This is the first in a video series where I’ll be talking, not playing drums. But, I’ll be talking about playing drums (a bit), but more than that, talking about the process of overcoming my own fears as an artist- it’s a hairy beast, fear, and can cripple even the best artists… but I believe that by talking about it, we can get better… so, watch this vid, and let me know what you think!
I spoke to my friend Riad- the only tabla player I know of in Orlando- and after I told him about my 40 Days of Drumming, he said, “Oh! You’re doing a chilla.” Now I knew the word- so, some quick research, and I found this definition:
“In Hindustani classical music, chilla or chilla katna is a stage of training or ritual where the student is fully isolated from the outside world and lives for music only. Some musicians spend long periods of their training in varying degrees of isolation and describe these as their chilla; for others, it’s a shorter, more extreme retreat, traditionally lasting 40 days. In either form, it is thought to have the power of transforming not only the student’s music, but his whole life. Chilla is widely used in the Punjab gharānā (school) of tabla playing.
Abdul Karim Khan, a singer of the Kirana gharana, described chilla as “lighting a fire under your life. You either cook or you burn. If you cook, everyone can enjoy your flavour – otherwise, you’ll be a mass of cinders, a heap of ash.”  -excerpt from Mickey Hart’s book, “Drumming at the Edge of Magic”
…so I’m just hoping that I don’t end up “a heap of ash”… Wish me luck!!
It’s time for me to make the Big change. In myself, in my life, in my drumming.
This year, I just turned 40. The Big 4-0. To celebrate, and to help invite that change into my life, I’m going to undergo 40 Days of Drumming. I will eat, sleep, and drum. That’s it. I will not be logging on to Facebook, I won’t be texting anyone, I won’t utter a word to another human being. I will be in isolation from the rest of the world, alone with me and my drums. My mom and dad have graciously offered up their home, and to help out with my food during this time. We still have to work out the details, but in a sense, they will be providing room and board. So I can simply go to the fridge and grab something to eat, then get back to drumming.
I want to re-invent myself as a drummer, re-invent HOW I approach the drums. I want to learn to play the drums in such a way that I can still play when I’m 80.
It’s amazing to me how different “the same” show can be every night.
Being on tour, we are playing, at least on paper, the same show, every night. But it never feels exactly the same. For myself, it’s not so much the specific events, or notes that get played that are so different. It’s how different it can feel.
Now, I’m very focused right now on getting myself in good shape. Mainly through yoga. Yoga focuses on alignment of the body, and symmetric movement, as well as breath, energy flow, and a clam state of mind. The Blue Man show by nature (at least for drummers) is a very asymmetric show. It’s very right hand and right foot driven. That’s just the way the parts are written, as well as the way a traditional drum set is designed. The way the hands cross over for the Hi Hat/Snare Drum combo, and the fact that the right foot plays the largest drum on the entire kit, while the left foot plays a dainty pair of light weight cymbals. That’s a very different workload. (more…)
It’s been a little over one month since I’ve been on tour with Blue Man, and so far, I’m seeing how I go through waves of gaining focus on my goals, then straying away.
I’ve broken my goals down into 5 basic things, so it’s easier for me to keep track of. Then, recently, I decided to make this image with one symbol representing each of the 5 goals:
Clockwise from top the symbols represent: