Reflexions on drumming passionately


Let me make it clear that this is by no means a sob story, but something I have been thinking about, especially after the events of World Youth Day.

YouCat (the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) states that when you do something passionately, it is a virtue, but when you do something because of your passions, it turns into vice. Different wording has different implications — one implies that the passion comes from within, and flows naturally; the other implies that the passion controls the person who has it. That reasoning can apply to many things, and there is that line between exercising one’s passion and turning it into an obsession, if you wish.

Now I suppose this can go almost without saying, but I’ve had a passion for the drums for years — and I do yearn to play passionately.

What got me thinking was that I had that passion for rhythm ever since I was three years old, and I was moved even then; but when drums were used in a very prayerful, very Catholic setting, they moved me even more. I had that great longing to play when I heard the drums used in praise and worship sessions, or (only sometimes) in mass, and more recently, Station 11 of Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) in WYD 2011.

I now know my focus, if I ever get to play the drums again.

I must mention that whilst some songs can sound good without drums, a lot of songs have a rhythm in the background, either as a staple for that genre, or for emphasis of the message that needs to be spread. The drummer is not there for show. If he were, he would be at the front with everyone else. The drummer is not only placed at the back because his instrument is loud — he is placed at the back because he is, rightly, the technical mainstay of the band. His beat keeps everyone and everything together. And that is the main focus of the drummer. When used in the right context, his beat can call out to the depths of someone’s heart. And in life, it is the same. A lot of good works are done in the background. The onus is on me not to stand out all the time (standing out is sometimes necessary, but not always), but to be willing to sink into the background and still do what the Lord wants me to do. With that in mind, I may be more ready to do things passionately, to let them flow from within.

When I was walking home today I imagined myself going for my first drum lesson in more than a year (how long more that will be, I do not yet know). Here’s what played in my mind:

In a subsequent lesson…

Teacher: I don’t know if this is a very personal question, but how is it that the way you play just moves me? I mean, I’m a hard person…

Student: I presume that in asking me this question, you’re prepared for whatever answer that comes.

Teacher: Go on.

Student: You know how I told you I wanted to play the drums ever since I was three? Well, as I grew, I noticed that the drums moved me the most when played prayerfully, in a Catholic setting. I won’t oblige you to believe me, but that was when my longing to play grew deeper and deeper. At first, I thought it was simply my passion calling out to me, but after several years, and after giving it much thought, I found my focus.

And so, every week, before I come in to meet you, I pray… I pray that I may learn something, I pray that each lesson may be fruitful, and I pray that I may play from my heart, with God at the centre of everything.


If the Lord does indeed will it, may I then have another opportunity to play, now that I understand my longing to drum at a deeper level.


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