Rock On


HITTING IT OFF Senior Kristin surprised herself with a passion for drumming after she picked it up as a release. Photo by Isabella So

And this column is going to be about— drumroll please—how I signed up for drum lessons, in a fit of capriciousness and a pinch of boredom.

The drum kit and I are an unlikely pairing. Drumming takes a lot of energy. I am a 17-year-old, introverted, varsity QuizBowl-playing, Latin-competition participant who watches CashCab religiously and aspires to complete a crossword puzzle without the aid of Google. My life requires minimal physical effort. Did I even have the coordination to simultaneously thrash my head and yell, “Rock on!”? Debatable.

“What kind of bands do you listen to? Any rock and roll?” my teacher asks me.

I grew up taking piano lessons and listening to the classical radio station. My only experience with rock and roll consists of watching Jack Black in “School of Rock” and enjoying three minutes of fame on Guitar Hero.

So…does Jack Johnson count as a band?

I mumble something vague, revealing that the names AC/DC and Van Halen only entered my lexicon through their appearances on graphic t-shirts.

I have a lot to learn.

After a short conversation in which I reveal my cluelessness, we settle at the drums.

And we begin.

He demonstrates the count-in, starting with—one, two, three, four! All I can hear is one, kick, two, snare, one, kick, two, snare.

Then comes my turn; but the second I start the snare—I stumble. Flushed, I try again, but to no avail: I confuse the snare and kick drums in an effort to play them separately.

“It’s okay; let’s try warming up a little. Play two beats on each drum.”

I begin—tentatively. My strikes melt into the walls, meek and indecisive. I continue like this for another measure before I snap out of it: What am I doing?

Somehow I only just realize that I’m not supposed to be good at this. As a senior in high school, the last time I really tried something completely new was freshman year. It seems implied that we use our Middle School years to experiment with different sports and arts and choose a few come high school. So as I immersed myself in a heavy load of work and a few enjoyable extracurricular activities, I felt no need to either add or take away anything from my schedule, especially since colleges seem to favor continuity in resumes.

I had forgotten how to be a beginner.

Well. Rarely are we commanded to hit things with sticks; I might as well take advantage of the only socially acceptable avenue of stress relief that involves doing so.

A new measure, a fresh start: I strike with authority, and it feels great. I put all my stress and worry into each beat, gaining momentum and tempo as I go. I go faster, faster, faster, until all I know is one, two, repeat, one, two, repeat. The beat blurs and collapses into a rumble. And then—silence.

Adrenaline runs through me, and I yearn to play more. I count in again, and this time it was easier: one, kick, two, snare, one, kick, two, snare.

A neophyte, a noob: call me whatever you want. But for once, it feels good to be the new girl.

– Kristin