Gary Chester: The Japanese Rose Plant Lesson

SKF NOTE: How I came to interview Gary Chester is explained here. The typed transcript is 64-pages, edited for publication in the April 1983 Modern Drummer

Gary gave many life beyond the cymbals “life lessons” during the interview. Here’s one example that probably deserves explaining in one area. When Gary says, “I look at them as little people,” he is not demeaning his students. He is saying that he talks to his young students as if they are adults in childrens’ bodies. As if Gary’s spirit is speaking to the student’s spirit.

Gary Chester: A perfect example of what I’m trying to explain to my children, my students. I keep saying “children” because I call them all “baby” and “honey.” I look at them as little people.

Anyway, I bought a thoroughbred Japanese rose plant one day. The most beautiful rose. It had maybe three hundred petals on it. It was gorgeous.

But, I put it in the wrong place.

Now you, as a student of mine, are this little rose. What ate my rose up? The weeds!

So, when you’re playing with musicians that are beneath you, they’re going to eat you up.

The first thing you should do is find somebody who’s close to your level or better so you can learn something, rather than play with people that are worse than you to make yourself feel good. Because that rose died because the weeds ate him  up.

That’s my philosophy. And it has been like that ever since I was a kid. Every time I learned the book – with all the bands that I’ve been with – I quit!


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