Ah, to be the ultimate drummer. It’s a lovely idea, yet one that’s fraught with constraints and excuses for the average human. Does this mean we shouldn’t try to be the best? Of course not, but at what cost does our wellbeing as a person have to suffer to reach the goal and is it really necessary?
I need to practice more. We all tell ourselves this and I for one, am certainly guilty as charged. There’s no doubt in my mind that I could be a better musician than I currently am. I have strong attributes and skills that I could offer to many different musical situations but in my mind, I’m constantly reminding myself that I could be better and I get down about it. Then I see incredible drummers doing what I could only hope to do and I feel worse.
We’re somehow designed, it seems, to compare ourselves to the next person. If you’re in a corporate company, you look to the top job - that’s the goal isn’t it? They earn more money and have more profile. Is it the same with drummers? When it comes to doing gigs - yes.
Who’s ever looked at a big name artist and wished they were playing drums for that gig instead of the actual drummer? Of course everyone does. That drummer gets more cash and the reputation to go with it. Sometimes, you might even start to ‘pick’ at the drummer to make yourself feel as if you could actually do a better job, trying to find something to bring them down a level. This sort of thing is fairly prominent on YouTube - haters galore. Alternatively, you might feel there’s absolutely no way you could do that gig because you’re not good enough and the guy on the gig is a complete monster and you would and will never be that. Bummer.
But perhaps there’s something we haven’t considered here. What about the idea that drumming is extremely personal and everyone is on their own journey? Deep I know, but it’s not like drumming is a computer program that you can just master and know everything there is to know. The mission never actually ends. Most drummers will have heard this and will understand it well and any musician will feel these up and down emotions at some stage.
We all need to practice more but sometimes we don’t have eight hours a day to do that, some of us are juggling the gigs with a day job. Add family, kids and other commitments and there are plenty of constraints that can prevent us from mastering the instrument. That shouldn’t mean that all is doom and gloom and it certainly shouldn’t mean that you stress about other great drummers doing the gigs that you could be doing. Even if you add some practice to your week and kick some small goals to get better, there’ll always be a better drummer out there - well they’re better in your eyes because you want to do what they do. But that’s cool isn’t it?
Many moons back, the great David Jones once told me every drummer should think, “I’m a unique being and I have something to offer.” At the time, the youngster in me thought it was getting a little deep but now, I think the man has a point. I’m not the greatest player going around and I get easily intimidated but I think, like many drummers, I need to just understand that for the moment, this is me. I can always be better but that’s still a good thing - something to aspire to. No use getting down about it and letting my wellbeing suffer trying to be something I’m currently not. For some people, they’ll have the dedication and time to really become something but my musical journey, whilst filled with some truly great moments and highlights, is different to others. And that’s fine. It’s just where I’m at.