My friend Patrick and I go back, way back, basically to first grade. I think it was in Mr. Yurgolese’s sixth grade class that I got to be pretty good friends with Patrick. Patrick and I were very different types of kids. I was shy, sensitive and very serious minded. Patrick, on the other hand, was bold, outspoken, and very outgoing. We had a great common bond though. Modesty aside, we were both incredibly talented drummers.
I think it was in the eighth grade that Patrick invited me over to his house to show me his drum set and to play the drums for me. Unique to Patrick’s drumming style was that Patrick played a driving bass drum, played very loud, and kept a cut-time fast beat. One of Patrick’s tricks, to getting a louder sound from hitting the drums, was to hold his drum sticks backwards. When I saw Patrick use this technique, it really impressed me.
I remember that I couldn’t wait to get home to try out “Patrick’s Drum Trick” of holding the drum sticks backwards to get a louder sound from the snare, tom-tom, and bass tom-tom drums. My dad didn’t dig this new way of playing the drums.
I remember Dad coming into my bedroom, while I was playing on my drum set using “Patrick’s Drum Trick.” Dad had this definitive look of disapproval. Short and sweet, dear old dad told me, “Richie, I don’t want the neighbors calling the cops on us.” Well, that solved that. I got the message loud and clear, so I refrained from using “Patrick’s Drum Trick” while playing the drums in my bedroom.
When I got to high school, I joined the marching band. We played at all the football games, for the half-time show. Also, the drummers would provide the rhythm and cadence for the cheers shouted out by the cute cheerleaders, who would always station themselves in front of the stadium rafters, where the band was located.
I remember this moment very well. Here I was a freshman, new kid on the block, and I suggested to the Drum Sergeant that the drummers should use “Patrick’s Drum Trick” when playing the cadence and rhythm for the cheerleaders’ cheers. That went over like a lead balloon. I remember I got an answer, from the Drum Sergeant who was a senior, something like, “yea, right kid. Like I’m gonna take the advice from a little freshman.”
Well, low and behold, my dear Drum Sergeant must have really considered my idea of using “Patrick’s Drum Trick,” because the very next week she told all of us drummers to hold our drum sticks backwards, when we played the cadence to the cheerleaders’ cheers.
I remember this one cheer very well, it went like this: “Can you beat that Bomber team? Heck no!” Well, most of the time everyone yelled another word than “heck,” but I want to keep this blog family oriented. Well, when we played the back up drum cadence to this cheer, it added a whole new dimension of volume. The effect was phenomenal!
I played the drums throughout all four years of high school. And, I remember that all four years, we used “Patrick’s Drum Trick!” To this day, I don’t think I ever told Patrick the profound effect that his method of playing the drums had upon the entire drum rank. Or, for that matter, upon the entire process involved in rallying the folks in the stadium to cheer louder.
Here I am, over four decades later, thinking that I never thanked Patrick for showing me his cool drum trick. My dad used to tell me that it’s never too late to say thank you to someone. So, Patrick, thank you my good man! And, Patrick, this blog’s for you!