Drum Practice – June 2nd

Hadn’t been feeling the best the past few days and suffered a mild vasovagal syncope near miss in London on Thursday in the queue to get into Broadcasting House for a recording of The News Quiz. Sadly, Miles Jupp’s last one. Didn’t know that when I got the tickets.

I could feel the wave. Sat down on the pavement. Controlled my breathing. After several moments, it passed.

I also had…let’s say “an unexpected visitor” on Wednesday…so, yeah. Hadn’t been feeling great. Ended up flaming knackered from London on Thursday. Always do the walk from St Pancras to Broadcasting House and back via Euston and Great Portland Road which is the same distance I have doing my walking for the drum practice – 10km.

So, I’ve walked a half marathon within the space of three days…no wonder I’m knackered!

ANYWAY. Despite feeling very not in the mood for going, I dragged my sorry arse out today. I had already booked my 2 hour session and already paid for my train ticket. So, I know that isn’t a lot of money for most people, but under my current circumstance – £16 is a lot of money for me to squander. I wasn’t having it!

And, you know…certain other factors help keep me driven. A little nagging voice that says “no one likes a quitter!” was nattering away. Even though I was backchatting to it, saying, “I don’t care what you fucking think. Sometimes…there are just…circumstances. Shut the fuck up! And anyway….just for YOU, I ain’t quitting! Not this week. So, button it. Arsehole!” Lol. Yes…I have those kind of ridiculous internal monologues.

Ultimately I just thought, “What is there to lose?” I’d booked my time and my train. I had lots of walking to do, yes. That was the thing that I was least in the mood for, to be honest. But…I did it.

Electrical failures meant trains were delayed and cancelled. Mercifully not MY train. It was delayed by several minutes, but not cancelled. I arrived 10 minutes late and I needed to leave 10 mins early to make a train home that would allow me to get a bus back nearer to home…just for this week, so I had a break from all the walking.

The session went good. There were some things hindering me, as usual. Adjustments to the kit that I successfully made. So that was good. I couldn’t get sound from my iPod out of the amp/monitor thingy. It seemed wired up right…but I just couldn’t hear anything. So I just practiced beats. And I worked on integrating some hi hat pedal play. I felt it was time I needed to work on that, so I gave it a go.

So, yep…the session felt pretty good. Here are a couple of audio snippets of what I was working on…

Lol. That end bit is my “Fuck this – I’m shit!” wail of exasperation.

I’m very, VERY tired. The trains coming back were delayed and cancelled still. So my 2.10pm train to get me back in time for the bus to get me closer to home was delayed and meant I’d miss the bus. So…I did all the walking I’d usually do and I was KNACKERED. AM knackered. But feel kinda good. Feel good in that the session felt like it went well.

Listening back to some of what I recorded today, I sound…okay. Never gonna set the world on fire at this point…but at least I sounded kind of adept today.

Baby steps.

Why Does No One Get It?

The drumming thing and what happened yesterday. It has nothing to do with my ability to PLAY but my ability to LEARN!

Telling me “it’s early days”. I KNOW THIS! I am NOT expecting to be Cherisse after three fucking lessons!

But…what WOULD help immensely is a kit set up to my level of comfort. Being able to practice on kits is invaluable but also feels like folly right now, given where I am at financially. I am spending £16 a week having two hours of practice each week. I walk 6 miles each time too…walking to the local train station, and then walking to the rehearsal studio…and back again.

I am dedicating time, money and effort to this thing! I wish I could do more.

Every week there is some kind of set back…crappy uncomfortable drum set ups…cancelled trains that make me late and eat into my practice time…yet MORE crappy drum set ups!

How do I explain it? I dunno. You’ve been asked to run a marathon, but all you have is trainers that are both left feet. I dunno. That’s a crappy analogy.

I’ll watch videos so I can set the kit to how I want it…but no matter what…it’ll eat into valuable learning time. And it alters my mood and it just makes me feel instantly on the back foot.

Another is…CCTV. There’s a CCTV camera in every room. I can’t tell you how much that makes me self-conscious…to know there could be someone watching how crap I am going. I try to put it to the back of my mind…but the reality is is I am a 48 year old woman going into a rehearsal studio on my own and it makes me feel like an idiot.

On weekends the music complex is really busy and that also adds to the self-conscious idiotic feeling. Seeing young-uns come in and just…it’s deflating.

Nothing comes naturally to me. I feel DIRECTIONLESS. I don’t feel like I can “just experiment” and “bash away”. I feel daft! There’s a reason why people have lessons and tutors…FOR GUIDANCE AND STRUCTURE. If I thought I could teach myself?! Great. Not a problem! But at this age? That is highly unlikely. I cannot see it happening.

I’ve booked another two hour slot for Sunday. It’s too easy to give up, I guess. So let’s just keep on squandering money and deluding ourselves this will end up going somewhere, shall we?

Every great drummer started somewhere, right? But most of them started out VERY young. Perhaps one day I’ll hold some kind of ridiculous niche of knocking people out with my drumming prowess by them discovering that I didn’t start learning until I was 48. Pffft. Yeah, I’m not convinced either.

At the end of the day there is a distinction between WANTING to be great, and having the aptitude to BECOME great. I suppose I just have to give it time…time to convince myself that it’s too early to judge now. Is it? *shrugs*

I am so scared that two years down the line what I will see for my effort is, well, nothing. A badge that says “well, at least she wasn’t a quitter”.

The Value Of Recording Yourself

Cherisse’s best bud and fellow drummer extraordinaire, Emily Dolan Davies, shared a piece of advise several months back in a YouTube clip and I followed it last week and it is already proving invaluable.

I felt silly, yes! I felt silly for taking it along with me and I almost just left it in my handbag because I just thought I’d seem like a crazy thing but I am already SSOO glad I took it with me!

Right, so – Emily’s piece of advice – her biggest piece of advice for any drummer learning (or pros getting stuck on new techniques they wanted to learn but it wasn’t going in) … and she was adamant on it. Record yourself!

And she said she wished she had taken the advice earlier than she did, and wished that she had known of or thought of doing it when she started out.

Based on her saying that, I took a little Zoom recorder with me to my lesson with Cherisse on Wednesday. And as I say, I almost left it in my bag and said nothing. Too scared I’d sound a flake for wanting to record myself after one bloody lesson.

But already my circumstances are making this invaluable. I can hear myself getting the hang of things on playback. Yes! I’m appalling! My time-keeping is woeful but I know listening to it back that these are things that I can improve on with practice.

I can go over things from the lesson. Just listen to them over and have it sink in.

I have no kit, but I can hear beyond that what I need to practice on. It has given clarity and focus to the things I need to work on.

And I know I am only two lessons in and I know I will always be learning. But before I played back Wednesday’s lesson this afternoon, I would just be doubting myself.

I AM awful. My rhythm sucks! But I can hear it in myself that I pick things up fast. Well, I sound as if I do. Am I deluding myself? I hope not! Will I join a band in the future? Doubt it (but never say never)! But if someone down the line asks me “got any special talent?” I may just have enough bravado in a year or two to reply “yeah. I play drums.” I would love that.

And Cherisse is so fab and just SSOOOO encouraging. Honestly. She just makes me believe I can do this. It’s just so good. So, so good.

So, if you think it’s nuts. Don’t! Hearing myself back today, and hearing what I need to practice on until the next lesson, etc… I don’t feel like I’m some time-wasting dreamer. I can obtain some decent level of skill here. If I am willing to put the hours in. To practice (anyone around Luton willing to give me some time on a kit to practice on?).

I love it! I want this! Thank you so much, Emily, for this advise.