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Danny Cox

Drummer, Drumset Tutor,

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How can one achieve their full potential in the face of strict limitations?

Hello TED users,

My question comes from a personal angle, but I'm sure there are many others faced with similar problems.

I make a living as a drummer. I also teach my instrument. I have played for 15 years now, but for half of this time (since I left home) I have had nowhere to practise my craft. Of course this practise is incredibly noisy, which is the root of the problem, but why I am unable to do it is not my question- rather I am seeking opinions on how I might still achieve my full potential in spite of my limitations.

I am often misunderstood on this matter. I generally receive two responses when I reach out. The first is 'book some studio time.' Unfortunately, this is prohibitively costly in terms of both time and money, with it taking an hour to set up and an hour to pack down a drum kit and studio time costing anywhere between £5-20 per hour. Considering that to truly master a craft one needs endless hours, this is no long-term solution. The second response I receive is 'use digital drums'. Digital drums, while certainly less noisy, are not my instrument. Anyone who has played them will understand that they are a far cry from the real thing and so this suggestion is somewhat like asking a writer to produce a novel using only words beginning with letters A-M.

Of course two solutions that few people mention due to their obviousness are 'move to the country' and 'soundproof a room'. Both of these options are again prohibitively expensive and with musicians not exactly on the highest pay-grade both of these things are sadly far-off.

As a result of these circumstances I feel my whole life is off-center. I deeply crave self-improvement in my chosen field but every day I feel like an artist with no canvas.

I am unsure if anything can be done to improve my personal situation, but I know that TED attracts intelligent minds and perhaps by discussing this issue in a broader context some revelation may be stumbled upon.

Thank you.


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    Oct 17 2012: This may sound off-the-wall, but it's a tested an proven technique used by all professional and olympic athletes, as well as musicians who have discovered its value. (Count me in).

    I loved piano as a child, but being one of many children, I was not allowed to spend much time at it because it was so noisy in a small house. One day, I discovered a piece that I had forgotten was assigned, and my practice time before the next day's piano lesson was used up. So I took the music and visualized myself playing it. The next day, it was my best piece.

    I have since learned that other pianists use this technique that I always use when working through odd & difficult phrases (such as a Chopin Nocturn that requires 23 notes with the right hand at the same time that 6 notes are being played with the left). Now, when I want to learn a piece, I know that I do much better in far less time if I learn it BEFORE ever approaching the piano.

    There is a famous study begun at U of Chicago where volunteers were split into 3 groups: Those who practiced making hoops every day, those who only visualized but never actually tried, and those who neither visualized or tried. Day one, all were tested on their ability to make the shot. At the end of 30 days, they were retested. Those who visualized improved as much as those who practiced (and some studies show more improvement).

    A Vietnam POW who loved golf visualized playing every day - the whole 18 holes. At the end of the war, his game had improved, even though he had lost 80 lbs and was not in good health by the end of confinement.

    This technique works for many other things. Its the technique that all deliberate manifestors use. Perhaps not what you were looking for, but if you use it, you will be amazed. After proving to yourself that it works, try using it to find a place to practice.
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      Oct 17 2012: This is a very interesting post, and it details something I have done subconsciously ever since I began playing drums. I do believe in its power and I think this is the one reason that I have been able to continue moving forward on my instrument even without a proper practise space. Of course it is not the real thing, but it does work. Anyone else who finds this thread of interest should definitely try this method if they haven't done so already.
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        Oct 17 2012: OK, so during your visualization practice, include your surroundings in the visualization, and add the joy that you feel at finally having the perfect solution. Feel it in the NOW - not in the future. It must seem real right now. Do this every day for about 20 minutes, or longer if it brings you joy. Then let it go and don't worry about it. Don't try to figure out how it will happen. Let us know when you have found the perfect solution and what that solution turned out to be.
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          Oct 17 2012: Thanks for your positivity friend, I'll be sure to check in and let you know what transpires.

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