Archives for Music
We have this drum kit in the basement now, and just for fun, I sat down. And I tried to play. And I became woefully frustrated -- no surprise there, if you read yesterday's post about my coordination-related woes when it comes to drumming. But this time, I kept playing around. I yelled at my right hand for moving when I wanted my left hand to move instead. Slowly, it began to comply. That was two weeks ago. And now, today, I can keep a beat -- a very simple beat, yes, but this is a notable change for me. With concentration and practice, my brain adapted to the idea of my right foot on a kick drum and my left hand tapping a snare. No longer does the kick drum kick when I want to tap the snare; no longer does the snare make that, uh, "snare" sound when I want to kick the kick drum. My limbs, it seems, have resolved their life-long impasse with my brain. UM, HELLO? THIS BLOG IS ABOUT ANXIETY, RIGHT? I know, I know. I'm getting there -- promise! So, why do these drumming revelations matter to me? Well, for starters, I think it's pretty damn fun to now say that I can keep a simple beat on a basic drum kit. I can drag my laptop down to the basement, play any of my favorite songs, and pass the time by drumming along in a really rudimentary-yet-satisfying way. And, of course, I'm pretty pleased with myself for trying something new and sticking with it for long enough to get past the "I HATE THIS!" hump. But most importantly, this reminds me of something very important: the brain's capability to learn and change.
In kindergarten, I played the woodblock. Yeah, the woodblock. And I was such a badass about it, too. By the end of the year, I was ready for some stage time. (The other kids at our kindergarten graduation got kazoos or something. Lousy, whining kazoos.) But I got a motherloving woodblock, people! And I was proud. A small wooden mallet in my right hand and a -- well, a hollow block of wood -- in my left, and there I stood wearing my construction-paper graduation cap, ready to keep time to songs like "Fifty Nifty United States". And kept time I did with my toothy grin and crimped hair. BOOM BOOM BOOM I grew up rather fond of tapping out beats on tabletops with pens, but that's about where my percussion experience ended. Yeah, I took piano lessons here and there, spent a year with a clarinet and a horribly cranky band instructor in 5th grade, and I sang in choir from middle school up through the end of college -- but that's it. Nothing with drums. Drums have always fascinated me. Well, let me reword that -- drum beats have always fascinated me. No, no wait -- that's not it either. Drummers. No. A drummer's ability to drum. Yeah, that's it.
There I was, driving on US-15, blasting the radio. It was around noon, and my eyes felt wide and my chest felt warm. And soft. And relaxed. I felt good. Like, pre-panic disorder good. Calm as a Hindu cow, as Fight Club's Tyler Durden would say. How unusual for me. Extremely and weirdly and anachronistically unusual. A song I don't particularly like -- "Closing Time" by Semisonic, circa 1998 or so -- came on the radio as I drove (calmly) home from a shopping trip to the "far" CVS store. No small feat for a part-time agoraphobic, I promise you. Anyway, I turned the volume down on this over-played tune (because have you ever BEEN in a bar at 1:50 am?), opting instead to listen to the air buzzing and whooshing its way into my open driver's side window. A soothing dose of white noise. But then, my brain got to wandering adolescence-ward. I was a shrimpy little 8th grader back in '98. Ha, 8th grade. Oh sweet stars was I a special brand of awkward, I recalled. I think I actually liked Semisonic back then, too. Did I have their album? What was the name of their album? No, really -- what was it called? I feel like it's relevant.
Here's something fun for a Sunday afternoon. I stumbled across this song yesterday, and now I can't stop listening to it. I've heard REM's "Losing My Religion" about a million times before, and personally, I don't have any particularly strong feelings for it. I don't love it; I don't hate it. Enter Major Scaled TV, an artist who digitally alters music to convert minor-scale songs into major-scale songs. For the non-musically inclined, here's a translation: he makes sad songs sound happier. Dark songs become lighter. Somber notes turn cheery. It's like dipping your iPod into a vat of liquid Prozac. See for yourself: