“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:
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…