The door opens with a "bing-bong." I wasn't expecting a door bell, like I'm walking into a dentist office or something. This is far from a dentist office, though (thank goodness!).
Two soft sofas sit on aluminum flooring with a bookshelf filled with music books. One of the shelves holds a box filled with drum sticks. It's labeled: Weapons of Mass Percussion.
I hear a Beatles song playing from an iPod or stereo somewhere behind a big black reception desk. A Jimmy Hendrix poster grins at the poster of Luke and Leia holding light sabers. On the far wall of the reception area, I see large pictures of kids playing guitars and drums on stage, like they're the opening act for Muse or Queen.
"I have a 2:45 appointment?" I tell the two people sitting behind the desk. The girl has curly long hair, and the guy is wearing a red-orange beanie, like he might go skiing later.The wall behind them is bright orange with calendars and sticky note reminders all over it.
Last week, I called for a lesson because I got a coupon for a free lesson with School of Rock by submitting to the Hit Like A Girl Contest.
"You're Kassie," the girl says. She smiles as brightly as the wall behind her. "Have a seat. Eddie will be ready for you soon." I notice that she's carrying an awkward square box. "Yeah-- the bass drum head needs replacing," she explains. "We have a 17 year old who--- well, he's a great drummer! He's just... well?"
"Hard on drums?" I guess. She nods, and I sit in the sofa that looks like a zebra.
"Eddie will need to replace this, and then he'll be ready for you."
"I'm early," I say, and pull out my book. She takes her box down the hall and returns to her desk before I can finish one page of my book. She asks me questions: where I live, what I like playing, etc. I'm not usually shy, but for some reason, I keep my answers quick and quiet. She seems really genuine, but I have butterflies in my stomach. She said something on the phone about Sum 41. Was I having a lesson with the drummer from Sum 41?
"How long have you been playing?" she asks, and the guy in the beanie leans his elbows on the table, listening for my answer.
I hesitate. I'm not sure how much of my story they want to hear, and I'm not sure how to answer. "Consistently?" I ask. They both smile and shrug as if saying, Sure! Whatever you want to tell us. We're cool!
I decide to tell them that I've been playing for two years, but afterwards I wonder if I should have told them one year because that's how long I've been with DrumAmbition. The boy asks me who my favorite band is, to which I say Foo Fighters. We talk for a bit, and before I know it, a tall skinny guy wearing a black tank top and jeans comes in the room and smiles at me.
"Kassie?" he says.
"Eddie?" I say back. He nods and invites me back into a music studio down the hall. I watch his tattoo arms lead the way, while I fidget with my sticks and stuff my book into my purse.
There are two identical black drum sets in a room with padded walls. Eddie tells me to pick one. I choose the one away from the door so I'll have my back to the wall and be able to see him teaching me better. (Really, it doesn't matter!) I regret my decision later and don't tell him.
Imagine you're driving a friend's car, and your friend is much taller than you. His seat will be much farther back, right? It makes for awkward driving, right? That's how it was for me. Because his snare was so high, his seat so far back, etc.... it made for awkward playing.
He asks me questions about myself, and I try to be less shy and quiet than I was with the front desk people. He asks me what kind of music I'm "into right now," to which I tell him that Foo Fighters are my favorite, but I'm going to a Shinedown concert in April. Before I know it, he's looking up "The Crow and the Butterfly" by Shinedown on YouTube on his phone, which is connected to two headphones.
Even though Eddie hasn't heard the song before (which I think is crazy!), he's able to tell that the time signature is 12/8. He gives me a quick lesson on time signature, using a whiteboard, and then he maps out the general beat of the song.
He helps me count it, and before I know it, we're practicing the beat together and figuring out the bridges. By the end of the lesson, I'm able to keep with the time and hit at least one of the bridges, but I'm itching to get to my own set where I'm more comfortable.
The butterflies in my stomach laugh when I make mistakes, but I laugh with them until they finally fly away, and I'm able to just enjoy the drums.
Eddie's "secret weapon"? He taught me to bounce my left foot in time as an additional metronome. He says, "If you watch Neil Peart from Rush, you'll see his left foot is always bobbing to the beat. That's because he does some crazy things with his his hands, and he's got to keep time."
The lesson ends with Eddie saying he's got another appointment, but he talks to me like he'll see me tomorrow or something. (I wish!) Live lessons are great, but super expensive! (For good reason, of course!)
I think I'll stick with DrumAmbition a bit longer, but I'm looking forward to submitting another video with HLAG so I can get another free coupon. In my book, I've already won the contest. That free lesson was awesome!
I'm what you'd call a "hobbyist" drummer.