RICH REDMOND’S C.R.A.S.H. LANDING AT MCGAVOCK HIGH SCHOOL
Most often, when referring to a crash, what follows is an accounting of the tragedy. In this case, the aftermath was triumphant. On a cold January morning, McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee, was the site of a C.R.A.S.H. landing. Rich Redmond, professional drummer, clinician, motivational speaker, and author, brought his intense success course to a gymnasium full of students on the cusp of their future. This isn’t a course that belongs in a classroom. It’s a presentation that requires space and proximity. His experience and enthusiasm need room to present their relativity to the audience. In this case, the overflow of students seated in the bleachers and on the floor, could feel the sound of his message reverberate through the floor and rattle those bleacher seats. Taking this out of the classroom eliminates the teacher/student relationship and puts it on the plane of mentor/apprentice. It’s a gesture kids can appreciate and embrace. Rich’s C.R.A.S.H. COURSE is not a lecture. It’s the spoken blueprint for a successful future.
When the kids assembled for this C.R.A.S.H. opening to their school day, it appeared they had no idea what was coming their way. Seeing a drum kit set up in the middle of the floor should have been their first indication that this was not your typical slideshow presentation. Rich has crafted this course based on entertainment and sharing advice in a format that lends itself to creativity and involvement. There is no cookie cutter handout to distract from the live energy this event demands. Rich is a musician above all else and he knows how to command a room with drumsticks in his hands. He performed five songs during the hour to keep the energy pulsating throughout the presentation. It also accentuates the connection between the five points of his theme: Commitment, Relationships, Attitude, Skill, Hunger.
Commitment is something Rich Redmond knows a lot about. His is not an overnight success story, and he won’t pretend that yours will be. He has 30 years of experience in being committed to his profession. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that means making a commitment to your dreams. The capital ‘C’ in that word extends to the conviction you’ll need to stay on course even when the skies look foreboding and a crash landing may be imminent. Rich talks a lot about passion, but more importantly, he oozes it. He is inspiring simply by the enthusiasm he brings to a room. He told the kids to do something they like and they would never have to work a day in their life. I listened to the kids around me, as I was sitting amongst them, start to talk about things they liked to do. Suddenly, they were gleaming with possibilities.
Relationships is a word high school students are familiar with. Rich redefined that word in a way most kids don’t think about. Relationships at that age are largely socially based. As a teenager, you don’t think resumes and Rolodexes when you’re sitting amongst your friends. Rich reminded them that it’s never too early to think about networking and getting a job. At any time, relationships can be crucial to gainful employment. A demonstration of this point made use of the drum kit and the drummer’s relationship to it. Rich has been on tour with Jason Aldean for ten years. He’s traveled the world and played countless shows in every venue imaginable. One thing that never changes is his role on the stage. Jason doesn’t walk up to the microphone and just start singing. The drummer, in this case Rich, is responsible for counting them off and starting the song. Without this precise start, the song may be in for a crash landing. Rich asked for a student volunteer to sit behind his drum kit and experience the count off. The participant didn’t appear shy until he took his new seat and saw things from a different perspective. After a little encouragement and instruction from Rich, he performed well, and it set up the next few points Rich was about to make concerning attitude and skill.
Attitude is the landing gear on which most of life’s success will depend on. Rich exudes positivity and his presentation comes to life because of it. Standing in a gymnasium where basketball dreams are made, it was easy to remember that even the best shooters miss a free throw now and then, and sometimes, the least likely hero can make that impossible shot. Rich took his time in driving home the point that 99% of life is attitude. He made an example of not necessarily being the best player auditioning for a gig, but if you show up prepared, passionate, and go for what you want, you may get the job over someone more skilled. In any situation, attitude affects behavior, and his reminder to the kids was this, “How you behave determines what happens in your life.” He encouraged the students to have a vision, set goals, and stay positive in their pursuit of those goals.
Skill is something you can’t fake. Just like taking a test, you either know the material or you don’t. Rich can lead by example on this one because he has continued to develop his skill set over 30 years in the business. He is a firm believer in being prepared at all times and he stressed to the students that there is no replacement for hard work. High school students have a myriad of activities to engage in, all of which require a time commitment to maximize your success. Rich was quick to point out that there is no finish line to skill development. There is always room for continuous improvement no matter what you’re doing. In a job interview or audition situation, he urged the students to promote the skills they have and sell themselves. Those that have prepared and done the work will most likely get the job. When Rich took to the drums during this presentation, watching the students react to his playing was a credit to his ability to inspire. He works hard and he hits hard and the kids were drawn to his performance. It was a nice exclamation point on his message.
Hunger was the last of Rich’s tenets and one he embodies. Rich is a natural motivational speaker because he is a self-driven man. He feeds off improving himself and inspiring those around him. Listening to him wrap up his presentation, I felt that he ended with advice that would stick. Those students who came to this course knowing what they wanted to do were further driven to do it, but it was those who lacked focus that I felt benefited the most from his last words. I heard bits of conversations that centered around hobbies not considered money makers. With Rich’s instruction, heads turned. He told the students, “Be hungry and you won’t end up a starving artist.” As if giving them permission to dream he added, “Whatever excites you, do that all the time.” I noticed that even the kids who’d been skeptical of his advice up till that point raised an eyebrow at this statement. When you can make a kid look up from their cell phone, apparently you’ve said something important. Like a cymbal crash they weren’t expecting, this message resonated. I watched the excitement and the energy in that idea ripple across the gymnasium.
McGavock High School is no stranger to striving for excellence when it comes to music. They are known for their strong band program and can back that up with having won the state championship 24 times. It’s not likely those titles came without an intense work ethic. Rich Redmond is a perfect fit to address those music students who have aspirations of becoming professional musicians. A group of drummers surrounded him when I first spied him in the gymnasium. They were making the most of being a captive audience and the looks on their faces told me this unique opportunity was not lost on them. As a musician, he is, no doubt, one to be emulated. What is unique to his character, is his ability to inspire. You could meet him on the street and be encouraged by a few words. Having a conversation with him may inspire a new dream. The benefits you’ll get from his C.R.A.S.H. COURSE are priceless.
Being a motivational speaker is not an easy thing. It takes someone who lives what he preaches to do it well. High school students are not the easiest audience. They’re often distracted and, well, unmotivated. The majority of these kids were not music students who long to be on the stage. They were ordinary kids who’ve just begun to think of their future and might be looking for that spark that points them in the right direction. Rich’s message is all about finding success no matter what it is in life you dream of doing. He leads this course the way he leads onstage. As the band leader, it’s his job to conduct the entire show. A successful show comes from doing multiple things that incorporate his skill set. In his C.R.A.S.H. COURSE, there are five tenets and five songs. Just as you can’t play one song and call it a concert, you can’t follow just one of his principles and hope to find success. He instills passion by bleeding it. He puts all that he is into the presentation to inspire others to reach new heights. Why settle for cruising altitude when there are undiscovered skies above? The tenacity this course encourages will give you the principles on which to build your future success. If followed, they could make the difference between a successful crash landing and going down in flames. Start your future with this C.R.A.S.H. COURSE. Then, commit to your vision. Build positive relationships. Have a healthy attitude. Study hard. Go after what you want. When the time is right, take the pilot’s seat with the confidence that you can land the plane. Your landing gear is Rich Redmond’s C.R.A.S.H. COURSE FOR SUCCESS.
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The photos of the event at McGavock High School are courtesy of Mike Smiley.
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