Most of us get frustrated and discouraged at one time or another. It is difficult to keep your spirits up when there are no jobs in sight. Furthermore, it is difficult to keep practicing and rehearsing when your career is moving slowly.
As if this were not tough enough, there are always those who would discourage you. Sometimes it can be one or both parents. This is perhaps the toughest problem to deal with. If your parents have no contact with the music business, it is easy to see why they might have negative feelings about your becoming a musician.
Perhaps the best way to deal with this problem is to explain to them that you are really serious about music. Taking lessons, taking music and/or business courses at a local college, or taking care of responsibilities such as work or school can sometimes overcome their objections. Many people have helped to pay their way through college by playing music and this helped to relieve the strain on the family budget.
If you are taking lessons, have your drum teacher meet with your parents. If you are taking high school or college music courses, arrange a meeting with the teacher to help your parents understand. Show them industry magazines (such as Modern Drummer) to help them gain a perspective on the music business.
Be honest with them. The music business is tough, and you must be talented and well trained to survive in it. Each family will have to work this difficulty out for it self and it isn’t always easy. It might help to point out to them that more people are making money in the music business than ever before.
Older musicians can become disappointed and very negative when their careers have not lived up to their hopes and dreams. In their disappointment, they sometimes discourage young players by making comments such as: “It’s a lousy business”; “There’s no money in it”; “Grow up and get a job that’s more secure”; “Just play as a hobby”; and last of all, “You don’t have it. You will never make it because you don’t have the talent.” This is just “Misery loves company,” as the old saying goes. They couldn’t make it so they do not want you to make it either.
Occasionally, older drummers will say things to younger players that are discouraging. Sometimes they are envious and scared. Sometimes they hope to upset you, assuming that you won’t play well if you are disturbed. Sometimes they have an ego problem.
This obstacle is easier to handle because you only have to please yourself and the musicians you play with. You don’t have to please frustrated, jealous or out-of-work drummers.
Some musicians want to impress you with how much they know about the business. They often try to suggest that they have “inside” contacts. They may even say things like “Play like so and so or you will never make it.”
Although contacts are important, you must play well to take advantage of them and, in the long run, it is how well you play that makes or breaks your career. Also, be suspicious of anyone who pretends to have all the answers. People like this seldom can back up what they say.
Honesty & Determination
Be honest with yourself as to what your chances of being a successful drummer really are. It is great to be determined to make it as a drummer. However, remember that there are approximately three million drummers in America alone. That’s a lot of competition. Don’t kid yourself that you can just “feel it” and go right to the top. In fact, most of today’s really top drummers are well-trained musicians who understand their strengths and weaknesses. They have also done a lot of hard work to get to the top.
My personal feeling is that if you don’t try you will never know if you could have done it. Better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. I hasten to add that this is my personal feeling only. This is a decision each person has to make alone. There is a risk in any career. There are no guarantees in life. Each person must go through the various phases on the road to success in his or her own way.
When you get really discouraged, try to remember why you began playing the drums. “Because it is fun” is the most common response. “I love music and drumming” is another one. In other words, playing music gives us a special satisfaction that a regular nine-to-five job might not.
When I get discouraged, I listen to music. No matter what my mood, the music will usually bring me out of it. Listening to a great drummer play live will also inspire me. When someone is playing really well, it is easy to forget your troubles and get involved in the music.
“Involved” is the key word. We only become involved in something that is interesting, stimulating and satisfying. So, remember all the satisfaction you have already derived from music and drumming. This will remind you to keep your spirits up, and to keep practicing, learning and developing, even when things are not going well.
One Last Thought
A young man asked an extremely successful individual. “Can you give me the formula for success?” The person replied, “There is no such formula because success is different for each person. However, I can give you the formula for failure: try to please everyone!”
Some people will never say, “Good job, that sounded really fine.” They are too discouraged themselves. Don’t worry about pleasing these types. Just play as well as you can, keep learning all the time and enjoy it. If you are really good, you will get your chance sooner or later.