Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day!

The Thanksgiving holiday has always been one of my favorites. It has always seemed like one of the more relaxed holidays (probably because I'm not the one preparing food), with lots of family around and time to just be.

This morning started very early for me (can you say Black Thursday?), and now that I have a few minutes I thought I'd just list a few of the music-related things I'm most grateful for.

First, music itself. From my earliest memories, nothing has had the kind of power in my life that music has. It allows me to feel and express emotions that I can't access in any other way. And even though I love jazz, classical and a hundred other styles and genres, I'm not afraid to say that modern pop music is what touches me the most easily.

I think it's the nature of the human voice. Many pop singers aren't formally trained, so the singing is raw, natural and visceral. Also, most pop lyrics aren't all that deep (sorry, friends, it's the truth), which makes them very accessible to the average listener.

At the heart of it, music makes me feel. I can't imagine any part of my life without its accompanying soundtrack. I love music. More than I could ever express in words, and that's why I play. That's why I teach, too, to help others to gain access to their own voice. Music is magic. It's life. It connects us to each other.

Next, I'm grateful for musicians. Not only the amazing people with whom I get to create and play, but all those who have come before. Music has always been a reflection of the world and of society. Music can be a reaction - or an outright rebellion - to anything, real or perceived, that is going on in the world. And some of the bravest musicians have been those who aren't afraid to challenge the constraints of the times, be they style, subject or vocabulary.

Consider this: What is the most abrasive, cutting-edge music you can think of? What do your parents or peers think is too "out there," or unacceptable? Is it metal, rap, country, punk, emo or something else? Remember that almost every style of music that is now "accepted" was once in this category of being strange, forward or unacceptable.

Can you even imagine music like Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington or even Mozart being too "hard" for any audience? And yet they were, each in their own time, considered to be pushing the boundaries of appropriateness and acceptability.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to say that all music will or should be universally accepted. It's worthy of an entirely different discussion, but as a consumer (yup, you are!) or creator of music, you have to consider what the music is doing to you - because it IS doing something to you - and whether that's something you want in your life.

But I'm grateful for forward-thinking musicians - even the ones who are abrasive and offensive to me. Because of them, I can create the music that I feel is right and good in the world. My music can make a difference.

More so all the time, I'm really grateful for instruments, and those who pioneer and manufacture them. It seems really basic, I know, but the ability to create such a diverse range of sounds with so little effort is such a gift to musicians. Especially in percussion, the sound choices are endless. Size, configuration, materials and construction are very flexible for drums, heads, sticks, cymbals and effects so that every player I've ever met sounded at least a little bit different from each other.

I love that I can sound like me, and you can sound like you, and we can both be musicians.

Last (at least for today), I'm grateful to have an audience. This probably sounds really self-centered, but who doesn't want to be heard and appreciated? So, whether you're reading this blog or coming to concerts, thanks for listening. You don't have to like it or agree with it. I appreciate that you are attempting to listen and understand.

So, happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I sincerely hope that it gives you the opportunity to reflect and reconnect with the people and elements of your life that are the most important and meaningful. And, of course, I hope you have some great tunes in your life today and always.



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Drummer's Weight Room: Tap Timing Exercise

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