For those who don’t recognize the instrument I’m playing in the video, its a hammer dulcimer. At least that’s what most people call it. I refer to it as a piano for drummers.
I took a few piano lessons as a 6-year-old son of a church organist. I have very few memories of this short-lived experiment. I can only remember one thing about my instructor: She had a distinct aroma that resembled rotten cabbage. Not only did she possess this scent, but it coated the keys of the piano, the bench I sat on, and even the candy dish that sat atop the piano. I had to sit on the bench, I had to press the keys, and I HAD to help myself to a piece of candy. Thankfully, the candies were wrapped.
It wasn’t the aromatic nature of the lessons that brought a swift end to my piano studies. Instead, it was the fact that my little 6-year-old hands couldn’t reach a full octave on the keyboard. So the lessons ceased and my musical career was delayed until I signed on to being a trumpet player in the school band. While I enjoyed playing in the band, primarily because of how beautiful many of the flute players were, I had an increasingly strong desire to play the drums. Pots and pans, counter tops and dashboards fell victim to this developing obsession.
Fast forward to November 8, 1977. That was the day my life changed forever. I purchased a jet black, 4 piece Slingerland drum set. It was also the day I moved to another state with my family. It was my senior year in high school and I caught my dad in a moment of weakness. Feeling guilty about relocating during my senior year, he had no choice but to give me the okay to buy the drums. As the moving van was already packed, the drums were transported to their new home via my 1973, 2-door hatchback Ford Pinto, with rear defrost as its lone bell and whistle.
Upon arrival in my new home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, I unpacked the drums first. Surprisingly, none of my brothers chose to share a bedroom with me and my drum set. I handled the drums like fine china, and set them up in the proper positions, to the best of my ability.
From the 8th of November through the end of May, when I moved back to Michigan, I played as often as possible. I averaged 7 hours per day of teaching myself to play the drums. I butchered Boston, Eagles, Styx and Aerosmith songs on a daily basis.
I recently inherited my mother’s piano, and still fumble away on it when I feel a little too good about myself. Drums, on the other hand, have been a significant part of my life. I learned how to play them, sold hundreds of drum sets for a Michigan company, gave lessons to over a hundred students, played on buckets in four countries on mission trips, and played in four bands. It strikes me how a seemingly insignificant act such as purchasing a musical instrument can have such an impact on one’s life. I’ve had several of these moments in my life, haven’t you? I believe we all have, and as we rise each morning to receive the gift of another day, it’s possible a life altering moment awaits us. Perhaps something we do will have an everlasting impact on someone we come in contact with. Hmmmmmm. Time to get out of bed, I suppose.