Giving The Gift – A Concept Worth Remembering At Each and Every Gig

Sometimes all it takes is hearing the right message. The right collection of words at the right time can coalesce with existing experiences and unarticulated thoughts…

This is the stuff real inspiration is made of.

Totally new ideas take time to sink in, have to contend with existing worldview, hurdle psychological barriers.

But the right statement in the right context can bring nebulous ideas close to a pinpoint – and I recently had one of those moments.

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Lunch Break Groove Philosophy

If we’re Facebook friends, you may have seen my series of #Lunchbreak grooves. I’m up to like 42 of them now, and it has been a fun and interesting project…

In the spirit of connecting my various paths of creativity, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about why I’m doing them, what I’ve learned so far, and the value that we can all get out of “projects” like this.

First, these videos are rough and short form, done through Instagram and shared to Facebook. Even that has its purpose – while I have some IG followers, I currently have a much larger network on Facebook, and drum stuff seems to be less diluted there… Or rather, it’s where I’m connected to more people I know and care about, and that’s part of the impact I’m trying to make.

You can find the whole dang list right here.

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GET OFF YOUR ASS!!!

Someone has to say it.

I see it way too much – up close and at a distance – the incompatible combination of wanting to do something… AND NOT ACTUALLY PURSUING IT.

Forgive me for ranting. This isn’t usually my style, and before I wander into too much lecturing, I’ll gladly concede that everyone is different. We don’t all have the same goals, energy levels, patience, and so on…

But with that said, if you really want to improve as a musician, if you want to play gigs, if you just want to have faster single strokes – you have to work for it.

Now, there’s no benchmark for “success” that applies to everyone. Maybe you can’t (or don’t want to) dedicate massive amounts of time to the practice room or hustle for gigs every day – but if you want even a fraction of whatever success means to you, it absolutely requires effort.

There is no getting around it.

If you don’t care, or are perfectly content with your playing, your musical career (whatever that may be), etc., this isn’t for you.

If, however, you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes (like I do), you have to break out your metaphorical shovel and get to digging.

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The Confidence/Knowledge Paradox

Confidence is a strange beast. Some seem to possess it inherently, others seem to fight to find it their entire lives. Musicians are notorious for this dichotomy, many acting as their “own worst critics” or constantly chasing some sense of artistic achievement that’s always out of reach.

The mighty Beethoven, a true master by all accounts, once wrote in a letter to a young admirer:

“The true artist is not proud, he unfortunately sees that art has no limits; he feels darkly how far he is from the goal; and though he may be admired by others, he is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.”

Even a man of his tremendous achievement is plagued by doubt, disheartened by some goal that always seems just over the horizon. Maybe it’s just part of being an artist…

But it’s also just part of being a human.

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The Meticulous Drummer

For all the stupid drummer jokes out there (literally jokes about drummers being stupid), we have an awful lot to deal with – and that takes brain power.

Where we don’t have key signatures and modes to keep track of, we do have limb coordination, setting the feel and tempo, and of course, a silly amount of gear to contend with. In my own personal experience, that translates into some pretty meticulous habits and attitudes about musicmaking.

I tend to be the overthinker, the logistics maker, the one most worried about load in times and stage arrangements… Because I have to bring so many pieces of gear for even a basic setup, I also tend to be the “quartermaster” – keeping track of all the gear and remembering the little details about what we have to bring along to the gig.

It goes well beyond gig prep and scrutinizing the time, though… Drummers are some of the weirdest, most meticulous, picky musicians around. Jury’s out as to why this might be the case.

Of course, we’ve all had our intellectual egos stroked by the articles proclaiming the drummers are the smartest, but does all this meticulousness help or hurt us?

Either way, it certainly sets us apart from many of our musical counterparts.

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A Clinic With Derico Watson

I hail from a small(ish) town called Muskegon, Michigan. We’ve got a few “claims to fame,” but for the drumming community, one of the proudest is being the hometown of Derico Watson.

Derico is a powerhouse of a player with plenty of chops and super deep pocket, but even more importantly, he just exudes joy and passion when he plays. He’s passionate about many things actually, he is a natural medicine advocate, and talks to everyone who will listen about the benefits of alternative medicine over conventional. Not many people consider alternatives when they get sick, but many that have been around him do now because of the wealth of knowledge he has on the subject. If you want to look into this further you can go here to check out alternative medicine.

Perhaps best known for his work with Victor Wooten, Derico has had a huge impact on the drummers hailing from this part of the world, myself included. Even though I missed the opportunity to study with him when I was younger, products of his education exist across our local scene – and his influence (in my humble opinion) has raised the bar for the drummers of West Michigan.

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Authenticity: Social and Musical Currency

I’ve been a little lost on what to write about lately. I’m not a pro drummer, I’m just working on it – so who the hell am I? Why does it matter what I have to say?

…But oh so gradually, I’ve been starting to figure it out. From the conversations I have with my musical peers to the responses I got on Sarahah, the marketing material I edit for my dayjob to a talking point at the Derico Watson clinic I recently attended… The message shows itself time and time again – most of us are just too stuck to soak it in:

THERE’S ONLY ONE YOU

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Lessons From Drumming In Music Theater

I’m no music theater pro. Not even close…

I’ve done a grand total of two (Hands on a Harbody and the Seussical), but they were both such massive learning opportunities, I almost feel obligated to share some of the experiences here – and encourage you to explore it yourself.

It’s not something I even sought out, but in retrospect, I wish I would have started much earlier! As with so many other opportunities, I didn’t even see it coming.

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Transform Your Anger to Art

People seem unhappy. There are things happening in the forefront of public discourse that spark a lot of disagreement. Anger and fear, even just mild disgust, seem all the more common.

As usual, it’s that much more visible too (thanks internet), but it’s hard to ignore a pervasive sentiment of negativity.

I may be wandering into controversial territory…

FIRST AND FOREMOST: a big ol’ caveat for this post… I am not inviting political and ideological debate of the usual sort. Not in the comments here, or anywhere on social media. If you want to have a productive discussion, we can (one on one) – but this has way less to do with politics and way more to do with art.

…Or at least creativity.

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The Death of Boredom

I’ve got something of a mantra: BOREDOM IS A MYTH.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that people can’t be bored… Rather that they shouldn’t be. This also doesn’t mean that there’s no value in downtime, just relaxing, idle chat with friends, or an aimless wander through nature.

No, I’m aimed at the “ugh, there’s nothing to do!” kind of boredom – sitting around uncomfortable, focused on your lack of options. Daydreaming is not boredom. Scrolling through Facebook, barely even reading anything, is. Straight up killing time with a vague awareness “I’m bored” and little else is, well, bullshit.

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