Amazing drum-solo

63-year-old Mary Hvizda, who has been drumming since the age of 15, crushes a drum-solo at Coalition Drum Shop in Lacrosse, WI.

Grandma Drummer

Update: In the comments, Ben_Winton asks, "So, why is this so amusing whenever you look at folks like the Rolling Stones' drummer, who is probably way older than this person, and still doing a fantastic job?"

I replied:

I think you're mistaken "amusing" for amazing.

The Stones' drummer has been famous as a drummer all his life. When we see him perform what is, really, a feat of physical dexterity and stamina as well as musical virtuosity, we superimpose upon him the image of all those young men and incrementally older men we've seen him as over the years.

Human perception is only sensitive to differences, not absolutes. Gradual change does not strike us as remarkable, even if, gradually and over time, great change is effected.

On the other hand, due to the sheer physicality of drumming, the majority of drummers we've seen in our days are young. At 42, I struggle with physical tasks that were easier when I was 18. This process will not reverse itself.

Projected on our minds' cave-walls, then, when we picture a "typical" drummer, is a young person. When this amazing woman walks into frame, she is vastly different from that picture. Our sensitivity to relative differences is triggered by that wide gap, causing a moment of delightful surprise.

A person who has grown old without losing the stamina and dexterity necessary to accomplish the virtuoso sprint represented by a drum solo isn't a figure of fun, she is a figure of inspiration. She is a reminder to all of us that artistic talent and physical ability can be decoupled, but that artists who are lucky and who are diligent and who are clever can find ways around the insults of age to accomplish feats that shame youth.

As Ciardi wrote: "The old crow is getting slow/the young crow is not... The only thing the young crow does not know/Is where to go."

Notable Replies

  1. So, why is this so amusing whenever you look at folks like the Rolling Stones' drummer, who is probably way older than this person, and still doing a fantastic job?

  2. I think you're mistaken "amusing" for amazing.

    The Stones' drummer has been famous as a drummer all his life. When we see him perform what is, really, a feat of physical dexterity and stamina as well as musical virtuosity, we superimpose upon him the image of all those young men and incrementally older men we've seen him as over the years.

    Human perception is only sensitive to differences, not absolutes. Gradual change does not strike us as remarkable, even if, gradually and over time, great change is effected.

    On the other hand, due to the sheer physicality of drumming, the majority of drummers we've seen in our days are young. At 42, I struggle with physical tasks that were easier when I was 18. This process will not reverse itself.

    Projected on our minds' cave-walls, then, when we picture a "typical" drummer, is a young person. When this amazing woman walks into frame, she is vastly different from that picture. Our sensitivity to relative differences is triggered by that wide gap, causing a moment of delightful surprise.

    A person who has grown old without losing the stamina and dexterity necessary to accomplish the virtuoso sprint represented by a drum solo isn't a figure of fun, she is a figure of inspiration. She is a reminder to all of us that artistic talent and physical ability can be decoupled, but that artists who are lucky and who are diligent and who are clever can find ways around the insults of age to accomplish feats that shame youth.

    As Ciardi wrote: "The old crow is getting slow/the young crow is not... The only thing the young crow does not know/Is where to go."

  3. It's actually a sloppy solo by someone who lost her fastball years ago. Forgive me for being ungracious, but I think people are impressed simply because she looks old for 63. Come by 19 Broadway, in Fairfax, on the first Sunday of any month, and watch a bunch of geezers who can still play.

    And by the way, Charlie Watts has a far more solid groove than most drummers half his age. At this point the Rolling Stones are actually Charlie, Mick, Chuck and Darryl. The guitarists have been phoning it in for years.

  4. The woman could obviously once play. Unfortunately a steady tempo doesn't seem something she retains, this solo is sloppy.

    This guy on the otherhand has ten years on her and manages to both look and sound like he's got a built in metronome.

  5. This is the one that really blew me away.


    Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd

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