How Drumline Can Make You More Successful in Life

Dc header how drumline can make you more successful in life

For some of us, drumline is an activity that we do for fun in a low-pressure environment and a few exhibition performances.

For others, drumline is an activity that we do for fun in a high-pressure environment and a number of competitive performances.

Both are great ways to be involved in the activity, but both have their downfalls if you’re not careful.

You see, if you are in the former camp, it’s easy to let things slide and not feel a sense of urgency to improve.  In the latter camp, it’s easy to get caught up in scores and placements and lose sight of why you’re actually involved in the activity.

No matter what type of environment your drumline operates, I believe the most important thing to value in the activity is the process of improving.

Why it’s Important to Focus on the Process of Improving

There are a lot of interesting things that you can do in the world.

While some individuals stay involved with the marching percussion activity for their entire life, most people move on to other fields for their careers.

Having this foresight gives you the option to do one of two things.  1. You can spend your drumline days getting wrapped up in irrelevant data that won’t make a significant impact in your life 10 years from now or 2. You can focus on the process of improving and develop habits that will make you more successful at whatever you decide to do down the road.

In other words, ten years from now it’s not going to matter whether you got an 89.15 or an 89.20 at a competition.

What will matter is the way you approach people, projects, problems, and life.  All of these things can be dramatically influenced by focusing on the process of improving yourself and your craft in drumline.

Here are a few concepts for you to focus on in drumline that will make a lasting and positive impact on your life:

1) Always Strive for Excellence

No matter what you’re doing, always strive to do it to the best of your abilities.

This can be incredibly hard and is certainly easier said than done.  However, applying this to your rehearsal and preparation practices will make a significant change in your results.

Think about the last season alone.  Were there repetitions that you didn’t perform to the best of your abilities?  Were there times when you didn’t put your instrument away as neatly as you could have?  Were there times when you didn’t march with the proper technique because you were getting tired?

Probably - and you’re not alone, it’s something we all struggle with.

But know that making a genuine effort to do your best at everything you do will make your experience much more rewarding and it will help you grow into a much more successful person.

2) Eagerly Welcome Challenges

Drumline is constantly presents you with challenges.

Whether it’s a rudiment you’ve never played before, a direction change you struggle with, or a technique that you don’t quite understand, we face challenges at rehearsals on a regular basis.

If you approach these challenges with a negative mindset and complain that they’re too hard, you’ll do yourself a disservice by teaching yourself to resist growth.

Instead, if you accept challenges and eagerly welcome them because you know that they’re going to push you and help you get to the next level, you’ll have much more fun working on them as well as train yourself to enjoy the process of growing as a player and a person.

Welcome challenges and be excited about overcoming them because when you do, you’ll be that much better.

3) Work Positively with Everyone

Social skills are critical in any field you decide to work in for a career.

No matter what type of work you do, you will encounter people who you love to work with and you will encounter people who you really dislike working with.

The thing is, even if you are working with someone you dislike, you need to get the job done and you need to do it well.  Learning how to work with all of the different personalities in your drumline during high-pressure situations is a huge opportunity for you to start mastering this skill.

Take advantage of it.

4) Look at the Big Picture

When you first start drumming, you struggle with a lot of things.  But as you develop a consistent practice routine, you become much better over time.

This process is the same process that you will encounter whenever you start learning something new.  

The fact that you’ve gone through it so thoroughly in drumline gives you an opportunity to appreciate it later on in life.  If you’re overwhelmed in a new job, hitting a plateau in an aspect of professional development, or feeling frustrated with the progress of a project, zoom out and look at the big picture.

As you do this, you can draw comparisons to your progression as a drumline member and realize that it’s all part of the process and approach the issue with a fresh perspective.

5) Persevere

When you’re in the middle of a season, it seems ridiculously long.

When it’s over and you’re looking back, it seems ridiculously short.

The same is true with other periods of your life.

Everyone gets to a point throughout the season where they’re feeling burnt out to some degree.  Maybe the weather isn’t great, maybe you didn’t sleep much before a long rehearsal, maybe your fellow section members are in bad moods, maybe you’ve had 12 rehearsals in a row with no performance, maybe you don’t feel like things are getting better, etc.

Whatever the case may be, these conflicts can cause us to want to quit.  After all, what’s the point of doing all that work if it’s not fun or if you don’t want to be there, etc.

The thing is, the vast majority of these conflicts are only temporary and are issues due to the specific circumstances that you’re in at the time.

Keep your head up and continue striving for excellence.

When the season is over, you’ll be glad you stuck with it and you will have learned more about yourself and your true abilities than you previously thought possible.


The marching percussion activity requires a lot of time and effort.  

While becoming a better musician is great, there is more to learn from the activity than just the music.

Being aware of these concepts and making an effort to practice and refine them through the drumline activity can have a profound impact on you in every area of your life.  

Don’t wait to be successful in life.  Start now and use drumline as your training ground.

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Pat McLaughlin

22 April 2014 in Education
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Pat McLaughlin

Pat McLaughlin is the founder of Drumline Chops.  He graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in music education and is currently the percussion director at West Bloomfield High School.