My mom has pictures and videos of me as a toddler banging on pots and pans with wooden spoons on the kitchen floor.
While potty training, I'd sit on a small training toilet 2 inches away from the TV and watch Animal go crazy on the drum set. I carried my toy drum and sticks around the house, marching and mimicking Animal's moves, down to every bang and yell. I wanted more than anything to play the drums. This a common tale for drummers like me, I'm sure.
Taking Piano Lessons
My parents have always been supportive of my dreams, but didn't enroll me in drum lessons. Instead, they made me play piano. I was 8 years old and met with Linda Eades, who lived two blocks away, every Wednesday after school. She seemed old to me, but was probably only in her early 40's. The hardest part about taking piano (besides losing my books, and you know---the actual practicing) was making my left pinky stay down. I don't know why, but it always stuck up in the air when I played!
Overall, taking piano wasn't too bad, but I knew in my heart that I wasn't a pianist; I was a drummer. Of course I'm eternally grateful to Linda Eades and other piano teachers I had over the years because I learned to read music, and that has been an invaluable gift! I also learned to play at least two hymns (religious music) on the piano before serving a Mormon mission in Australia. Consequently, I'll probably insist that my future kids play piano before any other instrument, too.
Band verses Choir
In 7th grade, my mom asked me if I'd like to do band or choir. I said "band, of course." Now, I don't know what it's like in the junior high world today, but when I was in 7th grade, only four kids were allowed to learn the drums. They made all those interested take a "beats" test, where you listen to beats and write the notation for what you heard. For me, at that time, it was the easiest test in the world!
After the test, the drum instructor told all parents and kids to choose a back-up instrument in case they weren't chosen as one of the four percussionists that year. Mom took the advise seriously. She led me to the sample instruments and told me to hold each one and decide what my back-up instrument would be.
"Here," she said, "what do you think of the saxophone? Kristi down the street plays it. She's a few grades ahead of you, and she really likes it. What do you think?"
"It's nice, Mom. Whatever," I said.
"Here's a clarinet! I really like the clarinet! Why don't you play this one?" She insisted.
"Sure. Whatever, Mom." The clarinet became my back-up, but I never learned to play it. I was chosen as one of the four drummers in 7th grade, like I knew I would be. Drumming was in my blood. Why wouldn't they choose me?
Read Part 2