CONFORM CONFORM CONFORM
We all have a trait buried deep within our psyche that helped our species survive our long evolution: TO STAY WITHIN THE TRIBE. Hundreds of years ago, to be too different than the rest could cost you the potential to earn a living and be a part of the community. Thousands of years ago, to be an outsider of the community could mean survival itself; lost from the tribe, you would probably be taken down by extreme weather or starvation. So for us humans to get this far over eons of time we needed to not stray too far from the crowd, living our lives only in what was considered ‘normal’. This is good news because you are HERE and alive! But to stay with the safety of the crowd is an illusion because it will prevent you from living out your true potential as a drummer and person. It takes GRIT to fight against this natural part of us daily, to be more of you. OPEN HANDED DRUMMING opens the door of maximum self expression to leave as much of your fingerprint on your art as possible.
MORE OF YOU
Getting in the habit of ‘DIFFERENTIATION’ is to be content in the discomfort of taking the path less traveled. Any your favourites, from Harry Potter to Led Zeppelin to Muhammad Ali, all lived this ethos. A potent way to embody this attitude in drumming is through open handed drumming. This brings out more of YOU on your instrument, revealing to the world what makes you different from the rest.
Two great gifts that come from open handed drumming are the balancing of your hands by giving a more even amount of work to your weaker side, and by opening up more of your creativity by making available the entire spectrum of sounds from the drumset, laid out in front of you to uncover and discover.
* All the possibilities for maximum creativity open up to you
* Your weaker side gets better faster
The piano is the root to all other instruments because rhythm, melody, and harmony are laid out right under your hands. By it’s design, it has the quality of all possibilities being open to you, as your hands can go in any direction to explore the range of sounds at your fingertips. Why would you ever cross your hands on a piano? This would disconnect you from what makes the piano unique. This would CUT OFF possibilities, not open them up. Let’s approach the drumset in the same way. Why did drummers starting crossing their hands in the first place? This is a left over relic from the past that has become a loop echoing itself. No child exploring the drumset for the first time would NATURALLY cross their hands unless they are TOLD to do it, or unless they are IMITATING others that were told to do it, because they were imitating others, because they were told to … and so on. To stay CHILDLIKE on this instrument is the key to LONGEVITY. Curiosity, fun, and enthusiasm are always the fuel of evolution. In the LTR method we always want to ‘work with nature, not against’, and open handed drumming taps into this power beautifully to elevate our drumming to the best it can be.
How many Tesla cars have you seen on the road today? They are on the cutting edge of the evolution of automobiles, but you probably only saw one or maybe two Teslas on the road today, if that. But how many gas powered cars did you see today? 99%. If we look at the evolution of cars purely from efficiency and potential, Teslas are superior. In the future, the 99% and 1% ratio will be flipped. (100 years ago the first automobiles were the 1%, and horse drawn carriages were the 99%!) So what is wrong with gas powered cars anyway? The answer is NOTHING! Just because the edges are being pushed forward, it doesn’t make the normal BAD. A Ferrari is a gas powered car, and it is magnificent. In the drumming world, the 99% is that most of my favorite drummers are cross handed, and they are brilliant artists. But this is YOUR art, and the decisions you make now will shape your future. The goal is always to forge the best version of yourself that we can. Whenever anything pushes the edge of evolution toward possibilities and potential, it will be in the 1%. I want to push you there, and have you experience the big magic that comes from seeing that you’re capable of 100X more than you can possibly imagine.
Do you know the two rules of drumming? (There are only two) 1) There are no rules, and 2) Always follow rule #1! Therefore, there’s nothing WRONG with crossing. There is no right or wrong, but there are CONSEQUENCES. Playing either way will either open up possibilities, or cut them off. I want for you to play cross handed if it is a CHOICE and that you don’t get stuck there, imprisoned from ever unlocking your best ideas on the drums. Have the courage TODAY to live on the razor’s edge of what you are truly capable of!
YOUR FUTURE SELF
The definition of hell is meeting your future self and seeing what you could have been, but knowing that you didn’t take action. I’ve spent a lot of time with seniors, and those who have lived a long time and are closer to the end of their lives than at the beginning know the power of what regret truly means, and this is it.
I played cross handed drums for 17 years, and what made me switch was that I saw what my FUTURE SELF could become. It was scary but exciting at the same time, going from the known into the unknown. Life is a series of small deaths. For you to rise to your next level of excellence, the old you has to die and the new you is born. Clinging to the old, safe, and familiar simply is impossible. The Tibetan Buddhist monks have a ritual tradition called Sand Mandala. They design an elaborate detailed piece of art out of coloured grains of sand, painstakingly working until the composition is complete. The completed piece is breathtakingly beautiful with it’s vibrant colour, design, and attention to the tiniest of details. And then they sweep it all away, like an ocean wave swallowing up a castle made of sand. This ritual is to remind them that everything is temporary. As you move towards your future self, the person you are now will have to die a series of small deaths. Clinging to what is safe and familiar can only lead to regret. The goal is to meet your future self on your deathbed and die with a huge smile on your face, knowing you walked towards living your best self through ACTION.
It will always disrupt you to feel uncomfortable stretching towards these new places, as you stoke your creativity and strengthen your weaker side. There has to be a period of EMBRACING THE SUCK, but this is the price to be paid for pushing to the other side to uncover your greatness. Embracing the suck by definition feels crappy at the time, but this will always put you in a better place in the future. The goal is that you’ll look back on it feeling FULFILLED in the long term.
TAKING MASSIVE ACTION
Make SOME percentage of your playing OPEN HANDED now! Even if you only play this way a little at a time, the worst that will happen is you’ll come up with new ideas and your hands will balance out and get stronger. You’ll cultivate GRIT by going bravely into the unknown and trying something uncomfortable. Your future self will open up to something more incredible that you can possibly imagine.
Just because you are stretching yourself to open handed drumming, it doesn’t mean anything is permanent. This was a gradual process for me, stacking up the 1% wins which over time create massive results. If you practice open handed drumming and then decide to go back to cross handed drumming, it will actually be BETTER. To play open handed and then go back to cross handed because you like it, is EASY because you’ve earned the freedom. You’ve put in the time to be able to play both the left and right side of the drums, just like a piano. But the opposite is not true: to invest all your practicing into playing cross handed and THEN try to go to open handed is far more difficult, putting up barriers that keep you stuck in the past. Remember, MAXIMUM FREEDOM is the way forward towards MAXIMUM EXPRESSION.
As the years go by and you inevitably face your future self, you can do it with a massive smile on your face, living in gratitude for bringing into the world more of your best self through open handed drumming. Be the possibilitarian you were meant to become, and step boldly into the future!
For a deeper dive on open handed drumming, check out the roundtable with myself, Dom Famularo, Claus Hessler, and Stephane Chamberland!