As a person who has been involved in music from a very young age, it was always so important to me to have music be in life for the rest of my life. I decided in 7th grade (about 14 years ago) that I wanted to be a band director when I grew up. Now, I know pretty much everyone reading this blog are either drummers or guitarists, but I promise this'll be worth your while. Honestly, this wasn't a very tough decision because I knew at that young of an age that I wasn't really very good at anything else. Playing trombone came naturally to me. I had just enough talent to get me by when I started.
That was my problem...
"Just enough talent" got me by, but the older I got the lower on the totem poll I went. I relied on talent, and not work ethic. I was told in 8th grade that I would be a Texas All-State musician... so I relied on that, and never actually worked to get there. Now that I've been teaching middle school, high school, and a little bit of elementary band for over 3 years now, I'm discovering that this is like a plague across our nation in our kids. Too many kids give up on something they once liked because they discover they have to work at it to be good at it. This year was a little bit of a disappointment during our summer marching band camp because a large portion of my middle school kids quit band before the high school year even started, all because they were lazy and didn't want to wake up in the early morning, or because the marching didn't come naturally to them in the beginning. Some of those students had potential to be GREAT musicians. This is happening more and more each year.
If you love playing drums, or guitar, uke, or whatever it may be (maybe even playing football or public speaking), it's not always going to be easy, but the greatest reward in life is when you reach the end of that long tiring race. Ask Shane about his first race, I'm sure training wasn't easy, but the feeling when it was over was SO worth it! You're going to have fills or licks you want but can't play yet, or a gig you really hope to get, but if you push passed the hump and "just keep swimming", you will feel an unbelievable sense of accomplishment. I marched with the Bluecoats (Drum Corps International) for 3 summers, and those were the hardest summers of my life, and cost a LOT of money, but the feeling after that finals performance at World Championships and hearing the crowd yell "Bloooooo!!" (not to mention that each year I marched, our placement went up), was THE best feeling I've ever had as a musician.
To bring this blog to an end, I want to just reinforce the idea that if you really love what you're doing, no matter what it is, or even if you're just getting started and you're not sure yet - KEEP TRYING. Keep practicing, keep working hard, and I promise you'll reap the benefits, and I promise in the tough times it will get fun again. And also remember, as another blogger said, it's not always about being the best at what you do... being good may get you A gig, but being a good and reliable person will help you KEEP gigs. Keep practicing, and when the going get tough, just keep swimming.
NOTE FROM SHANE...
Cassie Hammond is my wife's cousin and was the proud owner of the only faux hawk that I have ever been truly jealous of. She is currently the band director at J.M. Hanks High School and Desert View Middle School in El Paso, TX. Cassie has a degree in music education from UTEP and plays bass and drums in various praise bands in addition to her career as an educator and trombonist. I am thrilled to have Cassie on board as a guest blogger at stickandstrum and look forward to her insight and musings on the current music scene. If you have any questions or comments for Cassie, leave them below!