Aanchal Gehi, Drummer

They say that any form of art is a good workout for the brain. So, my parents tried out dance before they bought me a keyboard at age 7. The older I grew with that instrument, the more I didn’t understand it. Whether I’m to blame my teacher, or my own inability, I can never tell.

As an angry teenager, I was advised by a friend god-sent, to learn to play the drums. I had realized the only way out was to explore, and have faith. I’d never know what I may find. At 19, Ididn’t realize the transformation, but it was in process. Kurt Cobain and drumming bounced me back up from a never-ending pithole of depression. It increased my focus, confidence, and overall well-being. I found in practice, a sense of relief.

It took dedication, efforts, and a great teacher. The more he scolded, “Aanchal, you play like a girl!”, the harder I worked. Sometimes it was just not enough, and I was made to feel this isn’t for me. Sincerely, I indulged in the grind. Much like meditation, practice was boosting my mood, and increasing my awareness. It was now an enjoyable part of my routine, whether I was good at it or not.

It’s my theory, that the drums chose to walk with me on this journey of personal growth; i didn’t choose it. The 10(ish) years spent with the keyboard could have ushered me to the same results, but it didn’t.

My parents refused to buy me a drumkit. I was compelled to take up a summer time job in the U.A.E. Withstanding my boss’ perversion, I saved up just about enough in two months. I had to sacrifice on attending Amy Lee’s concert, though I wished to be there in my prayers every night.  I walked through hell and brought home a PDP z5. I didn’t buy me a kit, I bought myself a friend. It’s stuck with me through thick and thin, till date. Neil Peart rightly said, “if you’ve got a problem, take it out on a drum.”

The most significant struggle I’ve had with drumming, is injuries and how to prevent them. I’ve had to learn it the hard, scary and painful way. Exercising, sleeping and eating right are essential if you want to play. Drumming isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life - a lifestyle. It taught me to love and appreciate myself, in the truest sense.

Of all the struggles I’ve been through, noise control has been the toughest one to crack. I can’t afford to have a treated room of my own, as I live in a rented apartment in Bangalore. With the amount of money spent on jam rooms, I could’ve easily bought myself a better drumset. But, what use is it, if I can’t play it loud?

The grapples are real, but it’s all really worth it. When in flow, the mind and body are interconnected. One experiences the depth of the present moment. That is goddamn euphoric.

People are yet to notice the full benefits of drumming, and I hope the awareness spreads faster. As a working Psychologist, I have been tracking my own quest for inner-peace with music. I’ve watched even children with special needs respond to it positively. Mental health issues are on the rise, and I strongly believe art is our only saviour. I wish for people to go out and explore their options, and allow themselves to be found through art.

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