Physical endurance

There used to be that commercial about how physical drums are. It was a biker who comes to the camera with a beautiful scenery in the background. He struggles through the steep hill then stops pedaling altogether once he’s close to the camera. He throws his bike on the side of the pathway and decides to continue by foot. Although he’s got biker shorts and short, he’s got long hair. He’s a famous drummer (I don’t remember his name) and the next shot his him sweating profusely on a drum kit. What the slogan of that commercial was about isn’t important, but what is is how demanding the drum kit is.

We are about to enter the New Years resolutions, usually accompanied by a rise in people going to the gym. But I say get a drum set instead, learn to play it, then, oh sweet torture, get a double-bass drum pedal. If you don’t know what that apparatus is, it’s something that allows a drummer to play with both feet on the same bass drum, saving you both the space and the cost of the extra shell. The principle is simple and fun but playing it while having your hand churning some fast rock beat at the same time is extremely demanding. Oh, and there is only one accepted speed on the double-bass: crazy fast. Trying to sustain a 3 minutes song with the legs going at a million miles per hours is a feat that a few well-trained people can do.

Look, even if you don’t go for the double-bass drum, drumming is the most physically demanding instrument in Rock n’ roll or Jazz. Miles Davis had a few fights with musician throughout the course of his career and, because he used to be a boxer, he could hold his own. But one day he tried to fight Max Roach, a drummer, and took a beating. His remark in hid autobiography: “Drummers are strong, man.”

That’s right. But it’s not because drummers are experts in martial arts. It’s just because we have to carry the darn thing and set it up before we can play it. Then we sweat playing it too. Those good old drums: good for the mind, good for the body.