There is a popular, often quoted story that a violinist named Jascha Heifitz was hailed by a man on the street in New York, who asked him “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Without breaking stride, Heifitz allegedly replied “Practice!”
There are varied versions of this story, with some difference on who said it, but Heifitz is attributed with another quotation which I think is pertinent: “If I don’t practice one day, I know it. If I don’t practice two days, my critics know it. If I don’t practice three days, everyone knows it.”
Musicians who don’t practice sooner or later lose their chops. According to biographer James Lincoln Collier, Benny Goodman practiced on the day he died. I know that Benny Goodman, the famous bandleader and clarinet jazz musician played Carnegie Hall because my father had records of his concerts there which I heard throughout my childhood.
I can attest to the fact from personal experience that aspiring student drummers who don’t practice don’t get their chops solid to begin with. I have been going to congolese drum class with a master teacher once a week for three years, and if I wasn’t drumming for dancers along with it, I’d have next to no skill or retention. There would be ZIPPO, goose egg, NADA. IT JUST DOESN’t HAPPEN. There is not only immediate fading of what you are learning, long term retention/accumulation is utterly SNAIL like.
And guess who is STILL NOT PRACTICING? That would be ME and everyone I’m drumming with. There are all the excuses in the world for this, and I know them all by heart: can’t find the time….can’t fit it in….don’t have a place to do it without disturbing others. Then there’s the real reason: Don’t know how to structure and sustain a practice, don’t know how to practice correctly, don’t want to struggle, be frustrated or unsatisfied, don’t want to drum alone.
Web research has shown me the “don’t know how’s” can be solved, mostly by technology and learning how to use it. The rest is about finding the discipline to persist and evolve a way to maximize success and satisfaction. That is my Quest. I want out of Drumming Nowhereland for good.
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