*This is an excerpt from the book ‘LTR METHOD, unleashing your best self through the power of drumming’. Get the full program at chrislesso.com
What is open handed drumming? Simply, it’s not crossing your hands. Why? As you read earlier in the LTR METHOD, there is no right or wrong. AND all your favorite drummers play with their hands crossed. So why go against the grain? Because when obstacles are removed, freedom expands. The goal of the LTR METHOD is to empower you with BOLD SELF EXPRESSION. This means speaking your authentic true voice, proudly displaying what makes you UNIQUE for all the world to see. This game is not for everyone; there are many other books on the market that will help you play like everybody else, but this is not one of them. In fact, it’s probably not for the majority of drummers out there, and that’s ok.
Why is this a big part of the LTR METHOD? This path is for those that want the edge to push them towards their best selves. You can still go through this cross handed, but you would be missing the spirit and attitude that is the foundation. Two of the guiding values of the LTR method is GROWTH and SELF EXPRESSION. Having the base of open handed mindset and drumming to draw from will empower you to grow into your potential. But only AFTER putting in that work, if playing crossed feels good to you in an artistic way, then go for it! We have no rules here. But if you’re playing crossed because ‘it feels easier’, ‘it’s always been done that way’, or ‘this is the way I was taught’, then this is not the core of the LTR method. Steve Jobs captured this in the ads he created with Apple. People aren’t buying Apple just because they’re great machines, but for those core values which permeates into the design itself.
Populate your world with those that value fearlessly being the best version of themselves over fitting in with the conventional norm. This can be found in learning about similar thinkers in domains beyond drumming. Let’s meet gold medal Olympian Dick Fosbury.
THE STORY OF DICK FOSBURY AND ‘THE FOSBURY FLOP’
Did you do the high jump in school track and field? This is a sport where the object is to run at a high standing bar and jump over it without touching it. The high jump has been a part of the Olympic games since the beginning. The accepted technique for many years was running face first towards the bar and doing a standing jump. But at the Olympic games in 1968 Dick Fosbury single handedly revolutionized the sport, doing it a completely different way. As he ran towards the bar, at the last part of the run he faced away from the bar, jumping over it back first. This looks normal to us now, and if you’re like me this is the way I was taught in school. But at the time it was revolutionary.
Having a background in mechanical engineering, Dick used his knowledge to see how his body could move more efficiently. He saw that if he arched his back when jumping, his center of gravity would stay below the bar even as his body sailed over it. This was his innovation using the first principle of the LTR method: ‘work with nature and not against’. Getting his body into the arched position was a massive ergonomic advantage. Believing in himself and his innovation, Dick made the switch and reinvented his technique.
To be rewarded for his forward thinking change to the sport, he was made fun of and ridiculed. Newspapers called him the ‘world’s laziest high jumper’ because of his backwards stance. Others said he looked like a ‘two legged camel’. He had an awkward style doing things his own way, even wearing mismatched sneakers to compete on the day of the games. He was dismissed as an oddity and a curiosity, written off by the established elite. But by rethinking the way it had always been done and believing in himself when no one else did, he shocked the world by setting a new Olympic world record with his Fosbury flop technique, winning the gold medal in the process. From that point on, his disruptive innovation completely changed the best practices and philosophy of the high jump athletic discipline. Within a few years after this event, the “Fosbury flop” would become the conventional technique for the high jump athlete. What started as an innovation, became a revolution, and is now the STANDARD.
This is open handed drumming.
THE FIRST PIONEER: BILLY COBHAM
The Dick Fosbury of the drumming world would be Billy Cobham. He was he first drummer to play open handed in the late 1960’s, at a time when NO ONE did this, rethinking the art form in the process, and scaring so many drummers of that time. He had the courage to do what made sense to HIM, following his heart and intuition. Billy is a great example of how to get BETTER as you get older! If you keep this value strong of listening to your own voice and constantly pushing the edges of your potential, you will tap into the fountain of youth like Billy has, with an inexhaustible spirit of fire to all that you do.