A story last week that appeared in the newspaper gave new meaning to the idiom “marching to the beat of a different drummer.”
The story, “Gift of music best medicine,” detailed the generosity of Larry’s Music Center in Carmichaels, whose owner, Larry Dukate, donated a drum set to an 8-year-old girl with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized, in part, by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.
At first, it seemed incongruous that a child who told her mother that it feels like she has a tornado in her brain and the only time that it stops is when she listens to music, would want to play the drums.
But then Summer Wilkinson’s mother, Christie, said, “I think hearing any drum beat is better than hearing a little girl cry out of frustration all day. Doctors push me to medicate her but I’m going to stick to music and love as her therapy.”
And then we understood.
It’s not necessarily the instrument, but what that instrument provides. And for Summer it provides peace.
In that same story we also met Evet Sem, drummer of the psychedelic rock band Jamband KR-3 from Wheeling, W.Va. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, and said drumming has been a “huge coping mechanism” for him. He believes music has very powerful healing properties and everybody needs as much happiness as they can get in their life, and that’s a notion pretty much everyone finds agreeable.
Dukate, a drummer himself, recognized immediately what opportunity he had to make a difference. Granted, the publicity would be good for his suture, something her readily admitted, but he said what he did was in line with what he wants the store to continue to be, a link to the community and music.
When Summer was asked why she was drawn to the drums and not the guitar or some other instrument, she explained that the drum beat is the “base of the song,” where it starts from. Music has provided peace for Summer and, as her mother said, it provides the place she can go to shut down the exaggerated noises of the outside world inside her head.
We doubt the gift from Larry’s Music Center, and the help Dukate received from fellow musicians, will require the Wilkinson family to invest in ear plugs, because when Summer starts playing it will be music to everyone’s ears.
And if in fact Summer is indeed marching to the beat of a different drummer, we want to be the first in line to march with her.