Nine-year-old Jaxon Smith uses drumming as an outlet for ADHD and proves you can never start life too early

Imagine being a drummer and uploading a video to YouTube. It’s fairly common, something countless musicians do everyday.

But, all of a sudden the video goes viral and gets over 1 million views. This social media fame leads to a live performance for more than 20, 000 people and famous musicians start noticing your talent. Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron invites you to his concert and at the show, the singer,  Eddie Vedder gives you a shout out from his wine stained lips, an honour to any fan of the legendary band.

This may seem like a dream to many, but it’s just another day in the life of nine-year-old Jaxon Smith.

Early life

Jaxon was born three and a half months premature, also known as a micro preemie. Weighing only one pound, his father Kevin Smith says it was a nightmare for him and his wife, Andrea.

“Jax was in the hospital for almost four months,” explains Kevin. “There were some touch and go moments. Just getting him home was a huge milestone.”

As a result of being premature, Kevin says Jaxon was diagnosed with extreme attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, something he still deals with.

However, at a very early age Jaxon found the perfect outlet for all his energy.

Living in a house that always has music playing, Kevin says around two-years-old Jaxon was grabbing the speakers and dancing. Then started to tap the rhythm of songs with chopsticks and spoons.

When Jaxon was born premature, he weighed only one pound, 13 ounces.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Smith

“It was just in him to do,” says Kevin, reminiscing the earlier days. A photo of a young Jaxon playing the drums is on the computer screen behind Kevin in the office of his Calgary home.

“By the age of three he would wake up in the morning and say, ‘I want my Pearl Jam DVD,’ and he literally would sit for two hours on the couch watching a live Pearl Jam concert and just copy it, and drum everything,” he adds.

“There are days when he is just bouncing off the walls and up on the counter tops and it’s like, ‘Well go jump on your kit,’ and if he drums for an hour it really does seem to get that energy out,” Kevin says.

Kevin and Jaxon share a love of music. The duo has gone to numerous concerts together.

“He’s the best dad ever. He is actually really one of my best friends and he is my best friend because he’s my dad,” Jaxon says confidently.

Together, they have been to a collection of concerts such as Pearl Jam, Rush, Tragically Hip, Muse, Van Halen and Mötley Crüe.

“I didn’t like that band,” Jaxon says about Mötley Crüe. “They swear like every song, every second.”

A rise to fame

“Why would I never think I am performing in front of a million people, even though maybe only one video has a million views, right?” Jaxon shares his words of wisdom in his jam space at home. “I always play my best, I have never not played my best in my life.”

His red drum kit is illuminated in the background and he is still pumped up from his hockey team winning a city championship just a few hours earlier.

“I like everything about drumming and hockey. So, probably every moment that I have done with both of those would probably be the best moments,” Jaxon says.

In addition to Jaxon’s love of music and drumming, he is also a huge sports fan. When he isn’t playing sports he is watching them. He’s also dabbled in other instruments like the recorder and does hip-hop dance.

“I always play my best, I have never not played my best in my life.” 

– Jaxon Smith

As a treatment for Jaxon’s ADHD he takes Adderall, which helps him focus in energizing atmospheres like school.

“Everything in life just comes at him,” Kevin says. “He is highly sensitive to stimulus so I think the Adderall just lets him focus a bit and really helps him at school. I have noticed a difference.”

Still, Kevin believes Jaxon’s key to success is his natural instinct for music and that extra energy is a part of that.

“When he does drum, I think it certainly does get [energy] out,” Kevin says. “I think he drums better sometimes when he is not on the Adderall because he’s just got that extra, ya know, he just attacks it!”

But he truly is a normal nine-year-old boy, who modestly thinks it’s “good” and “awesome” that Canadian rock legends Rush retweeted his most recent video covering their song The Spirit of Radio at the Tim Hortons Brier on March 7.

Through Twitter, English rock band Muse recognized Jaxon’s cover of one of their songs. When Jaxon was at one of Muse’s concerts, the bands manager gave him the sticks drummer Dominic Howard used that night.

In addition to having over 5,000 followers on Twitter, other social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have been key components to Jaxon’s success.

When asked if he ever gets nervous with this much attention from people, he says no, as if anxiety is a foreign emotion to him.

“I’m never nervous in my life, and never will be,” he says.

Jaxon already has a diverse range of covers on YouTube. He has covered everything from Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO to The Pretender by the Foo Fighters which has had over one million views.

Although the response to his videos has mainly been positive, it wouldn’t be social media if there weren’t some negative comments and opinions.

“To me it’s all positive,” Kevin says. “He is starting to get to an age now at nine where he will read some of the comments, whereas when he was five, six and seven he never did. So, I am a little more conscious of that now. If someone says something mean, maybe I will delete it. I don’t really want him seeing that type of stuff. I want this to be a positive experience for him.”

Future plans

On top of School and Hockey, Jaxon recently started taking drum lessons and wants to learn guitar next. 

Photo by Skye Anderson
Kevin lights up with enthusiasm and awe thinking about Jaxon’s involvement with music thus far.

“What incredible experiences for a nine-year-old to perform at the Stampede for big crowds, perform at the Saddledome, get to meet these great bands,” Kevin says. “It’s already been way beyond my expectations for a nine-year-old.”

Kevin thinks the Stampede experience in particular was great for Jaxon because he finally got to be a part of something and share that with kids his age.

“I see him in a couple years maybe being a part of a band, maybe being part of a kid band,” Kevin says. “He is a very memorable kid.”

When asked about his future plans, Jaxon says he wants to continue drumming and playing hockey.

“I’m going to do drumming a lot, that’s going to be my main focus,” he says. “Then maybe my side would be hockey. And then maybe the next thing would be… I don’t know… every sport. Except cricket, I don’t like that, I don’t understand it.”

At least he has plenty of time to learn about cricket. After all, he isn’t even a decade old.

sanderson@cjournal.ca

To contact the editors responsible for this story; Garrett Harvey at gharvey@cjournal.ca; Bre Brezinski at bbrezinski@cjournal.ca