cannot count. It still requires a great deal of practice and work on my part. Our guitarist literally listens to a song once, and plays it. I lack that gene. So this band provides me the opportunity to keep practicing and working hard at a craft that fills my soul. This band also provides reminders and opportunities to practice life lessons.
You can’t hurry past parts of the song or life: When I’m practicing a song, I get really irritated sometimes when I just want to get to that really tricky part. Sometimes I just want to rush through the chorus and get to that bridge, but I know I need to practice the entire song so the transitions flow and I get a better sense of the song. Sometimes in life I find that I’m trying to rush or force things, or wishing parts would speed by. This reminds me to stay right where I am in the moment and take things as they come. I’ll get to where I will be when I’m there. I always do.
You’re never really “there”: A funny thing happens when I’ve mastered a song. By funny, I mean it bewilders my band. We’ll have a period of time where I can play pretty solidly. Until I don’t. Part of my charm is suddenly becoming inconsistent in weird places and at odd times. They don’t know what to make of it and it throws them off. I smile, apologize, and offer to buy the next round of drinks.
In life I’ve worked hard at staying in the discomfort, in doing hard things, in doing scary things, in taking risks. With each life event, it seems to be a little easier, there’s a sense of mastery. Until things go south or I’m in a super vulnerable spot. And I’m reminded we’re never really ok with endings, we’re never really ok with getting hurt or disappointed. We’ll always have varying degrees of self-esteem/sense of self issues. I’m reminded feeling vulnerable isn’t a mastery one achieves and you never feel vulnerable ever again. You don’t conquer it and leave it behind, never to feel vulnerable again. You can get to a point of being willing to take more risks, but it still feels scary. You get to a point of being able to cope with discomfort in less painful ways. You get to a point of loving your body and still having moments of feeling not skinny enough. There’s always opportunities to practice.
Listen to your gut, don’t let others shake your confidence: I’ve stumbled on my current favorite song to play. Because it’s a Guns N’ Roses song. Because there’s a lot of different parts to it. Because I figured out how to play it all by myself. Playing that song makes me so proud and happy. I played it solidly for weeks, until I became wildly inconsistent. I realized I was having trouble counting because our singer had jumped in at different times and I was trying to meet her where she was. But in that, I lost my confidence in my own counting and playing and no longer trusted where I thought we were in the song. I’m reminded I need to go with my gut and not let others shake my faith in myself.
Balance: Yet at the same time, I can’t just be an asshole and ignore the rest of the band or we sound like shit. That’s called branching out to be a solo act. Technically they have to follow my lead even when I mess up. But I’ve learned we sound as good as our weakest link. We need to work together to make sure we as a band sound good. So it’s a balance of doing my own thing, but staying mindful of where everyone else is at, and making adjustments if needed. If our singer has missed a verse and jumps to the chorus, we’re all meeting her there. If I stayed in my own lane and kept drumming to what was right, it’s pretty obvious pretty quickly something’s not right. It’s a nice reminder of the balance of doing my own thing, and simultaneously being a good citizen and working towards the common good.
So I’m sticking with this particular tribe of mine, this one I call my band, and it’s not just for the money. I love these opportunities for making magic, for practicing mindfulness, for doing hard things. And quite frankly, there’s not really a career path for solo drummers. Especially for those who can’t count.