I’ve babbled a lot about my love of books, comics, and writing, but I haven’t delved too much into my other big love: music. It’s about as important as writing. If I was forced onto a deserted island and was given access to a few things, I would have to have something from both disciplines.
The seeds were planted from the time I came into the world, thanks to my musical parents. My mom teaches elementary music, my dad was a high school band director. They had all kinds of music playing in the house from pop to rock to jazz to classical. Heck, I heard “St. Thomas” as a marching band arrangement before I heard the Sonny Rollins version and thought, “Where have I heard this before?”
In middle school, students had a choice: PE or band. Being the not-so-athletic type, I decided to go with band, but which instrument to choose? What happens next may astound you.
My dad suggested I play the drums.
No, that’s not an error. I know the cliché, kid wants to play the drums, parents try every way to dissuade them. But that didn’t happen. They WANTED me to play the drums. How could I refuse?
I started out on the snare drum, and eventually made my way to the drum set. I felt like the king of the world when I could play a simple rock beat.
This lead me to listening to music in a different light. Instead of soaking in the entire song, I found myself drawn to what the drummer was doing. One of the first groups I latched onto was Genesis, featuring the amazing drumming of Phil Collins (and Chester Thompson on the live albums). Thanks to Modern Drummer magazine, I soaked in as much information through all those profiles and columns.
In the 10th grade, I transferred to an arts school in Jacksonville, where I was amongst my people. I had one class period devoted to percussion. I was learning music theory. Soon I got the crazy idea of becoming a professional musician. I thought I could be one of those session drummers I read about in Modern Drummer. I joined all the school bands from marching to concert. I participated in solo and ensemble contests.
And then, one day in my junior or senior year back in my old high school, something clicked.
I didn’t want to be a professional musician anymore.
A while back, someone on the Internet showed a graph tracking the path one takes when learning a craft. I’m paraphrasing here, but you climb and fall and climb and fall, and then you hit a wall. If you scale over the wall and keep going, things will get a little better. Most people hit the wall and turn around.
At the time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I was supposed to be a drummer! I had found my calling! My destiny!
Part of me now thinks I hit a wall with my drumming, and I didn’t want to keep going. So I scaled back the serious-o-meter, making drumming more of a hobby.
Thankfully, I discovered another career path — writing. But I haven’t abandoned music completely. When I went to the University of Florida, I got to play in some of the bands, including one of the jazz bands. I played the drums in local churches. And when I get a spare moment, I put on the headphones and play along with Phil and Chester.
And on occasion, I’ve found a way to marry both of these loves through my day job. But there are times when I wonder what would have happened if I had stuck with music.
But I don’t dwell on it too much.