Building a Drummer: a Foundation
When I was 16 years old, I began fiddling around with drumming. Both with hand percussion, and with a full drum kit.
I'm unsure how most drummers begin, but I didn't run out and drop $3000 on a drum kit. Thanks to my church, I had moderate access to an electronic drum kit that was only used on Sunday mornings. A few times during the week, I would have 20mins or so on this Roland V-Drum kit, where I would just work on the basics.
At home, I would listen to a song over and over, memorizing the drum part. Then, when I had that rare 20mins at the church, I would try to replicate what I had memorized off the track.
This went on for about a year and a half before I got really anywhere at all. At the same time, I was also working on my hand percussion.
At the youth building, they frequently did "acoustic worship" when their drummer was unavailable for a Wednesday night or something. These sets required an alternative percussion instrument, so they usually utilized a congo or djembe.
I got where I could substitute for the real drummer, and knew enough basics to fake my way through a worship service.
After two years of secretly getting 20mins on the electronic kit from time to time, and playing on stage for the youth about once a month, I graduated from High School.
Over the summer, there were two or three Sunday services that the primary church drummer was out of town for. The music minister (Ken Montgomery) had heard me banging around on the electronic set, and learned good things about me from the youth, so he asked me to play.
These two or three times were some of the scariest moments of my life. It was a big change going from quietly messing around alone to playing with a 20-piece orchestra live on stage for 1,000 people.
I had to quickly evolve from just memorizing Jars of Clay songs for fun. It was time to grow enough to drive a stage full of musicians. Just like my beginnings in the youth department, I knew enough basics to fake my way through, and the services went fine.
No rock show, but fine.
Then I moved to college. I found one of the on-campus student ministries, and started attending. My first visit, the music guy (Taylor Wood) asked if I could play any instruments. I mumbled something about a djembe and he said "here's our new drummer."
This whole faking it thing has really worked out pretty well. By faking my way through something the first few times, I get my foot in the door. After the initial few times I'm comfortable, and they let me stay. Then I've got the opportunity to practice and grow, until I can stop faking it and start feeling natural.
I've been playing with the MBSF Eleven88 band for almost a year now, and have really grown as a musician. I still don't call myself a drummer, but I've gotten serious enough that it's time to start building my own drum kit.
My goal is to slowly gather the pieces of my kit over the next few months, having my full drum kit built by July.