I’m going to shamelessly steal this from an article I wrote on my own blog about a half year ago… If you’ve never tried drumming, here are 10 reasons why you should… I feel I’m in a position to say that it makes people happy because, watching classes perform here on the Central Coast, I’ve seen people do things they never thought they could, and the smiles on their faces after they realize this is completely priceless, and they’ve told me how happy it’s made them. So, without further ado, 10 reasons to try drumming as a way of making you happy:
- It makes you a better listener: In a drum circle, usually one person starts a beat, but it is the job of everyone else to build upon it. If you don’t listen to what the people around you are doing, then your rhythm won’t sit well with the rest of the drumming, and the confluence of music that emerges won’t be as smooth or euphonic as it could be. In the rest of the world, people consider listening to others to be a highly desirable trait, and enjoy having friends that listen, and friends help make people happy.
- You have to listen to yourself: This sounds surprisingly easy. After all, you’re the master of your body, you choose what words come out of your mouth every time you speak, you eat when you’re hungry, you sleep when you’re tired, right? However, I’ve found that a surprising number of people (full disclosure: I’m definitely one of these) don’t really listen to themselves… you eat when it’s lunchtime at the office, and there’s food on your plate. You sleep after your favorite TV show ends on television and you’ve gotta be up by 6am. Someone tells you you’ve said something and you don’t remember it (ok, maybe you forgot that one on purpose). Point is, we often ignore what we’re putting out into the world, and i’ve found that it just isn’t possible to do so when you’re in a drum circle. If you’re on a cowbell, keeping time, or playing on the djun djuns you have to pay attention to what you’re doing and listen to yourself, or else you speed up or slow down and just confuse everyone else in the circle. The rhythm can entirely fall apart, and it’s all on your head… However, if everyone else is wavering, and you stay strong, you can keep other people going and get back into the rhythm. You’d be surprised how hard it is to hear yourself over everyone else, and to not get swayed by other peoples’ rhythms. This is one that I’m constantly working on, and have yet to master. Someday, my friends, someday…
- It’s something no one else can take from you: this is kind of a weird statement, but it’s one that’s really important to me. If I am on top of a rhythm, and playing it the best I possibly can, then even if no one else likes the music that comes out of it, I know I played it right. It’s such an intangible event, and so you have to savor the experience of it over having something to hold on to. I paint, and my art is satisfying, but I can always look at a picture I made next to a picture someone else did and like theirs more, or think they did it better. There will always be better drummers than me out there, but if I play the part I’m supposed to, and I play it right, that’s something no one else can diminish.
- It forces you to be in the moment: nothing you played before matters if you can’t hold it together right now. It doesn’t matter how amazing your beat was 2 minutes ago, if you’re not paying attention to the present and your role in it (in most cases in drumming, being in time), the whole thing falls apart. How often are we truly in the moment, enjoying what’s going on right now, not worrying about what could happen or what already has?
- You must be patient: Learning new things is difficult! Learning new rhythms, particularly in Taiko, where you have to also learn which hand you’re supposed to be using on which beat, can be really frustrating, and you watch other people get it and you’re still making mistakes and it’s really easy to get really frustrated. You can’t expect to be fantastic at it immediately, but if you’re patient and put in the time practicing, you’ll notice yourself getting better and better. I started drumming a year and a half ago, and have gotten heaps better since then; however, the occasional practice with the Rhythm Hunters has shown me that I still have a LOT to learn.
- It works out both sides of your brain: As i mentioned in number 5, in Taiko, when you’re learning the rhythm, your head (and, to be honest, sometimes your mouth as well) is screaming “Left, right, right, left, left, right :pause: right” over and over. Once you get that down, try switching your hands, and immediately you have to basically learn the whole rhythm over again. It’s amazing how frustrating it can be, and then how rewarding when you finally get it… in one of the advanced classes, we were learning two different rhythms with either hand, and hearing how they interact with one another. I could actually feel my brain straining when I switched my hands, and the sense of relief and accomplishment when I finally got the opposite pattern was palpable: I beamed for a good 20 minutes after.
- it’s a skill you can perform with: Have you always been envious of the people who could rock up anywhere and just DO something that captured the attention of a lot of people? Maybe you’ve been envious of the busker who could contact juggle and make balls dance around her fingertips, or that guy who brings his guitar to a party and has everyone singing kumbayah instead of watching the game, or that firespinner who does the most amazing double staff tricks while balancing a hula hoopist on his shoulders while singing the alphabet backwards and drawing the Mona Lisa with his toes… If you learn how to drum, you’ve got something you can show people to draw a crowd. If you’re new to it, I wouldn’t suggest setting up right next to that particular firespinner, but you should still be able to have fun and help a guitarist with a sick beat.
- it’s a great community of people: I have met the most amazingly awesome people through working at the Rhythm Hut here on the Central Coast. They’re not all dreamy hippies either (although there are a few of us); They’re nurses and electricians and lawyers and doctors and school teachers and students and more… They’re all PASSIONATE people though, and it’s so wonderful to see people support each other and work through things together and hang out beyond just seeing each other in class.
- It’s healthy: this Huffington Post article even mentions drumming specifically as being good for your immune system. You feel so much better after a good drum session, and it can even be a great workout
- IT’S SO MUCH FUN! I’ve seen people from 2 years old to 70 years old laugh and enjoy themselves while playing drums. We’ve got classes for all ages and all skill levels, so it’s pretty hard not to find one that’ll fit your goals.
What have you done recently that’s made you happy (please feel free to share in the comments section below)? If you want to try drumming to see if it’s something that you’ll enjoy, we’ve got two free open nights on Feb. 2nd at 6:30 and Feb. 5th at 4pm. Hope to see you soon!