How to Play the Drums

Drum sticks

While sifting through the various boxes that I’ve dragged around with me as I’ve moved from one location to another, I came across a pair of drum sticks.

It must have been my third year as a student at Penn State, when Stan, who, like me, lived on the fifth floor of Mifflin Hall, decided he wanted to learn to play the drums.

Stan played the piano. Unlike me, he played it very well. I had never really progressed beyond my so-so level; I always had a couple songs that I had mastered, but I was never really very good. I kept tinkering around at the piano on the ground floor of our dorm just enough so I wouldn’t lose whatever ability that I had, but not enough to get any better.

Stan, though, was a good player. There actually were quite a few good players in the dorm at that time.

Anyway, Stan decided to take a course on the drums, and it sounded like a fun idea to me. And probably an easy grade. So I joined him.

The course required us to buy a pair of drum sticks and a little pad of some sort to practice on, I forget what it was called. A drum practice pad, perhaps? (Yep. I just did a web search.)

The class size was relatively small, maybe six or so.

The instructor showed us how to hold the drum sticks and tap out a basic beat and then he went around to each of us individually.

When he got to Stan, he was impressed.

“Have you played the drums before?” he asked.

“No, not at all,” came Stan’s reply.

Then the instructor turned to me as I eagerly demonstrated my drum tapping.

He studied my technique for a moment and then asked: “Have you ever broken your arm?”

What a way to destroy my confidence. No, I’ve never broken my arm.

The classes were held once a week, and that pattern was followed for at least the next two. Did Stan ever play before and did I ever break my arm.

I don’t recall how well I did in that course, but I no longer have the practice pad, just the drum sticks. I don’t think I’ve ever picked them up to practice since that course ended.

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