(I’ve got some severe writer’s block, so, I’m attempting to write myself out of a rut. I figured I could write about something personal. Hopefully, it will not bore you too much. Sorry if it does, but, I feel like I need to keep writing something. And politics just isn’t doing it for me right now.)
I love music.
I’ve been a drummer since I was 13 years old (37 now). My mother told me that when she was pregnant with me, she and my father would go to the local Halloween parade, and that whenever one of the marching bands came by, she would feel me kicking like a little mad man inside her as the drumline would play.
I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood. Lower -middle class, lots of bad seeds. Kids, not older than 15, would come to the bus stop stoned or hopped up on acid. They would vandalize things for fun, tormenting decent people around the block, do lines of coke in the basement of a friend’s house, then go out and start fights with people.
I never really understood them.
I never participated. Never once did I do a drug. Never even tried a cigarette.
Although my parents got divorced when I was 17, they did instill in me a deep sense of right and wrong. Sometimes it got me picked on, because I would never take part in all the neighborhood “hi-jinks”, but, after a while, being an only child, I learned to live and like to be by myself. I had friends, nobody from the town I was in, but from school, who I would sometimes see and hang around with, but, I mainly kept to myself.
Music had a big part to play in my sanity.
I started when I was in 5th grade. Got a little practice pad, a pair of a sticks, and learned to read music. I was pretty good for my age. Won a couple of awards. I “made” snare player in the drumline in high school. It was a big deal since only one other freshman in the school’s history ever got placed in that “advanced” position. And it was tough. I was a good player, but it took a bit of polishing from the old guys, and some animosity, for me to be able to play the material the right way. I learned tremendously from it. I got to travel around the country from being in band. Our band marched in the Rose Bowl parade, the Cotton Bowl, and a couple other venues out of state during my four years there. It was alot of fun.
I got my first drum-set when I was around 15. It was a 5 piece, black Tama Swingstar. Paid for cymbals with my own money, or a cymbal would be all I would ask for for my birthday or Christmas.
I practiced my ass off.
One of the benefits of being a latch-key, only child, was I was home alone. Alot. And instead of my going out and messing up my life with the bad eggs around the neighborhood, all I did was practice. After my parents split up, I stayed at the house with my father, who was a councilman in town, so almost every night he would be out at a meeting, or whatever, and I would be home. I would get home from school around 3:00pm and do nothing but practice until 10:00pm. I am a Rush freak. Neil Peart is my favorite drummer, so I would crank up the stereo and jam out to “Tom Sawyer” or some other song. I would play them note for note. If I got stuck, I just kept at it. Got to the point where some of the kids around town would actually hang around outside my house because they actually liked to hear me play. It sort of shielded me from any of their wrath, and I really never got picked on by them after that.
Eventually, I played with two of my good friends. All original stuff. Moved up to North Jersey to be closer to the “action”. Moved back down when we’d break apart. Got back together for about a year at a time. Played in clubs in North Jersey and New York. Did a couple recordings. To this day, nothing I do matches the feeling I would get when we’d go on stage and play our own songs. Especially if the audience liked us. Most did, and it was thrilling to have someone actually say they thought our own stuff was good. I miss it.
I guess the whole point of my writing this is to say that music sort of saved me. It saved me from being around a bad element, saved me from doing things that I otherwise would have gotten in trouble doing. Music is something that has stuck with me for my whole life. And I have so many great memories because of it.
I always tell friends with kids to get them involved in music. Find something they like, and encourage it. It does more than just occupy time.
For some, it’s been a blessing.