Featured image of post A New Hobby and Mid-Year Review

A New Hobby and Mid-Year Review

When I last posted, it was December 2021 and I’d started my new job in lockdown a few months prior and I’d just met my new work colleagues. I’d also just started looking more deeply into getting started with the drums - my new hobby. I managed to find absolute beginner adult group classes and had put my name on the waiting list to join them. In January, I got the email that classes had opened and I could pay for my term upfront, which I did immediately. I was pretty excited. The decision to try drums was based on a few, probably frivolous reasons:

  1. Drummers always look like they’re having the best time ever.
  2. My previous manager had made an offhand comment about the drums in relation to my Beat Saber videos.
  3. When I got into a flow state in Beat Saber and my hands moving completely independently, that is a fantastic feeling and I hoped I would be able to capture the same with drumming.
  4. I’ve got hella bingo wings and anything I can do with my arms might help that. (I soon found out that drumming is very wrist and fingers oriented though)
  5. I’m left handed and I could learn the instrument without needing to buy special equipment or be more difficult to teach. (I’ve decided to learn the right-handed way)
  6. I got booed off the drum kit after less than 5 minutes of trying to play a basic rock beat in high school and always wanted to try again.

So, once I put my name down for lessons, I had a bit of a look around for drum kits and spent a while trying to decide if I wanted to buy electronic or acoustic and the pros and cons of both. I ended up settling on acoustic because electronic drum kits can reinforce bad habits and I didn’t want to get too caught up in the aspect of it being yet another digital toy I can plug into my computer. My partner was and still is completely onboard with my acoustic kit though, so I’m glad to have her support. I ended up settling on a $250 acoustic drumkit that I found on Facebook Marketplace. I asked on The Drumming Discord (fantastic community) what they thought of it and I was told it was a Pearl Export kit, which is a well regarded beginners level kit. In fact, Dankpods does most of his drum streams on one, so it’s pretty solid and probably won’t sound like crap (though I later found out good cymbals are more important).

I went with my partner to the other side of town to grab these drums, managed to cram an entire drumkit, throne, hardware, cymbals, everything into my Volkswagen Golf and very carefully (but musically) drove it home. We didn’t get it set up that night because it was about 9pm by the time we got home and I didn’t feel like pissing our neighbours off straight out of the gate. We had some trades come around the next day for something at the house and they commented on my kit strewn across the guest bedroom and I got to feel the judgment of saying my two favourite drummers were Dave Grohl and Phil Collins. I haven’t changed my mind on that as I’ve gotten better, so even though I felt put on the spot by the question, it’s still accurate.

Anyway, I had my first class the day after I got my drumkit and yeah, wow… I probably should’ve bought a kit or practice pad much sooner than I did because I sucked ass. I mean, I expected that, given I’d played for a grand total of 5 minutes in my life, but I did struggle quite a bit through that first term of classes. Even more so because in late February, I had to miss a class to go to my sister’s wedding and then another after I had surgery to correct my deviated septum - which has been pretty great for my sleep, my fitness, and just generally being able to breathe through my nose has been a bit of a revelation, no more dry mouth when I wake up, for example.

I finished up my first term of drums in April. The drum teacher decided to put on another class on Thursdays, which would start again from zero and I put my hand up to join that one and start over again - partly because I’d also signed up for a 4 week cybersecurity course in May at the same time as my classes and partly because the last few weeks really felt like I was in over my head.

We’re taking a brief detour to the cybersecurity course here. It ran for 4 weeks for 3 hours on Tuesday nights and covered a different topic each night. It was run by the Australian Women in Security Network and the session I signed up for was aimed at people who already had a good amount of networking and IT experience.

  • The first session covered Elastic Stack and SIEMs, which was kind of easy for me since I’d set up and used dozens of ELK stacks in my previous job. I enjoyed the capture the flag aspect of this and went through in the days after to claim them all.
  • The second session involved the MITRE ATT&CK framework and identifying tactics, techniques, and procedures used by attackers. It was pretty dry for me, to be honest, but it was a good thing to have a basic understanding of.
  • The third session involved threat hunting, which is not as exciting as it sounds, but was challenging enough. I think I was super tired during this session because I really don’t remember much of it. We were looking for signs of nefarious activity inside a Windows PC and I… am honestly not all that familiar with Windows at that deep a level, so I struggled to do the CTF activities for that one.
  • Finally, the fourth session is honestly the one I mainly signed up to the program for - VPN design and configuration and creating your own. Unfortunately, a lot of the lab was pretty pre-loaded and a lot of time was spent helping people with technical issues, but it did give me a few avenues to look down in terms of technologies to play with.

All in all, I thought it was fairly interesting but for me, someone that already has nearly 4 years of experience in IT and 2-3 in the systems/networking space, it really wasn’t worth the ~$500 I paid. I’d probably recommend it to women wanting to get into cybersecurity and to give a good overview of what that actually involves since I see a lot of people with misconceptions about what the field is all about.

Anyway, the break between the terms for me was spent really brushing up on my drumming fundamentals and getting a bit more comfortable with counting, playing along to backing tracks, and so on. I went back to my classes in mid-April with a lot more confidence and it has carried through the term. I have two weeks before the end of the term and I’m still having fun in class even when I’m not doing so well, and I’m confident I’ll be able to continue on next term.

I went into drumming with the mindset that I was an absolute beginner, I’d never done this before and I was gonna suck but I was allowed to suck. This actually really helped me, though I had some rough classes partway through the first term. I’ve also seen the effects of this mindset seep into my drawing where it’s made me slow down and be more patient with my work - as a result, I’m not producing as much stuff (I’m not drawing every day either), but each piece is taking longer, being spread over multiple sessions, and it allows me to bounce around between several things on the go at the same time. I think it produces a better piece in the end as well, because each step - sketch, paint, refinement - is given more time than I have in the past.

Usually, I would do a mid-year review of my goals but I didn’t actually set any at the start of the year. I don’t have a firm goal for my drumming, so far I’m just enjoying the ride, and my art exists as relaxation at the moment. If I had to pick one thing that looks vaguely like a goal right now, it’d be my Cisco DevNet Certification that I’m studying for in order to renew my CCNA when it expires in July next year. It’s oriented around network automation, which is an area I’m keen to focus in on, as I’ve done quite a bit with scripting and automation this year and it gets me pumped up every time. So I guess my big goal is to be well on my way to taking my certification by the end of the year. I’ve also decided to start going back to the gym again, which should be interesting, though this weekend I’ve been basically unable to walk after doing a strength workout on Friday afternoon… didn’t hurt at the time, but my muscles let me know about it the next morning.

I haven’t decided whether I’m going to post my drum stuff anywhere, maybe I’ll put it on YouTube. I’ve been logging the hours that I spend at the drums so I could probably give them cutesy clickbaity titles like “What 20 hours of practice looks like” but I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone. Anyway, I guess that’s all for now. I’ll probably be back in 6 months to tell you about the rest of the year.

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