Mandy Gaston

United States

In the mid 1970’s, at age 7, when I voiced an interest in learning to play the drums in elementary school I was told “girls don’t play the drums”. I was handed a clarinet instead and gave up on that very quickly. I was disheartened.

Forty-five years later, a single Mom of one son, with few hobbies & working a very stressful job, I decided to finally give drumming a try. I bought a cheap piccolo snare, to see if I’d be any good. Five months later, I bought my first drum kit, a 5pc TAMA Imperialstar in August 2020.

I didn’t have much time to really practice until after I met & married my soulmate, retired, quickly sold my house in Texas & moved to Arkansas to be with my husband, David. We bought a home big enough for me to have my own drum room. David encourages my playing & even surprised me with my “dream kit” this past Christmas… a 7pc Gretsch Catalina Maple kit in cherry burst red! This is the kit that I’m playing in my video.

Drumming has opened a whole new pathway for my brain to deal with 28 years worth of tragedy & trauma from my career as a police officer. After I retired & moved to Arkansas in March 2021, the flood gates in my mind my started unlocking. I began getting triggered by inocuous things & started experiencing PTSD, as well as anxiety. Thankfully, through the help of a very good counselor and my drumming, I learned to process those feelings & emotions in a healthy way when they surfaced. Drumming utilizes both hemispheres of my brain & puts me in what I call my “zen zone”, where I feel free & at peace… true joy!

I’ve never taken formal drum lessons, I’ve learned by playing by ear & trying to replicate other drum cover videos. Drumming has also aided me in finding my new “tribe”. I’ve been an active member of the Drummergirls United Facebook group since July 2021. I attended the DGU Drum Clinic in Tulsa, OK last October and it inspired me to learn to play better.

The video I’ve submitted was filmed on April 5th, 2022, when I was very emotional about the impending death of my son’s father (my ex). Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters had sadly passed away just 11 days before, which also really impacted me.

That day, I listened to the song, “One of These Days”, repeatedly, truly absorbing the words & melody that made my gut wrench. I then decided to try to play the song & videotape it to share it with my 20 yr old son who was living alone in North Carolina. He was struggling with mixed emotions about his father dying so far away in TX. His father actually passed away the very next day, on April 6th.

I didn’t make the video for this contest. I made it to capture the raw & real emotions I’d been feeling at the time. I didn’t care how I looked, I didn’t care if I messed up the song, I just PLAYED. And it resulted in the very best & fastest song that I’ve ever played so far. It came from my SOUL. I hadn’t even practiced the song yet! I shared my video on YouTube & it has received an astounding 2,800 views in only 8 days! I’m so humbled.

I debated whether or not to submit the video for this contest, because there’s no fancy lighting or back drop. It’s just me wearing (ironically) an oversized “life is good” t-shirt, jeans & no makeup. But, I’ve seen that other ladies from the Drummergirls United FB group have submitted videos for the contest, so I figured I have nothing to lose. I feel very honored just to have you watch my video. So, thank you and DRUM ON!

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Towns on April 14, 2022 at 3:54 am

    Great job!!

  2. MariaWulf MariaWulf on April 22, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    Mandy, you have such a great story to tell and thank you for sharing it. I love how playing the drums has helped you with PTSD. I have a friend who is digging in to the concept of applying the Polyvagal Theory to drum set in order to free yourself and restore yourself from past trauma. Keep playing and sharing your story 🙂

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