When I first talked to my teacher about buying a drum, I asked him to choose one for me.
The following week, I arrived at class with an empty bag and he had me play a beautiful goatskin djembe for class. Afterwards, he told me it was the one he picked out for me.
It was loud. A beautiful, crisp, gorgeous sound.
"I know you like to play loudly" he said. "So I chose this drum for you."
Even as I write this, there is a cowskin soaking in Sidy's plastic tub, waiting to get mounted on my latest drum shell. It, too, will be a loud drum. Probably even louder than my goatskin.
And then there is the Jeli dun dun. I told Sidy I wanted to buy his. It is a big metal can with tanned goatskin heads. You play it with one hand. In the other is a bell, which you play with an iron ring on your thumb.
Let's face it. When we play, we are expressing ourselves. Our energy. Our enthusiasm. Our joy. For me, that is pretty out there. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a quiet person.
I can be quiet, when necessary. I can sit in silence for long periods, especially when I am at prayer. But my normal 'self' is pretty high energy, which often means high volume.
My teacher knows this about me, and is teaching me to chanel that energy into my drumming.
One of the drum circle facilitators I have encountered has made it clear that I am too loud for his taste. Tonight, I was so worried about it I played badly all night because I was so self concious. It was really a bummer. As I left, he commented on how loud I was. Again.
As I drove home, I decided I probably won't be going back to that drum circle any time soon. It is just too hard to try and be something I am not. It doesn't feel good.