The drummers—there were eight of them—were lined up on the stage like toy soldiers, each with a set of drums and cymbals. One drummer began by calypso-ing a beat. Another drummer responded with a unique cadence. And then another and another and another joined the musical conversation. Within minutes, the entire stage rocked with eight heart beats, each offering a unique melody. There was communion, communication, community on the stage. There was also laugh-out-loud joy as sticks flew and arms bounced out times. The joy was palpable.
All these men worked at the local drum shop. They were on stage to honor one of their tribesmen, a man who had played drums and taught drumming all over town for thirty years. He was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. This benefit was for him.
I attended the performance with my partner, a long-time drummer who, like most, also worked a day job. I went along as a courtesy. What surprised me was the joy I received in exchange, the opportunity to witness men at play, men at work, men making music. This, I thought at the time, is what work should be about.
Times were tough for drummers, I heard a few say. No events were scheduled for my partner’s band, a small band that played private gigs. Nobody had any money and if they did, live music was considered superfluous in tough times.
But is it? Watching these men on stage, seeing the joy they received in the giving of their gifts, the joy I felt in receiving those gifts, told me such thinking was inaccurate. In tough times, the heart deserves to beat like this. We deserve to be reminded of the experience music gives us and the reciprocal process it offers to both giver and receiver.
Most of all, we need to be reminded, especially when society is transforming and its growth is painful, what a new story promises: the opportunity to find the music in our own lives.
Your Story: What creates music in your life? What song have you uniquely come here to express? What “new story” can you begin to live, even if only in small ways?