Advice on how to say no to family/friend gatherings because of time spent on drumming.

It doesn’t affect my work life since I am on a set schedule but my friends and family just don’t understand when I tell them I have to practice.
If drums and music are your passion, it doesn't matter if they don't understand. You only go around once. Do it for yourself. They'll survive, so will you.
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Dude, have a little bit of a life, too! It’s good to get out now and then. I miss stuff occasionally because of gigs (and because I’m a miserable recluse) but never just to sit at home and practice unless I’m on a time crunch to prep for a gig.
It's great to have drumming be part of your life, but it can't be your whole life. Family is always more important.

I've been juggling/balancing/managing drumming with the events and people in my life for more than 40 years, and came through it all with a successful career in music that didn't destroy friends and family. No regrets here.

You don't want regrets. Make sure your priorities are in order. Don't sacrifice family or relationships for the drums. It's not worth it.
This. Words of wisdom.
I knew from the moment I ever touched a pair of drumsticks I wasn't going to be the next Neil Peart. I never planned to make drumming my career or "make it big". You shouldn't either. Treat drumming as a hobby, a hobby you love; but not a career.

On the flip side, knowing when to say "no" is an an important tool in your life toolbox. You gotta become adept at this or people will run you ragged. Examples from my life:

1. Employer wants me to run daily errands using my car to pick up 100's of pounds of raw materials without additional compensation or mileage. Answer: "no".

2. Extended family wants me to drive 3 hours one way to assist with little projects around the yard: Answer: "no".

3. Neighbor wants to access my wooded acreage with heavy equipment, causing much damage in order to harvest some downed trees for firewood. Answer: "no".

4. Bar patron claiming to be a drummer wants to sit in for a couple of songs during a gig. Answer: "no".
Drum practice ranks dead last as far as priorities go, at least in my world view. There is always something more important to do.

If friends and family are giving you feedback that your priorities are messed up, you should not ignore that feedback, even if you disagree and can justify whatever you are doing to elicit that reaction. If more than one person makes that observation, the odds of them being wrong is extremely low.
I schedule what amounts to ~95% of my week every Sunday morning while I drink tea and get my day going. Between rehearsals and meetings, it becomes clear to me what times I have available to practice, and I block them out. Those times are my time, and I take them serious in the way I take my gym/therapy/work seriously. If someone hits me up to hang out and I'm not free, I tell them I'm not free. BUT I then take it upon myself to ask the follow up question of, "but when are you free next?" and do the legwork of scheduling a time to hang out. They're not entitled to me explaining what I do with my personal time, nor am I obligated to give them long winded answers. I set a schedule, I work hard to stick to it in order to preserve my own habits, and systems. My time with friends is no different. I also try and think of one fun thing I want to do each week with a friend, and then schedule that as well. Example: I've been craving bowling lately, and this week used it as an opportunity to hit up a buddy and his partner/kiddo that don't get out enough.

Side note, but this boundary setting has also resulted in a friendship based on a sort of "parallel practice". An old bandmate of mine lives in an apartment and can't practice at his house so he actually brings his horn over and practices in the guest bedroom while I drum because he thrives on the "accountabilibuddy" system, then we usually get stoned and talk about life afterwards. I also had an ex who loved to sit on the floor and journal while I drummed. Said the volume and repetition helped her think.

If those you're close to love and respect you (and you them), they will be malleable to your boundaries (and you to theirs) and the friendships will still happen most of the time (some friendships also just fizzle because we grow apart).
I appreciate everyone that so far has contributed their opinions and past experiences.

Someone mentioned using this as a form of avoiding other activities and as I reflect, it’s true. I feel I was privileged enough to do all that fun stuff since I was 14 when my parents decided to move to another country. At such a young age, I was able to attend amazing parties, the clubbing, the movies. Moved back home to LA and continued enjoying the gigs, concerts, college experiences, the dating, dinners at fancy places, amusement parks, tv shows, etc.

I still enjoy traveling/sight seeing, somewhere completely new, but all I can think lately is music and drumming; meeting more musicians. I feel like I rather be drumming then hanging out drinking a beer or watching the popular show or movie.

Grandma and Grandpa are retired and don’t live close to me. So I opened up a social media accounts to show my progress and they get to see me. And typically give me feedback. I’ve noticed that my true friends and loving family members are understanding of what I’m doing.

Truly, I thank each and everyone of you. I can reflect on all these responses and come up with a healthy music/life balance. And have better responses when I am asked to a gathering of some sort.

Btw, someone mentioned Whiplash. That movie was comedy! The protagonist would over do it 😂 for no apparent reason. It’s entertainment so I get it!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! 🙏🏼
When single and gigging, my friends and family all knew my schedule. It was no big deal, like keeping working hours, only a practice routine instead.

I would visit/hang out when available, and everyone was okay with that.
I think there is responsibilities from both parties in a relationship.

If someone knowingly enters into a relationship with a drummer for example, that person has to respect the importance that drumming has to the other person.

If one person rolls their eyes, or vetos everything about just ain't gonna work.

In return, the drummer needs to compromise too.

Practicing say for example an hour a day or some other arrangement which will allow quality time with friends and family.
On one hand you don't want to alienate family but on the other hand you should capitalize on your youthful energy to move yourself ahead towards your goals. So each situation you have to weigh what's best right then.

I think it's more important for you to do you than to please others though

No advice, just trying to see the battlefield from above
It doesn’t affect my work life since I am on a set schedule but my friends and family just don’t understand when I tell them I have to practice.
Why don't you try putting your practice routine on a "set schedule" just like your job. Sounds like a no brainer?
Its more than just tolerating family impact on your instrument progress.

Its about allowing music to take its proper place in your a 'descriptor' not 'a thing described' as 'the describer' of your life not 'your life'....otherwise you get the music you deserve(in a bad way both figuratively and literally).

Taking music as 'a thing described' leads to the wide array of dysfunction that is trite in the music industry including music's poor quality(imho).

If the influences in your 'career' don't get this, get new influencers right now.
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