Barbara Borden: A Woman Drummer? Not an Issue

SKF NOTESome more worthwhile advice for drummers from my 1981 Modern Drummer interview with Barbara Borden of the jazz group Alive!. The interview back story is here.

borden_barbara_2Scott K Fish: Do you feel that a woman considering a career in jazz or drumming should look at being a woman as a challenge?

Barbara Borden: The way I looked at drumming when I started to learn — I wanted to play drums! I didn’t even think about man, woman or any of that. I was a kid at the time.

I feel that if a person really wants to do something they’ll do it.

I mean, there’s a piano player from Europe. He’s 18-years old and he’s only a little over 3-feet tall. He had a disease that he was born with. He played with Charles Lloyd in San Francisco. His bones are very brittle. He’s had, like, 150 broken bones. [SKF NOTE: Barbara Borden is referring to Michel Petrucciani. A concert video of the Michel Petrucciani Trio with Steve Gadd is below.]

Now, you would think, “How could a person like this play the piano?” I mean, he could say, “Well, I’m only 3-feet tall. I can’t even reach the piano pedals.” Or he could say, “I want to play the piano” and invent ways to do it.

That’s being creative. Totally.

So for any women — or anybody — that is doing what’s not considered doing the norm for doing anything: just follow your heart. If you have a strong feeling about playing drums — do it! Sure, those things will come along that go with it. But you don’t have to let that stop you or stand in your way.

You have to learn how to deal with it in a way that makes you feel good and that doesn’t get in the way of the music.

SKF: Dreamers make the world go around, right?

BB: Mm hm. But also, dreamers that do their dreams. Action packed dreamers.


About Scott K Fish
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