When I was a kid, things were pretty tough. My dad lived far away, so it was difficult to visit him. My mom was in an abusive marriage with a man that I didn’t particularly like, and my grandfather (my idol) left me early on.
All this caused me to seek attention or act out, sometimes in negative ways. Of course this made me a target for kids in school. Now I’m not claiming victim, but I definitely had my run-ins with classmates that had no true understanding of what I was really going through at home. Visits to the principals office, schoolyard scuffles, and depression was soon to follow.
By the time I hit middle school, I was in a full blown depressive state. I seemed to be overrun with emotions and had no way to really vent. Sometimes I’d just cry, and I really had no idea what triggered it. By freshman year, I was suicidal. I had no idea that my saving grace was right under my nose the whole time, and it was a gift already given to me. The gift of music.
In the midst of all my struggles, I had always liked the drums, because it was something my grandfather began to show me before he passed on. I didn’t learn much after that, but I did join the band in middle school, never really taking it seriously. Freshman year of high school, in my depressed state, I began to spend more time by myself. I would just sit on my front porch with my practice bells and snare drum. I would practice for hours on end. I don’t really know why I started doing that, but it just made me feel better.
When I started doing all that individual practice, my skills started to improve, and I realized that I could really manipulate the sounds of these instruments. I learned how to make my drum reflect how I felt inside. Sadness, anger, hope; I started to feel like I could play it all through my drum. And THAT was a defining moment in my life. I fell in love with band after that.
Later, I found myself in college on a music scholarship, marched in a drum corps, and started teaching across the US. Here I am now, as a grown up; a professional percussionist and percussion director with national titles and Hollywood credits. I feel like I owe a ton of what I have to my grandfather. He was only around for a short period, and he didn’t get to show me much, but it really made a world of difference. I am no longer that sad, depressed, and misunderstood kid. I now stand on my own 2 feet. It’s because of my grandfather and it’s because of music.