So, after my ‘Day from Hell‘ at the start of the week, a highlight of the end of the week was going along to my second drum lesson. To read about why I am doing this at my advanced age, you’ll need to look at my first Drumming post.
It was an awful, grey wet day but I was rocking it with my new red scarf (the only good thing to come out of my ‘Day from Hell’.
Unfortunately, I’d teamed it with my little black work suit which has quite a tight skirt. I was grateful that I had decided to wear thick black tights, because after about ten minutes at the drum kit I realised my skirt had rucked right up and I was exposing way more thigh than I would want anyone to see – particularly my poor drum teacher Charlie.
By the way, don’t be imagining long, elegant thighs sheathed in enticing black nylon – you should be picturing short, chubby, mottled pyramid shaped wodges of flesh, stuffed sausage-like into tights so thick they might as well have been jeans.
I was excited about this second lesson and was hoping to be quite impressive as I had been practising my double beats, left/rights and paradiddles (great word, eh?) all the Christmas holiday.
I was not impressive.
(As an aside, one unexpected bonus of drumming practice with a Fitbit on your wrist is that it puts your steps RIGHT up so it looks like you’ve walked miles. This is good as I bought my sister-in-law a Fitbit for Xmas and she and I are friends on the same competitive board. She has proved alarmingly keen and I am having to up my game to beat her. )
Charlie asked me to remind him why I was doing this again? (Good question). I told him about wanting to learn drums well enough to play Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’ in front of an audience with a band in June.
He nodded his head and Googled the track on a nearby computer and pressed play.
As it played I thought – as I have thought before but shrugged off – blimey, that sounds really difficult. After a while of listening to an increasingly complicated rhythm accompanied by cool clashing guitars and a whole lot of yarling, Charlie stopped the video and and handed me a sheet of music.
It was nothing like the bits and pieces I have been working on all holiday, and I completely SUCKED when I try to play it. I’d get it for a bit then think about what I was doing, which immediately put me off. Eyes fixed on the music so hard they start to water, I tried again. And again. Eventually, only by slowing down to about one beat a minute, I finally ran it through twice properly.
Even with Charlie shouting repeatedly, ‘1 and 2 and 3 and FOUR!’ at me though, I didn’t seem to be able to go any faster. I must have looked dejected because he stopped yelling numbers at me and explained he gave me a different rhythm to try to help prepare me for the complexities of the Pearl Jam song.
That little beat on the far right of the yellow circle? Looks easy doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t. I didn’t get it right for more than one bar in 20 minutes of repeating the stupid thing.
Then after a long time of me playing de dah! instead of Dah Dah! Charlie called a halt – probably out of pity – and handed me this fiendish little number.
This is what it looks like. See that little triply thing there on the left? I could not get my foot and hand to co-ordinate to do what the music says AT ALL.
Oh the humiliation!
I was feeling more and more depressed as the lesson went on and I just couldn’t get it. Goddammit!
Right at the end of the lesson Charlie got out the music which I had practised. This bit.
It’s basically: Boom Dat, Boom Boom Dat. Charlie gave me a second to run it through and then made me jump by putting on a raucous, guitar-led backing track. It was deafening – I had forgotten my ear plugs – and I looked at him in shock. ‘Go on!,’ he mouthed, ‘play along!’
Well that was it. In my head I was at Wembley Stadium with Black Sabbath and a screaming crowd. I absolutely hammered the crap out of the drum kit – lost in another rock world. It was BRILLIANT!
OK so I cocked up the drum rolls round the tom tom drums (Every. Single. Time) but for three bars out of four I was a complete rock Goddess.
I walked out of the percussion room with 3,000 extra steps recorded on my Fitbit (take that, sister-in-law!) and a Rock Star Swagger walk. My arms were aching and my back was killing me. But I felt about 17 years old.