As much as I believe in working hard as a musician, the important thing to remember is we all need a break from time to time. As a very keen drumming enthusiast I often forget this. One main reason for this is I started playing drums for fun rather than a job. When it is fun, you don’t need a break?
Many a day I would rush from work to do a gig, thinking no more that it was a great night out and also a chance to show off my drumming skills. The words skills is loosely used, as I never really gave it the time I do now- obviously because of the job.
What job did I do? Time to come clean I guess, and clean certainly was a factor. I spent fifteen years clearing rubbish from people’s home. Yep, I was a dustman or Trash man if you are reading this in American. This paid my mortgage and other bills whilst learning to play. It never really entered my mind that I would eventually land up playing for a day job. Drumming was a fun thing and a chance to hang out with my friends. Money was never an issue for me either. I would often play for nothing and that really has not changed, although I have to be careful which dates I commit to.
Another important part of my progress involved my teaching. This time it was a money thing. Even though my bills were being paid, like everybody, I was finding it hard raising extra cash. I enquired at a local music teaching school and was told they were thinking of starting drum lessons. A few months later I started teaching once a week.
Many people talk of hard work paying off. Hard work is exactly what it was. Getting up at 5am to drive the truck, making my way to the teaching school for 3.30pm and finally home at 9pm. One day a week was fine, but after a few months I soon found myself teaching three nights a week alongside my driving.
At this time I was still the drummer of Wild. This band has been my life for the last ten years and although at the time we would play possibly twice a month, I feel it is a contributing fact to me being the musician I am today.
Wild started over seventeen years ago, but with another drummer. They had the same intention as many of us, to play Rock n Roll music for fun with no money driven ambitions. I joined in 2000 which set off our quest to conquer the holiday camp world. This we did with over four years of successful gigs and still with no ambition of massive earnings until we realised we had something real to offer.
It got to the point where we were paying for poor accommodation and making a loss whilst the camps were using us as their main attraction. Don’t get me wrong, it did the band nothing but good. We now played so tightly together it is unreal, clearly the benefit from playing so regular- something had to change. We signed with an agent who has looked after us ever since and although we are constantly playing for the corporate world, we feel it is what we are worth.
So now I was gigging every week, teaching three nights and driving a truck collecting rubbish during the day. Could it get any busier? Surprised and very flattered, my teaching skills hadn’t gone unnoticed. Intersales Music was to offer me a full time position helping the teaching school grow. This has given me the chance to teach more, but also to get more involved in encouraging all different types of students. It has also been know for me to play a few notes on a guitar (not very well I must add)
What has all this got to do with having a break? I hear so many times “I’m a professional musician!” Maybe you are, but I like to think I’m a ‘working musician’. We always need a break from work and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. As I write, I sit in the sunshine in Gran Canaria. This break has not only been a relaxing break, but has thoroughly inspired me to work even harder as a working drummer when I get home.
Give yourself a treat, take a break from music, it won’t make you any less of a musician. If you have a day job? It doesn’t matter, you’re still a musician.
On that note it’s time to head back to the hotel room and get ready for tonight. You never know, I might see someone working as a musician.
Catch you back in the UK when I return.