--It runs deep.
a passion with roots
i often cannot see,
an undertow i am
slowly coming to know--
Musically speaking, I have gone to some rather extreme extents in attempts to reach higher levels in the past...
- Like the time I basically locked myself in a small practice room with a friend, each with a marching snare drum, with the idea that we would not leave that room until we finished playing a double stroke roll together for an hour straight without stopping. And I, with the audacity to not wear earplugs for sake of being able to hear how cleanly we were playing the roll together.
- Or the times I stood at home with my practice pad in the mirror and played a double stroke roll to myself for an hour straight, then carving a notch in my practice pad for each hour I finished. (And sometimes this would be with weighted sticks-- the "Ralph Hardimon Hammer Sticks" as they were called, which I would say are at least twice if not three or four times heavier than your average marching snare drum stick).
- Or the time I went to a Mormon church camp for a week with some of my friends in high school to help encourage them to keep practicing because band camp was the following week, many of them were in the drumline, and I was responsible for the drum section.
- Or the time I auditioned for a drum corps and stayed through the entire weekend to drum along in the background even after they decided to cut me.
- Or the time I rubber banded my pinky down for the most part of a day, trying to train my left hand how to have proper traditional snare drum grip, as my finger went from red to purple.
For my hands though-- it actually ended up being guitar that, as they say was the "straw that broke the camel's back." And before I go any further, here are some pictures to give you a sense of the time period of my very focused drumming.
These are from my time at Kennewick High School [KeHS], West Valley High School [WVHS], and the University of Washington [UW]:
The guitar was something I picked up around 1995, to contribute to the church I was attending at the time, and I've been with guitar off-and-on ever since.
In 2009, I found myself living in Sweden and missing my instruments so much that I went out and bought myself a guitar. (I ended up playing drums in a band and also leading an acapella group there, but I'll focus mostly on guitar now for the purposes of this story arc). It was hard to really know how much I was spending because I was still adjusting to paying with Swedish Kronor, but it felt like a decent yet still budget acoustic/electric steel stringed cutaway guitar.
The trouble with it was that it had such a 'high action' (meaning the strings were so far off the fret-board) that it required a lot of force to press the strings down enough for a proper tone.
So, I resorted to removing the strings and using a knife to sand down the bridge of the guitar a bit. Even after that, it was not enough, but I was missing the feeling of playing guitar so much, and I was so into trying to learn some song at the time that I spent several hours a day for weeks upon weeks on this guitar.
My old habits of pushing through pain for the benefit of growth kicked in again and I strained past what was tolerable by my hands. I slowly yet surely accrued some damage, and at its peak, I was unable to do simple things like open doors or hold grocery bags. It was mostly my left hand at the time, but now I can feel it in both. And to add to that, I had a trip planned with my friends to go to Northern Sweden for dog-sledding right after my hands were at peak pain, and I decided to go anyway, despite the signals.
It was like holding on for dear life as the dogs ran, because letting go or falling off would risk losing the dogs and the rest of the group, and being left behind.
Now, so many little connections are going off in my brain that are contributing to self-compassion and healing as I write this musing, so thank you for taking the time to hear and witness me as I tell my story! May I let go of the voice that says: "this isn't the right place for this."
It has taken me a long time to realize and admit to myself the implications of a lot of the patterns I built through my earlier experience in music.
Most recently, I have become very aware that I likely have nerve damage in my hands because I have been practicing my instruments more lately as I have become interested in getting back into practice for a little bit of performance again, after about 7 years of deciding to exit the music performance scene.
All of this has been hard for me to say out loud, mostly because of how scary "nerve damage in my hands" sounds to me and what that might mean for me as a musician, and how that could affect how others perceive me in my capacity to teach, perform, and otherwise do my work in music.
I am realizing that the embrace of it and the open sharing of my experience is actually quite important for my process and seems like meaningful information for those who are interested in this studio in any capacity.
So truly, at the roots of Sonaesthetics-- the audio production studio and center for musical exploration-- I can say with clarity that there is an enduring love of music, rich and deep practice, a journey through struggle and healing, infused with a lot of love and intention. <3
"pain = progress"
"martyr = glory"
So with these nylon strings, I mark the beginning of a path that takes 'extreme pain' off the pedestal, replacing it with kindness, love, gentleness, and temperance to go along with my surefire passion. May the sensation in my hands guide me with the wisdom to be able to identify and hold my boundaries to proceed forward on a sustainable path.
It's an intimate little recording from an unplugged impromptu rehearsal we were having. The song and lyrics are by: Florian Seraul and I've transcribed the lyrics to the best of my ability below. The percussion you'll hear is a 5 gallon water jug. <3
Cheers and thanks for reading! Until next time~~
All around me
They're staring at me
I'm a curiosity~~
Some think I'm crazy
But still they love me
I'm a monkey on the stage
Ready to play!
You'll never get it
____ be incurred
guilty in the red.
Close to dreams
Seeing what used to be
but it's so exciting!
Would you follow me?
If you disagree?
Would you come and save me
If I jumped in the sea?
Oh, life my lifejacket
Life a lifejacket
Life a lifejacket
Ooh-- the ever love
even in my heart
glean what i did
believe it was for yours
all of __________
second to nothing
living on the right side
it's all right by me [Chorus]