Like a lot of people, Steve Schlosser struggled to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. “I went through all kinds of different things in college, decided to be a college professor, so I was in the middle of my master`s program,” said Schlosser.
He did know that he loved music, and especially, keeping a beat. “I`ve been a drummer since I was 11, and taught drum lessons since I was 14, and even all the way through high school,” said Schlosser. But people told him, that drumming was a hobby, not a career. So Steve made a last ditch effort to use his talent and his passion.
“I thought this is my last thing to do with my love of drums was to see if teaching and sharing music and then putting it into a show of some sort could be a way to help kids realize that you can have fun, learn a skill, share it with another person, change a life,” said Schlosser.
It started small, with only 4 drummers and one practice site, but pretty soon the idea started catching on. The group grew to about 30 drummers, at two practice sites. And then, without warning, what started out as a hobby, just took over. 17 years later, now called “Sheltered Reality,” the group that Steve started is all over the Midwest, reaching 11 states and thousands of people of all ages,
Steve makes it a priority to visit all 30 practice sites, but a lot of his time is spent with the Des Moines group. During practice, Steve leads everyone from 4 years to 80 years in learning new rhythms, sounds, and dances.
But it’s about more than drumming, “We surround our program with what we call steps to success,” said Steve, “things like never giving up, believing in yourself, doing whatever you have to do to help something succeed.”
Leaders also make sure to talk about things like drugs and alcohol prevention, and bullying. Steve explained that while they are old concepts, today’s kids sometimes need constant reminding.
“Until we get kids to realize that that`s not success- when you hurt somebody else you`re not living a successful life, we are going to keep drumming and keep sharing a message until all people realize that as you interact with others, learn they are going to be different, but you need to respect that difference,” said Steve.