Tag Archives: Drums

Friday 6th March – Nothing More Concert

Around this time three years ago, I was just beginning to hear the words in music clearly thanks to Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation therapy.

Music is what feelings sound like. I think I have always understood this. It still amazes me that sound can express emotions and make the listener empathise and feel the same thing. However until Johansen IAS therapy, I had no idea that songs had words which make the music a story as well. As someone who had always loved music, this was an incredible discovery for me. All the slurred mush and mouth noises interfering with (and as it seemed at the time, detracting from) the instrumental background started to make sense, and I realised that songs are as much about the lyrics as the tune.

Tonight I went to see a band which I love, and only heard for the first time a few months ago, Nothing More. Nothing More are amazing. Their music is a beautiful mix of melody and powerful metal, and the words to the songs are great in their own right. Another very wonderful thing about them is all the drums. Their drummer is phenomenal, and their singer also is a drummer. They have drums on stage which they hammer along with their powerful songs, and a bass solo which involves three of them playing a bass at the same time and spinning it on a stand, which is one of the most awesome thing’s I’ve ever seen and heard. Nothing More also have some of the few songs that make me cry. 

Before Johansen IAS therapy, I would have picked up on a tragic mood from hearing the instrumental parts of a song, but not understood exactly what it was about. Back then when I had serious Auditory Processing Disorder, most of the words I heard in music (and a large portion of speech I heard in general) sounded like Gibberish. Now when I hear a song I understand the story in it. Nothing More sing and play their songs with all their souls, songs with stories which come from their personal lives. Not only is their music amazing, they also use music as a form of activism. Every concert they play is an attempt to get people to stop being cogs in an increasingly corrupt system and think for themselves (MTV, Christ Copyright), never stop loving and caring for one another even when it hurts (I’ll be OK), and to fight the stigma associated with mental illness (Jenny). The song which had me nearly crying in the crowd is (God Went North), about the singer’s mother dying. Nothing More are a musical force for good, helping to save the world one concert hall at a time.     

Without Johansen IAS therapy, I would never have discovered Nothing More’s music in the first place, let alone be able to understand what it is about. Music is not only the most important thing in my life, in a way music also saved my life. 

Johansen IAS therapy music CDs strengthened sound-transmitting pathways in my brain, giving me the ability to hear speech clearly. I heard my family around the dinner table at background noise-filled birthday parties and started joining in the conversation, I made friends by joining conversations I was now able to be included in. Able to communicate with other people, I started to catch up with my age-group socially and emotionally. Sounds such as traffic came from the right directions and distances. The deafeningly loud mash of noise I heard when I was at school, the shops, in the street, dissipated and cleared like a fog lifting. I heard my own voice clearly for the first time and was startled at how it sounded different to the idea I had of my voice in my head. And I heard all the words in a song, which completely changed the course of my life. 

No longer scared of loud noises, which used to overwhelm me, I discovered my main passion, drums. 

So I thank Camilla, Johansen IAS and my family for giving me a second chance at life which I never would have had otherwise. I also thank my family’s tolerance of my decibel-heavy new interest. You are very awesome.  

I will continue this blog for as long as I can, writing about everything I learn along the way from being able to hear clearly. I hope that you find it useful and that it helps you to understand more about Auditory Processing Disorder, which (like Dyslexia) affects 10% of the world’s population. 


Saturday 28th February 2015- Bucket Drumming, Junkie Interactions and a Gig

This morning I was tapping away on my buckets, entertaining people, drumming up some cash and dealing with the public.

When I first started busking I was afraid of people looking at me. That then upgraded to photos, videos, far too up-close watching like the Flower of Scotland Man, mid-performance conversations, heckling, and more recently, Junkie Interaction.

Lots of people smiled as they passed, although one elderly man with a great big beard paused in front of me to say “That sound is horrible. Please stop”.  A young guy jumped in beside me with a selfie stick, and a few other people took photos and videos. There’s a lot of tourists in Edinburgh.  I also got some (thankfully friendly) junkie attention. I chatted away, comforted by the knowledge that my Public Relations Frying Pan was within easy reach.

One woman strung out on something said she was a rapper, and wanted to try my buckets. She played along with me, the passers-by losing interest in the tuneless racket. Friendly woman though. She gave me a hug before departing unsteadily.

Previous to her, I had another inebriated admirer. He gave me 5p, which was actually very generous considering he didn’t look like he had much money. He was drinking a can of Special Brew or something similar. He said that he loved my drumming and wanted to marry me. We were chatting a bit and I explained that I busk for confidence when playing drums. He said he drinks for confidence, so I suppose confidence is something we have (or don’t have) in common. Busking for confidence when playing gigs will hopefully allow me to have the confidence to play well without requiring drinks, and have all my concentration to give the best performance I can because I’ll be sober.

Busking makes you kind of a part of the streets, even just for a short time, and people who live on those streets are interested to see what’s going on in their area.

Tonight we had our best gig yet. In an Irish Bar which was packed with people like sardines. The dance area was full, partly because there was nowhere left to sit. The bands there were really good and we’d met one of them before at our first gig in Paisley. One band had come all the way from England. They sounded a bit like Sleeping with sirens. My best friend came to see us too. It was loud, we were all packed together, it was hard to hear anyone talking. Before Johansen and MLC therapies it would have been a nightmare scenario.

I was nervous about playing, but not nearly as much as last time. Bucket Busking and fighting nerves with more nerves seems to be working.

People’s reaction to our music was really good and it was so hot in that wee underground bar all our hair was sticking up with sweat, we all went for it and it was an awesome night. It was so amazing to see people enjoying hearing us and having fun! I’m starting to feel like a proper drummer now.

Saturday 14th February 2015- Bucket and Samba Drumming

This morning I was bucket drumming again. Was I well-prepared? Well-rested? Chilled? Nope. That was kind of the point. Sometimes the only way to get over a fear is to scare yourself into not worrying about it anymore. In my case, performance nerves at gigs. If I can play on buckets badly in public, hopefully our next gig will not feel so worrying.

People seemed to quite like bucket drumming, just for the novelty of it. I wasn’t particularly good at it, just making stuff up as I went along, but I showed plenty of enthusiasm. I was drumming after all, and seeing people smile and give me change made me pretty happy.

One of my college friends heard me from the road and had come to see what the racket was. We chatted for a bit.

At one point, two guys in a white van, joiners I think, waiting for the lights to change had spotted me and rolled their window down. They found my buckets hilarious. They were laughing hard, slumped in their seats, not even looking at the road ahead. Something I have discovered recently is that I like to make people laugh. I did my best to entertain them, hamming it up a bit and grinning at them. I flipped a stick and caught it, which just killed them. I waved as they drove off. That was fun.

I had been playing for a short while when a man in a cowboy hat approached me. He introduced himself as Tad and said that if anyone bothered me, I should come see him and some of the other guys who sort of run this thing. I think I knew who he meant. There’s a bunch of amazing street performers who hang out in front of the Fringe Box Office. I asked if he was the tight-rope violinist, and was this his normal spot? Did he need me to move? “No”, he smiled “I escape from straight-jackets and stuff”. He recommended a spot higher up near the cathedral for better acoustics. Flute didn’t attract as much attention as this, although I have met a few of the street performers higher up the Mile.

Kind people gave me some money, one woman giving me a rose from a bunch she was carrying. I had kind of forgotten about Valentine’s Day. Perhaps that was why the Mile was so busy!

Since I was the loudest thing on the mile, even giving the bagpipers a run for their money, I moved pitches regularly to give people a break.

On the mound, I also got a good response. Amused interest and encouragement mostly. Valentine’s Day seems to put most people in a good mood.

I was still tapping away when a man a few years older than me stopped to chat and said there was going to be a protest on the Mound soon. He was from a Samba drumming protest group called Rhythms of Resistance. Would I like to join? Yes.

I packed up to watch the samba drums and a rather fantastic paper mache dragon painted with Anti-climate change slogans.

I was waiting for them to start when one of the drummers asked if I wanted to join in. I haven’t played in a Samba group before, but it sounded like fun. I grabbed my mini saucepan and a stick.

Samba is great. The leader (called Benny I think) blew a whistle and did hand signs. I just went with it, playing beside some people with things like cowbells. My few sessions at Edinburgh Drum Society before my schedule got too full, helped with understanding the counting hand signals and pauses. We sort of move from side to side as we played, and at the end, marched around in a circle. It was a lot of fun! Hopefully I’ll see them at a meeting or two if I get some free Thursday nights.

After another brief performance on the Mile, I watched an amazing fire juggler from in front of the Fringe shop. He threw and caught flaming torches while balancing on top of a plank of wood, and cheerfully  warning us to “Watch where you step, some idiot spilled paraffin here!”.

His show was cut short by a policeman who was clearing the street. I wondered what for, then heard a familiar sound. Rhythms for Resistance were at the front of a procession of people blocking the road, with a queue of open-topped Tourist Buses forced to snail it behind them.

Saturday 24th January 2014 – First atttempt at Bucket Drumming

Today was my first attempt at bucket drumming.

After a short practice in my building’s bike shed I hauled my assortment of plastic bins and buckets to The Mound. I wanted to try playing somewhere a but quieter before I attempted Bucket Drumming on The Mile. The Mound seemed empty enough, with a few people around to watch.

My set up:

Snare and Bass- red Tesco bucket with a handle

High tom-  IKEA waste bin with a pretty floral pattern

Low tom- 2 stacked Dulux pots from my uncle’s shed.

The aim of this whole enterprise was to throw myself out of my comfort zone. My logic was that if I could play buckets badly to hundreds of passing tourists, then gigs with a proper kit playing stuff I’ve learned and practiced won’t feel so scary.

I set up my buckets tried to ignore how nervous I felt, and played an improvised beat badly. I did a stick trick, started another wonky beat, dropped a stick and looked up from retrieving it to see people staring at me. I freaked out, shoved my buckets back into the IKEA bag and almost ran out of there.

Town seemed busy today, for a winter morning. After the my first Bucket Shenanigan I went back out with my flute on the Mile near the castle. I earned £2. From a man who sang along with “Flower of Scotland” out of time, key and tune, while standing too close and staring madly into my eyes. Still, that’s 2 quid.

Bucket Drumming isn’t over. It really worked at scaring me, and although my playing was very, very brief, no one heckled me or phoned the police with a noise complaint. I will try again.

Wednesday 3rd December 2014 – The Fish Finger Conundrum again

It’s the Fish Finger Conundrum again. Please feel free to check out 20th October 2014 if you have no idea what I’m on about.

Because of what I learned while window shopping in the frozen section Farmfoods not long ago, I decided that I could do with some new clothes for gigs.

Like the varying frozen Fish Fingers I have sampled, I know that pretty packaging does not improve the contents inside. However, it gives an indication of what may be in the box. I’m not just representing myself when we play, I’m representing my bandmates too. And since my wardrobe is pretty vanilla for a rock band, my (nearly) new leather jacket was a good purchase. It smells of smoke, which is both sad and ironic, since I got it from Cancer Research. However it fits pretty well and is quite cosy.

At future gigs and practices I will look more like a rock musician, and all thanks to some Fish Fingers.

Friday 3rd October

Class was good today. We had a lecture about vegetative propagation followed by a tour of the propagation units in the garden. After a long lunch chatting with my friends, we had a lecture about leaf formation. This lecture was not so good because there was a hole in my bucket. The desk I chose to sit at had a bucket, because of a hole in the roof. It was a leaky bucket, and the tapping of droplets was starting to get to me. I have another friend who probably has Auditory Processing Disorder in my class. She has said before that noises of computers, screens, air-conditioning and humming machines have been distracting for her. I know the feeling- before Johansen IAS therapy I used to be just like that. The bucket was really distracting me. I felt like bursting out laughing at the silliness of this annoying situation. Half of me wanted to storm out in frustration with the noise, and the other half (the half which was tired and very over-excited about band practice after college) just wanted to sing “there’s a hole in my bucket!” then slide off my chair giggling.

I was really excited about practice tonight, worried that I’d be able to make it on time, and frustrated about my holy bucket. Every so often, the drips would move towards me and I’d have to shift the bucket, or myself when water dropped on my head. People with APD are known and sometimes identified by poor concentration skills. Actually, our concentration skills are fine. It’s just that everyday stimulus is more distracting to us.

I left class a little early, dashing to the flat to pick up my cymbals and the baked-potato dinner I had made yesterday.

The train price was high, but faster than bus and I missed the rush hour. Soon I was back home, tramping Glasgow rain. It was so great to see my friends. They’re like my big brothers and sister. Great music too. We might have our first gig next month!

The owner of the studio we practiced in tonight must think I’m really goofy. I managed to get a cymbal stuck solid on a stand and lock myself out of the sound-proofed studio. Tapping on the door and shouting at my friends through the window in it did not work. He must have heard me and came upstairs from his office to let me back in. 

My friends gave me a lift home. My parents were on holiday, leaving an empty house. They left me a note on the table sending their love and saying that I could eat anything in the house I wanted, including the elderly, apologetically sagging pineapple beside the note. A week at home with no one to complain about noise levels or evict me from my drums in the attic. Heaven.

Saturday 27th September- The Teenage Years begin

I did not want to get out of bed.

It’s harder to get to sleep since I moved here, and also harder to wake up. My curtains really keep out the light and my new bed is like a big bean bag- getting out of it is difficult, and then you realise that you don’t want to.

Maybe it’s my furniture’s fault, or it could be the start of my teenage years. The Retained Reflexes I had caused Delayed Development. Now that the Retained Reflexes are gone, thanks to therapy from The Movement and Learning Centre Scotland, I’ve been catching up with my age group quick. Auditory Processing Disorder also kept me lagging behind socially. After Johansen IAS therapy, auditory processing is only a difficult area for me, and I can hear as clearly as almost anyone. Over the past few years I’ve learned a whole load of new social skills I missed early on.  

Last night was exceptionally late by my standards, but something I’ve noticed over the past few months is my difficulty/reluctance to get up on time. It’s as if I’m living out the jetlagged teenage years. I had some insomnia when I was a teenager, but this felt much more normal and healthy. Without the adrenaline jag of a Retained Moro Reflex, it’s so easy to go back to snoozing even if you’re going to be late. My anxious, too-serious, adrenalized past-self is long gone. Who cares if I’m five minutes late? It’s not the end of the world. And if it is, Armageddon can wait. I’ll sleep through it.

Today was a university music jam. I was really looking forwards to it. A chance to play drums! Again, like wind band, I just dived in without thinking about it much. Have I played in front of people before? Yep. Once. Have I ever played drums for a jam? Besides with my bandmates in Glasgow, nope.

Before the music jam, I bought some work boots for gardening. The salesman was very keen, referring to the shoe in his hand as “he” and telling my all about him. Good boots and good prices, despite the shop being a little eccentric.

The jam…..A really brilliant drummer I met was there too. He can play anything and has tons of drum experience. I asked him about some stuff, and he taught me a double pedal exercise. Unfortunately for the first hour, there was no key for the drum kit. We played on the tables, which was fun, but there’s only so much you can do with a table.

We got drums from the cupboard. The other drummer played amazingly, then I had a go. The musicians seemed to want me to start with a rhythm. I had no idea what to play. I’m still really not used to leading music. I ended up playing very similar stuff. In the middle I kind of freaked out a bit and froze, making for a very awkward jam. I couldn’t think of what to play, and they had to play without me for a bit. I got lost again and handed sticks back to other drummer. It didn’t help that seat was so high my feet barely reached the pedals, but I can’t blame the kit for my performance. Not much anyway. I did my best. For my amount (lack of) experience I did okay. I love drumming, and am again faced with the fact that I still have a long way to go to become a good drummer. Yes, it had its embarrassing, awkward, ego-shrivelling moments, but I want to be at the next jam. I want to be the best drummer I can be, and that means working my way up from the beginning.


Monday 15th September- Day 8 of Student Life- I’m 20.

At 13 you’re a teenager.

At 15, you’re slightly taller and more of a handful for your parents than when you were 14.

At 16 you can change your name to absolutely anything you like, and have adult sleepovers. In some countries you can drive cars and buy firearms.

At 17 you can join the army.

At 18, you are officially an adult, expected to act more responsibly, and now eligible for state-paid concrete-land holidays should you deserve it. Oh yes, and you can finally drink. I feel like the people in charge may have got their priorities mixed-up.

19 is like another year of being 18, woohoo!

I am now 20 years old. 20 is between 19 and 21. I was disappointed that my teenage blackheads didn’t magically disappear overnight, but I don’t feel like I want to be too close to the responsible grown-up age of 21 either.

When I came back to the flat, my flatmates had made a sign and got me a cake. They are amazing.

Tonight I went to a class run by Edinburgh Drum Society. The drum leaders have a great sense of humour. We were all crammed into one wee room. African drumming was great! It got really loud and part of the plaster on the ceiling broke off and nearly fell on someone. My hands hurt at the end, but I had so much fun! I hope I can make it every week.

Fishfinger Sandwiches for dinner again. Freshers Week is over. My course starts tomorrow.

Wednesday 10th September- Day 3 of Student Life- Wind Band tryout

After some course-related paperwork in the morning, I went to the Societies Fair with some of my flatmates.

A Societies Fair is where you can sign up to join a huge range of activities. About one hundred choices, ranging from the Tea-appreciation society to the Cheese society, Pole-dancing society and the Anarchist Society. I joined mostly music societies, one of them being a Wind Band. Their first rehearsal of the year is tonight.

At Wind Band, my Auditory Processing Difficulties were not a problem, in the past, before Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation therapy, I had found it difficult to hear conductors’ instructions such as what bar number we were starting from. In fact, this was the first time I had played in a wind band since my hearing was fixed. However, tonight I  had other things to worry about.

When I signed up to Wind Band, I hadn’t thought things through. All that had computed with me was that I would have the chance to play on an acoustic drum kit. I missed my drums back home in Glasgow and my electric kit was still in pieces in IKEA bags in my new room. Already playing that acoustic kit in my mind, I hadn’t even considered some important things such as:

  • I haven’t played in a wind band in about five years
  • I have never played drums in a wind band or with a conductor before
  • I have been playing drums less than a year and a half
  • Rock, punk and metal drumming will not be helpful in a wind band
  • I have never played drums in front of anyone besides my mum (when my times up and she wants to use the attic computer) and my bandmates (in our cosy little studio room)

I arrived, I was enthusiastic, and I didn’t know how to put a drum kit together from pieces. Luckily the percussion section were much more cluefull than me and we were soon set up.

My first attempt at playing drums in front of sixty people went badly. I couldn’t read the music because it was on two lines instead of a music stave. I had to stop before I’d started and one of the other drummers took over. He played it perfectly.

Standing around not sure what to do, something else dawned on me. Oh yeah, I’ve never played percussion either.

That’s when they gave me the hand-cymbal part to Liberty March.

Hand cymbals are huge, hand-held cymbals which you slam together in a specified rhythm. For most of Liberty March, you slam them together every second beat. Slamming is really fun until your arms get tired. Halfway through the piece, I began to slam gradually more slowly. If I were on triangle duty, I would have got off scot-free, but unfortunately, I was the loudest thing in the room.

Somehow we got through to the end of Liberty March. Now I was on triangle duty.

The percussion section were lovely. They were supportive of my lack of ability and tried to make me feel better. Their great sense of humour and carefree attitude cheered me up a bit. At first I had felt like crying with frustration, but now I saw the funny side of my situation- I was a talented music school-trained flautist, choosing to play very badly in the percussion section.

After a slightly disastrous first attempt at playing a rack of long, silver tubes (which had beautiful colours) I had a chance to go back on the drums. I had a lot to live up to. The other two drummers were very talented. The not only kept time with the conductor, but also improvised parts of the music while sight-reading. And they could do rolls on the snare, which I envied.

The chosen piece was YMCA. It is not hard, but I had never played in front of a crowd, let alone sight-read. I enthusiastically hammered out a messy, out of time beat, struggling to follow then conductor and read at the same time. I had forgotten whether arms up or arms down signalled the first beat in a bar. I was so nervous, I probably tried both just to be sure.

I feel like the conductor might be glad to see the back of me after that.

Probably looking very sheepish by now, the lovely percussion people gave me coconuts to play, and fairly easy-looking coconut notation. Coconuts are a percussion instrument I had only ever seen in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. I was excited to try them. This went okay. Coconuts were fun and about my level. Matte-White, circular sounds, the size of small balloons, in the air just in front of me.

Rehearsal over, the percussionists told me not to worry, and said I’d learn percussion if I came to rehearsals. I think I might just stick to trying to improve my drum skills on my electric kit back at the flat. I’d like to see them again, but I might not be cut out for Wind Band drumming.

I have the enthusiasm to be a good drummer, but beside the other drummers, who may have been music students, my playing was pathetic in the loudest way possible. I still had fun, but realised that if I want to be as good as those guys I will have to practice, practice, practice. I will. I’d love to be a good drummer.

Packing away my sticks and getting out my helmet for the homewards cycle, I was asked by one of the leaders of wind band, I thing,  if I played any other instruments as well as percussion. I think they saw I was a bit crestfallen about my deafeningly-displayed lack of ability and were trying to make me feel fetter. I said that I didn’t play percussion, this was my first try. I said that I could play flute too. Well, they said, smiling warmly. We take players of all abilities.

The next time I’ll play drums in public will probably be with my bandmates at our first gig. It’s reassuring to think that at least it probably won’t be as bad as tonight.

Wednesday Ist May 2014

My boss kindly allowed me a day to think over his offer of a full-time job. I held out for a part-time job, but was willing to go full-time if there was no part-time option. We discussed this with emails, which was easier and much less stressful than if I had talked to him about it. Talking through writing takes my hearing issues out of the equation. It also means that I can take the time to think over and say what I mean in a way that’s clear to understand. My boss offered me a part-time job and sent me some paperwork to fill out. In the section about anything which could affect your work, I wrote a little about my Auditory Processing Difficulties. I said that my hearing is much clearer than it used to be, but there are still some issues, especially when I’m tired. I told him that I go to lip reading classes to reduce any problems as much as possible.
I have a part-time job, which is ideal for me.

That was a few days back.
Today at work, an adorable golden retriever ten-week old puppy stole my glove when I took it off to pet him, and ran away around the garden, chewing it. He thought that it was the best toy ever. Eventually he ran into the house and his owner caught him and gave me my glove back.
After the morning it was really wet and cold. Miserable working in that weather. We did some lawns. In a big garden, having my first shot at a diesel lawnmower, I got funny stares from the builders also working there. My supervisor said that they’d asked him if I was his lass. When they said it must be rubbish working with a girl, he said no it’s really good actually. As well as a cheerful, patient supervisor, he’s a really good person. And a brilliant drummer. By amazing coincidence, it turned out that all the supervisors at the gardening company play drums! Every gardener there seems to play some kind of instrument. My supervisor today played drums in a pretty major band. Earlier this week he gave me some sticks, and he’s always happy to help when I pick his brains for drum advice. I get home from work tired and aching after a long day, but the people I work with make it more fun.