Growing up at home, playing a piano was a must every day for at least 30 minutes. As a child this was just another obligation she had to do but looking back today, it was then that her musical journey started.
Rita did not get an experience with drums until she started accompanying her aunt to her church rehearsals at Kampala Baptist Church. That is where she first saw drums. She would immerse herself in wonder of the drum set that she never took her eyes off. It was the love for the beats that arrested her.
“I was intrigued. I would observe keenly what the player did and I would go back home and replicate it. There were no drums at home but at least there was cutlery that would be used instead. Being a musical family, this was not a challenge. I was never told to shut up or that I was making noise. Instead, I was encouraged.
I would hang around the drums as I observed what the drummer was doing. One day he did not come and I was asked to play. Much as I was excited, I was very afraid too. I only played one beat throughout the song.
I thought it was a one off. To my surprise, I was asked to play on Sunday during the Sunday service. I was shocked. I was only nine. I could not even make use of the entire set. When I went home, I really felt bad of myself. I vowed never to play drums again.
I distanced myself from playing drums publicly but would replicate everything I watched in videos when I was alone. I took up playing the acoustic guitar.
In my S.3, I got bored with the guitar. Everyone was doing it. It was like the piano. I thought to myself why not go back to drums.
I was not ready for the reaction I got, the girls at school did not approve of me playing drums. They were deemed to be a boys’ thing. It hurt me. The good thing the boys were okay with it. Nonetheless, I continued playing.
I did not play that much after my O level. It was only after senior six that I decided to take on the drums again. I had always attended Cantata and All Night Sing here at Watoto. I could come for all the shows and my wish was to be on the stage one day.
During the All Night Sing of 2011/2012, I resolved to become serious at playing drums. I enrolled for classes. But even then, I was not so confident with them so I would instead go for the acoustic which I was very comfortable with.
The first day I played drums on stage was a miracle. It was abrupt. I had gone to play the acoustic at Watoto Kyengera when a phone call came through. The drummer at Watoto Ntinda had not been in position to make it. I had to go there to stand in for them. I had a clue of all the songs they were singing. I was a decent drummer but short of confidence.
That ride from Kyengera to Ntinda was the longest boda boda ride I ever had. I was wondering what I was going to do with myself before the congregation. But I made it and I did a very good job. I was retained on the team.
They were very encouraging and helpful. I started playing for the classic service at Watoto Central. That year, I mustered all the confidence I could and approached Graham Tugume for permission to play the acoustic at that year’s Cantata. There has never been harm in asking. The worst I could get would be a no.
That gave me the confidence to play on. From then on, I set the bar higher for myself. I became very observant of Edwin. He was the main drummer that time and I wanted to be as good as him. At one point the listener could not tell whether it was him or I playing.
I played on.
It was hard. There is a way people look at you as a girl playing drums but I learnt early to shut the noise out. I don’t play drums because I want the spotlight. The shy person I am, I don’t want the attention. Playing drums for me is ministry. I am stewarding God’s given skill.
The beauty with playing drums is in working as a whole worship team. My joy is when the worship brings people at the feet of Christ. It is never about me. I do not want it to be about me. When the comments cease to be about me and it is the bigger picture about the worship, then it makes me happy because we work as a team. It is never about me.
Knowing the purpose of doing something keeps you grounded when the doubts set in. When you feel like you are not good enough, purpose reminds you why you started. And if you are doing something for God, it liberates you to know that He is the one that gives strength.
Becoming good at something especially music does not come by sitting around, you have to put in the work. You have to practise. The more hours you put in, the better you become. I push myself a lot.
I want to play drums for as long as I am able to. Playing drums is therapy for me. I look forward to becoming a professional worship leader. Every time I sit on the drum set, I come alive. To be given an opportunity to play drums to for Christ is something I am forever grateful for.
If you want something, go for it. The worst that can happen is a no when you ask. Maximise the time you have now and put it to full utilisation. Surround yourself with people who know and support you. People who will not judge you or bring you down but will instead encourage and build you.”