Embrace the suck.
If Nick Volpe had a mantra, that would be it.
The Bradford West Gwillimbury man owns Canadian Drum Gear, which sells drum equipment and offers lessons for drums, guitar and piano, but the road there has not been a straight one.
“(Drums have) always been part of me. I’ve been tapping or air drumming ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I like a good guitar, vocals, (but) I always just watched the drummer. I just love it.”
In his late teens, Volpe started teaching himself how to play drums.
But by his mid-20s, “other things got in the way,” and he stopped drumming and ended up working in the automotive industry for 35 years.
It was not until about eight years ago that he picked up the drumsticks again and started re-learning the instrument from scratch.
“One of my teachers uses the term, ‘Embrace the suck.’ Keep practicing what you’re bad at,” he said.
Now, Volpe’s drumsticks are like a natural extension of his hands.
Sitting in front of a drum kit, he moves easily into different rhythms, demonstrating how to use the cymbals and drums.
Volpe recently showed me how to do a basic drum beat.
Now, I am no stranger to playing music. I was a full-fledged band nerd, playing the oboe throughout elementary school and high school.
But after a few years since graduating high school — OK, more than a few — I was rusty.
Instead of flying my fingers across an instrument to play different notes, my main objective was to keep the beat by snapping the drumsticks on a snare drum and hi-hat, and stepping on the bass drum pedal.
I could barely manage the co-ordination of all three elements.
But Volpe slowed it down for me and helped me eventually be able to manage two at once.
It was harder than I had anticipated, but also a lot of fun.
Although I do not think I will be quitting my day job any time soon, our brief lesson was enough to make me want to learn more.
That addition to drumming is what fuels Volpe.
It was only in his frustration of not being able to find quality, affordable drum gear in Canada that he decided to start his business.
He began with an online store and eventually opened his shop three years ago at 157 Holland St. E. in Bradford.
Volpe said he plans to open more of a studio space in the future.
“I did it for the drummer. It wasn’t all about filling my pocket,” he said. “It’s just been a passion.”
While Volpe said he never stops learning new things about drumming and new techniques, he wants to expand local interest in the instrument, especially to girls.
“It’s not a men’s club or a boy’s club. Just because you had a girl doesn’t mean she can’t go play the drums,” he said, adding he currently has four female drum students.
Drumming lessons are also good for older adults, he said.
Drumming has shown to have physical and emotional benefits for people dealing with a variety of conditions, from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, to Alzheimer's disease and cancer, according to Psychology Today.
Plus, drumming is fun, said Volpe.
“The more you practice, the better you get. It’s endless.”
VIDEO: Nick Volpe explains how his drum lessons progress