The answer is complex. The quick answer is no you cannot, the way I play is a result of my unique collection of skills and life experiences revealing itself in a 30 second jazz performance. But as a teacher this is not a helpful answer.
Let me try again.
The development of musicianship is a lifelong journey. You are a hobbyist. Best strategy? Like a middle age marathon runner, run against yourself. Comparing yourself against Kenyan runner Wilson Kipsang is going to be disheartening. Comparing yourself against pianist Lang Lang ditto.
The good news?
We can all improve with systematic disciplined effort over a sustained period.
Let’s break it down what this effort will entail.
Musicianship includes technical skill on an instrument, artistic vision, deep knowledge of repertoire, sight reading skills, aural skills, and applied theory. For the 21st century throw in composition and improvisation as core elements. If you want to play with others add ensemble skills. These are common elements regardless of your preferred idiom: Classical, Jazz, Electronica, Country, etc.
- Learn to play
- Learn theory
- Find others to learn with
- Regularly attend concerts
- Be very patient
Maybe you can learn from my journey.
- In my forties I took up the study of classical piano. I earned my Level 10 piano and then I sat for the ARCT. I put in 5000 hours in 4 years. I worked at it 3 to 4 hours a day, sometimes more, rarely less. I was already professional commercial pianist. It was transformational and personal triumph. I had spent many years in my early thirties recovering from a career threatening injury. In my fifties I took up the drums from essentially scratch. (a hundred hours banging in high school hardly counted) I’m now about 5,000 hours in on drums over a 10-year period. About every 100 hours or so I notice improvements. I’ll reach 10,000 hours in another 14 years at age 74 if I continue practice as I have, and my body holds up.
- You’ll need more than one teacher. As a drummer every summer I seek out world class players to study with.
- (If you have the time, money and inclination I can prepare you for university or college studies. Really. Over the years many adults have got their music together and auditioned successfully and gone on to complete their music degrees. Mostly and McMaster and York University.)
- My current drum studies include repertoire, etudes, sight-reading, ear training, and technique. I’ve deeply studied how to learn the drums from books, interviews, podcasts, and personal interactions with great drummers. My best guess this equals time spent in the practice studio. I seek all opportunities to play with others who are more skilled and experienced than myself. I watch a lot of video, I see at least one drummer a week perform live, I read drum magazines, you get the picture.
- I belong to the following communities: Jazz, improvisation, piano teacher, and small business communities. I identify as a jazz drummer and classical/jazz piano teacher.
Now back to you...
- You’ll need to know what we are all talking about. Don’t let anyone convince you that theory is boring or difficult. It’s easier than learning to drive a car. It will make everything more understandable and will help you sight read with greater efficiency and ease.
- You need a community. Connecting with others will be very supportive. I’ve attended workshops around the world. What a blast to meet others on the same journey.
- Consider playing with other adults in recitals and workshops.
- Seek inspiration through concert attendance of classical and jazz masters.
- What is great music? Music played by professionals that is nuanced, sophisticated, and displays a high degree of manual dexterity and refinement. Think Olympic athlete, not YouTube sensation. I dare say every genre of music imbodies these ideals at it’s highest levels. But you may have to look for it. What can help? Learning to play well yourself. I can now tell a great drummer from a good drummer. It took me years though.
Though I’ve not arrived any destination after nearly 50 years of practicing, performing, and teaching, I’m not where I started either. And, importantly, I’m still enthusiastically at it.