Raising the Bar

My son is downstairs practicing on the drum set I bought him when he was fourteen.  He practices every freakin’ day, no lie. I admire his dedication.

There are many, many days when he plays like poetry in motion, but today, he got a bee in his bonnet. Every word was the F-bomb between cymbal crashes, snare-a-diddles, and rapid-fire double bass. He told me he S-U-C-K-S. Me?  I just smiled. I know better.

He wants to play with the technical virtuosity of Adam Pierce from All Shall Perish and the current drummer extraordinaire standing in on the BATTLECROSS 2013 tour. “Mom, don’t compare me to him. I’m nowhere near his caliber,” he said to me. I said I wouldn’t. I meant it.

Playing in a metal band is NO JOKE. Technical skill is a must.  This is the classical element under the umbrella of Rock, and you will be crushed by censure if you can’t play your instrument.

But my son is good. Better than good. Better than most. Not because I’m his Mom, but because he is who he is.

He’s not a quitter.

Image

l-r: Xstrophy skeleton (backup singer), Cory Birdsell (drummer)

He asked me, “Why can’t I play my instrument?”

I gave him an answer that every creative person needs to hear: writer, painter, singer, dancer, [insert creative type here].

“You can play your instrument, just not to the standards you have currently set for yourself.”

“And if you, as an artist, do not raise the bar, why bother? If you don’t set a goal, if you don’t strive to be better, as an artist and as a human being, what’s the point?

“This is not a plateau,” I told him. “You’re climbing the mountain right now, and it bangs up your knees, scrapes your hands, and steals your breath. Keep climbing. You’ll reach the peak. You’ve done this countless times before.”

That angry frown of his wasn’t magically turned upside down by my counsel, but the tense set of his shoulders eased. The brooding cumulonimbus on his brow dispersed to a mere overcast. He nodded once, took a deep breath, and stood.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“To play my instrument. Until I get it right.”

And as I write this post, his skin-pounding perseverance rumbles in the bowels of my basement. \m/

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