This past week, I met with two drummers that are very much part of the music industry. One played tracks for Elton John’s latest movie and the other played with Kanye out in the mountains. I met with them to hear their experiences as drummers and to deepen my own understanding of identity as a musician.
I’m a bivocational minister and musician. My path led me towards ministry (corporate chaplain) as a life calling. This means that I am primarily devoted to being a sacramental presence in the marketplace, providing care to employees.
But I have also been playing drums since I was a kid, mostly in church settings. I’m not a classically trained musician. I don’t read sheet music. I don’t know much about music theory. And I don’t have deep aspirations to “make it” in the music industry. I just don’t.
But I do have a longing to create music, play with great musicians, and facilitate times during musical worship where people experience the Presence of God in deep ways.
While meeting with these great drummers, we talked about life, spirituality, and how music impacts our hearts. They shared how the music industry and being a full time musician can be tough on a soul. While they’ve had great experiences, they’ve also wrestled with the realities of life. One drummer said that the industry is a like a machine. Gotta stay relevant, say yes to everything asked of you, and eventually leads to burn out.
We didn’t talk about technique, how to have more chops, or how to land the gig. We didn’t talk about Elton John or Kanye West. We talked about the deeper things in life that we long for and wrestle with.
I’ve been thinking of both interactions and wondering about my sense of musicianship and personhood. In both interactions, I was both a minister and musician. Musicians have their own language and culture. They see and think about things differently. Artists are wrestling with truth and trying to give it expression. They’re the last standing prophets to call out the BS and wake us up to a new normal.
I had more clarity of the kind of musician I’d like to be: someone who wrestles with truth and beauty, inviting people into a new normal through the power of music.