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drums and crazy people
singapore sunset
In my drumming group there is a real mix of people - old, young, some of them very introverted, some not, they're all there for different reasons. A few weeks ago one of the staff members from the organization showed up to observe and joined in playing tambourine. It really messed with the dynamic when she started making suggestions to play well-known Caribbean and soul songs. Now everyone is making requests for songs, the teenager is going through her iPod requesting all her tragically unhip music to show off how interesting she is, people are looking up Youtube videos during class so the instructor can hear different music... And when we finally do play a request it's the dullest riff there is because - outside of a lead drum improv - pop songs lend themselves to a straight disco-style beat anyway. Evidently the other people in class don't realize they're playing the same goddamn beat on every song so they keep asking to play more and more. It's infuriating.

See, the first few weeks it was all about African and Caribbean rhythms, percussion-heavy stuff that was designed for dancing to, where the singing is call-and-response and just grooves on the top. Everyone shut up and played. It was really meditative and it was doing wonders for my mood. Now everyone's babbling through all the songs and they're not playing tight because they're thinking too much about the lyrics or the next song. I'm getting really anxious because now all the extroverts are talking instead of drumming they're getting sidetracked and going into politics and risque topics that i just don't want to have debates about. I don't like that at the best of times - at work, at home, and certainly not when i'm supposed to be playing music to improve my mood. I just want to trance out, you know?

The other thing that pisses me off is when said staff member gets us playing stuff like Don't Worry Be Happy or Lean On Me and finishes the song all cheerfully saying that wow we shouldn't be depressed we should just be happy. You know, completely ignoring the people who are struggling with mania, anxiety and other issues. Not to mention when you actually are depressed having someone tell you to just cheer up is about the most irritating hollow bullshit you can hear. The drum instructor, on the other hand, talks about playing your own tune from your heart, getting all your pent-up frustration and passion out on the skins... stuff that works for everyone. Doesn't it? It feels like i'm the only person there who has a problem with the new direction the group has taken.

So yeah, tonight was balls.

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I'm so sorry to hear that they're all more interested in the sound of their own voices than the power of their drumming.

I love percussion. I love African beats. I love djembes. I would be devastated, too. :o(

I'm not so much devastated... i mean, i bought a drum for home i can use to focus my energies so it's not like i need the Thursday night sessions just for drumming's sake... But i guess it was also an opportunity to get out there and be with people who might become a support network and i've already managed to become cynical about it, which kinda makes me feel socially retarded because even when i'm around other people like me they aren't like me.

Either way, i like drums too. It's something extra special when you are in a group and it's "on" but even at home playing out rhythms is making me happy in ways i didn't expect. It's a lot more immediate for me than playing guitar or synthesizers. You just pick it up and the song is right there and an hour later i have a great big smile. I think i am going to do it right now...

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