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Realizing my percussion dreams by taking drumming lessons at Rufus Drum Shop

Tuesday 26th, July 2016 / 17:48
By Yasmine Shemesh
Photo: Allan Harding

Photo: Allan Harding

VANCOUVER — 1998. There I was, grade six, sitting in band class. My music teacher was running through our class list in alphabetical order, asking each of us which instruments we’d like to play and assigning them as such. My heart fluttered. “Finally,” I thought, “the drums!” I’d been dying to learn — my music obsession began early (a Michael Jackson cassette at age five kicked it off) and I’d always picked up on the percussive beat first over anything else. Headphones on and Walkman playing, I’d tap my fingers along on any surface I could find. I’d twirl my pencils between my fingers, pretending they were sticks. Plus, the drummer was always the cutest.

My teacher continued down the list. There were two drumming positions available. Jenny took one. Another girl whose name I can’t remember got the second. By the time he made it to me, the last one, there was a single instrument left: the trombone.

Great. Thanks, Mr. Chan.

For nearly two decades, I never got that close to the drums again. I probably could’ve signed up for lessons outside of school, but dance took over my life and left scant room for any extracurriculars other than gallivanting with friends. Then, in 2015 I was at a Christmas party. As I glanced over the things up for silent auction, one item stood out from the rest — drumming lessons. I put my name down…obviously. The next day, I got the call — I’d won. Oh, my god.

I schedule my first lesson at Rufus Drum Shop, right on the edge of Kitsilano. I’m a bit early and Allan, the manager, greets me enthusiastically as I walk in. “Have you ever sat on a kit before?” he asks. When I tell him I haven’t, he invites me to try the electronic drums while I wait for my instructor. “Just play around,” he says, handing me a pair of cushy headphones. “Nobody can hear if you mess up!” Nervously, I tap at the snare and cymbals a couple times before my teacher, Tristan, comes to collect me. Allan wishes me a good lesson.

We go into the back room where there are two kits sitting side-by-side. Tristan immediately puts my nerves at ease. He’s easygoing and encouraging as we work through the basic strokes on the practice pad — single, double, paradiddle. He pencils out a few music notes on a piece of paper and explains which one correlates to which part of the drum. “Try this,” he says, turning to his kit and playing out the simple beat. I follow along on my kit, slowly. Then a little faster. Tristan puts on a Parliament-sounding track for us to play along to and funk fills the room. I’m actually getting it. This is even more fun than I’d imagined. “Yeah!” Tristan shouts and high-fives me. I drive home smiling from ear-to-ear and practice my rudiments on my couch cushions all week. When I return the next Saturday, I sign up for another month’s worth of lessons.

You’ll be seeing me at the year-end recital. Bands, call me. And thanks, Rufus.

Rufus Drum Shop is located at 3712 West 10th Avenue.

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