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Success Equals Balance

Article by Jayson Brinkworth // October 02 2008
Success Equals Balance

The word success conjures up many thoughts and images: lots of money, a big house with a pool, limousines, exotic holidays and on and on. One thing is for sure, everybody wants and deserves a certain amount of success in life if they work hard and persevere. This article encompasses my thoughts on the word success, keeping it in perspective and revealing what it means to me as a musician/father/husband.


When I was a child, playing sports was a huge part of life, especially hockey, eh! If someone was to ask me how I would define success at that time in my life, the answer would have been along the lines of playing in the NHL and making a ton of money. That’s it. Well, in case you don’t know, I am not in the NHL (and will never be), nor do I make a ton of money. Does this make me unsuccessful? When I turned 13, I started playing drums. I wanted to play since I was 5, but you will have to ask my parents about their reasons to wait 8 years. If someone was to ask me how I would define success at this point in my life, it would have been along the lines of playing in a band like Rush or Toto, touring around the world on a private jet, having fans screaming my name and making a ton of money (Come on, you have all had similar dreams). Well, I don’t play in Rush or Toto, but I do play music with great players and friends. I don’t travel the world in a private jet, but I have been flying commercial airlines a lot for my current gig. The only people that scream my name are my kids and my wife when I get out of line, and I make a living but not a ton of money. In my eyes, I believe I am successful at what I do, and the biggest reason is because I have a balance in life. Don’t get me wrong, the dream I had as a 13 year old still lives on inside of me, but am I unsuccessful if it never comes true?


One thing that I remind all of my students is that every one of us started playing drums for the same reason: to feel the power of this instrument and play our favorite songs. If you started for money, fame and the chicks, well, you will soon realize that it doesn’t work that way. I also remind my older students of why we all started drumming, as they can sometimes forget the reason they love playing and get discouraged with their lack of progress. It doesn’t matter if we make a living playing music, if we play part-time, or if we just get together with some friends every week to jam, we all love being around music and playing. One thing we also tend to forget is that the people who have not played an instrument will never experience the emotion and feeling we get when we play. It is a gift and a higher expression of emotion.

The following are two examples of players I know and respect. I view them both as being successful in music and in their lives because they have perspective and balance. The first person is a student of mine, Mike. Mike had wanted to play drums for a long time and started lessons with me about four years ago. He had a goal in mind: he wanted to be playing in a band and gigging before he was 40 (Mike was 36 at the time). 

We started off learning some basics and such, and our first complete tune was “Don’t Do Me Like That” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was a success for Mike. To cut to the chase, because of his determination, Mike is now playing in a band and has done several gigs. On the night before his 40th birthday he played a club in which there was a cover charge to see the band play—another goal of his. Mike also has a great job, an awesome wife and two beautiful daughters. In my mind, Mike is a successful drummer because he knew what he wanted to accomplish with his playing and made it happen. The other person is my brother-in-law Jeff. Jeff has played music for quite awhile and is a very good drummer with not only a great knowledge of music but a strong desire for the art. He is truly inspiring. Jeff’s playing situation is very cool as he has done live gigs, but the bulk of his playing is his infamous Wednesday night jams. The core is Jeff on drums or harmonica, Chad on guitar and one or more players, depending on who is available on a particular Wednesday night. They have their own material and other ideas that they play through and work out.

The other cool thing is that every week they record their performance on a four-track recorder. After an hour or two of jamming, they will take these tapes and review their performance from that night. They will document parts that work and develop ideas from this for the next week—all the while not playing live, just jamming every Wednesday night. This has been going on for 10 years with over 20 “guests” attending these sessions and a countless number of cassettes in the files. I have been lucky enough to experience the jam night, and what a blast! Just like Mike from the previous example, Jeff too has a great job outside of music, an awesome wife and two great children. In my mind, Jeff is a successful drummer as he works on his music every week, records the performance to refine parts and plays music with so much passion and emotion. Even though our playing situations are different from each other, both Mike and Jeff teach me a lot and inspire me to move ahead in my own musical journey. Thanks, guys.


In life, balance is the key to everything: diet, exercise, family-time, work-time, etc. Balance keeps us grounded and helps us persevere through life’s challenges. In my own career, I play my best when my wife and kids are happy, and on the flip side, I am a better husband and father when the music side is working. Obviously this isn’t always the case, as life will have it, but working hard to keep this balance is very important to me. Also keeping perspective on the word success and being realistic and honest with myself is key as well. I try my best to have a balanced, practiced routine of rudiments, new exercises, and I also revisit old concepts. I try to balance out my students’ lesson material as well, with rudiments, songs, exercises and creative ideas. Take a moment to look at your own successes and balances in life. Also keep perspective on your idea of success and what it means to you in your own musical ventures—whatever they might be.



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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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