The Worst Day Drumming Beats the Best Day Working

So, it’s Easter and I’m going to talk about what I’m thankful for. Thankful because of an injury I just had.

My favorite form of exercise is distance running, and I was out running after work on Friday, and fell and bit it not once, but twice (I run at Ranch Corral de Tierra, the open space area near my house–it’s beautiful).


It’s beautiful, yes, but there’s also lots of exposed roots and gopher holes. And I hit one of each of those on my adventure Fri. evening.

And the worst part? I fell and scraped up exactly the same spot on my left knee and left hand. I’m nothing if not consistent, eh? 😉

So that means I’ve got my hand bandaged up, and there’s no drumming for me for the time being until this thing heals up. And of course, it’s not a surprise that I miss drumming. But, the surprise to me is that I miss the practicing most of all.

As much as I preach good practice habits to my students, it’s safe to say that I didn’t think that practice was my favorite form of drumming. I always thought of it this way:

Recording was my favorite: when it’s going well, recording is my favorite thing to do as a drummer. I love the team aspect of the songwriter, producer and I working on what the best thing to do for the song from a drumming POV. The grooves, the parts, the tones and timbres–I love the minutiae of all that stuff.

Of course, in recording pop songs, the pressure is all on the drummer to get a good take. (Without getting super technical–it’s always been harder to ‘fix’ the mistakes that drummers make in the recording process, and producers want to have a solid drum track before they start working on the other instruments.) So, when things aren’t going well, it can be a lot of pressure and miserable. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced a whole lot of that (knock on wood).

And gigging can be way fun–especially with a good crowd. My favorite gigs are the ones that have some sort of ‘wild-card’ moment happen (either spontaneously or planned). A wild-card event for me is something that happens at the gig that you didn’t rehearse or plan on in advance. Performing music well is the act of really effective listening while you’re playing, so these wild card events really grab everyone’s attention on stage, make you super-alert, and make your ears open up as wide as possible. This is often the moment on stage that night where the energy goes through the roof.

Practicing, on the other hand, is work. I try always to live by the advice I give my students–practice sessions should have equal amounts work, listening and fun–but I’m still surprised that I miss it so much.

And, I think this is why: it’s my day-in, day-out experience with drums. Yes, it’s work. Yes, it can be frustrating as you come up against your limitations every day (every single day). Yes, it can be boring and repetitive. But, it’s still drumming. And, to borrow a phrase from fishing, the worst day drumming beats the best day working.

And that is why I miss the practicing more than anything. No gigs or recording sessions these past couple of days since the injury, but I did miss some practice sessions. Can’t wait to get back at it–c’monc’mon let’s go! Heal up you durned thing! 😉

What are the things that you miss when you’re out with an injury?


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