Boost progress through your strengths

This is a personal experience on how capitalizing on strengths helped me pick up a new art form.

I have the natural ability to pick up rhythms in my mind, whether it is about catching on a new song or recollect it again through memory. Like a lot of children, I had a knack of finger drumming on tables or similar surfaces. From there started my keen interest in wanting to learn to play the drum kit.

I took my first classes when I was in college, but I joined a cheap class and obviously ended up wasting a lot of time without picking up anything. A few years down, once I settled down with a job, I joined a music college with a quarterly enrolment. Excited, I started picking up on some of the basic hand patterns. A few weeks down, I realized that the legs are a vital part of playing this instrument and weren’t coping up as fast as my hands. It was quite obvious because I’d been keeping my fingers subconsciously trained since I was a child. Unfortunately, I couldn’t move on with classes for long since I had to travel for work. I enrolled again the next quarter, but again, it lasted only a week before I had to travel againg. As luck would have had it, it happened for a third time when my instructor laughed.

I changed course and invested in a drum kit and online lessons, so that I could learn from home after work. I’m a restless guy and seek quick learning and so I couldn’t keep with the mundane practice for over a couple of months. I realized that my feet needed a lot of work. After much thought, instead of fighting my weakness, I chose to alter the medium. I chose to try out the cajón. This is an instrument that’s becoming popular in the recent times due to it’s versatility in sounds and ease of use. Voilà! Things started to work very well. This instrument is predominantly played by hand and I was able to naturally pick up a lot of things. With the help of youtube and some online videos, I was on my way to confidently playing in a little fun band.

Switching from the drum kit to the cajón was a key turning point because it capitalized on my strengths and sped up my learning pace, so that it gave me the sense of satisfaction and progress, and also the eagerness to learn further.

I’ve expanded my cajon setup to include more accessories that will help me use my legs as well. I’m confident that by continuing in this direction, I may at some point also be able to naturally get back to the drum kit and play it.

From that point, I wanted to tryout programming rhythms digitally, and so I expanded my DJ console setup. Having the natural ability to process rhythms in my mind, I was able to quickly pick this one up. One thing led to the other and I started exploring electronic music production. Since this was a niche field, I had to enrol for an online course with a University to speed up my learning. Thanks to e-learning platforms, it hardly felt like I was missing something that’s not available in my country.

Today, as a hobbyist musician, I play live percussion, compose amateur electronic music and also DJ at parties. The key although was the moment of switching instruments that made me realize that each one of us is unique and we will have to look inside ourselves to find out what is it that we can do best!

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