How I developed the confidence to approach anyone (in my area of interest)

I was getting ready last week to go to NAMM, which is a big, annual music industry conference in Anaheim, CA. And I was just thing that I feel really fortunate to have something to talk about that I feel puts me at a peer level with anyone there (celebrities, big thinkers, giants of the industry, etc.). And I do mean anyone—doesn’t matter if it’s Rick Rubin or Ringo Starr (how I actually perform having a conversation with someone like Rick Rubin, or Ringo Starr is another matter, but it won’t be for a lack of having something to offer, or something to talk about). Today I want to talk about how I developed this confidence to talk to anyone in my field.

This thing—my song song drumming approach, or more specifically these days, the book I’m writing about it—is not something I came up with cuz I’m brilliant or gifted or anything like that. It’s just my calling, my offer to the world. It’s who I am at the core—both as a teacher and a performer. We all have something like this inside us–I have no doubt about that. The challenge is figuring out what that is (which is no small thing). And, if you’re like me, there’s a bit of a challenge in learning to accept it even when it doesn’t seem sexy (teaching–my parents were teachers) or it seems too irresponsible (performing–at the time I felt like it was going to be acting like a rock star–I know better now 😉


“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”–Mark Twain

I want to talk for a moment about the value of having this knowledge, or knowing what I was put here on the planet to do.

Before I had this knowledge about myself, I had a lower opinion of what I had to offer the word, or how I could help others. I felt that I was at a disadvantage because I had come around to teaching and performing at too late of an age. But, something inside kept me poking around, looking for what ‘it’ was, but it felt like a rumor more than anything else. I didn’t feel real, if felt like it might be a fantasy of mine. And at this point I was certainly intimidated when I thought of getting up the nerve to talk to any world-class thinker in my area of interest.

For me, getting the answer to the question of ‘what was I put here to do’ came about through the act of helping others. This is very important. Let me explain:

When I first made the switch from corporate gigs to teaching and performing music, I subbed at rehearsals for a friend of mine’s band. I wasn’t even gigging with them, just helping them get through rehearsals that their drummer couldn’t make. This is what you would call a truly UN-glamorous gig. Truly 😉

But something amazing happened over the course of me subbing at these rehearsals–I was showing other musicians how I’m unique as a musician. And THAT led to this amazing, almost innocuous (but true) comment from Rich Layton, their band leader: “That thing you’re doing? That’s song drumming.” I knew enough about song drumming that I took it for what it was–not only a compliment, but a thing that could help define me as a musician. And also therefor as a person, since it turned out that, over time, I learned that this was what I was put here to do.

And again, it all came from helping others–in this case, the very unglamorous task of subbing at a rehearsal.

Another example is how I have applied song drumming to my teaching. The school I was teaching at did recitals 2-3 times a year, and I started putting my students together with guitar students so we’d have little mini bands that would play songs at these recitals.

While this was a great idea that my students and their families really embraced, I took a look at my teaching approach, and saw that it wasn’t quite setting them up to succeed at the recitals. I was also looking for a way to teach kids that would get them results quicker. So, I experimented and started teaching my students song drumming right off the bat, instead of waiting for them to develop a certain level of technique. As soon as they could play a simple beat (usually by the first or second lesson) I’d have them working on songs. And that’s how I began developing the song drumming teaching approach.

And, once again, it was developed through the act of helping people. In this case, helping my students get results quicker.

I feel totally blessed that I know what it is I have to offer to the world. I’m also fortunate to have a way to articulate it that, I feel, puts me at a peer level with anyone out there in the music industry. Because its me–because it’s genuine. And also, since it is me and it is genuine, it’s also pretty unique. All of this has helped me develop the confidence to approach anyone in my area of interest. It gives me the confidence to go up and chat with folks that I otherwise might be intimidated of. And this helped me this past weekend at NAMM as I worked on connecting with folks to give my book project more momentum.

Do you feel that you could approach world-class, thought-leaders in your area of interest and have a conversation that you would both benefit from? If so, how did you get to point? If not, what would it take to get you there? How could you help others in a way that might help you find those answers?

P.S. There are lots of folks online who have processes that help you figure your calling; the most notable in my mind is Scott Dinsmore and his Live Your Legend community. Check it out here: Live Your Legend

P.P.S. And lastly, I have to thank my mastermind partner, Kate Riordan. I’ve had this book (and another two) in me for a few years, but she is the one that got me off my butt to actually DO something about it. Yay Kate! And yes, mastermind groups are wonderful and I’m so lucky to have a great one in my corner.

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