Keiden and the New Ashiko

Just like that and almost two and a half months have gone by. It kept getting harder to sit down to write because new experiences were happening so quickly and not a whole lot has been happening on the medical front. Drums in the Swamp kicked off our festival and event season and we are just going with the flow from one thing to the next. Since so much has happened between Drums in the Swamp and now I’ve decided to focus on a different journey in this writing. My path with the drum. I felt it was a good topic to write about since something happened down in the swamp that has sent me on a slingshot ride further down that path.

My path with the drum hasn’t been a lifelong journey. Over the years cousins and friends have let me play around on their drum kits but it was nothing I ever got serious about. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I heard drums around a fire for the first time. I can’t remember the first time I put my hands on a hand drum or who lent their drum to me to bang on but it was so much different from playing a kit; and so much more exciting and engaging for me. I started borrowing drums to play at every opportunity that presented itself. Then one day a drum showed up for me. Delivered by Chris, gifted to me by my ex. It was the first drum that I could call my own.

At first I was both excited and a bit daunted by the fact that now I had my own drum. Every time I would put my hands on the drum I was thrilled to be playing MY drum but would also cringe every single time I made a mistake. The drum was real intimidating at first. I would only practice when I knew no one else was around and it was a timid kind of practice. The first steps down this drum path were slow and tedious but I kept sitting back down with the drum. I did not practice often at the beginning. I was still cringing at my mistakes and it was hard to keep going but I kept going to beginner classes at all of the events that had those classes available.

Along the way I found that in the community of rhythm there was lots of encouragement and support for anyone and everyone that wants to play. Lots of folks have helped me out and taught me little bits and pieces. Darian helped me feel more comfortable practicing with my drum and walked me through two of my first drum rhythms. Moose taught me to find the heartbeat when I get lost. Patch taught me even more rhythms and that you have a voice through your drum. Eesa taught me how to listen to the drum voices. Tigre taught me that the drum has ways to move and manipulate energy within the container. My drum brothers Jair and Dave taught me how to play hard, fast, and deep.

Drumming outside Johns Hopkins

When I was in the hospital last year one of the things I asked Shannon to bring from home was my drum. When Shannon told our friend Eesa about that he was happy to hear it because he said that meant that the drum had become a part of me. And I feel that. No one or nothing could take drumming away from me now.

Drumming has taught me so much over that past few years and it continues to teach me every time I get my hands on the drum. It has taught me to open up and use my voice. It has taught me that if I want to learn more I need to practice more. It has taught me the importance of timing. It teaches me to learn from and laugh at my mistakes. It has taught me ways to transmute energy. It has taught me that any moment can be made sacred with the right rhythm for the moment. I’ve also made friends and family with and through the drum who provide lots of love, encouragement and support.

The new ashiko drum.

So while I was down in the swamp, Eric, of Rhythm Healer Drums (check out his website to find more info about custom ashikos and drum circles), facilitated a new experience and the next step on the path of drum for me. I got myself my own new drum! Not just a new drum though. My drum. Not a drum that was picked out by someone else and gifted to me. A drum that I picked out with my very own hands. One that I was drawn to in a moment so brief but so strong. I picked up this drum for the first time when my drum brother Nate was playing something groovy in Eric’s vending tent and I ran over to jump right in and out of a tent full of beautiful drums this drum was the drum I picked up.

I absolutely love this drum. Something in me feels more at ease playing this drum and like there is a stronger force pulling me into the drum. My hands feel a bit lighter, a bit faster, and a bit more sure of themselves as I play. I am starting to pick my drum up to practice more, it doesn’t matter that sometimes it is only a few minutes, it is a few minutes more of play and practice then I would get if I didn’t pick up my drum in that moment. Drumming has become so much more for me than just getting to make sounds, it has become just another part of me and my life.

Playing the drum!