Andrew's Journey to Become a Jazz Drummer

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Andrew's Journey to Elite Jazz Drumming

Andrew is an ambitious jazz drummer whose dream is to become an elite jazz drummer. Terrence, a famous jazz conductor, invites Andrew into his studio, and this marks the start of an extraordinary musical journey. Terrence is not your ordinary instructor; he is strict, abusive and combative in his ways of teaching. Terrence’s band is built around a cut-throat competition where no member was guaranteed of his position in the band. Andrew’s ambition to the top intertwined with Terrence’s experience illustrates what it takes to rise to the top.

Andrew’s Ambitions

The most outstanding aspect of this journey is how the young learner gets to interact with an experienced instructor. Terrence’s tyrannical approach intimidates Andrew at some point which finds it hard to come to terms with his teaching methods. Terrence spotted Andrew's talent, and he knows he had the potential to be a great jazz drummer. During one of the lessons, Andrews drum tempo disappoints Terrence, which results in a slapping fete culminating in Andrews's embarrassment (Chazelle). This was the Andrew’s lowest point since he joined the band; he was humiliated and insulted by someone who he looked up to in many ways. This did not inhibit Andrew's ambitions since when he got home, he practiced playing the drums and tried to perfect the tempo. It is a grueling practice session full of sweat, blood, and tears. This describes how ambitious Andrew was as he pursued his dream of perfecting the art of jazz drumming.

Andrew’s opportunity to step up is circumstantial in one way or another as he has the chance to take over as the band’s core drummer. Tanner who was the band’s core drummer could not play without the music sheets, which Andrew misplaces. Andrew steps up to the occasion and proclaims that he knows the song “Whiplash” and he could play without the sheets (Chazelle). It is at this moment that Andrew earned Tanner’s spot and became the band’s new core drummer. Terrence’s backlash had brought the best out of Andrew as he practiced hard and perfected his skills. Andrew’s ambition had started paying off, as it is through his practice that he was able to step in when needed. This move encouraged Andrew, but in one way or another, it meant more attention and supervision by Terrence.

Andrew feels empowered as the new core drummer, but he is not aware of what awaits him in the next lesson. Terrence introduces a new song "Caravan" which the band warms up to but with many glitches. The whole band is dismissed except Andrew who is joined by Ryan who was the drummer Andrew had previously met. Andrew fails to hit the demanding tempo of 330 bpm which Ryan comfortably manages (Chazelle). This prompts Terrence to appoint Ryan as the new core drummer. This rubs Andrew the wrong way as he did not agree with Terrence who stated Andrew had to earn his part.

The turn of events led to Andrew compromising his relationship with his father and his girlfriend, Nicole. After losing his spot as the core drummer, Andrew’s main ambition was to earn back the spot by practicing more. Andrew’s father who was a high school teacher tried to advise Andrew. Resistance fueled by Andrew’s obsession and ambition hit Andrew’s father. Andrew was willing to sacrifice the father-son relationship until he achieved his set ambitions. Andrew has a decision to make as to whether he would focus on his relationship with his girlfriend or stick to his set musical goals. Andrew decides to break up with Nicole since he believed his ambitions would impede their relationship (Chazelle). It is at this point that Andrew prioritized his dream over his ties with the only people who cared about him. HIs main objective was to rise to the top of the of his elite music school. He viewed the relationships as major distractions to achieving his goal, and he believed he could survive without them.

The next lesson, Terrence auditioned all his drummers including Andrew, Tanner, and Ryan. This was a real test especially because Terrence was mourning after losing one of his former students in a car accident. Terrence auditions the three for hours as the rest of the band waited outside. It was make or break for Andrew who could either rise from or wallow in the ashes of failure. Andrew’s sacrifices paid off as he earned back his spot by offering sweat and blood to the audition, which rewarded the most ambitious drummer.

Andrew’s ambition and never-say attitude are put to the test on the day he is supposed to participate in the jazz competition. After the bus he was traveling in, Andrews is late and makes it worse by forgetting his drumsticks (Chazelle). This turn of events leads to him being involved in an accident, which still does not stop him from attending the event. His injuries hinder him from playing the drum and Fletcher mercilessly dismisses him. Despite failing to perform this one day portrays how ambitious Andrew is as he tries to overcome all the challenges that could inhibit his participation at the jazz competition.

Andrew’s reunion with Terrence months later is bittersweet since Andrew had testified against his instructor in a case. Andrew could not turn the invitation by Terrence to be his drummer in an oncoming JVC Jazz Festival (Chazelle). Andrew extends the invitation to Nicole who to his surprise is already in a new relationship. This final performance was an indicator that Andrew still had traces of his ambition running deep in his veins. Terrence who claims to be aware of the fact that Andrew testified against him, conducts a piece, which Andrew did not know. He walks off the stage humiliated but comes back stronger than ever before and played “Caravan” where the whole band and Terrence join him (Chazelle). Andrew’s resilience paid off; as he even had to defy his long-time instructor and be; ambitious enough to play a song, he was not even sure the band knew.


Andrew’s ambition to become an elite jazz drummer was practically full of blood sweat and tears. His instructor pushed him to the brink of sanity and capacity, and he always came back stronger. The journey is a clear illustration of what it takes to stick to one's ambition. Loss and gains characterize an ambitious process. In the end, Andrew gains the skills and techniques necessary to become an elite jazz drummer.

On the other hand, he loses his girlfriend, Nicole in pursuit of his dreams. He almost loses his life in a car accident as he went to extremes to ensure that he participated in the jazz competition. By being ambitious, one is also expected to sacrifice a lot by making critical decisions. Andrew sacrificed his relationship with his father so that he could focus more on his drum playing hobby. Finally, being ambitious is all about never giving up, being daring and pushing yourself to the limits. Andrew exhibits weathers the storm through tyrannical lessons by Terrence, and it makes him better. His practice sessions and performances are a bloody affair as he strives to hit the required tempo. In the end, he has the guts to play a song that was not on the music sheets and was not even sure if the band could play along. All these traits harmonized together to illustrate what it takes to pursue a set ambition.

Works Cited

Chazelle, Damien. Whiplash. Blumhouse Productions, October 2014.

September 25, 2023




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