Checks and Balances

By: Marquis Faison

What’s going on Collision Fam. You may be wondering, “Who’s this guy?” Well, let’s get acquainted real quick. I became a Christian in my childhood, a decision that has greatly defined my life and musical journey. I grew up listening to my sister, a phenomenal drummer in her own right, playing locally, nationally, and for major gospel recording artists. At 7, she showed him the basics of drumming and told me, “Figure out the rest. I don’t want you to sound like me, I want you to have your own sound.” Throughout middle and high school, I played in the jazz, concert, symphonic, marching, and orchestral bands, as well as various entities throughout the Tri-State area. I also participated in various jam sessions, clinics, and masterclasses in NYC, upstate NY, Boston, and opened for several well-known gospel artists, including Karen-Clarke Sheard and Tye Tribbett. I also began dabbling in music production, serving as a music producer for Children’s Media Project, a local television broadcast. 

After high school, I went to SUNY Albany, where I played for the gospel choir, Angelic Voices of Praise, and nationally known recording choir NBC Chorale of Schenectady, NY. I am blessed to have come in contact with George “Spanky” McCurdy, Anthony and Timothy Hibbert, and Tye Tribbett and “Pudge”, to have opened for J.J. Hairston and Youthful Praise and performed alongside Darmarka Wheeler and Alexis Spight. I felt a shift in the direction of my life and, in 2010, I joined the Air Force. During my 6 years of service, I earned numerous medals and commendations, all the while teaching music and performing in countries across four continents, including Qatar, Ireland, Japan, Greece, Germany, England, and Italy.

 

Fast-forwarding a bit, I married my best friend. Together, we have three princesses and a new edition on the way. My wife and I co-founded Prophetic Sound Productions, a Christian music and media production company. I hold a BA in English Lit. from Grand Canyon University and two Master’s degrees from Liberty University. After my military service, I briefly worked as a Mortgage Loan Originator, providing much-needed mortgage information to an under-informed military and veteran community. It was my way of giving back to this country, and the brave men and women who served before, along, and after me. After this, I became an educator, teaching high school English, Speech, and History, while helping my students musically. I also conducted drum clinics, played at concerts and album releases, and produced two singles and an EP.

I relocated my family to Texas to devote more time to music and production. My personal mission is “releasing the sound God wants to hear” and teaching, instructing, and coaching others on how to do so. This is accomplished through lessons, FB Live, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, drum clinics, and one-on-one mentorship. I do all of this while pursuing my Doctorate degree, homeschooling my girls with my wife, and fulfilling church obligations. I attribute my current and any future success firstly to God, and then to the support and love of my family and friends.  

Checks and Balances

 

Now that introductions are done, we can get to the meat of this whole thing: How in the world did I do all of that? How did I juggle family, ministry, military/career, education, community service, AND music (both performance and production)? Two words: Checks and Balances. Checks and balances probably sounds a bit familiar. If you know anything of politics in most non-monarch countries, you’ve heard of it. It’s this awesome idea that nothing has too much power or sway. Boundaries and limits are set concerning the priority and latitude of things, such that is even, settled, and equal.

So, What's a Check?

I’m not talking about those “old” things people used to write to transfer money to other people (even though I still use them often). Here, a check refers to quality control. As a person, and certainly, as a musician, you need people to check you. Someone who will look you dead in your eye and tell you that the drum fill you just did was sloppy. Someone to look you square in the face and say that no one cares how well you can play if you show up late. For me, my sister and my musician brothers and sisters in Newburgh, NY were my checks. Before the military, we’d meet up as often as we can and have shed sessions. For those of you “across the pond,” a shed session is when a bunch of musicians get together and have a massive jam session: one unique catch is that there are multiple drum sets present. Everyone trades solos and everyone grows from each other’s creativity. Well after I left NY, I kept in contact with them, and we kept each other honest about our craft. They’d ask me if I’d been practicing or listening to any new music, and when I hadn’t, they’d let me know that they could tell. As social media expanded and progressed, and we all started posting videos 12-13 years ago, we’d review each other’s’ videos and provide candid feedback.

As I said, the check is not just about playing your instrument, or even music; it’s about life. I mean your entire life. Your entire life needs balance. Elsewise, the chaos spills into your music. Outside of music (though sometimes it applies to my singing), my wife is my check. She tells me when my professionalism is wavering. She let’s me know when my work ethic falters, and when I haven’t given a project my all. She, and my musical colleagues hold me accountable. They know when I’m half-stepping, when I’m cutting corners, and when I’m procrastinating. They call me out on it, in love, and they push me to be the very best version of myself possible.

 

Then There's the Balance

 

By now, you can already see where I’m going with this. Just like you need someone to check you, keep you straight, and push you beyond your self-imposed limits, you also need someone to provide balance. Here, balance is about knowing which limits to push, and which limits to maintain. So often, we run our bodies, minds, and creativity into the ground, all in an effort to break through blockages and barriers. This is especially true when we reach plateaus in our ideas or have deadlines for major projects. I have often found myself breaking my body and mind down well past exhaustion when digesting large amounts of material for a performance. We don’t do the best job of turning off our minds once we leave the studio/stage/rehearsal room. That’s why we need a balance. Someone to call us off. Someone to tell us “no/ wait/ not now / too soon.” For me, that’s my wife (big surprise lol), and my mother. This past year, I spent countless hours in my studio composing, arranging, mixing, recording, editing, studying, coaching, training, networking, etc. On multiple evenings, she had to come in there, save my work for me, put the Mac to sleep, turn off the studio lights, and grab me by the hand so that I could eat something for the first time that day. There were so many times that I was at my wit’s end trying to keep up with the demands and expectations I set for myself throughout the pandemic: to provide more content, to be more accountable to my goals and schedules, to learn more, to teach more, to be more. There were so many times that I had worked my mind close to delirium on how I could maximize my resources to accomplish more, grow my audience, and translate that growth into monetization. In those moments, when I was beyond exhaustion, it was my wife and mother that reassured me that it was ok to take a break. My good friends, Carlton Banks and Monique Sar ( C & Mo), and my Collision Mastermind Bro’s were the ones that reminded me that I was human, that mistakes were part of the growing process, and that the proper response to obstacles is sometimes to take a step back and find a way around rather than over. We need people to lean on when we are at the end of our ropes.

That's All, Ladies and Gentleman!

No mystery, no secret, no complex formula. The key to multitasking is support. The modern world has been indoctrinated to only think in terms of independence and individualism, and many musicians have taken the bait, to their detriment. We feel like we must do everything by ourselves. We see others as business opportunities, networking connections, etc., but we are so much more to each other than stepping stones to the “next”. We all have something to offer each other. We all have our own unique additions to contribute to the global community of musicians, past, present, and future. We are our best selves when we grow together. Find that circle that will hold you accountable AND make you rest. Find that group of friends that won’t accept less than your best, AND love you through and past your worst. Find your Checks & Balances, and not even the stars can limit your greatness.

Grace and peace family, and I’ll see you out there.

 

Marquis is an Endorsed Cruise Artist and Mastermind member with Collision Drumsticks. He has had a life jam-packed of amazing events, achievements, and accolades; from attending SUNY Albany University, travelling and performing across the globe whilst in the army, to co-founding Prophetic Sound Productions with his wife. Marquis has a BA and two Master’s degrees, and is currently pursuing his Doctorate. To learn more from Marquis himself, here’s how you can get in touch:

Marquis Faison

Artist Profile | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.