If you are a parent of an elementary school student, you are well-acquainted with school fundraisers and auctions. Because of continued cuts for public schooling, the above have taken a permanent seat at our daughters’ school. Not unusual for most public elementary schools at all.
Auction items can include cabins for a winter-white vacation you plan to have with your family. Auction or raffle wine may include fanciful jewelry pieces, beauty packages, photography sessions, bouquets or restaurant gift certificates. There are artistic spreads and evenings with chefs. All of the above sound pretty magical and of course, purchasing any of them is a win for a higher cause; children’s continued field trips, music and art programs etc. At a fundraiser that my husband and I attended this past year, one of the creative items happened to be a family drum lesson.
My husband has drummed his whole life. Not on drums necessarily, but on cabinets and desks and any hard surface he can find to wrap his knuckles and fingers into rhythmic motion. He once performed on stage, on cabinet doors, unhinged illegally no doubt, from his Isla Vista apartment alongside a video compilation he and his friends crafted. I wasn’t there. But I can imagine how it looked and more importantly, how it sounded and how invigorated he felt and engaged the audience must have been.
So, when our family showed up for our drumming lesson, I knew he would shine. What followed surprised me to my core.
Our daughters now range from ages 4-11, and have had only sparing bits of musical training since birth. As with many things I thought I would instill in them before any of these little ladies arrived in my arms, music seemed to be an obvious one. After all, their dad had beat in his every movement and I had a past in piano and oboe, pursuing both for many years. But alas, neither my husband nor I were too dedicated in teaching our girls much about the study of music. Nor have we taught them a second language, but anyhow.
We have a basket of rhythm instruments which they have all played with since they were infants. We took them each to beautifully instructed mommy-and-me classes and we have indulged them in their temporary, yet fleeting interests in acoustic and electric guitar. This is why as soon as we got into the drum studio, I was surprised to see that things got pretty righteous, pretty fast!!
I saw Focus. Steadfast focus.
I saw Engagement. Like the kind that cannot let your attention wonder. At all.
I saw Joy. The perma-smile kind!
I saw work in Unison. Like the kind that is so electric you can’t blink!
And I heard so much noise. The good kind. The kind that sends your whole body into roar-mode.
Which I absolutely trust brings longevity to our lives.
In photography, “noise” refers to some kind of visual distortion. Photos can be overly pixellated because of low-light or a slow shutter or because the subjects have incredibly fast movements. Because we have four girls that move as fast as squirrels, a good number of my photos contain noise.
In our house, noise refers to an overwhelming range of high-pitch Sally’s. Sometimes, these noises are pure childhood bliss in an overwhelmingly loud fashion. Other times, noise is deep sibling disrupt or sleepover hangover for one of the girls that presents itself as piercing noise and well, it’s painful on my ears. And our neighbors ears too, albeit.
Sometimes, these orca-like sounds are produced from all corners of the house and I can’t even hear myself… Gasp, do the dishes!!
This is why I love swimming and yoga.
Yet, in a padded music studio, where only drums and black lights exist, I remembered that noise is incredibly soul-satisfying.
I had been craving this kind of noise. The kind that evokes sincere attention and focus. I had been wanting to find my own beat, within me and in connection to our family. Wanting to find where all this messiness of parenting fuses together. I had been searching to feel that level of engagement, the kind I fall in love with over and over when I write or dance or explore a new place I have never been.
There is so much for me to redefine as my role as a mother evolves. There is so much in the tasking of mothering, that finding a sustainable beat or cadence had become difficult for me. Something about drumming allowed so much of the most meaningful motivations to surface.
Every time the drum teacher said “1, 2, 3 and 4..” I wanted to throw some sticks and go hog-wild like Steven Adler from Guns’ n’ Roses. I looked to my left, and my rhythmically talented husband was going for it. And to my right, our four daughters, 100% in-sync, pink stick in the right hand and yellow stick in the left, were fully engaged.
So it made me think, why is this activity so enthralling for all of us?! What is it about a few sticks and a hard surface that makes our eyes dilated with excitement? And finally, maybe we need to drum more often!!
I have been tracking what evoked these strong feelings for me ever since I left the studio. In the middle of a drum cadence the instructor was teaching, our 4 yr old asked him “What did you get for Christmas?” I was thrown, because all I wanted to ask was, “Do you mind making me a key for your studio so I can come here whenever I want?!”
Outside, inside, cross, outside inside, tap. Outside, inside, drop the sticks. Yessss.
Boom, pause, double-tap – rim. Boom boom, pause, boom boom boom! Just soooo good!!
6 mouths hung wide open as we worked to get our synapses correctly aligned with our wrist movements. But the heart, oh the heart, this just followed its own rhythm. And how liberating this was!
There is so much noise in our culture. So much overwhelming amounts of everything really. So much that happens around us that it’s difficult, truly difficult to hear ourselves sometimes and hear what it is our heart is beating for.
So, whatever your heart asks for; honor it. This is more than marching to the beat of your own drum. This is grabbing the sticks in both hands and letting them make a mark upon where they land. This is your pace, your beat, your cadence and your way of showing up and shining. This is letting that contact between drum and stick resonate from your finger tips to your wrists and up your arm to your heart and head so that you bring that energy and vibration forward in your chosen actions. This is creating noise. The best kind. The kind that illuminates who you are and what you stand for.
Drumming. You’ve got my attention. You have our family’s attention.
We don’t have 6 drums, so if your trash lids go missing, well they make a really fine sound and I just want to keep drumming with my peeps.
Boom Chaka is a locally run drum studio. Craig Thatcher, owner and instructor, has been teaching drumming for over 20 years. He is stellar with all ages. He says drumming is the easiest instrument to feel good at as a beginner. He sold our family. Classes for youth and adults are available but you may have to beat on cabinet doors for a while longer, these classes fill fast and I believe the last set of sticks has already been spoken for 😉.