I feel like a metronome. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…the time signature rattles through my head. My left foot is tapping on the hi-hat pedal making a metallic click as the pressure sensor underneath the black rubber pad is pushed down. After two full counts the band all starts playing.
The beat I play is a simple one, just to get our bearings straight. A basic jazz swing, played from memory. After a short time the bass and drums connect; clicking to form a groove that flows and changes as one. This is the best part of the jam; this is where the songs are made and where all our individual music chops show. The drumstick becomes an extension of my hand and arm as I become one with the drum set. A feeling of bliss sets in and I am no longer in a dorm room playing instruments with my friends but I am a part of a cohesive whole, playing music for the world to hear, even if they don’t want to.
…a warm feeling drips down my nose. The world of unrivaled beauty is ripped away from me as panic sets in. It feels a bit too warm and a little too watery for comfort. I blink to realize in terror the little droplet of blood is falling towards my exposed snare. Instinctively, my hand darts to catch the falling blood before it can seep its way into the porous electronic drum head.
A half hour passes, and the trash can is full of red stained tissues. I sit, light-headed, and stare into my reddened hands wondering how much blood has been lost for music.
My mind whirls to my first drum kit, sitting on the carpet so littered with sawdust and wood chips that its blue color is lost under a sea of tan. Next to it a trash can, filled with various Band-Aids and broken sticks. I realize I’m sitting on my first throne, the only one I’ve ever broke, staring at my hands with each finger boasting its own callus or blood blister. By all rights I should stop and let my hands heal but instead I keep playing, gritting my teeth a little harder.
I distinctly remember the next day, sitting through algebra and finding it hard to do the worksheet in front of me. Even the slightest bending of my fingers burns as each blister is squeezed close to bursting.
I am back in my dorm now washing my hands clean of the red stain left by my nosebleed. I move about the bathroom and can’t help but think to myself about all the future things that my love of music will do to me. I’ve progressed from popped blisters to nosebleeds, how much more of my blood will a drum set see?
I walk out of the bathroom and take a seat behind the drum kit the thought of blood still racing through my mind. The count begins in my head, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and the hi-hat pedal begins to click before I even realize I’m doing it. All worries go out the window and I begin to feel the internal metronome start once more.
“Wanna pick up where we left off?” I ask.
And the room erupts in noise once more.
Greg Gustafson is a freshman at SUNY Geneseo. He is currently an undeclared major and took creative writing as an elective this year. He has played drums for around seven years now but this remains the first and only nosebleed that he has sustained behind a drum kit and he plans to keep it that way.