Steve Van Valin, Founder and CEO at Culturology
As a fourth grader, my heart didn’t thump very much when I took piano lessons. If fact, it was more like a lump in my throat at the very thought of entering the gothic mansion of Mrs. Rhadspinner, the finest piano teacher in Williamsport, PA. I’d sit in her old fashion parlor room like a prisoner on death row waiting my turn and 30 minutes of proper instruction on her Bible black Steinway. I played ever so inspiring tunes like Turkey in the Straw till my little fingers hurt.
I hated every minute of it. Her metronome was like a mini guillotine swinging mockingly in a perfect rhythm while my cheeks turned red with every mistake. She was a nice older women of a proper generation – the kind you’ve only seen in movies, unless you’re my age. Mrs. Rhadspinner did the very best she could with me as her young hostage. She knew that I knew that she knew, I just wasn’t into it.
My parents were insistent that the piano was the smartest instrument to play because it was so versatile and easy to teach. Once you can play piano and read music, you can supposedly play a host of other instruments. Very logical. Both of my parents were not only accomplished musicians but also sang in church on a regular basis. Even solos. I’d shrink into the pew at the horror and embarrassment of them singing. I really don’t know why, as they were, and still are quite excellent. I guess it seemed like such a vulnerable and naked-like thing to do that I couldn’t handle the extroversion of it all. They wanted me to play piano but knew it was a lost cause.
Have you ever been to a high school or college football game near the sideline when the band marches by closely? Or, maybe it was a parade in your hometown? It’s pretty impressive, and oh so loud. Then, the drum section goes by, and the concussion of the deep bass drum rattles your molars while the snare drum adjusts your spine.
When the Loyalsock Township HS marching band went by, I knew once and for all what literally and figuratively made my heart thump.
“Hey, Mom… I wanna play the drums!” How awesome are my parents that two weeks later I was taking my first drum lesson? Grandma and Grandpa Van bought me a silver and blue drum kit a few weeks later. I have great esteem for any parent who lets their kid play a drum set in their house. They are true sufferers for art’s sake. I don’t know how they put up with it since it practically vibrated the dishes out of the cabinets.
I had found my thump in more ways than one. I played the drums through grade school, high school, college, my first apartment (neighbors hated me), first house, and even today more than ever. I graced many bands… good, average, and downright hopeless. The band names over the years give away the eras of my life. It was always the most fun to name the band. After all, you weren’t really a band unless you had a name. “What’s the name of your band?” is always the first question anyone asks when you say you’re in a band. I think I remember most of them: Blitz (everyone’s first band was named Blitz), Lock Ness (during the Big Foot and UFO era), Hot Knife, Sky Shadow (eww wow man), Funk Shway (always liked that one), The Other White Meat (during the Pork era no doubt), Stifler’s Mom (don’t ask), Carburetor, Bar Stool Prophets, Heavy Dude-ee, and Bad Daddy (autobiographical for sure).
Any suggestions for the next band name – please let me know.
I can’t play one lick on the piano now, but I can definitely play the drums better than ever. It starts with knowing what makes you jump out of your skin – something that literally moves you. That starts a lifelong passion.
Life is too short to sit in Mrs. Rhadspinner’s parlor like a shrinking violet destined for mediocrity and Turkey in the Straw. If you’re not feeling the thump, don’t wait for the band to march on by.
Hopefully, you’re working with some of the smartest, coolest, and most passionate people on the planet and for a company that wants you to thrive. Grab your drumsticks, or whatever that represents for you, and beat the drum like the rock star you are.