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The Art of Not Drumming

Article by Jayson Brinkworth // May 02 2007
The Art of Not Drumming

I know what you are thinking, "why do I want to read an article about not drumming?"  Well, I am sure you can all relate to being busy, whether it is with work, family, music, rehearsals, etc. We all have busy lives. This is an article about it being OK (and encouraged) to take time away from our instrument. 

As musicians, we can be impatient with our progress, or lack of (I know I can). We want to be Steve Gadd, and we wanted it to be yesterday, no? As I explain to my own students and myself often, progress is in small, consistent steps. We need to be away from the drums to realize that we are moving forward, but sometimes this is the hardest thing to do, we still want to be Gadd, right? This is an outline of my own drumming activity lately, this article is about balance and how it makes us all better musicians.

I am a drum/percussion instructor with 55 students a week at my music school, Music In The House. My students are working on concepts ranging from stick control and syncopation, to "The New Breed" and my own workings called "Thinking Outside The Books." It is a wide variety of material and I gain a ton of inspiration from all of my students. I have also been in the studio lately recording tracks ranging from country to rock to roots music. I love the studio, also a very inspiring music element.

As well, I have been freelancing a bunch, which involves charting tunes, learning parts (drum and vocal), and making sure my gear is in top shape for the gig. Live playing is a huge part of us as musicians; I love being in the moment and letting the notes go as I play them, a very freeing and inspiring experience. The other thing going on is three school projects around Saskatchewan involving hand percussion and world drumming: one in Regina with about 150 students, one in Beechy with 110 students, and the last one in Yorkton with 600 students. These programs are demanding as they involve teaching world drumming, making drums, working with the school curriculum, as well as composing rhythmic music for the students. These programs are another big part of my life as a musician and are very inspiring and rewarding. 

This article is sounding like I am telling you how busy I am, it isn’t intended for that; remember the b word balance? I, as well as many other working musicians, also have a family, bills, taxes to pay, kids in sports, and many other responsibilities. My family is my biggest inspiration; they keep me grounded and sane, as well as honest in my music (they are musicians as well).   

With all of this inspiration, who wouldn’t want to practice like crazy, right? Add to this that I am going to see some great Canadian songwriters perform tonight. I love playing great songs! Well, this is my time to step away from the drums and practice not drumming. I try and do this every couple of months, easier said than done though. This practice involves more just listening to music and less tapping. It also involves doing other physical activities, such as going to the gym, playing sports, and even sitting in peace and quiet. All of this without rhythm patterns rolling around in my head, no sticks in my hand, and the djembes and congas in their cases. I know when I take this not drumming break, I will feel more comfortable behind the kit, my limbs will work together better, and my sense of dynamics and touch will be more acute. I challenge you to try and not play and just listen and enjoy music for five days. It may be hard, but it is worth it (for myself, anyways). 

It’s logical that we do other things other than playing music all of the time, but as musicians we are all guilty of overworking ourselves mentally and physically. We all want to be the best musicians we can—that’s a given—but sometimes we can be moving backwards and not even realize that we need to step away, even for just a little bit. I just want to say that it is OK to take a break; the phone will still ring, the gigs will still be there (providing we have done a good job), and we won’t lose our chops we have worked hard to build ... we may even build some new listening chops. 

Take a break, enjoy life’s rhythms around us, put away the practice pad, enjoy a balance and practice not drumming. 



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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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