It is true that there are times when I feel discouraged by the fact that my skills on the drum are so limited.
After playing at Black Rep for a couple of songs on Friday night, I felt humbled. Playing to house music is a completely different skill than playing an African rhythm, and I felt like I wasn't really getting the beat... and wasn't finding a groove to play against it.
Yesterday I downloaded a few tunes from the Afro-Sonic blog to practice with and spent the morning trying to improvise to them. Then, I got out my metronome and practiced my Mendiani rhythms at different, faster, speeds. In both cases I was acutely aware of that gap I was talking about awhile ago: The difference between where I AM and where I want to be as a player.
But last night in class, I played really well. I was very focused, totally owning the rhythms... even the third solo that has been keeping me up nights. And the piece de resistance was that Sidy taught us a very complex 4th solo... and while I don't have the swing of it yet, I am pretty sure I remember the gist of the handing, which is, in itself, huge. I came home and started practicing it right away so that I wouldn't forget it.
I said to Sidy afterwards
"I do NOT suck."
But I wasn't telling him that. I think he already knows that. I think I was telling myself.