Yep, I hate drum solos.
I’m allowed to say that because I am a drummer. I know that should make me appreciate even more the technical skill involved. And I do. But here’s the thing: most drum solos are really boring.
That’s why I wanted to run naked through the streets screaming “Eureka!” in seven different languages when I first heard Jacob Armen. He doesn’t play drum solos. He plays songs; he just happens to play them by himself on the drums.
But this is not an ad for Jacob Armen. For the past several years, I’ve been coming to the tentative conclusion that every human endeavor is like music, in that there exist two parts that must both come together to make a beautiful, inseparable whole.
There are no good labels for these parts, so we’ll give them lots of bad labels. The first is the technical, the skill, the left brain, the paradiddles, flams, and time signatures. The other part is the creative, the experiential, the right brain, the musicality.
The problem begins when one or the other of these is ignored. Let’s take as examples the two most important endeavors (other than music) in my life: faith and math.
First faith. I grieve when I see the emotions of many of my fellow Christians jettison straight out of their mouths, bypassing their brains completely. And I grieve when I see critics use that behavior as an excuse to write off faith as a whole. I want to plead, “Can’t you see this is music? I know some of my band mates don’t practice their scales and don’t give two hoots about tempo. But just because they’re unskilled musicians doesn’t mean music itself is flawed.”
Critics of math usually point to the opposite problem. They hate it because of (usually) a high school class that portrayed only the dry, intellectual side of math. These former students use their own experience to deny the experiential components of math. And I cry, “Can’t you see this is music? I know you may have had some teachers who ignored expression and just rapped your hands if they weren’t bridged properly over the piano keys. But just because no one taught you the beauty of music doesn’t mean music isn’t beautiful.”
Yes, this is a problem, but I know it can’t be the real problem because somehow it’s always someone else’s problem. Sure, I could make it my problem — I could (and do!) look for the music in life’s endeavors that I might be missing. But the real problem is that I do more than plead. I get angry. I silently judge judgmental Christians. I authoritatively dismiss the statements of those who authoritatively dismiss math. That’s not very musical of me, and I’m ready to change.
I want to be a drummer like Jacob Armen, training the muscles in my fingers and wrists while expressing the life inside me. But I want more than that. I want to see the music in people.