Recently I met Dom Famularo at Drumscene’s Australian Ultimate Drummers Weekend and he reinspired me not just about music…but life! Dom shared some of his secrets with me last week on how to keep both your drumming and life passion alive. Dom just celebrated his 60th birthday here in Australia. He feels 30…and looks only a teeny bit older!!
Dom began his career as a performing jazz drummer. He started playing when he was 11 and became a professional at the age of 12! He studied under some of the greatest drummers of the 20th century, including Jim Chapin, and Joe Morello. Among the many artists he has performed with are the Buddy Rich Big Band, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton, Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones) and the Louie Bellson Big Band. Dom has often been called the Tony Robbins or Gandhi of the drum industry…and affectionately the drum wizard!
CC: How is drumming connected to life purpose or passion for you?
DF: This is really is the core of what I have learnt to understand. Life goes past really fast. When I think back over the past 10, 20, 30, 40 years, there has been so much fun and joy that music has brought. And the balance between what music has brought and what that has opened up in my life is so important.
I believe the kind of person you are is the kind of artist you will become. If you have that desire to be a positive happy person, you can make the choice to be that way. I wasn’t born happy, I have chosen to be this way. So now, after years of choosing to be positive every morning when I wake up, I am now positive when I wake – it’s my programmed way of being. When a challenge comes up, I face the challenge and then move on.
Understanding life has helped my music get better. Empowerment means to give power. The first place I should start is with myself – to give myself power. When I’m teaching someone who has something to learn from me, that gives me power. That is self empowerment and that fuels my passion, and once you get involved with this cycle, you keep on fueling yourself day by day.
CC: Any tips for reigniting one’s passion for music if one’s not feeling it?
DF: Absolutely. To rekindle inspiration is an important part of the process. There are many ways of doing this. I listen to a wide variety of music, I read books, I converse with a lot of different kinds of people. I might speak to a waitress at a restaurant and all of a sudden learn something – in that one minute you can tap in to something – some passion in someone – which can spark you to move forward. I constantly try to find that spark and then with that spark to inspire others. So it really is a matter of “to inspire and be inspired”. And that’s a journey that I believe we all have to accept and continue on everyday. Albert Einstein would get inspiration talking to young kids.I believe inspiration is around us everywhere.
CC: Are you still learning yourself?
DF: Absolutely – that’s the key. When I grew up I lived 20 mins from New York City. When I was 20 I could drive into NY and witness these amazing drummers – Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Max Roach, Tony Williams, and many others. These were the best of the best drummers. It was tremendously exciting to watch. And as the years went by, I was always impressed how they stayed learning the instrument right up till their old age and even death. Louis Belson, 84 years young still learning and practising and listening to music right up till his death. Jim Chapen 89 years young and still practising. Great artists, dedicated drummers who lived well into their 70s and still studying the art form.That stayed with me.
I believe that education is the fountain of youth. Once you continue to learn, you continue to grow, and you literally stay young. I still experiment with drumming ideas in my studio. As long as I stay tapped into the change in music and the change of modern drumming then I stay tapped into the fountain of youth.
CC: Have you always been a passionate person?
DF: The answer is probably yes. My parents were always very passionate people no matter what they did – whether that was cooking for the family on Sunday or music – my Dad would always make us bring out our instruments. There was always this passion and fun around about life and stories and eating and music
Over course of time I began to understand more about passion and desire in whatever you do and I began to fuel that with performing music and teaching.
CC: Can you tell us a bit about Can Do Musos – why is this important to you?
DF: Can Do Musos started through meeting musicians in wheelchairs, or with other major physical and mental challenges in the course of my global travels. I was connected to lots of guys with challenges and I wanted to connect them to each other. We managed to get Andrew Hewitt (Australia), David Segal and Mike Mignogna together in New York earlier this year, and together we started Can Do Musos to connect musicians with challenges around the world. We’ve now got a website with over 60 musicians from around the world and growing. Its very exciting. [To find out more, check out candomusos.com]
CC: How can people connect to you?
DF: My website is my name – domfamularo.com You can check me out at my facebook page too. Its exciting for me to grow and connect with people. My direct email is on my site and people can email me directly. I love to connect to people all around the world and be connected through technology.
CC: Thank you so much Dom – you’re an absolute inspiration – as always