The Importance Of Connecting With Non-Drummers

As drummers, we can often be an insular bunch. We tend to hang out with other drummers, sharing stories, sharing licks, sharing ideas. While this is good to a point, we often end up sharing the same stories, licks, and ideas over and over. 

Drummers are a tight group. We speak the same language, we share an unspoken brotherhood. Attend a typical drum clinic, and you will find a room full of fanatics, ready to applaud at every beat played. Attend 10 or more drum clinics, and you will also tend to hear the same questions asked over and over:

What type of head do you use on your snare?  
Can you explain the beat you played on X? 
How can I play faster double bass/snare rudiments/jazz ride?  
What's it like to work with X?
etc, etc, etc.

And that can be a problem. If our world consists of only drums & drummers, we're not exposed to other opinions, ideas, or thoughts that reside outside of the drumming box.



Workshop at Cal Arts

A recent example for me was as a visiting artist to Cal Arts, in Valencia, CA, where I presented a workshop last week. My workshop was about Gongs & percussion and improvising. But it became so much more. Out of all the students who attended it, only 2 or 3 were drummers. The rest played other instruments and were also composition students. 
I was not preaching to the choir!

After having done numerous workshops to almost exclusively percussionists, or Gong players, I was faced with a whole new set of questions from these students. They didn't care about the usual drummer stuff. They wanted to know how to notate the different sounds I made, how my instruments differed from each other, or how the playing techniques changed the sounds. They made me look at my own work differently.

It was refreshing. It's also inspired me to look at what I do through different eyes (and ears). I think it's important for all drummers/percussionists to get past all the usual drummer stuff. In your career, don't forget to interact with non-drummers, and to find out how they see your work. 

It's important to stay open and look for ideas and inspiration from all sources.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™







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