Confessions of a 54-year-old Rocker

By Miriam Queensen

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a lot of things. Beginning with mermaid (okay, I was three). I never wanted to be a rock star. So why did I suddenly decide that learning rock drums would be fun?

I was widowed at the age of 42 and had to raise my kids on my own. Those were tough years. I struggled with depression. I didn’t have the time or energy to have much fun that didn’t involve entertaining my children.

Fast forward to ten years later and my empty nest. My quiet empty nest. In which sits a drum kit bought for my son who had played for a few years before moving on to other interests.

Suddenly—I wanted to make some NOISE.

I signed up for drum lessons. It wasn’t easy at first, though my early music training (classical) and practice habits kicked in and made it a little easier.

It was fun!
I played loud music!
I hit things!
I made lots of noise!
With nobody around to complain!

At first I had no idea that I would ever play in front of other humans (except my teacher). I played along to recordings in my house, alone. After discovering an ad hoc group of guys who got together to “jam” (i.e., make stuff up, which was scary yet amazing), I found a great place called Rock Camp for Dads. (The name misleads; there’s lots of moms and non-parents.)

I was placed in a beginner band with a group of total strangers with varying degrees of experience and ability. We made music together.

Despite my abject terror when I first started playing with a band, it was so exciting!

I gradually learned to commit to making the noise.

There’s nothing tentative about drumming.

It’s much easier to skate through life less forcefully, hoping people won’t notice you if you keep your head down.

But I was tired of feeling invisible.

So I played. And got better.

I’ve now played with more bands than I can count, learning all kinds of music, and even singing, too!

I have a huge new group of friends who love music as much as I do.

I’m feeling much more confident than I have in a long time.

I may not be a rock star, but I am no longer invisible.


Miriam Queensen is a middle-aged rocker with no delusions of grandeur. She's raised two kids and lived to tell the tale. Besides drumming, she also likes to write, teach other people how to write, and edit other people's mistakes. She teaches at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul College, and the Loft Literary Center.