I haven’t been a part of houseband for very long, I was only asked to join this last June. I’d been at School of Rock for three years at that point, and the progress I’d made was incredible. I remember walking in, first rehearsal, of my first ever show, not a clue how the process worked, having only played on a drum kit a handful of times. I didn’t even own one yet. Over the next three months, I only said a handful of words during a dozen or so rehearsals. I was the nervous, awkward kid who had no confidence. Every rehearsal our director would tell me, “Come on Adam, just hit the drums! I know you can do it!” And, I could. Just not in front of people. When I worked up the courage to practice in my basement, even when my parents were home and could hear me struggling through songs, that was when I showed confidence. I could never transfer this energy to rehearsal. When our first performance came, I was a ball of nerves. Up until the minute I walked on stage, I thought for sure that I was going to just throw up at any moment.
But the moment that I walked on stage, saw my parents smiling, dad with camera in hand, I wasn’t nervous anymore. Despite not being confident or even a fraction as talented as I feel like I am now, I was prepared. I’d learned my songs, listened to them countless times. The dedication to this organization has been something instilled in me from the very beginning.
That was my first show. I just started my eighth (and ninth, because what’s five more songs when you already have nineteen to learn?) Across every show, I saw myself branching out more and more. I was still the quiet kid for awhile, but I was making new friends and steadily becoming more familiar with the process. Then, I became one of the older and more experienced kids. I started playing bass, too. I saw myself growing up from the little kid entering high school staring up at other kids as they played, to being one of those other kids. I was a familiar face at the school now.
With this experience, I saw myself changing. My confidence and expressiveness, not only in music, had been elevated. I was now thinking, “What else can I do?” instead of, “Can I do it?” My playing and overall music abilities improved as well. Quickly, too. I’d find myself having these weeks of motivation where I’d be practicing for tens of hours. Something great about having music as a hobby is that you can hear yourself improve. It’s something that you understand and realize. I was able to learn more songs than before, and learn them in less time. This transferred to my participation in school band, in which I’ve ascended up the various audition bands, finding myself as first chair this year in the second best audition band offered at the school. (I just recently learned I’ll be in the top audition band next year!) This truly was all thanks to SoR. Before them, I had no motivation to practice percussion in the way that I do now. Exposing me to a genre that was exciting to me, and getting multiple lessons from multiple, equally-talented instructors has allowed me to amass a wealth of knowledge that has all contributed to where I find myself today.
So, we return to June, where I’m offered a spot in the houseband program. Houseband is for the older and more experienced kids at SoR. As narcissistic as it may sound, houseband is the best kids at the school. I had made a bunch of friends who were in houseband, but never really expected myself to be a part of it. So, of course I accepted the offer. The day I turned in the contract, I was hit with five songs to learn. Not just normal classic rock songs. Five difficult songs. It was a bit of a wake-up call to me, that it only got harder from where I was then. (If only I knew what was ahead of me, I would’ve been grateful for only five songs.) But I had to prove myself; so I practiced. A lot. I watched YouTube covers, I sat in on rehearsals when I wasn’t even a part of the group yet in order to see how they played the songs. I consumed as much as I could in order to learn these songs.
Then, when my first rehearsal finally came, I messed up. It wasn’t a bad mistake, I made it through the song. But everybody noticed. Looking back, I don’t know why I was so embarrassed about it, but I was. After we were done, I went out into the main room (called the green room), outside of the rehearsal room. Apparently I was visibly upset, because the singer of that song, who was also out in that room, spoke up. “You did fine. Everybody messes up, even now. It was only your first time.” I remember only returning a smile and a nod, but the words meant more to me than she probably knew. In fact, I doubt she ever remembers telling me that.
But it helped me understand something about being a part of this group. Everybody is there to help everyone else succeed. Even though I wasn’t the only drummer, the other drummers weren’t there to prove that they were better than me; they were there to help me. I was there to help them, too.
Music brings us together at a community. No matter what type of music, the fascination with learning and playing, and the excitement of seeing preparation pay off in an incredible performance, those are the moments that bring us closer together. When I first joined School of Rock, I was alone and afraid. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be good enough as the older kids; it seemed like things just came naturally to them. But now I understand that that isn’t the truth; I haven’t changed. I still get nervous; I still feel like those around me are better than I am. But now I understand that I’m not alone in this. I have a group of people than I can relate to.
“And that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost