Sunday 4 December 2016

Drumming is all about other people

Pat Fitzpatrick

Published 16/11/2015 | 02:30

Pat Fitzpatrick: change is better when you do it with other people.
Pat Fitzpatrick: change is better when you do it with other people.

My grandfather had a saying - you have to get out and meet the people. Like all decent slices of wisdom, it gets better with age. Particularly for us men. We're inclined to pull down the shutters as the years go by, in favour of Sky Sports and The History Channel. You'd be surprised at the number of quietly sad men who can talk for hours about the Battle of Stalingrad.

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I thought of my grandfather at my African drumming class this week. From all that I can remember, he was an easy-going man with a decent sense of the absurd. He would have understood why I was banging a little bell and dancing around in a circle with a group of strangers on a Thursday night in November.

The man we called Daddy Joe, because he was the father of my uncle Joe, would have taken one look at this carry-on and repeated the mantra - you have to get out and meet the people.

The best thing about African drumming isn't the buzz you feel for a day afterwards. (Although that's pretty good.) The best thing is that I'm doing it with other people.

If you stay in and live your life through Twitter and The History Channel, the world can seem like a dreary, predictable place that reinforces all your prejudices. You need to mix it up a bit, to try something new with a bunch of people you would never meet otherwise.

At the last class, I ended up talking drums with a cheerful yachtsman sporting long silver hair. This isn't the kind of thing you get on Facebook. His optimism set me up for the week.

They say that change must come from within. That's not entirely true. Yes, it's up to you to make the decision to try something new.

But, for me anyway, the real change comes when you set about experiencing the world with other people. I could probably buy myself a drum and learn how to play on YouTube. But it would be an empty experience compared to my African drumming class.

Because that gives me a chance to join a band.

TIP: Change is better when you do it with other people.

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