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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: According to my five minutes of research, it costs about $2000 - $3000 dollars to soundproof a 12 foot by 20 foot room. The more do-it-yourself you can be, the less expensive it will be.

    If you believe you will be drumming for twenty years, that is like investing $100 to $150 per year.

    Worth it to you or not? How many extra gigs or lessons a year would it take to cover that cost? Is there any way of saving $150 per year from your other expenses?
    What if you soundproof the room and rent it out occasionally to another drummer with your same problem?
    People do tend to have to forego something to give their dreams a chance.
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      Oct 18 2012: Thanks Fritzie, I have of course looked into this as well. The biggest problem here is that I would need larger accommodation to be able to dedicate a room for soundproofing, not to mention a willing landlord (I am way off being able to purchase my own property in the UK).

      A very attractive solution is the new portable isolation booths, which are essentially an erect-it-yourself soundproof booth. These however cost around £6,000. Of course I've considered a loan but naturally there is some fear involved here. Perhaps it's just time to throw caution.
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        Oct 18 2012: Is it practical to go into this investment with a partner?
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          Oct 18 2012: Sadly, no. I know all of the serious drummers in my area and although many of us work professionally and teach to earn our keep we couldn't possibly raise this kind of money. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying never- things are better for me now than ever as I've worked to build my business for seven years, but those seven years have been without serious practise and I may be looking at seven more before I can really bring together that kind of capital.

          I wouldn't ever like to think I'll miss the boat but we all have limited time on Earth... I am very happy in my life but one dream I fear I will never realise is to reach my true potential on drum kit. Over the past couple of years I've come to terms with this but when I take a step back and look at my situation it does seem kind of sad. But then I consider the real sadness in the world and I can't help but feel lucky that I'm playing drums at all!

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