Derek Shockley started drumming at 16 through a mix of self instruction and private lessons. As he became more involved with playing music, Shockley knew early on that he wanted to turn music into a career, and realized that aspiring professional musicians have trained at CMI for decades.
Arriving at CMI through a referral, Shockley instantly found himself drawn into the welcoming atmosphere of CMI Sessions. “[My friend] introduced me to the whole opportunity of CMI...but I was kind of denying all that like, ‘I'll just teach myself, I'll just teach myself,’ but then came a point where I wanted to naturally get better,” said Shockley. “I could teach myself so much, but I just wanted to learn more.” As he began training at the studio, the transition from a self taught music education to a self guided program felt natural and came easily to the drummer.
Upon joining, Shockley was greeted by staff and students who allowed him the space he needed to overcome longtime adversities, as well as introduced him to an array of new music and styles of playing. Working with Creative Music Ⓡ Techniques exposed Shockley to a new perspective on music education, and he felt obstacles slip away as lessons went on. “[CMI has] helped me with so much,” said Shockley. “CMI training can direct you to where the frustration loosens up a little bit, and you don't feel so pressured to practice and retry things.” The ability to work with intuitive instructors who understand the learning process provided Shockley with a much more personalized and supportive environment to develop his craft.
Working toward his goal of being a professional drummer with his own indie band, Shockley dedicates his practice to expanding his techniques and musical vocabulary. As he pushes himself into more advanced styles of playing, Shockley states that he “[makes] music more technical because [of] all the styles I'm learning and jazz. And I mean, it really does push you in as if you went to a world you would never think of, but you have to stay dedicated." This immensely powerful persistence remains to be one of the most effective methods of achieving his goals, and Shockley is already reaping the benefits of his dedication as he grows into a more dynamic and precise player every day.
Interactions with other students in CMI’s constantly forgiving environment also proved to be one of the greatest sources of inspiration for Shockley, as playing with others taught him to quickly adapt to any style of music, as well as to be open minded about the material. “In CMI Sessions, the instructors and all the other students, everybody has their own perception of music which drives them to play,” which is something that Shockley attributes as “definitely a big thing that really helped me concentrate on the path of music.”
Feeding off of the diverse energy that each session brings, Shockley finds himself playing better each and every time that he comes to the studio. From playing with a few friends in high school to now being exposed to a diverse musical environment with unique people, Shockley’s growth is astronomical. These peer interactions motivate Shockley, as CMI is more than just a music school; it is a support system of like-minded individuals coming together through creative expression. “CMI was the really big thing that pushed me through [the] barrier,” said Shockley. “Even if I'm frustrated, just having that backbone in my life has helped me get through a lot. It really has.”
Shockley has become a familiar face at CMI and an integral part of the community. In fact, his presence represents the close environment of sessions, as Shockley keeps his own drum set at the studio for himself and other students to play. At the end of the day, the experience Shockley had illustrates a snapshot of the CMI family, as over the years, the studio has become a home for musicians who are blazing their own path. He is “committed to the search.”
"[CMI] is a second home away from home, if I'm having a bad day at work, or if I’m just feeling tired, you know, I go there, and I just feel like I'm at home,” said Shockley. “And you can’t say that about a lot of things.”
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