Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Little Drummer Boy


Cameron is coming to the end of his NCEA Level 1's. This time of year is when all the big assessments and exams begin. Last night was part of his music assessment. Depending on the performance he can build up extra credits to the total he's already obtained so far this year.

Part of last night's assessment was to play in front of an audience. It was a fairly informal gathering, mainly parents and siblings of those taking part. Only around 60 or so people, and it was held in the rather large staff room at the college. He had to give a solo performance as well as a group performance.

I had heard him practice maybe twice (if I'm lucky) at home, so I had no idea what was going to happen. I felt nervous on his behalf. And although I have plenty of faith in my son's ability on his chosen instrument, I felt without the time and effort put in, he'd possibly crash and burn. I sat down thinking "Why does he always think he can just sit down behind that kit and it's just going to happen?" I mentioned this to his father, and the fact that Cam had left his Evanesence sheet music at home. "Aw shit" was his response.

He'd had a few weeks to get prepared for this, yet only the day before he'd burnt to CD the music he needed to accompany his performances. Although his drum version of Bring Me To Life was slightly different and it was obvious he was ad-libbing most of it, he managed to stumble his way though. His self-composed second solo was so much better and played confidently and with so much vigour that his father leaned over to me and asked "Um, when did our son start taking drugs?" It was met with plenty of applause and understandably I was very proud of him. (Yes Fizzy, I will confess I was caught wiping tears away lol)

He played two 'group' performances. For one, he accompanied a friend who played a jazz piece on the piano. The second was a jointly composed effort between him and another drum student...his drumming buddy. The two of them got behind the kit, introduced themselves, and had called their piece "Everything". It was unaccompanied...just pure drums. They bantered between themselves for the sake of the audience, asking each other

"So, are you ready to play Everything?"
"Yeah I'm ready?....But are YOU ready to play Everything?"
"Oooooh yeah, I'm ready"
"Let's do this thing then!"
Cameron counted them in.



From the moment the first pair of drumsticks struck skin, we sat in awe watching. Both of them moving in time with the beat, their sticks a blur. "Everything" was an appropriate title...it was filled with a combination of as many drum 'sticking' techniques as you could think of....it was powerful and passionate and the deep throaty fills from the floor toms richocheted off the walls, causing all that touched those sound waves on their journey to tremble. The two boys were relaxed, they were having fun, and seemed nothing more than two musicians jamming....totally oblivious to the fact they had an audience. The rise and fall of fills across the toms, the timely kick and double kick of the bass...a crescendo of swinging clipped beats, back and forth building to explode in conclusion with the thunderous crash of symbols.

The two boys, breathing hard and grinning at each other....the audience stunned and silent. Then the room erupted with as much whistling, yelling and applause a small crowd of 60 can muster. To say that I was impressed and that he'd put my fears to rest would be an understatement.

Cameron told me later that the music teacher had been so grumpy and stressed out about the evening, she'd been difficult to deal with most of the day....then the two boys had rehearsed their drum piece in front of her and for the rest of the time she was grinning. He said he was thinking "Way Cool...we made the teacher smile!" lol

So....here it is.....I was wrong....and I couldn't be more pleased.
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