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While on, what I call a drumming sabbatical, in 2005. I traveled four to five hours by bus every month from Berlin, NH to Boston, MA to study with legendary drummer Kenwood Dennard.
The hour-long events turned out to be MUCH more than just lessons on how to become a better drummer. Kenwood is a highly spiritual individual who views drumming, and the world around him, in a very metaphysical way. After each lesson, I would ride home for four hours in a state of intellectual brain drain.
After reviewing my homework from our first interaction during our second lesson, he explained his grading system something like this.
If you prepare accordingly and nail the parts, I will give you a 90. If you prepare accordingly but present the material in a new unique way, say use your feet instead of your hands. I will give you a 95. The only way you will get 100% is if President Bush calls me up and says. “Jeremy’s drumming was so good that I am pulling the troops out of Iraq and declaring world peace.”
At the surface, Kenwood’s grading system seems comical, but I assure you it is not. Rather, it is an important life lesson – you ALWAYS have room for improvement and you should be striving to better yourself every day.
I have carried that lesson with me across oceans and careers. I pushed myself as a drummer bettering my technique, knowledge of music, and reading ability even writing my own book in the process. And while I no longer drum professionally, I still hit the kit six to seven days a week working on these skills.
As for my career as an entertainment and venue manager, I continue to study. I read books on everything from leadership to sociology, marketing, management, and finance every day. I watch YouTube videos on stage design, rigging, sound, and lighting among other subjects. I use LinkedIn’s premium service to study new skills in areas such as Machine Learning, Tableau, and Executive Leadership. I even spend ten to thirty minutes a day learning Spanish.
It was reported that when one of the greatest leaders of our time, President Theodore Roosevelt passed away. They found a book under his pillow. A man who is the only president to receive both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor was still learning up until his last breath. While I would NEVER compare myself to Teddy, I encourage those reading this to not dismiss the power of being a lifelong learner. You may not change the course of history as he did. However, you WILL change the course of your life.