Sell, Give, Pass it On…

Another flash from my Modern Drummer files…. just wanted to post this story about letting go…

This is about drums, jobs, love, and perhaps life itself….

Thanks for reading…

(PS. If Brain Setzer, Tom Jones, Stevie, or Prince call… I want the drums BACK please!)


Drums aren’t meant to be in closets.

Drums aren’t meant to be in attics.

Drum cases are only for moving drums…

Drums aren’t meant to be stored.

Drums are meant to be under brilliant lights…the sun, when sometimes.

Drums are meant to be shared, donated, given, bartered, and sold.

Drums are communication, the heartbeat, the essence…

Drums are meant to be played.

My question…Why is it next to impossible to let them go?

Why will we save, store, and stack drum after drum, kit after kit?

What is the idea behind using a road case for a table, to save space?

Why will we forgo style and design to sustain our collection of instruments?

As I watched with a thick swallow, while two of my four drumsets were driven away today, I saw years of dreams and memories flood through me, and out of me. It had taken me three years of waffling before I could actually offer my babies to my two dear friends to try out. I had been wanting to create space in my cramped house, wanting to release the guilt of not putting to use all of my tools, and needing the action of letting go to initiate a deep, primal fear in me. I wanted to face this fear, and kiss it goodbye.

I had owned the Ludwig drumset since highschool! I had such emotional ties to that mahogany kit, playing it in the garage, then in my bedroom when no one was home, then at my first audition at Busch Gardens. I remember struggling with the bigness of it, the weight of it, and all the while marveling at its beauty under the lights of the outdoor theme-park stage. It was so beautiful! I was honored and in awe of the instrument, awkwardly asking it to dance… and my enthusiasm, honest innocence, and balls, made me a perfect  candidate for the trade of MUSICIAN.

I was hungry for a tool, a passion, a mentor, a man to tell me I was good at something. My mom’s boyfriend mentioned that I had good rhythm, the teacher explained how difficult the path was, and I was hooked! Approval and a challenge?…count me in. but this did not explain my sheer attraction to the drumset. I loved mine, shining there on the stage, but I really loved any drumset under the lights. The glistening chrome, the velvet wood, the bright polished cymbals….who wouldn’t want to touch them? Play with them?

Collect them?…forever?

Well I hadn’t planned on anything really… just held on to the path to see where it would go. My red magony Ludwigs took me all the way through college, through graduate school, and into my first year of Nashville, and I cried today as I watched my good friend

load them in his truck

and drive away.

See, the last year of their life, they were in a closet…set up, ready to be pulled out in case I need a quick at-home rehearsal kit or simply felt like hitting them…but in a year, I never did. And I believe the rule “use it or lose it”. If I haven’t worn something in a year, I most likely never will… but somebody will.

Clothes are meant to be worn.

Money is meant to be spent.

Drums are meant to be played!!!

Why can’t we let go?

Change is hard. Our original plan didn’t manifest, yet we wear the blueprints as necklace…reminding us of our initial intent, like we had anything to do with the plan anyway. Selling or letting go of the necklace allows for the real jewelry to manifest. The intended plan can come your way if you have the space and the openness to breathe it in. The blueprint necklace is an unnecessary weight that assumes it has control. There is no such thing. By letting go of what we think the path is, we can allow the true path to enter our thoughts.

So by not using the drums, I was doing them a disservice. What right do I have to not let them be of service? I must let go with honor and confidence and be happy that my years of growing up are now going to aid in someone else’s path.

And then, in the same day…my gorgeous Gretschs’…my top-of-the-line, romantically lustrous, burnt-orange masterpieces…that hadn’t left their big road cases in over two years, were gone. My drums that had seen theatre tours, arenas and national tv, that had inspired fans to want my autograph, that had been bounced and unloaded throughout North America…that made me shine. Well they weren’t helping me shine any in those dusty cases. As a matter of fact, they were killing me. It hurt to imagine someone else playing them. It hurt even worse to imagine me not playing them. But I wasn’t, and I couldn’t find a thread of desire to return to that lifestyle…so why was I hanging on??

Did I think they would look good in the Jennie Hoeft Museum?

Did I think that someday Stevie Wonder would call and I would still own the perfect kit?? Or was I just too full of pride to admit that I didn’t have it.

I don’t have it. I have the love, the talent even…but I want other things more.

I said it.


Dave picked up my gorgeous albatross this afternoon…just to feel them out.

And I watched his eyes sparkle as the sun hit the chrome as he loaded them into his truck. I could feel his child coming out…the part that loves shiny silver and real stained wood. The child that must still live in me as I well up with pride and tears…the mixture of being joyful and torn at a going away party.

But the woman in me prevails.

I am here to experience. I am here to educate. Drums are here for the same reasons…reasons that cannot be heard in a closet.

I play jazz three nights a week with my other two drumsets. They are as much a part of me as my fitness routine…my daily reminder that I am a human being with tools within and outside of my body, that help me along.

My fear of getting fat lets me know that the fitness routine will prevail, and my desire to be alive lets me know that music, that drumming, will never let me go.