The beat of a different drum…


Yesterday in my vocal lesson, my teacher had me play Angel by Sarah McLachlan.  I’ve played this innumerable times in the last year but never under the scrutiny of a vocal coach; at least in the formal sense.  He let me complete the entire song and poignantly paused before hitting the head of a nail I have readily avoided in my short music career: by some people’s standards I keep poor timing.  As he began to work with me using a metronome, I could sense the rhythm and feel how it changed the song but it made me feel empty.  While I knew anyone listening could readily tap their foot to the beat and predict where the next phrase might start and finish, when he asked me upon completion of the beat-driven song how I felt I answered “lifeless.”

For anyone who has not listened to my music, you might not understand what I mean when I say I “move to the beat of a different drum.”  I was actually chided by my father growing up that I lived my life that way; never quite marching to the same beat everyone around me seemed to hear.  So it didn’t surprise me to hear from fellow musicians that my timing was sort of “off,” or that my rhythm was inconsistent. 

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I never felt it was inconsistent, in fact, the pauses I took, and the notes I held out were all a feeling the words gave me; a rhythm apparently on I could hear and musicians around me would have to follow (if they joined the dance). 

I concluded, learning to play to the beat of the common drum was a skill that was worth having but that I didn’t want to lose that inner drum beat that I hear every time I sit alone at a piano.  The passion that drives every note and word that falls out of my mouth or spills out on the keys.  That I would not trade one skill for the other but merely augment the skills I have with whatever I can soak up around me.  This week: it’s a metronome 🙂

When have you had to face something you did that was not quite like what everyone else does?

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