Fighting Through The Slumps

Perpetual positivity is a myth. The reality of humanity is steeped in peaks and valleys – good days and bad. This is as true for diets as it is conversations with your spouse… Dayjob performance or sleep cycles.

Sometimes the downs are brief, fleeting even. Other times they persist.

As artists and musicmakers, these pendulum swings can be even more extreme. Work you’re proud of; work you hate. Periods of fiery inspiration, and bouts of doubt so thick, you consider burning your instrument…

So, what can we do when the chips are down? When the gigs suck and we feel stuck and the whole thing feels like a chore?

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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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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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Time, Habit, and Self-Imposed Guilt

Welp, I haven’t written anything here in a while… And I’m not exactly sure why. The ideas come rolling through my head from time to time, but for some reason, it’s been tough to actually sit down and type them out – so, why not make a post about not making posts? (Cue Inception sound effects)

It’s a time thing, I suppose, and we all like to think that we’re the busiest people in the world – myself included. I am, to a point, with multiple bands and the itch to get in as much practice as I can, a day job, a girlfriend, chores to do… But nobody runs at 100% efficiency.

We’ve all got downtime. We all have those days where we’re burned out, evenings we just want to relax, moments where we choose “unproductive” things over the goals and ideals we’ve architected in our minds…

Then – and maybe this is all just my personal experience – we beat ourselves up in hindsight for lost opportunities or wasted time. This is foolish (and a lesson I need to learn better myself).

For anything, be it drumming or writing or booking or promotion or whatever, it takes TIME and EFFORT to yield results. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty damn easy to neglect the things we know we should be doing (or event want to do) in favor of entertainment, rest, or because it simply didn’t occur to us to spend time in that particular way on any given day.

Time management is important, sure, but there’s something else at stake here: HABIT.

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Press On: Why Making Music Matters… Even When It Seems Like It Doesn’t

Damn, I almost tumbled into a terrible valley a little while back. Somewhere over the course of the day, I lost sight of work ethic, though that’s putting it a little lightly…

I have this propensity, from time to time, to think too hard about the biggest questions (vast spans of time and space, inevitability, etc.) and without getting nihilistic here, it gets a bit dark up there in my brainpiece (I save that kind of writing for another place – occasionally). Applied to drumming though, it’s an ugly path to wander down.

You stop thinking about the long road of learning, the joy of growth, and get caught up in A) discouraged feelings of “not good enough,” and B) some sense that it doesn’t mean anything, that it’s an empty pursuit.

These are dangerous thoughts.

Fortunately, these bouts of negativity don’t last too terribly long these days. I’ve kind of developed a way of thinking myself back out of them – in very much the same way I think myself into them in the first place… And if you’ve wandered into this treacherous mental territory, I want to help you do the same.
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