I believe that each and everyone of us crave connection. Connection in and of itself, heals and opens the pathway to love, happiness and compassion. Connection …..that’s it …. That’s where it all starts. Music, the universal language, is a gateway to that connection. Music heals, music saves and music brings us together regardless of language or borders. This isn’t just a fantasy or a fun play on words. I believe it’s a fact. I have witnessed the connection and unity among strangers as they bask in the joy of participating in music. That goes with playing, listening or attending a concert or small show.Throughout my career thus far music has taken me across the the US 20 plus times as well as to other parts of the world like SE Asia. Everywhere I go there is a common brotherhood, a bond a reverence for being a musician.
But being a drummer in particular is another level.Drumming goes back to the beginning. It goes way back to African roots. Drumming and dance aligned with nature and people connected to the pulse of nature and created sacred song and dance.These rituals became like religious stories with elders sharing them and with a lifetime of practice, passing them down as they get interpreted from musician to musician.I tapped into to this connection in the form of escape.
At a very young age, at the age of 9 to be exact, my mom knowing that I was severely ADD, OCD, and battling with tourette syndrome, (back then not really knowing what it was) ,knew that playing drums would most likely have a positive effect on me.But she had no idea just how positive. She just knew I needed an outlet to cope with a newly divorced and broken home. My drums were my sanctuary. They were my safe place. They were the one place I could go to escape reality, and get lost in the safe world that resides in between the notes.
In the beginning I would sit behind my drums and I would pretend that I was the snare drum and the toms and bass drum were just other groups of kids at school. As I played around the drums I imagined it was a conversation between all of us as the words rolled effortless and fluently from me to them. Ya see at that stage of my life my stutter and my tic’s were pretty extreme. As you could imagine trying to have normal conversations and interactions with others felt like hell when at school.Back then teachers didn’t really know how to deal with or “teach” a kid like me so they put me in special ed and swept it under the rug. Outta sight outta mind for them.
Between jr high and high school I had to go back and forth between parents to live as our family was devastated by the sudden tragic death of my cousin. This carried on into high school and was all just a normal way of life for me. By the time my late high school years rolled around I had so many hours in that “world between the notes” that I didn’t really mind the cruel world around me. I had grown accustomed to residing in this world between the notes, and it was healing for me. It seemed that the only place that was calm, safe and nurturing to me was behind my drums. Since speaking and talking about my situation was majorly exhausting I just focused my energy in expressing what I had to say through hours and hours of playing and practicing.
I entered my adulthood with ferocious passion and drive. I set out to conquer the world and be a huge rockstar emulating my musical heros that I was grew up with. I’d moved up to Seattle with the only plan in place was to find a touring band. I landed my first nationally touring band within weeks of being up there. It’s was fantastic as I was now expressing myself and putting to work all the hours I had spent behind the kit in a way I only dreamed about.
I was aligning with my purpose and passion but little did I know where this road would take me and how my life would change and reveal a newfound direction and higher purpose. The “rockstar” thing would prove insignificant in comparison. I had been shredding the local Seattle scene and touring the country and knew I had hit a creative plateau so I fatefully walked into the Seattle Drum School of music.
There stood the man that I refer to as one half Yoda and one half Ghandi. Owner and master drummer Steve Smith. I was welcomed into the school with eager and unwavering open arms. Steve had created a culture there that I hadn’t ever seen. A culture of positive music education that seemed attainable for everyone who walked through the doors.
After I had been studying there a couple of years Steve suggested that I get started on a path of teaching. This was mind blowing to me!! What ??? Me ? Me be a drum teacher ?? That sounded impossible. I was in special ed in school , totally stuttered and believed I was not smart or capable enough to be a teacher at this school of giants. As I look back at this I see it’s pretty remarkable that Steve never flinched and never wavered in his conviction that I in fact could be a teacher. He never allowed me to buy into the story that I had been told about my so called “learning limitations”. He just through me into teaching , sink or swim. He mentored me and taught me and ultimately changed the course of my life.
As my career grew I started to tour more and more I naturally stumbled into the world of online lessons. This was out of necessity for me as I was still able to teach my students via skype lessons while out on the road. Now with the newfound confidence and finding my stride I began to really tap into this place of “flow” that I had used to cope with my life while playing and practicing.
Studying with steve helped me articulate what I had been doing my whole life. His way of intentionally making me play extremely slow in combination with singing the rhythms out loud changed everything. I feel like it rewired my brain. Now scientific reports are coming out that in fact supports that claim, showing that drumming is able to rewire the brain and help with cognitive memory and improved speech. I started using this “flowstate” style of teaching on my own students and lives began to change. I had seen an adult student of mine get off of medication, while parents report to me about their kids being able to focus better and overall happier because of lessons.
Now as I have created Beats From The Core I make teaching “flowstate” the primary focus in every lesson we teach. I see the physical, mental and spiritual effects it has on everyone of my students. I feel indebted for the incredible opportunities that I had to gain this experience and I am committed to pay it forward. So If I really want to make a difference and really pay it forward then teaching drummers how to become game changing teachers that teach a connection first, flowstate style and promotes healing and growth through each drum lesson taught, then this is my way of making the biggest impact.
Just think if 10,000 teachers all have 30 to 40 students each the impact this will make. You could become a roll model or a mentor to someone. You could help change someones life and give them the gift of music. This world needs you. I invite you to look at my site to learn more. Reach out to me, ask questions, and come join this movement!!!
Go here - https://courses.beatsfromthecore.com/
Thank you for reading and let’s share our gifts for empowerment and encourage growth by serving any way we know how.
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