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Drum Lessons in Prison

prison visiting room

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a drummer! Growing up I’ve heard stories of how great of a drummer my dad was and still is. In our toy room, my dad had his drums setup and I can remember hitting them thinking that I was making music and not just noise. I loved the loudness and just how freeing it was to hit something and it not breaking into pieces. 

I remember one visit asking my dad if he would teach me how to play drums. He looked at me and said, “of course.” He asked me to go grab four straws from the vending machine area. I grabbed them and then hurried back. He then showed me different ways to hold the straws, as if they were drumsticks, and showed me some cool beats. “Are you ready?” My dad asked me. With a huge smile on my face I said, “oh yeah!”

Ron and Brandon tijerina

"Each visit we would take some time to do a mini drum lesson on the table."

We would rip napkins up to represent each drum; therefore, I could visualize hitting the correct drum on the kit. We had to be pretty creative with what we had accessible to us. Without a doubt, I will never forget how fun it was playing “drums” with my dad. Our visits included practicing stick tricks using straws and competing with each other’s skills.

After each visit I would practice on my legs on the drive home.

Upon arriving at home, I would rush to my drumkit as fast as I could, so I wouldn’t forget the beat that I’ve just learned. I’ve spent hours practicing on those nights. Then, when he would call, either that night or the next day, I would hold the phone and play the drum beat for him to hear. While on the phone he would help me make adjustments or remind me of what the beat should sound like – while also helping me fine tune the drums over the phone.

I am now a pretty decent drummer, released multiple CDs, toured many places and I currently play on the worship team at my church. What learning drums in a prison visiting room taught me was to not let our circumstantial situation stop us from growing and pursuing what we love.

My dad would have had a perfect excuse not to say yes to teaching me how to play drums.

He could have said, “sorry son, but there is no way I can do that inside here since we don’t have the proper equipment.” Instead, my dad got creative and pushed through our limitations and said, “let’s do it!” 

In conclusion, we can often look at our current resources, or lack thereof, and allow ourselves to be defeated before we even begin. Don’t let that stop you! You are a rockstar and your life is the stage. Each day, make the decision to walkout with confidence and boldness.  

Some days might be harder than others – just like certain drumbeats are more complicated then others, but you can’t afford to stop! You only have one life. Why not become the star of it? It’s alright to get frustrated, mad, or even angry. Allow that to fuel you to push even harder! The stage is set. It’s up to you if you are going to perform or not. You have what it takes!