As a drummer, the first thing I tend to notice about songs is their beat.
I don’t have a specific genre of music that I like more than others. Sure, there’s always death metal (I don’t know what they’re singing about) and country (that’s an area, not a genre). But these aside, I’ll listen to just about any artist with something that gets me thinking or head-bobbing.
Most of all, regardless of genre, I love and appreciate any band with a drummer that plays what’s right for the song.
You could practice for years and become the most complex, intricate drummer in the world, but that wouldn’t make you better in a band, particularly that band. The best drummers play the right beat, not always everything that’s within their potential. They choose to restrain to a level of simplicity that makes sense considering what the rest of the band is playing.
I’m sure this applies to more in life than percussion.
Consider the elderly retail employee who has previously worked for decades in clock repair. If a customer drops a clock on the sales floor and breaks the internal mechanism, what’s right for the man to do is clean it up and get a new one. His years of experience give him higher potential in this situation, but his circumstances demand something particular to happen–getting the customer a working clock the fastest way possible.
Or the storied professor who is training two kids under the age of five. The enormity of his philosophical knowledge would be lost on his daughter trying to learn to count. It is best for him to put aside this wisdom and actually teach her.
The drummer, the clock repairman, and the professor can often do more than they are doing. This neither limits their virtue nor prohibits them from growing in their expertise. It is simply important to not believe everything hinges on those skills.
Sometimes it’s more useful to ignore your full potential. You may not need to become an expert at everything to be great at something.
Don’t let what is possible cloud your sense of what is right.
(Heads up! On April 1st, my blog will be moving to http://palf.co)