Ian, my six year old son, is learning to play the drums. It is an instrument that has always mesmerized him and captured his attention anytime he hears them played. When I first noticed his interest I assumed, like most boys, he liked them because they make a lot of noise. It wasn’t until I noticed him mimicking the actions of another drummer did I truly understand his passion. Not only did he love the sound but he loved the fluid actions that goes along with playing a percussion instrument.
Before I paid for his first lessons, drums was all he would eat, sleep, and drink. If it had anything to do with drums he wanted it. At the age of 3 he played his mini drum set during show and tell at pre-school stealing the show. Using that same drum set he perfected the timing and cadence of a popular church hymn good enough for his mom to sing along to. My son had found his passion at a young age and had a natural talent to catch on quickly. It was a gift.
Wanting to act quickly to hone his talents, the younger you are when you act on your gift the longer it stays with you, I immediately signed him up for drum lessons to teach him to read sheet music and to seal the fundamentals into him. No sooner than my first payment cleared did his passion disappear. He did not want to take instructions. He wanted to play the drums his way. He could care less about whole notes, quarter notes, and fills. To him the drums were a way of expression and forcing him to change his rhythm threw off his groove.
Ian wanted to “play the beat of his own drum.”
The challenge was that music has more than one tempo. Rock doesn’t sound like smooth jazz and smooth jazz doesn’t sound like folk. You can’t play every song that exists to the same beat. Once my son understood that playing the drums was an art his level of engagement skyrocketed. He might not be playing full songs with 1/16 snare notes and double foot pedals but he is learning to stay in the pocket and play the beat the instructor gives him. He now plays the hand he is dealt.
If life were a series of songs the melodies at times could be calming and peaceful, violent and chaotic or monotone and sad. Each event we face has its very own sound so we have to learn how to play the tune of the moment. My son was good at playing the songs he liked but didn’t have enough respect for his craft to learn to master the art. What good is it to know how to play rock music at a classical recital? What good is it to know how to close a sale if you don’t have appropriate marketing to tell the world about your product? I want you to understand that even with all the natural talent in the world there is always room for improvement.
You can’t do it all without instructions.
You won’t know how to play every beat life throws at you without practice.
You can’t rely on talent forever.
Playing the drums of life is an art. Learn to master the rhythm of the moment.