People like to put other people in psychological boxes, and boxes within those boxes: Being an artist takes a certain kind of personality. And among artists, your average actor is said to be like this, while a musician is like this. Among musicians, singers are this kind of person, but drummers are like this. And among drummers, metal dudes behave like this, jazzers like this…. The more you think about it, the more absurd the whole premise of “personality types” becomes.

And, indeed, science mostly pushes back on the concept, focusing instead on traits rather than types—and here there may be something useful for us to explore. While you or I might not share some obvious personality traits with, say, John Bonham, or Abe Laboriel Jr., or Anika Nilles, or Bernard Purdie, I wonder if there are certain characteristics or tendencies that, for the most part, successful drummers do have in common.

Given how different drums are from other instruments—from the way they sound, to where they’re usually set up onstage, to the physical commitment it takes just to play shows—possessing traits that allow us to deal well with those aspects of the instrument could very well be beneficial to our success.

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