I’m no mathematician, but here’s a simple equation for you:
Dream + (Determination x Doing) = Dominance
I went to a concert last night that was sponsored by the Jazz Legacy Foundation. Some heavy hitters represented: El Debarge proved that, though he has aged and has lived a hard life, he has lost nothing in his amazing voice and Gerald Albright raised the roof. However, the last performance was from Brian Culbertson and his band. They. Cut. A. FOOL!!!
Okay, okay, so I am a bit biased, because my brother, Chris Miskel, is the music coordinator and drummer for the group. But that gives me some insight. It wasn’t my first time seeing the animated Culbertson work the stage with several instruments, playing the keys upside down at points, and blessing the audience with his unique amalgamation of Smooth Jazz and Funk. AWESOME show.
Whenever my brother plays and I am in a nearby city, I go see him do his thing. What’s cool is that Chris has been drumming out beats since he could pick up sticks. When we were little, it was typically a pair of pencils or chopsticks, and he was banging on pots, pans, oatmeal boxes, and the oven door–whatever he could get his sticks on. So, before he was able to form a proper sentence, he was defining who he was to be.
Lesson #1: If you dare to dream it, you can be it.
Before they hit the stage, a friend of mine and I ran into my brother in the lobby. He was holding court, sharing some laughs with fellow musicians. When my buddy asked Chris how it felt to be touring and playing for a living, he remarked, “I love it. I don’t know anything else!”
When we were coming up in church, many folks doubted Chris could ever play. There was an unofficial heirarchy, at which my older godbrother, Reggie, sat at the apex. Years later, Reggie would play sideman to famous artists who blew through town. Everybody marveled at his talent and the line formed to the left with young boys who wanted to learn to play. Chris was the youngest and smallest of them, and was therefore underestimated. However, he was patient. He sat next to Reggie on the drum kit every church service (and believe me, there was a lot of services!), mimicking his movements. Reggie saw in Chris a young protege and mentored him. Eventually, Chris would outlast the other hangers-on and became a lead drummer at several churches.
When Chris came to adulthood, he continued to lend his talents to various choirs, churches, and groups. He gigged at bars and clubs, playing everything from R&B to Jazz to Hard Rock. There was nothing he couldn’t do behind a drum kit. Though he had to work a dead-end job to pay his bills, he invested in continuing to hone his craft and build his reputation. He constantly said he was going to play for a living. He eventually did.
Lesson #2: Dogged determination is not just in the conceptualizing, but in the doing. Make your dream a priority and give feet to your faith.
Chris’s words came true. He lives a life of which many could only dream: he tours, exercising his passion. He is lauded as one of the best in his field. He is respected by his fellow drummers.
Lesson #3: Once you have had the audacity to dream it, then put your dreams to work, dominance in your chosen field is sure to follow. Be caught honing your craft while the other guy sleeps.
Chris Miskel is sponsored by and exclusively uses Vic Firth sticks and Pearl drums.