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Article by Jayson Brinkworth // January 02 2010

Welcome to 2010. I am proclaiming this coming year to be the year of great inspiration. What does this mean exactly? How can I make this statement so early in the year? Have I had a little too much holiday cheer? I believe that as a musician we should always surround ourselves with music and musicians that inspire us to do our very best all of the time. I know this isn’t always possible, but we should aspire to it as much as we can.

But music is not the only strong force of inspiration. Inspiration can come from other areas such as family, friends, a good book, a great movie, and the list can go on and on. When we feel inspired, it seems as though the sky is the limit (which it always is anyhow), and nothing can get in the way of us working towards our goals and dreams.

When I am asked who has inspired me as a drummer, the answer can go on for days: Jeff Porcaro, John Bonham, Billy Ward, Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd, Manu Katche, Shannon Forrest, Kenny Aronoff, Vinnie Colaiuta and about a hundred more. Although the work of these brilliant musicians will always inspire me to be a better player, sometimes I feel that the daily inspiration that I am directly connected to has as much, if not more, impact on my playing. I have split my forms of inspiration into the two following categories: indirect and direct. Just note that one is not better than the other. We need both to be inspired to always do our best.


Indirect inspiration is made up of the music we listen to, musicians we look up to, gear we wish we had, books we read and much more. I know people will argue that the music we listen to can also be direct, but unless we wrote it or participated in the piece, I view it as indirect.

This inspiration is the one that most of us acknowledge and look at as our driving force. We will obviously be inspired by the great music out there: Steely Dan, Toto, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, James Brown, Motown, Jeff Buckley, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac—this list goes on for days.

Listening to this music and studying the great players is a must and should push us to new heights in our own music. It would be unbelievable if we had a direct connection to this inspiration—a lunch date with Ringo, see a Stones show in the evening and drinks later on with Mick Fleetwood. I am sure there are only about five people in the world that could have this as their direct inspiration. For the rest of us, it remains an inspiration but on the indirect side—but it is still an inspiration.

Some of my recent indirect inspirations have come from really listening to Steve Jordan’s playing, reading Paul Shaffer’s book “ We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives”, listening to the latest Jay-Z CD and the latest CD by Them Cooked Vultures (you all need this, by the way).


I view direct inspiration as the elements around me that I have contact with on a daily basis. These include my wife, who is a great musician in her own right—she won’t let me pull any ego or BS about the music industry. My kids, who work their butts off at school and try their very best at all they do. My dad, who is the hardest working man I have ever known and has a heart the size of Canada. My students, who put up with my nagging and constant pushing to make them better drummers and discover their talents.

This list can go on for a while, but you get the idea. Our direct inspiration has a great effect on us, as it is in contact with our emotions everyday. I know, for myself, that when I am away playing and I know that my kids are happy, I can play my very best. Also knowing that my heart is in a good place with my wife by my side inspires me to push beyond my limits. As well, working my hardest and trying my best is my gift back to my parents who taught me these important lessons.

Here is an exercise for you to try. Make a list of five people or things that can be a direct inspiration to you. These don’t have to just inspire you musically; they can be on a spiritual level as well (this also affects our music). Once you have your list, beside each inspiration write down as many ways that this person or object directly inspires you. It can be a good friend who comes out to every show you do, who is willing to help you pack up at the end of a gig and who keeps you honest and grounded in this crazy music industry.

Some of my recent direct inspiration has come from my dad, my Black Beauty snare drum, killer tunes I played on in a December session, watching my kids play hockey, hearing my wife sing and play piano, and our cats.

As I stated before, neither category of inspiration is better then the other. In fact, they both need to work together for us to all reach our potential. The idea is for us to understand what inspires us and to gravitate and aspire to this all of the time in 2010 and beyond.


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About the Author
Jayson  Brinkworth

Jayson Brinkworth is an accomplished drummer, percussionist, vocalist, educator and writer based out of Canada. He is co-owner of the Saskatchewan music school Music In The House, as well as the founder of both the Regina Drum Festival and The Stickman Drum Experience.

Jayson proudly endorses Yamaha drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans heads, Impact cases, Kickport, Flix, Future Sonics and Mountain Rhythm. Visit Jayson online at www.jaysonbrinkworth.com.

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