It’s amazing to think of how much the world changes as time flies by us. With all the traveling I’ve been doing over the past few years I miss out on a lot of holidays and events. I do my best to get quality time in with everyone though while in the states, especially my sister’s 2 amazing kiddos, Ellie and Hudson. With every occasion I find myself amazed at how much they’ve grown and am forced to adapt to the new set of skills they’ve learned since my last visit. It is both extremely fulfilling and incredibly exhausting. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time though! Currently I am in bend for a 2 week stay – part of an almost 5 week road trip/adventure that I’ll be posting about shortly – beginning with Hudson’s 3rd birthday and ending with Ellie’s dance recital. If the past few days are any indication I’m going to need a serious nap when I get home.
“It’s my birthday!” Hudson proudly proclaimed as he greeted me yesterday morning – June 2nd – at my Mom’s house – my Mom is living in Bend for the summer and I’m staying at her condo throughout my stay. Ellie, it seemed, had trained him yell on the concept of birthday privileges and he was more than happy to take advantage of it. Hudson, Popo (Chinese for grandma) and I ran errands that morning which mostly entailed me chasing Hudson around the various stores we visited while he laughed loudly with joy. His coordination has skyrocketed since my last visit, just 4 months ago. He can run fast now! His laughter and expressions of pure joy made it more than worth the work it took to catch him though.
After lunch with Sami and Kelly, his parents, Hudson headed home for a nap and Popo and I back to her house to prepare for the party – yesterday was only a small party though with a much bigger event planned for later in my stay, or so I’m told at least.
Hudson woke from his nap with a big smile spread across his face as usual, at least in my limited experiences. Calmly playing in his room he asked me for help fixing his train tracks than proceed to show me all his favorite toys while instructing me to take a photo. “Can I see?!” always followed along with, “Wow, very nice!” Art school finally paid off! Eventually we made our way downstairs, waiting for Ellie to return so we could open presents.
Unlike any other person I’ve ever encountered Hudson had no desire to open his presents, instead preferring to play with his monster trucks. It was driving Ellie insane, almost to tears. She had to open the wrappings until he could glimpse what was contained inside before he’d finally ripe the paper off. Slowly Hudson managed to get all his gifts open, just in time for the arrival of his friend Roman.
The kids spent the remainder of the afternoon playing in the backyard while Popo prepared dinner. It was far mellower than I expected from a 3 year-old’s birthday, although I haven’t been to many. Hopefully the 2nd party remains the same.
The life of a musician is one of great sacrifice. Like nearly all forms of artwork the expenses substantially outweigh the income. Music is a labor of love though, a passion who’s intrinsic value can’t be measured monetarily. It is true that many have prospered off the music industry, but for every “star” there are a thousand impassioned kids creating music each and every day. Music is an outlet, a voice that not only translates time, but culture as well. It is indicative of who we are, in our place in the world, superseding spoken language through the creation of something undeniably more complex. Music is language, emotion, generation, distress and love, admiration, passion, and of course entertainment. It is either the burden or folly of those who have taken it upon themselves to share with the world, or in many circumstance those unable too.
My life as a musician – I am a drummer – began at a young age. I am from a family of extremely talented musicians, and now the industry itself. It was only recently though that I came to the true understanding of what my life as a musician really means. Typically I play alone, learning from and attempting to mimic those I admire through my Stienhauser headphones. What I came to understand though is that while I may be the only person in the room, I am in no way alone.
Perched upon my throne – I’ve always found that term a bit gaudy and honestly prefer to call it a drum stool – I find myself surrounded, embraced in what is without a doubt a piece of art, something that deserves to be appreciated by anyone fortunate enough to play it. 6 pieces of beautifully crafted North American maple lacquered in hunter green finished off with a Paiste high-hat, ride, 16” and 18” crashes, this kit is the Holy Grail to me, the Mona Lisa. It is everything I always imagined a DW kit would be and more. It is my Les Paul, my Steinway.
Recently I played at a “jam session,” the first time I had played a kit other than the DW, and everything felt off, wrong. It wasn’t the same, it almost felt like I had “cheated.” Who was this set and why would did I do this to myself? That was the question, and in itself the answer.
As musicians we share a unique bond with what others consider inanimate. Irrelevant objects. Our instruments, our companions, are as much a part of the work we produce as the concepts we create in our minds. Without my drums I’d just be a fool tapping out rhythms on a table with my fingers, and as obscure as it might sound to “outsiders,” what kit I’m sitting behind affects the way that I play. Essentially, I am only half the equation. Without my drums I would be a painter with no paint, a photographer with no camera, a potter with no clay.
My kit is akin to a child, in my eyes, something that I alone am responsible for. Sadly we have had an exceptionally hard winter here, and my kit thusly suffered in my absence. Like the dilapidated structures of a ghost town, my crash cymbals seem to crumble with every strike, even decaying during times of rest. Too many times have I returned to find my companion is a lesser state then I had left it in.
It is in this connection, however, that I came to understand what being a musician means – in my own context. This kit, my drums, are an extension of my musical creativity, the tool that allows me to convey what’s concocted in my mind. More than that though, it is my companion on an artist journey to discover my place in the vast music universe.
It is something I would never expect everyone to understand, but I will always share a profound connection with the drum kits I had the pleasure of owning throughout my life – not to mention my amazing parents for supporting me and my siblings for not killing me! – And the roles that they played in my development not only as musician, but as a human being.