I Drum, Therefore I Am: Being and Becoming a Drummer, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

I Drum, Therefore I Am

Being and Becoming a Drummer, 1st Edition

By Gareth Dylan Smith


228 pages

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Despite their central role in many forms of music-making, drummers have been largely neglected in the scholarly literature on music and education. But kit drummers are increasingly difficult to ignore. While exponents of the drum kit are frequently mocked in popular culture, they are also widely acknowledged to be central to the musical success and aesthetic appeal of any musical ensemble in which they are found. Drummers are also making their presence felt in music education, with increasing opportunities to learn their craft in formal contexts. Drawing on data collected from in-depth interviews and questionnaires, Gareth Dylan Smith explores the identities, practices and learning of teenage and adult kit drummers in and around London. As a London-based drummer and teacher of drummers, Smith uses his own identity as participant-researcher to inform and interpret other drummers' accounts of their experiences. Drummers learn in multi-modal ways, usually with a keen awareness of exemplars of their art and craft. The world of kit drumming is highly masculine, which presents opportunities and challenges to drummers of both sexes. Smith proposes a new model of the 'Snowball Self', which incorporates the constructs of identity realization, learning realization, meta-identities and contextual identities. Kit drummers' identities, practices and learning are found to be intertwined, as drummers exist in a web of interdependence. Drummers drum; therefore they are, they do, and they learn - in a rich tapestry of means and contexts.


'Recommended.' Choice ’This is one of those rare books which is at once scholarly, penetrating and insightful, whilst being highly entertaining and at times extremely funny. It's a joy to read.’ Lucy Green, University of London, UK ’This work will likely be considered Opus 1 by the world’s emerging king of popular music pedagogy.’ Clint Randles, University of South Florida, USA ’Gareth Dylan Smith is the perfect candidate to tell the story of who we are as drummers and why we drum in the first place.’ Pete Fairclough, jazz drummer and teacher at LIPA, UK ’Smith has demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement’. Matt Brennan, University of Edinburgh, UK ’This is an important, serious and very well considered study of what it is like to be a drummer. All the topics that Smith covers are interesting and relevant to players and educators alike … I hope he continues his study into what makes us tick!’ Toby Goodman, drummer, percussionist and teacher 'As drumming is such a primal, ancient form of music making it is fantastic to finally have a book that focuses on how important it is to the identity and lives of drummers. This will be a valuable resource for people within music education and I wish it had been available when conducting my own research. The chapter on gender is particularly relevant to changes taking place in the way we see gender and sex in instrument choice and popular music.' Gemma Hill, drummer, writer and teacher 'Gareth Dylan Smith […] also known as Dr. Drums, has turned an in depth study on drumming and identity into a compelling, informative, and entertaining read… Smith seamlessly mixes scholarship, analysis, and expert storytelling to profile the identities of the participating drummers and illuminate the myriad ways in which drummers learn to drum, or more profoundly, learn to think like or to be like drummers… Smith’s considerable wit and personal affinity for the subject matter make for a particularl

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword; Preface; ’I drum, therefore I am’?; The snowball self; Learning to play drums; The snowball self in motion; A part and yet apart; Ethnicity and cultural heritage; Gender and drumming; Conclusions; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Gareth Dylan Smith is a drummer, teacher and scholar based in London, England. He plays mostly rock, punk, folk, blues and musical theatre, and has performed, taught and presented his research on four continents. Gareth writes for DrDrumsBlog.com and is Editor at SUS Music. In his 41-year career, Bill Bruford, who has generously provided the Foreword to this volume, has played with Yes, King Crimson and Genesis, as well has his own groups, Bruford and Earthwords. Bruford retired from public performance in 2009, but he continues to be active as a speaker and lecturer.

About the Series

SEMPRE Studies in The Psychology of Music

The theme for the series is the psychology of music, broadly defined. Topics include (i) musical development at different ages, (ii) exceptional musical development in the context of special educational needs, (iii) musical cognition and context, (iv) culture, mind and music, (v) micro to macro perspectives on the impact of music on the individual (from neurological studies through to social psychology), (vi) the development of advanced performance skills and (vii) affective perspectives on musical learning. The series presents the implications of research findings for a wide readership, including user-groups (music teachers, policy makers, parents) as well as the international academic and research communities. This expansive embrace, in terms of both subject matter and intended audience (drawing on basic and applied research from across the globe), is the distinguishing feature of the series, and it serves SEMPRE’s distinctive mission, which is to promote and ensure coherent and symbiotic links between education, music and psychology research.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Musical Instruments / Percussion