A little over 6 months ago we relocated to a wonderful small town nestled in wooded hills. 4 years ago this past November was the last time I played in a worship team. 2 years ago this past September I had brain surgery to remove a tumor that had paralyzed much of my right side. Today I’m praising GOD I am actively playing again!
We finally found a great church where Scripture is preached and the people are wonderful. It felt right the first day we visited and still does 3 months later. Even after my getting involved and being more plugged in than many ever get, it still feels right. Praise GOD!
So yes, I am plugged in and have been on the worship team for 8 weeks now. Playing guitar of course. It’s a good group of people and an unusual amount of talent for such a small congregation. There are almost always things that are less than perfect but not much. Most actually revolve around gear issues, such as earbud monitors that only half the band likes or uses. That’s a huge problem when everyone isn’t hearing everyone else. It’s tough to blend with everyone else if you’re not hearing things right. Count me in on those that do not like it, yet where there are no monitors or amps on stage there’s little choice. Which leads me to another thing I don’t care for, no amps on stage. Oh I ‘get’ the reason. Not everyone is mature enough to realize you can’t have your amp on ’11’ in a small church. The last thing we need is volume wars going on in the worship team.
Fortunately I purchased a Line 6 POD XT Pro a few years back. Long enough ago that I’ve somewhat become familiar with it and have a few sounds. Yet I quickly discovered I needed to add some extreme graphic EQ to my patches due to the harsh and brittle sound of running direct. And that’s using the cabinet simulator. So I’m really not at all happy with my sound right now, but it’s the only option for the time being. It’s currently workable but still not very natural sounding. I’m exploring the idea of getting a used POD HD500X which supposedly has much more natural sounding amp simulation, not to mention a whole lot easier to haul around rather than a small rack and separate MIDI foot controller. Makes me really miss my tube amp and pedals!
Reflecting back briefly at 2 1/2 years ago, a brain tumor had made my entire right leg paralyzed. Literally. No muscles would respond to any attempt to make them move. It was like hauling around a sack of potatoes hanging from your hip. This of course makes playing guitar (with all the pedals) practically impossible. But playing drums as I would do from time to time in the previous worship team was truly impossible. Then it started in my right hand and began moving up my arm. I could no longer write. I could no longer strum a guitar with any hope of being in time. My music days were over.
30 hours after exiting the operating room GOD granted me movement again in my right side! I had muscle atrophy, but I could write and walk again. Not real well at first but it quickly improved to where within a week or so it seemed like all but 5% was back. It was that last 5% that’s been dogging me since. But I’ll happily accept it. It’s a small trade-off compared to being literally paralyzed.
It’s in that 5% where being able to play arpeggios on a guitar lies. It’s also where some timing lies. I’ve discovered that as I play more, now that I have a reason to play all the time again, that 5% might be down to 4% now. Timing issues still remain where every now and then I have a split second where the brain signal doesn’t quite reach my right limbs. It’s aggravating but I’ve learned to play through it and press on. Arpeggios I’ve been working on and it has slowly improved but I can see it’s going to be a long uphill battle to get it back. I’m not saying I won’t, but I’ve accepted I might now. That’s okay because I can still play most things.
This past Sunday I took another personal leap forward musically. Since my surgery I had not had the opportunity to try playing drums again. I wasn’t fully sure I could, not knowing how that 4% might affect the all-too-crucial bass drum leg. The test was suddenly upon me this past week as our drummer was going to be MIA. I went in and tested the waters on Monday and to my relief and surprise things seemed okay. R-U-S-T-Y but okay. Rehearsal Wednesday went pretty well and then another rehearsal and the service yesterday went very well. I had a few split second timing breaks as with playing guitar but nothing I couldn’t push through and cover up well enough. In some ways I wonder if playing drums might be good therapy for getting some of that remaining 4% back. I might try to do so regularly to see. More importantly, I can still play albeit not perfectly or even as well I once was able to some 40 years ago, but it was fun to play drums again.
While I’ll never be a king, it’s nice to be back on the (drummers) throne again.