Tag Archive | Music

Addicted to drums

No, that’s not a typo. I am seriously addicted to drumming and that’s after only one lesson. If you read my last post about drumming back in July, you will know that it is Colleen’s fault, so you can blame her if my future posts become one-dimensional and boring for all those non-drummers among you.

I had my first drumming lesson last Tuesday and I was hooked from my first “bang”. I was more than a little apprehensive on the way over to my lesson and started to wonder what on earth I was doing at 50 years old to start drumming. I tried not to think about it too much, knowing that if I did, I was in danger of doing a U-turn and returning home. Apart from the purported health benefits of learning to drum, taking the step to arrange a lesson and start something new is, for me, more a challenge to my low confidence and desire to stay at home safe and secure talking to my hubby and cats rather than get out and enjoy learning a new skill and, shock horror, meeting new people.

I have to constantly challenge myself to do things and meet people otherwise I would withdraw both at home and at work and that is not healthy. Most people don’t notice that this is a daily struggle for me as I have become extremely proficient at acting my way through the day but I keep trying to increase my confidence and create a more positive attitude by doing things rather than staying put.

I arrived for my lesson in good time, and was incredibly lucky that Nick made me feel at ease straight away. I sat behind the drum set, learned what each drum and cymbal is called, how to hold the drum sticks and to my biggest surprise, learned that drums have “music”.

Thinking about it now, I don’t know how I thought people learned to play the drums without music but I assumed that being a percussion instrument with no “notes”, no music would be needed! How wrong I was, but I was pleased to find out that my previous musical experiences have not been wasted. Whilst there are no “musical notes” as such, the notes in drum music represent the beats and which drum/cymbal you strike, with which hand. Easy!

All I have to do now is work both hands and feet in a set order as per the music and I will have it licked! Easier said than done of course and I found out quite quickly that the connections between brain and hands/feet are not so responsive as they should be……not bad but plenty of scope for improvement.

The hour flew by and I was so disappointed when it came to an end. Nick asked me whether I would be coming again (try keeping me away) and when I said yes, he told me which drum sticks and music book I will need for my future lessons and practice.

My new drum sticks

My new drum sticks

Drums Easy

Drums Easy

I had actually progressed quite a long way in my first lesson, my previous experience with piano, clarinet and guitar clearly helping with reading the music and keeping the rhythm going. I felt pleased with myself for making the effort, enjoying the experience and there is no doubt that drumming had definitely made me feel good about myself without expending too much physical energy. This is important when fighting M.E/ CFS and if this continues, I would recommend that everyone should try it! Here is a link to an article giving you ten reasons why drumming is good for your health ūüôā

If you struggle with loud noises you can be comforted that when learning to play, the drums are covered in foam to reduce the noise effectively, and if you want a drum set at home, you can get an electronic set which has headphones and volume control.


My practice drum set

My practice drum set

Creative thinking

My amazing friend Colleen, whom I have known since we were ten years old, has early-onset Parkinson’s Disease (PD). ¬†One of the things that makes her so amazing is her ability to take the negatives, work around them and find some positives. In her case, she fills the gaps left by things she can no longer do, with new things that she can do. Simples! Of course it sounds simple, and of course it isn’t but she works hard at it and not only manages her own illness ¬†in this way, but she also shares her inspiration and positivity with others and I am one of the lucky recipients.

Colleen started drumming lessons last year as it is said to develop those parts of the brain which have become dormant and are lacking in stimulation which in turn helps to replace those parts of the brain affected by PD. It seems to be working and Colleen is now an accomplished drummer!

I have been “talking” to Colleen on Facebook this weekand she quickly gathered, quite correctly, that I was struggling. This week hasn’t been great and after a few good weeks, my sleep patterns are again disturbed, I am extremely tired and as a result my brain has become foggy, uncooperative and forgetful. My GP has increased my medication and I can only hope that this helps. I forgot my hair appointment this morning but thankfully my lovely hairdresser Paul made a space for me later in the morning. So, Colleen suggested two potential remedies for these latest setbacks. ¬†The first task is to start drumming and the second task was to make a memo board to help me to remember things on a daily basis (I will deal with the memo board in my next post)

Drumming my way out of depression sounds like fun (a good start) and so¬†I duly visited the music shop whilst in town this morning. I now have the name and number of a local drumming teacher. I also viewed some electronic drums. I had visions of having a proper drum set like my brother did when he was younger and keeping everyone awake at night with the incessant thump, thump, thump of the drums and crash of the cymbals every now and again and being stuck out in the garage. Apparently not, apart from a little bit of tapping, all the sound form the electronic drums comes via your headphones ūüôā Now that’s progress.

I’ve done a bit of research about drumming and depression and there is overwhelming evidence that drumming can help to lift mood, adrenalin levels and endorphins. You may say that going for a run, swimming or a game of golf will achieve the same result but as I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I am looking for ways of making myself and my body work and feel better without the exhausting and debilitating effects of physical exercise.

Drumming could be the answer….I’ll let you know!


A plucking good time

002It’s Good Friday and I don’t have to go to work. ¬†After a pretty hectic and stressful few weeks, this is music to my ears and I am determined to make the best of the extended 4-day weekend. I need to relax and top up my fuel tank as it’s ¬†hovering dangerously close to “empty” and I don’t want to risk the negative effect on my mood by running on the red light too long.

But what to do?

I would like to get out into the garden, not least because I have ¬£100 of National Garden Tokens to spend, but it is far too cold and the ground is solid. It’s not sensible to plant a new border when the forecast is for no change to the cold snap in the near future so an indoor activity is called for……..

I spot my guitar hiding between the wardrobe and the chest of drawers. I haven’t played my guitar for a good two years, maybe longer, but I am tempted. The cover has a layer of dust which needs to be brushed off first but once unzipped I can see that the guitar is pristine albeit a little out of tune. It didn’t take me long to tune it and start plucking away. I’m not a great one for singing along to my amateur strummings but love messing around with chords and arpeggio plucking patterns ready to play for someone else to sing to.

I managed to play for an hour before sore finger pads became too painful on the steel strings and had to give up but now that the guitar is out of hiding I am sure it will become a more regular pastime again.

Now where’s my clarinet?????



Guitar player

“One way or another…

………………………….I’m gonna find ya
I’m gonna getcha¬†getcha¬†getcha¬†getcha
One way or another I’m gonna win ya
I’m gonna getcha¬†getcha¬†getcha¬†getcha”

For those who don’t recognise them, these are the lyrics to the Blondie song which is one of my favourite running tunes which have been languishing¬†on my iPod¬†for the past 4 years just waiting for me to get going again. The beat fits in with my¬†short-arsed-little-strides¬†perfectly and I find the aggressive¬†tone of the music ideal for plodding on with my programme when I begin to flag (usually after the 5 minute warm up walk)

This will be one of the tunes I listen to today for my goal is to start the Zest 5k 60-second-secret  running programme on my treadmill.

Is it a S.M.A.R.T goal?

The first day goes like this;

Walk briskly for 5 minutes to warm up.

Run 60 seconds, walk 3 minutes. Repeat 3 times.

Walk to warm down.

It’s a S.M.A.R.T goal. Nothing too drastic to begin with and I am determined¬†not to try to¬†do too much too soon as impatient as I am. This is important as I don’t want to jeopardise my current healthy, happy¬†and stable mood by becoming over-tired. Exhaustion is dangerous and I need to temper my natural tendencies to over-exert myself with a more sensible approach. Like patience, sensible doesn’t appear in my dictionary but it’s good to learn new things and as a friend always says when she learns something new “I’ve got another wrinkle in my bum!” Don’t ask me where that saying originates, I have no idea but it always makes me laugh especially as I’m trying desperately to rid myself of all wrinkles in my bum!

As ever, my poppies are there to inspire me and I woke up this morning to find another bud had thrown off its wrappings to display this amazing sight.


Ali Qapu Palace Music Room

If you love and appreciate the rhythm, melody and physics of music then the Music Chamber at Ali Qapu Palace will both surprise and amaze you.

Traditional Persian music can sound discordant to Western listeners and I personally don’t find it pleasing to the ear at all but I am assured that it’s an acquired taste and I will enjoy it much more once I get used to the quarter notes.

Music and poetry have always been important to the Persians and you could call the acoustic technology created in the Music Chamber by elaborate stuccowork one of the earliest Dolby stereo systems. At 400 years old it is truly impressive.

The Palace itself is occupies six stories with the Music Chamber added as an annexe on the upper floor. The musician’s quarters however are on the ground floor and the Shah sat on a platform in the Music Chamber listening to the music whilst watching parades and celebrations in the square.

So how was this achieved without blaring out music at uncomfortable decibels?  The design of the building meant that the music travelled from the ground floor up to the Shah’s Music Chamber by way of hollow columns and was then transmitted around the room by the hollow acoustic carvings in the plaster. See the photos below.