Sarah Yang Hits Like a Girl

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“The real secret to success is enthusiasm.”
– Walter Chrysler

“You can’t be a drummer. Choose another instrument,” my junior high school band teacher said.

“Why not?” I asked.

He responded, “You aren’t coordinated enough.”

A nearby band guy chimed in and said, “Plus, you’re a girl.”

That’s when I, a fiery 12 year old Asian American growing up in suburban Los Angeles, decided I was going to prove everyone wrong by becoming the best drummer at my school.  I practiced in the band room during recess, lunch, and after school when the other drummers weren’t using the kit.  Then, I begged my parents to buy me a drum set so I could practice at home.  Coming from a Chinese family, they weren’t thrilled by my newfound love.  But to keep me from hanging out in our gang-infested community, they bought me a used kit for $100.

By my final year in junior high, I was the best drummer at the school… male or female.  The same band teacher who told me three years prior that I couldn’t be a drummer presented me with the Most Valuable Player Award, the highest achievement given annually to one member of the 40 person band.

Then, I got selected by a prestigious high school performing arts program to study jazz, marching, Latin, and rock drumming.  I also studied African and Chinese drumming in college.  In my free time, I organize drum circles, teaching those who have never touched a drum that they, too, have their own unique rhythm to play.

It’s now been 24 years since I picked up my first pair of drumsticks.  And I am just as passionate as ever about drumming because I believe that rhythm is a universal language.  As the quote says:

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I feel the rhythm all around me so I’m going to play along with the beat of my own unique, drumming heart.  I hope you will join me and drum along…

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