Skip to content

Drumming For Life: They May Be Sitting But Drummers Are Working Their Asses Off.

May 17, 2013

AlexSmithDrummer01smallText by Chesney Davis. Top image by Rick Kauffman. Bottom image by Jenna Spitz.

To be a great drummer, you have to work hard. You have to put up with sore arms and calloused hands from spending hours behind a set every week. You have to be in tune with the audience while performing and sometimes out of tune with any worrisome inner monologue that might trip you up. You have to be brave to put yourself out on display.

You have to turn yourself inside out.

What happens mentally and physically in those moments before and during performances for many drummers is extremely personal.

“Music puts you somewhere else,” says Dr. Lois A. Butcher-Poffley, sports psychologist and assistant professor in the Kinesiology Department at Temple University. “It takes you to a different level.”

A former dancer, Butcher-Poffley often works with musicians on performance quality. She adds that while drumming is an inherently creative medium, it is also very physical.

“There is a fitness component, no question,” she explains. “There is a lot of upper body work. While there is a lot of hitting, there is also a lot of moving across the body. There is spinal motor movement and gross motor movement. You have all limbs going.”

Alex Smith (above), the drummer for Cold Fronts, says, “It’s a total body workout and it can be a mental workout too if you want it to be.”

Smith says the danceable, energetic element of his band’s music is important to him because connecting with dancing audience members helps him find where the beat and tempo fall just right.

“I think about if I was dancing or if someone is dancing to the drumming,” Smith continues, “how would they react or what you would want to feel as a dancer?”ChrisNorrisSmall

In order to achieve the multi-functionality drumming demands,  Butcher-Poffley says a high level of coordination is needed.

This is part of what Christopher Norris — known on stage as “Flood the Drummer” — aimed to teach his students last year at Walter G. Smith Elementary School in the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia.

“What I did was look at how we can raise awareness about the physiological and biological effects of drumming,” Norris says. “How sustained drumming has aerobic effects on the heart. How long, concentrated periods of drumming bring both your left and right brain to synchronization, allowing the human to experience higher levels of human consciousness.”

The self-taught drummer, who has performed with the likes of Herbie Hancock, taught elementary school children how to play the drums using his own non-traditional teaching method. While many drummers learn using sheet music, Norris encouraged his students to take the lead in their own drumming education by creating their own rhythms. He instructed his students to build a paradiddle, a basic drum pattern. His students went on to create their own game mirroring the rhythm using basketballs. They called it “paradribble.”

“It’s interesting that he’s taking it from that perspective and it’s great, because music is fundamental,” says Butcher-Poffley.

She asserts that beat is in all of us.

“You have a beat from the second your heart forms as a fetus,” she continues. “Everybody has that rhythm. Beat is fundamentally derived from heartbeat. All physical skills that we have tend to be rhythmic.”

“Your body tells you a lot of stuff automatically,” affirms Paul Albrecht, a professional drummer and instructor who has performed for 42 years.

Albrecht has arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome but still performs on a regular basis. Although he says his hands hurt most of the time, he keeps drumming.

“Once you’re in the zone, that other shit disappears for a while,” he says.

Butcher-Poffley knows about the zone. Some call it the sweet spot, others call it an altered sense of time. She explains it’s the same euphoric feeling when everything happens as it should.

“Albrecht is so in tune with his body and so in tune with his hands,” says Butcher-Poffley. “And those hands, they know that beat.”

Because he’s in the zone, she says, he doesn’t pay attention to the pain.

“If you don’t keep using your joints,” she adds, “the synovial fluid doesn’t lubricate them. And if you don’t use it, you will lose it. So the fact that he’s still drumming is really good for his hands even though it hurts.”

Tony Rossi, drummer for both Nothing and Hippie Cult, agrees that staying fit helps.

“Even at practice, I’m drenched in sweat,” he says. “So I have to build up my stamina and endurance.”

Rossi says he truly values the mental clarity that 10 years of drumming has given him.

“If I wasn’t a drummer, oh my god, I don’t even want to know who I would be,” he says. “It definitely puts me in the zone, to be organized and focused, and not stressed out about everyday bullshit. I don’t have to think about rent. I don’t have to think about paying bills. I don’t have to think about this person or that person and what’s going on in the world. It’s like this is my time to escape from reality.”



  1. Networking Beyond the Net | FounderSync Network
  2. Grooving Global, Philly Drummer vibes on Canadian Airwaves | FounderSync Network
  3. Philly Drummers Play “DrumPhil” to Inspire Youth
  4. Philadelphia Man Reflects on the Old, Embraces the New.
  5. Award Winning Journalist launches "Color-Coded Techbook." | FounderSync Network
  6. What if Tomayo McDuffy had the Complexion for the Connection?
  7. New to Philly, Tech Firm to add 100 Jobs | FounderSync Network
  8. Racist South Philly Principal Ruins First Day of School for Parent
  9. New ADA assigned to Tomayo McDuffy Case, Lawyer Motions to Dismiss
  10. The Truth about Today’s African-Americans in the U.S
  11. Former NAACP CEO joins Black Male Engagement Initiative | FounderSync Network
  12. Edutainment Emerges as a Trend for Philly Social Entrepreneur | FounderSync Network
  13. Vietnam Veteran Prepares for War against City Government
  14. First-Ever Art Exhibit Opens at WHYY, Tribute to Editorial Cartoonist
  15. Court to Court: Tomayo McDuffy’s Journey for Justice
  16. The Destruction of Edison High Confirms State of Emergency for Veterans in Philadelphia
  17. Black Youth, Promoting Green, Strikes Gold | FounderSync Network
  18. Company Moves to Philly, Brings 100 Jobs | FounderSync Network
  19. Center City Shooting Triggers Conversation on Philly’s Underground Dwellers
  20. A Good Man with a Mighty Good Idea
  21. Enemy Agrees to Meet With Soldiers
  22. Tomayo’s Story: A Teen Bullied by the System
  23. SHUT HAPPENS: Schools, Government and Depressed Tax-Payers.
  24. Activist Launches Online Petition in Support of Wrongfully Accused Teen
  25. 66 year-old Veteran Faces Potential Draft
  26. Black Man Wrongfully Accused, Handcuffed, While Waiting for Amtrak Train
  27. Bolstering STEM: A Citywide Call to Action
  28. BOMBAY AWAY: India’s Entrepreneur Wants to Call Philly Home
  29. Win a Grant for Connecting Millennials to Philly’s Tech Community | FounderSync Network
  30. South Philly Nonprofits Collaborate to Collect Coats
  31. VP Biden Invites Nutter to Tour Panama Canal Expansion
  32. West Philly Emcee Organizes Community’s Voice
  33. Boy Tortured By Tullytown Police Meets with Lawyer, Investigators
  34. Rally Planned for Boy Tortured by PA Cops
  35. Influential Female Leader Provides Youth with Year-Round Culture
  36. Tullytown Teen Taser Victim to speak out LIVE Tonight
  37. Racial Tensions High as Rally for Tasered Teen Draws Near
  38. Mother of Tasered Tullytown Teen Puts Critics to Rest with Latest Reveal
  39. HBCU Launches Effort to Connect, Mobilize Millennial Alumni
  40. Mayor Warns Youth, Parents of Stiff Charges for Random Violence
  41. Black Woman Harassed by Racist Cops While Witnessing Stop and Frisk
  42. World’s Largest Angel Investor Gives Wings to Social Entrepreneurs | FounderSync Network
  43. Climate Change is Real, The Earth Needs Saving
  44. In the Line of Fire, Activists React to Barbaric Gun Violence
  45. Philly Mega Church at the Cliff of Foreclosure calls “Foul Play”
  46. The Philly Drummer Boy: A Carol of Drums — The Good Men Project
  47. Philly’s First Day of Winter Reminds Us of Mother Nature’s Illness
  48. The Key to Surviving and Thriving in Knowledge-based Economy | FounderSync Network
  49. So You Want To Be Starting Something? | FounderSync Network
  50. At South Philly Store, Customers Shop Without-A-Cart
  51. Mind Your Business! | FounderSync Network
  52. Disgraced South Philly Principal Slams Door Closed on Muslim Family
  53. Pastor Explores Mayoral Run, Promises to Be “Best Servant Leader Ever”
  54. Communities Enraged After Black Boy Sexually Assaulted During Stop-and-Frisk
  55. Communities Enraged After Black Boy Sexually Assaulted During Stop-and-Frisk | InnerStanding Isness
  56. Police Oversight Gets Amplified After Teen Injured During Stop-and-Frisk
  57. National Nonprofit Offers Opportunity for Philly’s Millennials to “Do Good”
  58. Seeking Real Reforms, Activist Demands Public Police Arbitrations
  59. Public Police Arbitrations May Soon Be a Reality | Philly in Focus
  60. Civil Rights Leader Weighs In On Accusations against Phila NAACP President | Philly in Focus
  61. Lawmaker Calls for Suspension of Officer Who Ruptured Teen’s Testicles | Philly in Focus
  62. Men Denounce Philly Daily News Article: “It’s Not about Purses” | Philly in Focus
  63. Zimmerman Verdict Cited as Catalyst for Phila NAACP Internal Demise | Philly in Focus
  64. Police Commissioner, D.A announce collective investigation into arrest of Darrin Manning | Philly in Focus
  65. Prior to Handbag Rally, State Committeeman Proposes Private Policing | Philly in Focus
  66. Man Furious over Party’s Endorsement of Candidate for 197th District | Philly in Focus
  67. Despite Developments in Manning Case, Supporters Remain Steadfast | Philly in Focus
  68. Activists Seek to Impeach Philly’s First Black D.A | Philly in Focus
  69. Up in Arms and Against the Law, Communities Fight Back | Philly in Focus
  70. For Darrin Manning, Law School Begins Early | Philly in Focus
  71. Taxpayers Suggest Mayor Nutter Apologize to Black Men and Boys | Philly in Focus
  72. Boy Who Died From South Philly Stabbing Has a Name | Philly in Focus
  73. Top Ph.D Programs Eye Genius Black Boy | Philly in Focus
  74. Black Brotherly Love Gives Birth to Opportunity | Philly in Focus
  75. City Controller: Sale of PGW Equivalent to Selling Philly’s Silverware | Philly in Focus
  76. Feet Forward, Man Helps Save Planet | Philly in Focus
  77. Philly’s Black Politicians: More Show than Tell? | Philly in Focus
  78. Mother Reminds Public Darrin Manning’s A Good, Regular Kid | Philly in Focus
  79. Councilman: Darrin Manning Symptom of a Larger Problem | Philly in Focus
  80. Community Supports Lawmaker’s Call for Police Transparency | Philly in Focus
  81. PGW Sale Unpopular Among Rank & File | Philly in Focus
  82. In Lieu of Mayor’s Apology, Millennial Dreams of Future Libraries | Philly in Focus
  83. Hate Crimes at ASPIRA Olney Charter? | Philly in Focus
  84. Millennials, What Can Philly Do To Keep You? | Philly in Focus
  85. Pulled Off SEPTA, Break Dancers Flip In New Direction | Philly in Focus
  86. He’s a Philly Guy Now and He’s “Doing Good” | Philly in Focus
  87. Marlon Wayans, Minding His Funny Business | Philly in Focus
  88. For Black Men Who Seek Greatness When Doing Good Isn’t Enough | Philly in Focus
  89. Why This Word Will Ultimately Save Your Life | Philly in Focus
  90. What These 4 PA Gubernatorial Candidates All Have in Common | Philly in Focus
  91. This Philadelphian Can’t Sleep Knowing Mattresses Are Resting On the Street | Philly in Focus
  92. Can We Do Something about the 7 Million Dead From Air Pollution? | Philly in Focus
  93. Why the Pope Should Come To Philly and Ignore Its Hierarchy | Philly in Focus
  94. Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Take On Poverty, General Assistance Program | Philly in Focus
  95. Orgs Take Over Twitter for a Great Cause | Philly in Focus
  96. Coming Soon, A Climate Change Deniers Worst Nightmare | Philly in Focus
  97. Why Philly Needs a Commission on Econology | Philly in Focus
  98. Honey, Climate Change is a Bee-Ouch! | Philly in Focus
  99. Why the Murderer of Millions Still Roams Free | Philly in Focus
  100. Climate Change: Why There’s No Time for Discrimination | Philly in Focus
  101. Mother Violently Penetrated While Children Watch | Philly in Focus
  102. Affluenza: Plagued With the Complexion for the Protection | Philly in Focus
  103. How Far Should Policy Go To Ensure Climate Change Adaptation? | Philly in Focus
  104. Post IPCC Report, Phila. Official to Address Climate Change | Philly in Focus
  105. 5 Reasons You Should Give a Frack about Climate Change | Philly in Focus
  106. Former Inmate Remembers Chuck Stone’s Visit | Philly in Focus
  107. Warrior’s Death a Blow to an Already Devastated WWE Fan | Philly in Focus
  108. His Cartoon Will Make You Think Twice About Climate Change | Philly in Focus
  109. What’s Black, Green & Fun all Over? | Philly in Focus
  110. Why People Smiled While Learning About Climate Change & Civics | Philly in Focus
  111. 5 Acronyms Entrepreneurs Can’t Afford To Forget | Philly in Focus
  112. 5 Things Entrepreneurs Need That Money Can’t Buy | Philly in Focus
  113. A new Techbook features millennial’s thoughts as they trip off “E” | Philly in Focus
  114. How Going to the Bathroom Produced a Policy Recommendation for Climate Change Adaptation | Philly in Focus
  115. How a Best Friend’s Suicide Inspired a Mental Health Movement | Philly in Focus
  116. 4 Things I Wished I Learned in Public School & Why | Philly in Focus
  117. These Boys Will Never Forget Meeting the Millennial Who Gets Paid to Think | Philly in Focus
  118. Swimming with Santa: Polar Bears and their Melting Home | Philly in Focus
  119. 3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Watching Wrestling | Philly in Focus
  120. The World’s Classrooms are Teaching Climate Change & Philly’s Schools Can Barely Open its Doors | Philly in Focus
  121. Why Philly’s New Law will make Al Gore Smile | Philly in Focus
  122. Innovation Resides at the Intersection of Imagination & Concern | Philly in Focus
  123. Why Rainfall Could Mean Increased Revenue for Philly | Philly in Focus
  124. What You Need to Know about the House That Blew up on Naudain St | Philly in Focus
  125. What Meek Mill and Darrin Manning Have in Common | Philly in Focus
  126. To the Teacher I Yelled “Suck It” To: I’m Sorry! | Philly in Focus
  127. Why Every Day Felt Like Friday When I Had Substitute Teachers | Philly in Focus
  128. A Condom in a Baby’s Mouth isn’t the only Reason to Laugh at “Neighbors” | Philly in Focus
  129. He Was First on the Ballot Until Corruption Made Him a Write-in Candidate | Philly in Focus
  130. Why the Youth Who Gathered in Love Park Are Changing Philadelphia | Philly in Focus
  131. Two Ways Entrepreneurs Can Avoid Failing Their First Customer | Philly in Focus
  132. New Dr. King Film to Feature Colman Domingo as Ralph Abernathy | Philly in Focus
  133. How America’s First Startup Hopes to Spark the Re-birth of a Nation | Philly in Focus
  134. How This Old Man is Dying and Why You Should Care | Philly in Focus
  135. What a Black Man Really Thinks about Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative | Philly in Focus
  136. The Lies We Tell Black Boys and the Truth They Deserve to Hear | Philly in Focus
  137. Juvenile Charges Are Dropped, Darrin Manning Moves On | Philly in Focus
  138. Why This Millennial Is Running for Office and Isn’t Scared of “The Machine” | Philly in Focus
  139. The Dangerous South Philly School Nobody Knows What to Do With | Philly in Focus
  140. Can WWE’s Vince McMahon Defeat Investor’s Criticism? | Philly in Focus
  141. It’s the 60th Anniversary of Brown v.s BOE and What’s There to Celebrate? | Philly in Focus
  142. Ari Merretazon, the Veteran Who Keeps Making History | Philly in Focus
  143. Why a Vote Won’t Fix Our Schools But a Parent’s Power Can | Philly in Focus
  144. Philly Has its Own Veterans Scandal That Needs to Addressed | Philly in Focus
  145. Hood Disease Validated Academic’s Call for Informed Trauma Care Trainings | Philly in Focus
  146. Hood Disease Is Real; So Will it Be Considered in the Courtroom? | Philly in Focus
  147. Elected Committeeman, a Millennial Plans to Lead by Example | Philly in Focus
  148. Civically Speaking, Philly Has Poor Political Priorities | Philly in Focus
  149. Eyesore Remains Nearly a Month after Schuylkill River Floods | Philly in Focus
  150. Maya Angelou’s Death Resurrects the Barefoot Poet | Philly in Focus
  151. Center City Pizzeria Offers Dollar Slices with Extra Purpose | Philly in Focus
  152. Philly Gives Obama’s Emission Reducing Initiative Green Thumbs Up! | Philly in Focus
  153. How a Millennial Broke a Pizza Purchasing Record and Why You Should Care | Philly in Focus
  154. 4 Questions Entrepreneurs Should Ask Themselves When Launching a Venture. | Philly in Focus
  155. What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From the First Episode of a 80′s Science Fiction Series | Philly in Focus
  156. They Gathered to Remember Chuck Stone’s Joyful Noise | Philly in Focus
  157. Philadelphia Just Did Something For its Students That Every City Should Do | Philly in Focus
  158. How to Get Your Brand to Talk and an Audience to Listen | Philly in Focus
  159. How Millennials Published a Climate Change Comic Techbook | Philly in Focus
  160. Can Philadelphians Afford to Pay for Fresh Air? | Philly in Focus
  161. How Millennials Published a Climate Change Comic Techbook | Phresh Philly
  162. Can Philadelphians Afford to Pay for Fresh Air? | Phresh Philly
  163. That Time a 7 Year-Old Pitched Me His Story | Philly in Focus
  164. How I Built a Culture of Achievement so That I Wouldn’t Be Invisible | Philly in Focus
  165. Why It’s Time for Philly’s Police Commissioner to Consider Retirement | Philly in Focus
  166. Why I Put 10 Years on My Back to Play Show & Tell at Microsoft’s YouthSpark Live | Philly in Focus
  167. Vandals Destroy Black Bottom Memorial Wall, Activists Suggest Drexel U. Restore | Philly in Focus
  168. Why Astro Is More Excited About the Big Picture than the Big Screen | Philly in Focus
  169. How You Can Get Tickets to Screen Octavia Spencer’s New Show | Philly in Focus
  170. What the Star of “The Purge: Anarchy” Had to Say about Guns and Violence | Philly in Focus
  171. Why These Two Millennial Thought Leaders Used Instruments to Teach Entrepreneurship | Philly in Focus
  172. Why Drumming is a Sport | Philly in Focus
  173. Why These Two Millennial Thought Leaders Used Instruments to Teach Entrepreneurship | Phresh Philly
  174. Why Drumming is a Sport
  175. Why an On Demand Digital Content Platform Got a Makeover | Philly in Focus
  176. Why These Are the Golden Days for Green Solutions | Philly in Focus
  177. Why These Are the Golden Days for Green Solutions | Phresh Philly
  178. Making the Three R’s of the Environment Work for Business | Philly in Focus
  179. Making the Three R’s of the Environment Work for Business | Phresh Philly
  180. When Parents Tell Their Kids They Have No Value | Philly in Focus
  181. How a SW Philly Fire That Killed Four Built a Bridge to Peace | Philly in Focus
  182. Why Philadelphia is Ground Zero for Problems and Opportunity | Philly in Focus
  183. The One Thing Every Successful Salesperson Does That Entrepreneurs Must Learn | Philly in Focus
  184. Black Philadelphians and Their Ungodly Fear of Police | Philly in Focus
  185. Why I Can’t Watch the Video of the NYPD Murdering Eric Garner | Philly in Focus
  186. Why Black Mothers Mourned Their Children’s Loss of Life and Liberty | Philly in Focus
  187. Why a News Org is Engaging Civic, Thought and Industry Leaders | Philly in Focus
  188. The Book Inspired By Muhammad Ali and the Author Who Wrote It | Philly in Focus
  189. What Philadelphians Can Watch on Cable That They Couldn’t Before | Philly in Focus
  190. Why Climate Change is Quite the Beefy Problem | Philly in Focus
  191. Why Climate Change is Quite the Beefy Problem | Phresh Philly
  192. Setting Yourself on Fire and Stopping Your Heart…Really? | Philly in Focus
  193. The Significant Change to Philadelphia’s City Council and Why | Philly in Focus
  194. If Police Want Communities to Snitch Shouldn’t They Lead by Example? | Philly in Focus
  195. 5 Hard Questions Philadelphians Should Ask Every 2015 Mayoral Candidate | Philly in Focus
  196. Lawmaker Calls Gov’s Advance to PHL Schools “Smokes & Mirrors” | Philly in Focus
  197. Don’t Ask this Man What He Thinks of Violence in PHL Unless You Can Handle His Reply | Philly in Focus
  198. The Pulpit to Prison Pipeline That Parishioners are Enabling | Philly in Focus
  199. Should Blacks Lower Their Expectations of Black Politicians? | Philly in Focus
  200. He Laid in Silent Protest of Police Brutality with Four Bullets in His Back | Philly in Focus
  201. How Black Americans Perceive Lady Liberty | Philly in Focus
  202. The First Black Mayor of PHL and His Story of Service | Philly in Focus
  203. Why You Sound Ignorant When Ranting About Black-on-Black Crime | Philly in Focus
  204. What Riskier Than Walking While Black?
  205. Whoever Created The ‘Pull Your Pants Up Challenge’ is Misinformed |
  206. How a S. Philly Community Spent Their Labor Day |
  207. The Conversation You Thought You’d Never Have About Voting Machines |
  208. How You Can Celebrate Dilworth Park’s Grand Opening With a Bang! |
  209. Everyone Wasn’t Happy When She Announced Her Candidacy for Mayor |
  210. The World Just Got a Lot Smaller for Black Men |
  211. What Philadelphians Want to Do With Their Old Voting Machines |
  212. Philadelphian’s Voice Can’t Be Denied on This Subject |
  213. Can Playing Polyrhythms Give Birth to Polymaths?
  214. The ‘Pull Your Pants Up Challenge’ is Misinformed
  215. The First Black Mayor of PHL and His Story of Service
  216. The Book Inspired by Muhammad Ali and the Author who Wrote It

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: