Change Yourself…Change The World.

The Story of Teaching Drum Set
July 26, 2012, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Paraguay

About six months ago I was walking down the street in my community, minding my own business and trying to stave off the 110 degree powerful heat waves that only a summer in Paraguay can administer. I headed past my bus terminal, ready to turn on to the road that lead to my house, when I suddenly heard an incredible sound. It’s a sound that only drummers can recognize: the sound of someone banging their heart out on a drum set.

WHAT?! Was my first immediate thought process. How can I have been living in Caazapá for 6 months and not have known there’s a drum set here?! I knew that most Paraguayan bands liked to use these weird electronic-pads instead of drum sets (so lame), so I had given up hope on ever finding one, especially in a city as rural as Caazapá; yet here I was in the middle of my town, hearing the clear sound of a bass drum! Like a moth to a flame, I bee-hived straight the beat. A few minutes later (which nearly cost me an arm as I wandered dangerously close to a house, causing their guard dog to almost eat me alive), I found myself in this weird house-shop, staring at a Paraguayan teenager.

‘What is that noise?’ I, the nosy stranger asked incredulously in my off-putting foreign-accent Spanish (Don’t worry- 6 months later my Spanish is only slightly off-putting).

As any normal Paraguayan would do when confronted with a weirdo who can barely string a sentence together, they pretended like they didn’t know what I was talking about.

‘There’s a noise!’ I insisted, bursting with such excitement that I probably looked like an over-inflated balloon. ‘Someone’s playing the drums! Is it in your house!’

Again, the Paraguayan teenager acted like I was hearing things. Then his mother piped up behind him, ‘Yes, that’s my son playing the drums. Do you want to see?’

‘YES!’ The answer couldn’t have been more emphatic.

I walked into the backyard of her house to discover a 13-year-old boy clumsily trying to play a dashing, finely tuned drum set (well, at least by Paraguayan standards). I almost went ballistic. ‘I know how to play the drums!’ I exclaimed feverishly. ‘I didn’t know there was a drum set in Caazapá!’ What then ensued was me playing a 5 minute drum solo while everyone in their house came over to stare at the racket I was making.

Fortunately, it was a good kind of racket. The woman’s eyes lit up. ‘You know how to play drum set!’ She exclaimed. ‘We’re a music school!’ My eyes suddenly took in all of the shelves of instruments in the room- violins, guitars, and electronic pianos. ‘We don’t have a drum set teacher! Will you teach drum set?’ She asked me.

My vigorous YES! came from a place within me that I had almost forgotten existed.

The thing is, I studied percussion and drum set for 6 years. I even went to music school for drums (CalArts) for a year and a half, where I played classical percussion, drum set, and a plethora of different percussion instruments from all over the world. For all of my high school and half of my college, drumming was my bread and butter. It was my passion, my lifestyle, and my entire world.

As the story of my life goes (in a brief version, to say the least), I developed chronic tendonitis in both of my arms and had to kiss my career as a professional musician goodbye. It was a lot of pain and heart-ache, but ultimately lead me to travel all over the world, attend an incredible university, and finally join the Peace Corps.

When I visited CalArts shortly before leaving for the Peace Corps, I came to sit in on my favorite African drumming class, ready to play after not touching drums in a few years. As I confessed my fear of not being good anymore to one of my favorite instructors, Randy Gloss, he told me that even though drumming is no longer my main focus, I can and should still find ways to integrate it into my life in ways that I can enjoy it. I took his advice and rocked Ghanaian drumming that afternoon, and I departed for the Peace Corps with his kernel of truth wedged in my brain.

To have the opportunity now to teach drum set in my community is outrageously fun. A few weeks ago I first started with three students. Now I have four, and soon to be five. I teach them for half an hour each on Thursday mornings, and to see them progressing so fast is thrilling.

I’ve been really cognizant of coming to each class with all of the energy and care that all of my favorite teachers have brought to me in every single lesson I had in high school and university. To me, that is my gift and thank you to them. So thank you Andrew, Randy, and Brian for the gifts you gave me for 6 years. I’m so happy that I get to pass them on to some really excited and enthusiastic kids here in Paraguay. Plus, one of my students is a teenage girl! And as luck would have it, she’s the fastest learner of them all.


Much love,

5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I want this to happen to me, substituting French horn for drums. I’ll let you know when it does happen.

Comment by Devo

Awesome Devin, let’s collaborate 🙂

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

They are so lucky to have your love, passion and talent!

Comment by Mama

Thanks Mama, I miss and love you!!

Comment by brittanygoesglobal

That’s Awesome Brit!
Keep sharing the gift and remember…. the best teacher is always a student.
Keep me posted,

Comment by Brian Baudrit

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