Mirna Ayshoa is a drummer from Iraq, who works and lives in the United States. She started playing drums at age 27, the late-for-her start she attributes to music not being encouraged in her culture, especially not for women. Her father bought her a tabla, however, so she played that starting around ten years old. She is one of the few female drummers from Iraq who play a whole drum set. Ayshoa wants to inspire other women from her country to do play drums.

Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW), aims to recognize, celebrate, and inspire female percussionists of all stripes. Each Wednesday we’ll feature a profile of a drummer, who will share tips, advice, and videos. Want to be featured yourself? Send an email to anna.pulley@stringletter.com telling us more about you.

What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?

I’ve played with groups and musicians in and around Colorado. Though not committed to any at this point.

What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?

I was inspired by a local band in Colorado called Knockout Mice. Their songs were like a music rebirth to me. I listened to them every day. They inspired me to learn to play and they have been helping me through my journey.

Also my church has been very supportive and their drummer’s worship leader got me started on some drumming techniques.

Who is your favorite drummer and why?

Sheila E. because she’s a female drummer and a singer. I sing, too. I have been singing for a very long time back home and here in seven different languages. Seeing her kind of performances inspire me to want to be like her. She plays standing up. I like seeing her in the front of the stage. That’s what I hope to see again in the drumming community.


Lars Ulrich is inspiring, too, because of how much confidence he has in himself and his playing and how fearlessly creative he is.


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How do you practice? Do you have a routine?

I practice everyday. I play on different drum sets so that I get used to everything. I play an hour at least, both boring things and fun stuff, too.

Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?

I discovered that imagining myself and thinking about myself doing a specific move or groove on drums helps me to actually do it. So basically mental strength and self-confidence are the biggest factors. Imagine yourself to be your favorite drummer and start playing. That’s what I do. Yet daily practice is important. Certain muscles take time to change, so patience is something I continue to learn through this process.

As artists, the goal post for “success” is always moving. There’s not one “I made it!” point. How do you think about and define success?

Success to me is when people see my drumming and say, “I want to do this, too.” Or, “I want to watch this again.” And I have heard and read comments like that. That’s all that matters to me. Just being an inspiration to one person is enough.

It’s also great to cover local musicians’ songs because then they feel happy that they inspired someone or made someone enjoy their music.


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How important is failure in making music/performing?

Failure isn’t an option. It’s just part of the process.

Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?

So many things in life I was told I couldn’t do by people who were so close to me, and I did. People tell us that we can’t do this or that because they believe they cannot do it themselves. So they see others through the eyes of their own limitations. Don’t let other people’s limitations determine yours. I did what the culture told me was wrong and not for women. Culture isn’t what decides your future. Make your own culture.

Where else to find Mirna

YouTube. Instagram.