So proud to have been featured
on the cover of Drums Etc!
Just posted my latest video that is accompanying my article in the Nov/Dec percussion issue of Canadian Musician Magazine. Push out of your comfort zone!
5 Ways To Dive Out Of Your Comfort Zone
My teacher Dom Famularo always said to me ‘the path of most resistance leads to the most amount of growth’. I have found this to be true, many times learning the hard way. All growth truly lies in the dis-comfort zone. So if you’re not uncomfortable regularly, if you’re not failing regularly, you’re not being the best you can be! Let’s look at 5 ways that I have found to be the most effective in growing both as a musician, and as a person.
In this business, you have to develop a thick skin. If people know you can take it, they will let you know what they really think. This is hard on the ego, but the ego is the enemy of music; thinking you’re the best ever, is just as bad as thinking you suck. (Neither is true)
Most of us want to avoid any criticism, we all want to sound good on our instruments! (And impress the girls at the gig) Getting compliments feels good for a job well done. However, I would rather get constructive criticism from the other musicians in the band, than a compliment from another drummer any day. You may hear from the singer that the amazing fill you pulled off actually jarred her phrasing, or from the soundman that your new groove idea has too many bassdrum notes for the low end balance, or from the guitarist that you rushed during his solo. (I have heard all the above) Get into this habit; this is thinking like a true musician, and you will grow faster. Serve the music first; you are a servant.
BE THE WORST IN THE BAND
I like to be the worst in the band! Being the best may feel good on the surface, but I won’t be pushed to a higher level, to play better than I thought I was capable of. I think it’s actually good to feel a little bit of fear, asking ‘can I do this, can I pull this off?’ All of the greats of drumming have felt like this at some point, all of them purposely put themselves in these situations for the most growth.
The ironic thing is, when you’re the worst on the band all you have to do is play the simplest groove and you will sound all the better because what others will craft over your idea. In my band modus factor I definitely experience this, I am lucky to work with excellent players. Continually being challenged and inspired by who I’m with makes for creating some great music!
One of the most challenging things about true practice is that we are constantly being faced with what we’re NOT good at. (yet) This is both very frustrating and humbling, but we must stay in the beginner mind, to always think like a student and never the master. If you are frustrated, you are growing!
I remember being at the KOSA music program a few years ago, and walking down a hallway full of practice rooms. As I walked down the hall I heard a fast drum solo to my left, an amazing samba to my right, they all sounded great. But at the end of the hallway, I heard someone that sounded like a 4 year old just learning to drum, slowly putting together something interesting. As I approached the door and looked in, it was Marco Minnemann! He was painstakingly putting together many of the ideas that would later become his book Extreme Interdependence. No one sounds good when they are first learning.
EMBRACE WHAT YOU’RE NOT GOOD AT
Many times I’ll spend a part of my practice purposefully playing grooves and styles that I’m not good at. If you listened in on me during these times, it definitely wouldn’t sound like a performance! I go as slow as I can, repeating many times, while basically giving myself permission to sound bad. It’s all about finding the torture you love. Great comedians like Jerry Seinfeld painfully bombed many jokes at first, to get the big laughs at the end result we all see. Every movement on the drums is slowly earned over time, so make sure you have a portion of your practice on something you are not good at. (yet) Don’t try to sound good today, and it will be great down the road.
Show me a musician that practices 10 hours a day, and I’ll show you someone very hard to get along with. The player that is easy to hang out with and stays positive, willing to learn and is energized, comes prepared and is on time, will succeed over the drummer with the fastest hands. Many times someone who can play circles around you won’t get the gig and you will because of your qualities as a person. Music, as with most business, is all about who you know! Every step forward I have taken, is because of a relationship that started somewhere small. I have found myself playing music around the world with amazing musicians, all of which started with a handshake. The act of making music is about genuine friendships and community. It’s the seed that grows, and when meeting someone today, who knows where this can lead for our unwritten future!