Not Your Average Drummer
Micah sits cross-legged in his favorite arm-chair, wearing his bent glasses--veterans of many air soft wars, snowball fights and baseball games--a sheepish grin, and a rumpled Yankees t-shirt.
“What prompted you to start music lessons?” I ask.
“I dunno,” comes the answer, typical of a teenage boy.
“Can you explain that a little more?”
“Well, mom wanted me to take piano lessons,” he says. Our parents, whether we liked it our not, signed us up for piano lessons at Eastman when we turned seven years old.
"What's your first memory of piano lessons?”
He thinks.Well...I remember that there was a bowl of candy on a little table next to the piano.” It's obvious how we motivated him to practice the piano.
“Why do you think other kids should study a musical instrument?”
“Well it helps you understand music and learn to read notes and rhythms and understand how music is put together.” Though Micah plays piano, his main instrument is percussion.
“So, Micah, what got you interested in percussion?” Ever since I can remember, Micah has been banging on every available surface. Also, as kids, we had a lot of hand percussion instruments like tambourines, claves, bongos, triangles... you name it, and Micah was never without one of those in hand.
“My dad,” he answers. “He got some little percussion instruments, and when I started to play those, he bought me a conga. Now I take lessons and play marimba, tympani, snare drum, drum set, congas, djembe, cajon, and lots of other random drums.” On any given day at our house, you'll hear all sorts of sounds coming from Micah's basement practice room.
“How much do you practice?”
“Well, I practice for my percussion lessons about four hours a week. Then I play drum set for fun like two hours a day.” (Two hours is minimum--take it from someone whose bedroom is right above his practice room...)
“What sort of music do you like to listen to?”
“I don't really like all rock music. I like Latin and jazz and funk. Basically anything with intricate rhythms and a good flow.”
“What's your favorite kind of music to play?”
“I love playing drum set. But I don't like playing a lot of rock music: it is very predictable and repetitive. A lot of rock music you can listen to once and play it perfectly; they play the same beat for the entire song. I like stuff I have to think about and work on, like Latin and jazz and funk. I can be more creative when I play those types of music. The style of rock is just too simple.” Although he's just 14, Micah can tell you more than you'd ever want to know about the drum beats in Christian Contemporary music or jazz. Unlike a typical teenage boy, who will just listen to anything labeled “rock music," Micah's exposure to and study of classical piano and percussion has allowed him to develop an astute musical taste.
“What is the hardest percussion instrument to play?”
“Well the marimba is the hardest because you need to work four mallets, which are all playing different notes at the same time. And most of the time, when you're reading music, you don't even have time to look down. The tympani is also a lot harder than it looks. You can't just hit it; there's actually a lot of technique that goes into playing it right.” Not even I realized how much thinking goes in to playing percussion!
“So, do you ever not feel like practicing?” I ask.
“Yeah, 75% of the time I don't actually want to practice. It's the thought of going down there and working and practicing that doesn't sound that great. I just have to force myself to start. But once you get going, it's actually really fun!” I never thought I would hear my 14 year old brother say that practicing was fun!