Following Your Dreams: My Journey Pursuing My Passion as a Drummer

As a kid, I never really had any specific dreams or desires. Like most kids, I spent most of my childhood having fun. I loved watching cartoons, playing outside, and going on whatever excursions my parents had planned for my brother and me, but nothing really made me say “I want to do THAT when I grow up!” If anything, my biggest passion was for video games, which I could play for hours on end.

The Dream

It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that I subconsciously started planning for the future. In 2007, the video game Rock Band came out. Although Guitar Hero had been out for a couple of years, Rock Band was the first music game that implemented the guitar in addition to various instruments, such as vocals and drums. Growing up, I had generally played video games alongside my older brother, who was better than me at any game imaginable; Rock Band was no exception. In this case, he was more skilled in every instrument but one: the drums.

Little did I know that my Rock Band drumming skills would heavily impact my life.

Coincidentally, this was around the same time that students my age had to choose a musical path in school (the categories being chorus, orchestra, or band). At that age, I was never really into singing, and, although I had taken violin lessons before, I didn’t really enjoy it and ultimately stopped taking lessons after a few months. So, in the end, I chose to do band.

The next step was choosing an instrument. Because I was experienced in the art of Rock Band drumming, percussion was my first choice. However, those who wanted to do percussion had to audition for it (unlike any other instrument for some strange reason). As a result, my entire routine changed. I would go to school, come home, finish my immensely difficult 5th grade-level homework as soon as possible, and practice until it was time for dinner or until I was forced to go to bed.

A few weeks later, it was time to audition. Though my exact memory of the audition isn’t particularly clear, I remember feeling fairly confident. A few days of immense anticipation later, I was told that I had made the percussion section. Not realizing it, I had finally accomplished something in my life. And because of this accomplishment, I finally had some idea of what I wanted to do when I grew up: I wanted to become the best drummer in the world.

The Journey

Soon after making the percussion section, I started taking drum lessons. My first teacher was a student of Steve Smith, probably the most famous drummer from the band Journey (at the time, I only knew their song “Don’t Stop Believing”). Because Rock Band had sparked my interest in becoming part of an actual band myself, my passion was primarily geared toward the drum set. However, my instructor encouraged me to learn the fundamentals of drumming on the snare drum first. After months of practicing snare, I eventually urged my teacher to teach me the full drum set which would allow me to take on various challenges and opportunities in the years to come.

Middle school presented new steps in my journey. With my brother being a few years older than me and also participating in band, I was always brought to his middle school concerts. I was able to see the concert band, the symphonic band, and, most importantly, the jazz band in action, which always captivated me. The more I watched them, the more I wanted to be a part of it.

While signing up for the audition process, I knew that the jazz band typically took two drummers, and neither of the drummers from the past year were moving on to high school yet. Nonetheless, I was determined. Similarly to my preparation for the percussion section in elementary school, I practiced for hours on end to get a spot on drum set. And like the elementary percussion audition, I felt fairly confident afterward, but this time, the results were different. The two older students had maintained their spots, and I didn’t make the band.

Because I was consistently doing well in school, this was the first time I truly felt like I had failed in my attempt to do something.

Despite this, failure didn’t stop me from wanting to make the band. I practiced everyday, continued learning with my drum teacher, watched hundreds of videos of famous jazz drummers, and drummed on just about anythingmy personal favorite was my mom’s dashboard. The next year, I made the jazz band, finally being a part of my first “band” as a drum set player.

Throughout middle school and high school, I ended up forming bands with a few of my friends, continuing with jazz band, and participating in drumline with the high school marching bandall of which had a really strong impact on my life.

Reality and Following My Dreams

It wasn’t until the end of my senior year of high school that I started seeing a disconnect between my dream of being a professional drummer and, in the grand scheme of things, reality. I love drumming, but I just didn’t see it as something that would realistically allow me to make a living in the future. I knew that I wanted to go to college—in fact, I made it into my dream schoolbut I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study; however, I knew that I didn’t want to stop drumming once I got to college.

Outside of music, I was genuinely interested in political science and economics, and I decided to pursue both of those fields in college. Although I “moved on” to study things completely unrelated to music, I was able to balance my pursuit of a higher education and my passion for drumming.

One of the reasons that I chose the University of Delaware was because I loved their marching band. Even though I decided that I wasn’t going to major in music, I was determined to be a part of the drumline. Similar to my past audition experiences, I practiced as much as possible and was ultimately able to make the snare line in my university’s drumline.

Though being a member of the drumline took up time that I could use for studying or working a part-time job, I never found the experience to be detrimental to my college experience; in fact, it has enhanced my overall experience. Through being a part of the drumline, I was able to meet some of the best friends I’ve ever had, continue to do something that I love with an amazing group of people, and open myself up to new opportunities. All the while, I was still able to receive good grades, make connections with professors, and delve into various internship opportunities.

Even though I began to slip away from my original dream of becoming the best drummer in the world, I never had to entirely give up my passion for drumming because I found a way to balance it with the responsibility of being a full-time student.

Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to accomplish the things that I’ve done throughout my college career if I stopped pursuing my passion for drumming.

Drumming has taught me so many life skills that I never thought it would. Before I started drumming, I never had any responsibilities outside of school. I could wake up, go to school, come home, take time with my homework, and then sit in front of a TV for the rest of the day. After taking drum lessons and becoming more involved with the band program, I had to start learning how to manage my time spent on academics and practicing percussion. After a while, time management had become a very useful skill that I acquired.

After becoming a master of time management, drumming transformed into a form of stress relief. Instead of spending all of my time on school work and viewing practice almost as a chore, I could now take short breaks and drum to a song that might’ve been stuck in my head all day, which I found very therapeutic.

Additionally, having never participated in team sports, being a part of the marching band helped me become a better team player. Band showed me the importance of teamwork because it forced the group to work together. Our success was based not on any individual’s performance but on how we played together as a whole. It made me understand that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; essentially, our ability to communicate and play together as a collective is what made a great performance.

Learning the skills of time management, teamwork, and perseverance, as well as the ability to use drumming as a way to relieve stress, have been invaluable throughout college. Being part of a band has given me the confidence to take on various other challenges and opportunities as a student, such as interning with a local political campaign, doing personal research and group projects on international affairs, and writing for a website that allows me to communicate ideas that I’m genuinely interested in.

Though I started from a childhood with relatively little ambition (let alone a dream), I never expected that playing drums in Rock Band would set the precedent for the rest of my life. Through my passion for percussion and dream of becoming the best drummer in the world, I was able to learn life skills and open my life up to more opportunities than I ever imagined.

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My name is Joshua Huynh and I’m currently a sophomore International Relations major with a specialization in the Latin American region and a minor in Economics at the University of Delaware. Other than my interest in international affairs, I love gaming, drumming, and watching television series and movies.

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Following Your Dreams: My Journey Pursuing My Passion as a Drummer

As a kid, I never really had any specific dreams or desires. Like most kids, I spent most of my childhood having fun. I loved watching cartoons, playing outside, and going on whatever excursions my parents had planned for my brother and me, but nothing really made me say “I want to do THAT when I grow up!” If anything, my biggest passion was for video games, which I could play for hours on end.

The Dream

It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that I subconsciously started planning for the future. In 2007, the video game Rock Band came out. Although Guitar Hero had been out for a couple of years, Rock Band was the first music game that implemented the guitar in addition to various instruments, such as vocals and drums. Growing up, I had generally played video games alongside my older brother, who was better than me at any game imaginable; Rock Band was no exception. In this case, he was more skilled in every instrument but one: the drums.

Little did I know that my Rock Band drumming skills would heavily impact my life.

Coincidentally, this was around the same time that students my age had to choose a musical path in school (the categories being chorus, orchestra, or band). At that age, I was never really into singing, and, although I had taken violin lessons before, I didn’t really enjoy it and ultimately stopped taking lessons after a few months. So, in the end, I chose to do band.

The next step was choosing an instrument. Because I was experienced in the art of Rock Band drumming, percussion was my first choice. However, those who wanted to do percussion had to audition for it (unlike any other instrument for some strange reason). As a result, my entire routine changed. I would go to school, come home, finish my immensely difficult 5th grade-level homework as soon as possible, and practice until it was time for dinner or until I was forced to go to bed.

A few weeks later, it was time to audition. Though my exact memory of the audition isn’t particularly clear, I remember feeling fairly confident. A few days of immense anticipation later, I was told that I had made the percussion section. Not realizing it, I had finally accomplished something in my life. And because of this accomplishment, I finally had some idea of what I wanted to do when I grew up: I wanted to become the best drummer in the world.

The Journey

Soon after making the percussion section, I started taking drum lessons. My first teacher was a student of Steve Smith, probably the most famous drummer from the band Journey (at the time, I only knew their song “Don’t Stop Believing”). Because Rock Band had sparked my interest in becoming part of an actual band myself, my passion was primarily geared toward the drum set. However, my instructor encouraged me to learn the fundamentals of drumming on the snare drum first. After months of practicing snare, I eventually urged my teacher to teach me the full drum set which would allow me to take on various challenges and opportunities in the years to come.

Middle school presented new steps in my journey. With my brother being a few years older than me and also participating in band, I was always brought to his middle school concerts. I was able to see the concert band, the symphonic band, and, most importantly, the jazz band in action, which always captivated me. The more I watched them, the more I wanted to be a part of it.

While signing up for the audition process, I knew that the jazz band typically took two drummers, and neither of the drummers from the past year were moving on to high school yet. Nonetheless, I was determined. Similarly to my preparation for the percussion section in elementary school, I practiced for hours on end to get a spot on drum set. And like the elementary percussion audition, I felt fairly confident afterward, but this time, the results were different. The two older students had maintained their spots, and I didn’t make the band.

Because I was consistently doing well in school, this was the first time I truly felt like I had failed in my attempt to do something.

Despite this, failure didn’t stop me from wanting to make the band. I practiced everyday, continued learning with my drum teacher, watched hundreds of videos of famous jazz drummers, and drummed on just about anythingmy personal favorite was my mom’s dashboard. The next year, I made the jazz band, finally being a part of my first “band” as a drum set player.

Throughout middle school and high school, I ended up forming bands with a few of my friends, continuing with jazz band, and participating in drumline with the high school marching bandall of which had a really strong impact on my life.

Reality and Following My Dreams

It wasn’t until the end of my senior year of high school that I started seeing a disconnect between my dream of being a professional drummer and, in the grand scheme of things, reality. I love drumming, but I just didn’t see it as something that would realistically allow me to make a living in the future. I knew that I wanted to go to college—in fact, I made it into my dream schoolbut I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study; however, I knew that I didn’t want to stop drumming once I got to college.

Outside of music, I was genuinely interested in political science and economics, and I decided to pursue both of those fields in college. Although I “moved on” to study things completely unrelated to music, I was able to balance my pursuit of a higher education and my passion for drumming.

One of the reasons that I chose the University of Delaware was because I loved their marching band. Even though I decided that I wasn’t going to major in music, I was determined to be a part of the drumline. Similar to my past audition experiences, I practiced as much as possible and was ultimately able to make the snare line in my university’s drumline.

Though being a member of the drumline took up time that I could use for studying or working a part-time job, I never found the experience to be detrimental to my college experience; in fact, it has enhanced my overall experience. Through being a part of the drumline, I was able to meet some of the best friends I’ve ever had, continue to do something that I love with an amazing group of people, and open myself up to new opportunities. All the while, I was still able to receive good grades, make connections with professors, and delve into various internship opportunities.

Even though I began to slip away from my original dream of becoming the best drummer in the world, I never had to entirely give up my passion for drumming because I found a way to balance it with the responsibility of being a full-time student.

Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to accomplish the things that I’ve done throughout my college career if I stopped pursuing my passion for drumming.

Drumming has taught me so many life skills that I never thought it would. Before I started drumming, I never had any responsibilities outside of school. I could wake up, go to school, come home, take time with my homework, and then sit in front of a TV for the rest of the day. After taking drum lessons and becoming more involved with the band program, I had to start learning how to manage my time spent on academics and practicing percussion. After a while, time management had become a very useful skill that I acquired.

After becoming a master of time management, drumming transformed into a form of stress relief. Instead of spending all of my time on school work and viewing practice almost as a chore, I could now take short breaks and drum to a song that might’ve been stuck in my head all day, which I found very therapeutic.

Additionally, having never participated in team sports, being a part of the marching band helped me become a better team player. Band showed me the importance of teamwork because it forced the group to work together. Our success was based not on any individual’s performance but on how we played together as a whole. It made me understand that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; essentially, our ability to communicate and play together as a collective is what made a great performance.

Learning the skills of time management, teamwork, and perseverance, as well as the ability to use drumming as a way to relieve stress, have been invaluable throughout college. Being part of a band has given me the confidence to take on various other challenges and opportunities as a student, such as interning with a local political campaign, doing personal research and group projects on international affairs, and writing for a website that allows me to communicate ideas that I’m genuinely interested in.

Though I started from a childhood with relatively little ambition (let alone a dream), I never expected that playing drums in Rock Band would set the precedent for the rest of my life. Through my passion for percussion and dream of becoming the best drummer in the world, I was able to learn life skills and open my life up to more opportunities than I ever imagined.

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