At an early age I started putting different instruments in front of my son. As a guitarist, of course that was my first choice but it didn’t resonate with him. He got a toy drum set at the age of 3 and was super excited. While interested in everything, he always went back to beating on the drums.
When he was about 9 I bought him his first “real” drum set. It was a used Tama Rock Star kit I found for a couple hundred bucks and although there was nothing particularly special about it, he was thrilled! I started teaching him some real basic beats and he was picking them quickly. Mission Music’s cofounder gave him lessons for a few months and instilled some great techniques that he still used today and most likely the rest of his life.
A couple of nice folks at our church knew he had a passion for drums and one Christmas they gave him some used to rototoms to go with his kit. He was literally brought to tears from their generosity and the excitement of playing them. This was actually one of the seeds that sparked the beginning of Mission Music.
In 4th grade, my son started having some pretty serious anxiety issues over school. This quickly grew into severe behavioral problems at home that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage, great frustrations, and utter family turmoil as my wife and I tried to figure out how to help him. Deep down, this was a brilliant, smart, and fun loving kid but something had a hold of him.
Through everything, he ended up grounded a lot. Loss of electronics, tv time, activities with friends, and more. At one point he was left with nothing in his room other than a bed and a dresser. However, one thing I was adamant about was never taking away his drums. He thoroughly enjoyed playing and while some folks may believe in taking away those things as a form of discipline, that thought never crossed my mind.
You see, although playing music is a lot of fun, it also has therapeutic values that are simply amazing. Whether one is happy, sad, or angry, playing music provides a healthy and safe way to express those feelings that could otherwise cause irreparable harm. Simply put, playing music makes us feel better.
Our son needed an outlet for his emotions that would always be there. At the worst of times, he knew he could go bang on his drums and that’s exactly what he did. After about 15 minutes or so, he would calm down and be able to rationalize much better. Many times he would play for 45 minutes or more and that brief escape from worry or angst was enough to help him through a tough situation. His emotional processing went from destructive to creative. I think author Hannah Harrington explains it best, ” He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful”.
Now at 12 years old, he has a pretty decent Gretsch set and continues to amaze me with his progress, both behind and in front of the kit. I’ve had the thrill and joy of sharing a stage with him. He inspires me daily both as a musician and a father.
Just like adults, kids needs a safe and positive outlet for their emotions. Music has been just that for me and I’m grateful that it has become the same for my son. It may be tempting to take everything away from a child when times get tough but I encourage everyone to always let the music play on. Music may just be the thing to get them through the storm.