Why the blog?

I’ve begun this blog as a way to share the musical side of drums with the world. I never fail to be amazed at the sheer variety, beauty and magic that I find in the drums, both in my own drumming and in others’.

As an instrument the drums are unmatched in terms of their timbre, their range and their diversity.

As a drummer, I have both skills unknown to other musicians and a view that non-drummers don’t have and will rarely understand.

I spent much of my early teenage years yearning after stardom – “fame, fortune and everything that goes with it”, but I never felt comfortable, or confident when I moved out from behind the kit. I knew how to communicate using the drums and I knew how to make music!

What took me longer to get my head around was ‘the second position’. How the world views me as a drummer, whether on or off stage. It would be true to say that when a teenager I found it very difficult to deal with being almost entirely ignored, whilst someone only 3 feet away from me playing exactly the same music received rapturous applause (or at least the attention of the 5 people sat in the pub)! For a long time I thought that this was because I wasn’t good enough, or I wasn’t playing loud enough (that was a popular decision!), but it turned out that the world simply sees music and musicians in a different way to musicians themselves. For better or worse, the listening public have created a complex hierarchy of musicians based upon little knowledge but lots of opinions!

If it sounds like I’m moaning, please believe me that I’m not, though I am perhaps raising a shout for my confused and frustrated 13 year old self.

I think that I’m simply trying to explore a bit of the wonderful world of music that I haven’t heard anyone else speak about.

It’s easy for musicians to get typecast, and often with good reason. I’ve met a few egoless singers, but generally they do like people looking at them and fair play to them, it’s a great feeling. But how do the singers feel and view themselves, not in their songs, but as performers and musicians? How about guitarists, violinists or keyboard players?

As a drummer, I sit in what most musicians will tell you is the most important place on the stage. If that seems unlikely go and watch a band. The singer might stop unexpectedly, maybe for a drink of water or simply for dramatic effect. The bassist might stop, but then no one notices him anyway :). Either way, they’ll probably not be booed off stage. However, see what happens if the drummer stops unexpectedly. Everything grinds to a halt, song’s over, go home…

Despite my place on this lofty pedestal, I’m also in the place where I get ‘noticed’ the least and see the most. A comment that is often made at drum shows and clinics is about the wonderful warmth and brotherhood shared by drummers, that seems to be fairly individual amongst the many instrumental families. The very act of being on stage is almost guaranteed to create a level of self-belief, confidence and dare I say it arrogance. What I think the drum throne brings us is a sense of perspective. There’s little more humbling that walking off stage after making people dance for 2 hours to have a wedding guest come up and try to order drinks from you whilst you are standing by the bar! Of course, perspective only goes so far, but you get the point (I hope).

I should also point out that I’m not cussing the audience and I’m not saying that everyone is the same. I have no doubt that my views and opinions of ballerinas, police people, astronauts and politicians are both skewed and probably miss-informed and inaccurate. (aside from the politicians, about whom I’m fairly certain I’m right…).

It is this sense of perspective and the understanding that it gives us of both ourselves and the people who listen and watch us that make us buy 17 tom toms, 4 bass drums, a huge rack and 28 cymbals… I mean give us the humility to share and enjoy our art with other drummers. It also means that when we get on stage, regardless of the audience, that we are there for the only thing that matters… the music.


About michaelcairns

drummer, teacher, programmer, composer, arranger. View all posts by michaelcairns

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