Perhaps my story will resonate most with the lives of women who have lived through a troubled childhood, a difficult adolescence, early marriage, motherhood, seeing personal dreams and goals scattered by circumstance and isolation, and the lack of consistent, positive mentorship. This is how I started drumming and creating drum sounds.
My life as a drummer begins in Edmonton, Alberta. I started with compressor settings for drums. Music was always enjoyed in my home, where my brother and I lived with our mother. At age four I began to play piano, followed by voice lessons at a Provincial Conservatory. In Grade Six, when I participated in an audition to become the drummer in our school band, I discovered a sense of natural ability that was exhilarating. I knew just what to do and with each of the increasingly complicated rhythms my teacher challenged me with, my confidence and inner joy soared. Nobody was more astonished than I was. I didn’t know what a “calling” was at the time, but I knew that drumming made me feel happy, secure and in control, with a sense of empowerment and belonging that I had never felt before. I was encouraged by my teachers to consider drumming as a serious career goal. However, conditions in my life changed and, as I entered my teen years, I began a long and empty departure from my new-found gift.
I married young, and soon thereafter gave birth to my first daughter. This precious event coincided with a re-awakening of my sleeping creativity. Tentatively, I was drumming again, and enrolled in advanced college studies in music with jazz and percussion majors.
My second daughter was born in special circumstances and required my full attention. But again, I returned to my strength. Discovering hand drumming and the traditional rhythms and culture alive within that community opened a new door for me and I began to study West African, Afro-Cuban, and Middle Eastern techniques. I was also becoming aware of research into the relationship between health and drumming and took advanced courses in that field.
The next step was to use all of my training to begin teaching and sharing my love for drumming with others. I adopted my third daughter from China and I had the pleasure to journeying there to bring her home. This gave me an opportunity to drum for her on the Great Wall of China. All the while, my sense of personal direction was maturing with a great longing to create music and free drum samples.
My struggling marriage came to an end and a new phase of my life began. I worked very hard to come to terms with my drumming and the responsibility of my young family. I decided to create an Instructional Drumming CD that would express some of my associations of personal strength with drumming. But there was a desire to take my work to the next level, and record a performance CD of my own compositions, fearless, is the result. Drumming as featured instrumentation, rather than accompaniment, is unusual, an oddity, and in that sense female drummers share a common history, being considered a novelty rather than musicians.
In many ways, being a female percussionist defines me: a woman with an atypical vocation, chosen in childhood to find balance, security, happiness and empowerment during difficult times. Years later, answering an inner voice, I made the same choice, for the same reasons. There is also a sense of satisfaction and challenge to excel in a field that is traditionally gender dominated by men. I would like to demonstrate to my daughters how to see opportunity beyond the barriers of conventional thinking. My intention is to help expand the confidence of anyone and everyone who might dare to follow their dreams, to drum and create drum sounds no matter how impossible it all may seem.…