Hi folks. I’m Chris.
And for about 12 years, playing drums has been a significant part of my life.
I played throughout middle and high school and went on to play drums in the Marine Band for several years. My parents paid so that I could attend private lessons (thank you momma and dad) while in high school.
In lieu of living in apartment, I’ve had to come to settle with playing drums in a video game to whet my percussive appetite.
When I sat down to play “Critical Acclaim” by Avenged Sevenfold the other day, I just sucked. Trying to look for a teachable moment, I came up with these five things that I can relate to my life on a daily basis.
Sometimes my drums are “off” when I play.
Really. They are.
They don’t play when I hit them, or more accurately, they have a lag.
Sometimes my SMART TV or some quirky electronic bug seems to decide on an incorrect default for my drums. This can result in a delay between when I hit the pad and when the sound is heard.
This results in “missed” notes.
This results in my score going down.
Which results in me failing out of a song.
Through a process of troubleshooting, I usually find that I need to recalibrate my drums to my TV. This little factor has a HUGE impact on how well I perform for the stadium of overzealous fans crammed into my beach bungalow’s living room.
In life, I sometimes get off track. My actions don’t align with my beliefs. Sometimes my words can come out all jacked up, potentially ruining someone’s day. My temper flares. My mood swings. My irritability soars. I get overstimulated and need to take a step back.
It’s at times like this that I need to take time to get my recalibration on, baby.
I need to realign my thoughts, actions, and words with my core beliefs.
I need to reorient my moral compass and get my rudder straight.
Sometimes we all get off track.
Better get yo’self back on track.
Better get yo’self some recalibration.
I wish I could play all the songs on Expert and get five stars. The fans deserve it.
Unfortunately, I have a long ways to go.
Fortunately, Rockband has a practice mode.
After I humbled myself the other day to Critical Acclaim, I switched over to Practice Mode and played the song a few times at different speeds. I had to break sections down that were killing me. I had to divide and conquer.
Now I can play the song on Expert.
After playing it about 20 times in the past two days, I finally achieved five stars on “Hard”.
Just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke, I played it again to be positive I could get five stars on the same difficulty level.
Practice paid off.
When I took private lessons, I didn’t like to practice. In fact, a lot of the time I would practice the 30 minutes prior to my lesson, or even in the car on the way to my lesson!
Outside of Rockband, I can at times, suck at communicating with my girlfriend. – I fail “our song”. If you ask her, she knows the hours where I have a metabolic dip that happens to be exacerbated by my sleep apea – times where I’m about as worthless at communicating as a hibernating grizzly.
Being an introvert also puts me at a level where I feel socially inept when it comes to talking to others.
I’m also a “stonewaller” – I reach a point in our arguments where I just withdraw and don’t respond or even talk at all. My exasperation and patience has jumped out the window.
I’ve been holding myself accountable to make these practice areas in our relationship. Meaning, when I’m in a good mood, I’ll try to initiate conversations more. Or when I’m irritable, trying to push myself to say, “listen babe, I want to talk about this, but am just too tired. Can we hit this again in a couple hours or at another time?”
A lot of the time I’m not able to do it and so I have to start all over from the beginning of our song.
We all have things in our life that we have to practice at whether we are already good at what we do, or pushing to be better at something.
There’s things at which we all fail.
Better get yo’self better atcho song.
Better get yo’self some practice time.
3. Overdoing It
When you’re playing Rockband, you have to play what is on screen, NOT what you think the song sounds like.
You need to play what you see, not what you think.
You may have the drum chart to Your Betrayal, or Diary of Jane memorized, but that ain’t what’s on screen if you’re playing on Easy.
A lot of times I’ll throw in a bass drum kick with a cymbal smash because that’s how I learned to play drums and that’s the way the song sounds. But that’s not was the screen is showing.
Sometimes in my relationships, I assume things. I think about something too hard. I incorrectly interpret the tone of a text or read into something that was never intended to mean how I took it.
I need to step back and take things slower. I need to relax a little and take things a little more lightly. I need to be slower in my responses and give them time to cook so I don’t hasten out a response of anger and resentment.
We all have an area in which we overdo it.
Better get yo’self to chill out.
Better get yo’self to slow down and simplify.
4. Baby Steps
Compared to a teenager, it took me an insane amount of time to get to the level in that song that I did. I had to start on Medium then work myself up to Hard. Then I had to work myself up from three starts to five stars.
I didn’t just sit down and play and BAM! I’m at my goal. I had to take things level by level. I had to use baby steps.
We all want things too quickly don’t we?
We all have a sense of video game satisfaction and entitlement where we may want to get to the end sooner rather than later. Where we try to find an easy way around. Where we want to punch in a cheat code instead of unlocking the puzzles in the game.
We all want to skip the trials and journeys.
Better give yo’self some time to git to that goal.
Better get yo’self to take it one step at a time.
5. Time Signature
Probably THE MOST challenging thing for me when playing Rockband is that there is no time signature.
Time signatures to the musician are what signs and lines on the road are for the driver. They tell you how much each thing is worth on the sheet of music. Without it, it’s…well, it’s Rockband.
Rockband has a minimal amount of guidance and sometimes I have to guess at where the notes are to be played. I understand why this is, it just makes things harder for the musician in me.
My life is like that. I have several guides that I need in my life to keep me between the lines on the road of life –
♦ The Bible – this is kind of my oil in the engine and user guide. When I do devotions in the morning and take time to read my Bible, Jesus Calling, and In Touch, I’m filled with peace and hope for the day. Life still happens, but when I have a driver cut in front of me, or given a situation in which I have the opportunity to exercise patience and kindness rather than the opposite, I’m able to come back to what I’ve read earlier that day at my kitchen table. The Bible is my anchor point, magnetic north, and grounding point. It’s also the lines, the speed limit and other signs that keep me grounded and directed in life, helping me stay on the road while I travel.
♦ My friends and family – These are my sounding boards as well as how I receive feedback to my “performance”. If I have ideas that aren’t so great or am about to make a bad decision, these people help me see that. They may give me alternatives or sound advice. They may advise against what I am about to do or support me with reasons why they think I should make a certain decision. They let me know if I’ve earned a 1-star performance or a 5-star performance and what I need to do to move up to the top 5% on the leaderboard.
♦ My conscience/the Holy Spirit – Sometimes I want to respond to my ex-wife’s email and texts with anger and vengeance. Sometimes I get irritable with my girlfriend. I always have a choice on how I respond. When I respond negatively, I get a little pinging in my brain telling me that’s not how I should be doing things – that’s the Holy Spirit. You may call it your conscience but whatever it is, we each get that little morale alarm advising against what we’re about to do, or a little victory bell of confirmation letting us know that we did the right thing.
I screw it up a lot, but I can’t blame it on not having a “time signature”.
We all have a time signature that gives us structure to our lives.
Better find out what drives yo’ life.
Better get yo’self familiar with yo’ time signature.