It Only Takes a Spark … Pass It On
by: Dan Britt
Great inspiring people have influenced people in every area of life throughout centuries. Henry David Thoreau, the great 19th century transcendentalist writer, was influenced by the great Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau was the impetus for Ghandi’s and Martin Luther King Jr’s civil disobedience, which ultimately changed the shape of the world for a better humanity. Socrates taught Plato who taught Aristotle, who collectively remain the greatest philosophical trio in history. We often stand on the shoulders of giants. And we can notice connections such as these throughout history–a lineage–a passing down of wisdom. Such is the case in the drumming world as well. It only takes a spark. And that spark can potentially inspire many to enter a new encouraging world, accompanied by enthusiasm, new hope, and excitement.
This lineage is evident in the drumming world. I know, because I’ve been experiencing it. On a fall night last year, my drumming friend and I went out to see a Rush tribute band. I looked forward to a night of great drumming, but did not expect that I would afterward decide to pursue drumming to a higher level. As the drum solo began, the audience began to walk toward the stage, similar to a magnetic effect. I soon realized why, as drummer, Joe Bergamini, displayed a dynamic, inspiring solo, marked by incredible technique and musicality. From experiencing the solo, one can understand how drumming can entertain, excite, and elicit the need for total expression. At that point, I had realized the power of drumming, and the reason to elevate my drumming to the next plane.
I went to the website of Joe Bergamini, and found that he studied with legendary Dom Famularo for several years. That knowledge brought me to the website of Dom Famularo. I then discovered that Dom studied with Joe Morello and Jim Chapin, among other drumming greats. Moreover, I read that Joe Morello studied with George Lawrence Stone, author of Stick Control, which many consider the bible of drumming! He also studied with Billy Gladstone. As if that wasn’t enough, I realized that Jim Chapin studied from Sanford Moeller, the man who directly observed the great civil war drummers, and teacher of Gene Krupa. Everything began to make sense: This was the true essence of drumming … And it was all passed down collectively … I knew I was following the right path.
I began to study with Drumming’s Global Ambassador, Dom Famularo. Besides learning from one of drumming’s greatest educators, I realized that the visit to Dom’s woodshed and his influence was one similar to the inspiring experience of the students in the movie Dead Poet’s Society. Based on a global humanistic approach, I found that everything I’ve learned there I never even considered in 16 years of drumming. Not only has it been inspiring, but some of the guidance was geared toward my health that affected every aspect and quality of my playing; some based on the laws of physics; other things were based on techniques I had no idea even existed. This was more than I ever expected. I also had a few lessons with Jim Chapin and Joe Bergamini.
As if that was not enough, I learned of Dom’s Cycle of Self-Empowerment book and began to discover concepts such as Choice Power, the Flame, and the Tombstone Test. As a co-author of a psychology research project, I was intrigued and amazed by the power of his words, and how they moved me to pursue drumming to such a high level. I now had a heightened awareness of how drumming was a part of me–and I had an obligation to pursue it and share it–that if I did not pursue it, it can eat at me. Dom refers to this inner identity as “The Flame”. And no matter how much you ignore it, it will not go away! You cannot remove it! It just the way us drummers are internally wired!
I cannot overestimate the power of finding something and someone that can influence you, and “spark” this “flame”. Since my own rekindling, I have pursued drumming to a higher level, and many great things have happened. Some of the same knowledge and enthusiam that came from Gladstone, Stone, Morello, Chapin, and Famularo, have been passed down to me and then to my students. This energy has also spread to my own band, friends, and anyone who I encounter in conversations about drumming. Most recently, I had the opportunity to perform with the legendary guitarist Stanley Jordan. To put it mildly, things have certainly begun to happen since my night out last fall–the night I was inspired.
As Dom says, “The cycle of self empowerment begins with respecting that flame and feeding that flame until if glows from you, turning you into a beacon that not only has the power to show you the way, but can be a source of guidance and inspiration for others. Do it before it’s too late. Find that flame. It’s where a happier life begins.”
Finally, to revisit the title, “It only takes a spark … Pass it on”, I have to admit that a song I used to play drums for in a church years ago, has more meaning and validity than ever, and sums up this whole experience: “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing . . . Once you’ve experienced it . . . You want to pass it on.”
About The Author
Dan Britt is a NJ Drummer/Instructor who conducts clinics in public schools. With a background in psychological research, his inspirational writings have appeared in international magazines. He can be contacted at [email protected] or via www.dannybritt.com