Mary Jo HamrickHey all of you drummers and musicians out there! I am hanging out at the Don Hamrick Drum Center on this Monday doing some research. It seems while practicing yesterday afternoon I hit a snag that catapulted my confidence and enthusiasm into the drain. I was doing just fine with my drum beats and fills until I came upon beat number 9, a shuffle beat found on Don Hamrick’s infamous teaching drum beat sheet. I did the beat just fine. In fact, it was review for me. I’ve done that drum beat many times before. What tripped me up was the fill that Don stuck in there for me to do, which was new. I eventually got it. I did the beat for 3 measures then added the fill for the 4th measure then returned to the beat. However I struggled with the timing of when to add the fill and then returning to the beat. It was a total mess, my hand was hitting the snare when it shouldn’t have been and my bass beat was way off, uggh! And Don could hear me! The ultimate intimidation! I found myself thinking, “I can’t do this.” “I can’t even play the same beat over and over with the same fill! How am I supposed to play a song with a band where there are many different beats and different fills throughout the song.” I had this epiphany moment, a moment of extreme clarity, but with a negative persuasion. It reminded me of the time when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child and the thought suddenly came to me, “this thing has to come out.” It wasn’t that I didn’t know the baby had to come out, it was that I had never really given it much thought before and suddenly I was faced with fearful thoughts about an unfamiliar and possibly scary scenario-like playing with other musicians! What was I thinking? Me play with a band in a year? That is laughable!! Well, I had to get a hold of my thoughts.  Everything had turned out just fine in the baby coming out case as I am sure it will in this case, if I persist. In the case of the baby, I didn’t have much choice but to go through it. In this case, I have an option to quit, but I refuse to. The urge is very powerful sometimes, especially if I think about it too hard. By nature I am extremely analytical, just ask anyone that knows me. This trait serves me well in some situations, but it can defeat me in others. I found myself analyzing my situation and it didn’t look good. Most musicians I know or have ever heard of started at a young age, usually as a very young child, like age 5. For instance my husband Don Hamrick doesn’t even remember starting to play drums because he started playing at such an early age, probably straight out of the womb. I imagine his first words were “drum solo” instead of “da da.” I wondered if there is any hope for people beginning music later in life. I have always thought of musicians as a unique breed of people, a subset of the population not like the rest of us. For some reason at age 12 I was fascinated by the organelles of the cell and could name them all and what they did without even studying, that’s weird in itself I think, but anyway, why didn’t I start pounding on cans then instead? Why was it at age 35 that I suddenly got the urge to bang on drums? Is it possible to think that I could become one of these unique people this late in the game? I mean, I look at the musicians in the Rick Strickland Band and all of them are beyond extremely talented and they all started when they were kids. They weren’t looking in microscopes, they were playing and writing music. (I wonder if they get the urge now to study cells, lol, I doubt it!) Thinking about this got me to wondering whether any notable drummers started later in life. Sadly, my research did not produce any well known drummers starting in their 40s. I did, however, find 2 drummers that didn’t start in childhood. According to their bios, Chris Adler started at 21 and Akira Jimbo began at age 18. They have turned out to be major players in the drum world. Technically they were adults when they started. Their brain neuro pathways were probably already set and had to be re-wired to do two things or more at once, like hitting the bass drum and the snare at the same time. I do know from experience that people of advanced age can create new neuro pathways in their brain because I must have done that when I first learned to play drums in 2005. I went through a terrible period of learning to hit two drums at once with different limbs at the right times.  Alright so I’ve analyzed myself out of the pit. The biggest obstacle I have to overcome in this is my own mind, my own thinking about myself and what I’m capable of. It doesn’t matter what anybody else has done. The Bible says “As a man thinketh, so is he.” I take that to mean if I think of myself as a drummer, I will be a drummer or I am a drummer. After my trip to the pit yesterday, Don encouraged me not to give up. He pointed out things that I was doing right that I didn’t even notice. He shared with me some of his early and current struggles as a musician that made me realize even the great musicians had to work at it, they were not just born that way, as it seems to me sometimes! So onto today’s practice-Happy drumming everyone!!!