I've spent time trying to become an expert, and I really enjoy the feeling. In high school I wanted to become a drummer. I took the only lessons I could find, at a local music school, from a fantastic guy. His first lesson to me was 'forget Ringo, you need to listen to Steely Dan'. He taught me how to hold a stick, and how to listen to the drummer and not just the singer, he taught me how a drummer is supposed to be. I learned respect for the craft from him, and no matter where I go if I see a drummer playing I give him my full attention as a result of the time he spent teaching me.
I remember one day I was waiting for my lesson to start, and I had been sitting outside, tapping my left foot for half an hour. Just tapping, trying to build up my calf muscle so I could play the high-hat really, really well. A weak left foot means a weak sounding k-TSHHHH and I wanted it to be STRONG.
I had practice pads at home and a drumkit, but I couldn't play my drums at home because it bothered the neighbors. Something about living in an apartment building made it impossible no matter how many pillows I stuffed into the bass drum. So instead, I hoofed downtown to a practice space that was mostly used by the local bands. My memory of the place is a little hazy but I do recall that there wasn't really a bathroom so much as a urinal in the hallway. Yeah, eeew.
I paid a few dollars to the scummy guy at the counter to use the drumkit in one of the rooms (always a piece of junk, but at least it was LOUD) for an hour. The rooms were supposed to be soundproof, but when I wasn't pretending to be Larry Mullen, Jr. I could hear the metalheads banging away next door and the In-Living-Color wannabees around the corner. It was really, really great, and totally worth the time. I closed that door and I was a rockstar!
After a time (a year or so, I think) I stopped lessons with the music school, and started taking a class from a guy at NYU. He was really focused on technique, and we worked quite a bit on reading music and jazz drumming. One time he took me to the Bitter End to see him and his friend's band play. It was a great, great night full of weepy bluesy singing and loud times. And amps. Big, big amps.
I really wanted to be good, I really wanted to be in a band. My first band was a group of girls that liked to play Deep Purple and compare each other's bra sizes. We called ourselves Crimson Tempest (yeah, Steely Dan influence). Oh and I was the small one, comparatively. :) We played a few practices together and sang and had fun. That was all until they kicked me out - I'm sure I deserved it since I've blocked the memory of why they did.
I was in another band (the Keys) with some close friends, and we really had a great time but mostly spent time writing songs. I still have them locked away in a box, friends! I can get them out anytime you want!
I tell myself that one day I'll play drums again. We'll see. I think I was close to being a really good drummer, and one day I'd like to be there again.
Have you ever gotten really good at something? Did you consider yourself an artist, or an expert?
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