Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This morning as I was playing tabla I was sitting in front of a mirror as I usually do to check out my fingering and posture. For some reason I squinted my eyes and it had the effect of me watching someone else play tabla.

I am not necessarily endorsing squinting into a mirror as a technique, but what occurred to me was the unbelievable gift of being able to hear yourself OBJECTIVELY.

Tape recording and video taping are good tools to utilize because they provide that objectivity but it is after the fact and while useful for future performances the feedback does nothing for what has already happened.

It is imperative that one is able to hear oneself objectively in the MOMENT. Sometimes when I am playing live I close my eyes and listen to the entirety of the band and then I focus on myself in the context of the band and I ask myself "Would I like what the drummer was doing if this was a recording of another band?" If the answer is no then I must find a deeper way to be in support of the music.

A shocking revelation I had is that whatever I hear, everyone hears. Maybe not in the same way, but it is crucial to learn how to deliver your instrument in the way in which you like to hear it played. This requires patience, practice, and self forgiveness. As Beckett says "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

The vertical dimension of drumming is endless. Listen deeper deeper and deeper with less and less and less of yourself until when you are playing live it is like you are listening to music on a stereo.

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