By Dom Cioffi
I’ll freely admit that I coerced my son into taking drum lessons for selfish reasons: having been a guitarist for most of my life, the thought of having a built-in percussion section living in my own home sounded like a dream come true.
I had considered buying him a drum kit for several years but always balked given the costs associated with such an expensive piece of equipment. I also didn’t want to force his choice of instrument to feed my own ambitions. But when my brother-in-law offered me his son’s kit for free, I thought it was worth a shot.
Initially my son seemed enamored with the idea of being a drummer, so I immediately signed him up for lessons at a local music store. As we were walking out of his first session, my son looked at me and exclaimed, “That was awesome!”
No one was more excited than me.
In the ensuing months, I threw words of encouragement at him constantly, telling me how proud and impressed I was with his progress. Sure I had to chide him about practicing, but that’s to be expected with any 12-year-old.
Visions of jamming with my son began creeping into my psyche. Soon, I was looking for more and more ways to inspire his interest and burgeoning talent.
For example, I spent one evening dredging through Internet images of famous drummers so I could collect them all onto one poster-sized page. I then had it printed out in full color and mounted. At night, as my son gets ready for bed, I quiz him by pointing to the poster and asking him various questions like what band the drummer was in and what style he was known for.
At Christmas I purchased him new drum sticks with tacky grips, a book on the history of drumming, another book on technique, and several CD’s that highlighted famous drum solos.
We’ve even started jamming together on rudimentary songs; songs that he can play a basic beat to and not worry about a lot of complicated fills.
In every way I could think of I have tried to fan the flames of interest hoping my son would become inspired and make drumming an important part of his life.
Unfortunately, while my son has continued with his lessons, the struggle to get him to practice has become untenable. Every night I ask him to practice and every night he tells me he will. However, he never follows through unless I go up into his playroom and forcibly push him behind the drum kit. I then have to sit there and teach, motivate, and command him to work through his lesson plan.
More often than not, he enjoys the practicing once we get moving, but the struggle to get there is wearing on me. I didn’t really want to learn how to drum; I wanted this to be his thing.
As I’ve been a coach for decades, my son has been subjected to constant direction on how to improve. I had hoped with the drums (something I know very little about), he could be the authority figure and driver of his own progress.
Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn the elements of drumming in order to push him to higher and higher levels. I guess I could have resisted, but given that I’m shelling out the money for lessons, it seems like a waste if he doesn’t put the time in.
I’ve now started threatening to cancel lessons and have even gone so far as to warn my son that if he doesn’t show more initiative, the drum kit will be given to another child.
I’ve finally decided that I can’t push him any further in this endeavor – but I am going to try to inspire him one last time by taking him to his first live concerts. Over the next week, he and I will be attending two live music events: The Dead & Co (the remaining members of the Grateful Dead and John Mayer) and Brit Floyd (the world’s #1 Pink Floyd tribute band).
My hope is that these experiences will not only motivate him but also inspire him to see what can be accomplished with a little hard work and determination. I’ll keep you posted…
This week’s movie, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” also features a headlining musical act, albeit a fictional one from a very different genre of music.
Starring Adam Samberg of SNL fame, “Popstar” is a faux-documentary about a boy band alumnus who has now moved on to a solo career. The movie highlights his past accomplishments and his ill-fated plans to dominate the future of music.
I must admit, for the kind of movie this is (basically a more contemporary Adam Sandler film), it was extremely well done. Sure it’s got a goofy, highly predictable storyline, but it carefully interjects fresh humor throughout. Most films in this category, flame out after the first half hour. “Popstar” managed to stay on-task and on-target from beginning to end.
Check this one out if you’re in the mood for a quirky parody on the pop culture music scene. Otherwise you may want to save your theater dollars for one of the epic summer blockbusters that are about to drop.
A Spinal Tap-ish “B-” for “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected].