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The Eternal Student

A true master would never call themselves a master, but rather an eternal student of the instrument. This is why I feel it’s important to always be studying,
learning, and taking lessons to learn a new aspect of the craft and add to our personal expression on the instrument. I have taken piano lessons for many years for this reason, as learning another instrument can help your drumming by working on your ear and widening your listening skills. Bass guitar, singing, dancing, martial arts etc., any lessons in these areas will improve your drumming! (Many years ago, I had fun taking 7 months of tap dancing lessons for this reason).

I am currently studying Indian rhythms on the Tabla. The Indian rhythmic tradition goes back many hundreds of years and has much to offer and to be applied on the drumset. This is just starting to be tapped into by various drummers much like Cuban rhythms were being applied to the drumset in the 1940’s and 50’s.

I believe it’s also important to work on yourself as a person just as much as working on the instrument itself; ‘The Kind Of Person You Are, Is The Kind Of Artist You Will Be’. Billy Cobham has said to ‘Think of the Drums as a Character Mirror’. Who you are as a person will come out on the instrument, and shape the stories you tell on the drums.

HERE ARE MY MAIN TEACHERS AND MENTORS:

HOW TO PRACTICE | The 3 Minute Rule

THE 3 MINUTE RULE | The Power Of Consistency And Habit

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy-j_OzjJA0[/embedyt]

‘Don’t break the chain. Your only job is to not to break the chain!’ These are not the words of a drummer, but of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Asked, how he works on his craft, he responded he writes at least one joke a day, every day. Even if he doesn’t feel like it, even if he feels extremely unfunny. Every day means without missing a day, like building links to a chain. The job is not to come up with brilliance every day, or to carve out a huge amount of practice time, or to be perfect; the job is just to be consistent, to not break the chain.

There is great power in consistency and habit. This is the big secret to greatness and genius, NOT talent. Work on your craft every freaking day! The name ‘3 Minute Rule’ comes from what I tell myself when I don’t feel like practicing: ‘I will at least play for 3 minutes, I can do that…’. The goal is to not miss a day connecting with your instrument, to let the feeling sweep over you of what brought you to drumming in the first place and surrendering to it, letting it guide you.

Perhaps you’ve been to the Grand Canyon. The awesome shaping and sculpting of the massive rocks and canyons was done by a substance seemingly as weak as water. But done consistently, one drop at a time over millions of years … the result takes your breath away! And the same will happen with you. Your individual expression you must take shape one day at a time. Not ‘every now and then’, and not ‘when I can get to it.’

What if you were able to make one straight year of playing every day, at the very least, 3 minutes? Here in lies the power and force of momentum, which comes from creating habit. Willpower doesn’t work, habits and rituals do! This way, practice becomes an addiction, not an affliction. Fire up those neurons in your mind every day, and the connection between body, mind, and instrument becomes stronger each and every time. The most common excuse of not practicing is, you guessing it … ‘I don’t have enough.. TIME!’ The 3 Minute Rule is a trick you play on your own mind, the voice that tells you to relax and to ‘do it tomorrow’. EVERYONE can find 3 minutes! Now of course, you will need to practice generally more that 3 minutes, (that’s not even a full song!) but if that’s all you got in on your worst day, then at least you’ve mastered yourself and had time with your instrument you otherwise wouldn’t have; this adds up.

What would you rather have, a penny that doubles in value every day for 30 days, or $3 million right now in cash? Most people would choose the quick cash, and until about day 20 you would still be pretty happy with that decision, as the penny stock has only made it to just over $5000. But if you can wait out the 30 days, you will now have over $10 million dollars! Doing a small act every day without fail creates massive momentum that can shatter your ceiling of achievement, of what you previously thought possible within yourself. I want to see and hear more of YOU on your instrument … I am invested in your own personal SOUND, the one everyone already has within them. You can only sound like YOU, and no one else.

You’ve heard ‘the hardest part of working out is getting to the gym’. The 3 Minute Rule is tricking yourself of getting your butt onto that drum throne. Once you are there, sticks in hand in front of our amazing instrument … well, you will most likely find that you CAN’T stop after 3 minutes, you will want to keep going! You will probably go at least 15 minutes, or 45 minutes, or an hour or two. But even if it WAS only 3 minutes, you’ve kept the coals of consistency burning, and you’ve pushed that next domino forward to keep and build your momentum. And as Seinfeld says: ‘your only job is don’t break the chain.’ You’ve now created a habit that ‘gets you to the gym’, no matter what. You’ve now created a habit that silences the master excuse writer inside your mind. You’re now riding the wave of momentum, so remember: DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN!

UNLEASH YOUR BEST SELF THROUGH DRUMMING! Chris Lesso with Dom Famularo

We are live with Dom Famularo! In this LTR CONNECT workshop, we battle the dangers of loosing our inspiration, and becoming isolated as anxiety builds and erodes our enthusiasm for the drumming we love.

What YOU have to say on the drums matters! You will learn how to TAKE ACTION to become your best self through drumming today to avoid a life of regret, and live your joy through music. We are stronger together!

Grow your drumming GROOVE, ENERGY, and ENTHUSIASM with Randy Cooke

Randy Cooke epitomizes the crucial mix of being not only an amazing drummer, but an outstanding PERSON. This is the LTR attitude in drumming and life. You DON’T want to have the fastest hands on the block, and have no sense of humour. Show me someone that practices 8 hours a day, and I’ll show you someone really hard to get along with. Smile, get out there in the world, and make the world a better place because you’re in it. This is what Randy lives every day, and why he’s a great success. Find out how in this awesome hour together! We became not only better drummers, but better people as we came together for the synergy of becoming our best selves through drumming!

Through LTR CONNECT we bring in the best people and drummers around the world to help us turn obstacles into opportunities. We are stronger TOGETHER.

Follow Chris for free tools to unleash your BEST SELF THROUGH DRUMMING!

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facebook.com/ChrisLessoLTR
youtube.com/user/ChrisLessoChannel

How to use DRUMMING to get through challenging times (with Claus Hessler and Mike Sleath)

Who is in YOUR circle? Who refuels and recharges you when you’re down? There is a great danger in trying to ‘lone-wolf’ it when you face challenges, so lean in on those around you to become your best self through drumming when you’re down and out! We are stronger TOGETHER.

Through LTR CONNECT we bring in the best people and drummers around the world to help us turn obstacles into opportunities, and today we will learn from the amazing Claus Hessler and Mike Sleath.

‘King Ghidorah: The 3 Headed Monster’ (on DRUMS)

This song is about attitude and groove, everything drumming is about. The attitude to be unapologetically YOU, and the groove of creating MOVEMENT. In this track by my band modus factor, Ian DeSouza improvised a killer bass line, and Brownman layers trumpet lines with effects and tone. This song is about energy and vibe, taking the name King Ghidorah based on the three headed Japanese dragon monster character. The dragon also represents slaying the fear that resides within YOU and everyone, reminding us to face and slay our dragons of self doubt and resistance that we all must face daily.

Find your own GROOVE and ATTITUDE to become your best self through drumming!

King Ghidorah is from the album ‘The Picasso Zone’ by modus factor on Browntasauras records, available on all streaming platforms. Own the album HERE: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/modusfactor

modus factor is:
BROWNMAN – Trumpet / Illegal Effects (Jay Z)
IAN DESOUZA – Bass / Kaos Beats (Sisters Euclid)
CHRIS LESSO – Drums / Beatz (Independent)

How to lower ANXIETY through DRUMMING (with Navy SEAL David Rutherford)

“Being a musician means being part of a total experience—no winning, no losing.” Jim Blackley

Anxiety and depression levels are at all time highs. How do we handle the amount of distraction pummelling us day in and day out from every direction on the battlefield of life? Our brains didn’t evolve to deal with the pace that the exponential rise in technology gives us. The speed of life is our double edged sword, giving us access to limitless information at any time but taking its toll on our peace of mind. We go to videos games, TV binge watching and social media to find relief, but this only RAISES our anxiety. Recovery from the noise is a NECESSITY not a luxury, and practices that fuel our FUN and ENTHUSIASM are the answer. Discipline to create SPACE is where peace of mind lives.

The root word of anxiety of TO DIVIDE. Even though tools of technology connect us like never before, so many of us feel isolated. Since we become the five people that we spend the most time with, this is where COMMUNITY comes in. Mentors can be found anywhere, and they don’t even have to be alive! Through books we can see into the arc of history that delivers perspective to the present. Living inside a past you can’t change breeds depression, and looking too far into a future you can’t control can creates fear. Taking a deep breath and being in the RIGHT NOW is where we can best guide our STATE. The obstacle becomes the way forward. What looks like a wall that blocks us, is often the bottom of the next step that we have to rise over.

There’s something about moving to music that is guaranteed to change your state every time. You can be sad when doing activities like painting or writing, but your physiology will not let you feel down when you are DANCING. And to DRUM is to dance! This is where we achieve flow through movement, connection through music, and where we strive forward relentlessly to become our best selves through drumming every day.

Why you MUST keep your WHITE BELT MENTALITY in drumming and life (with Tommy Igoe)

Thinking you’re above simplicity, minimalism, and the fundamentals, is the root to the disaster of your evolution, and the ceiling of your learning. Having a never ending ‘white belt mentality’ or a beginner’s mind is the key to discovering possibilities and living your potential through drumming and life. There are worlds waiting to be revealed by looking deeply into simplicity to experience the depth. The legends of our craft were all life long students. They knew that to work with nature and not against, tapping into the long game through compounding time reveals our absolute best through the power of an exponential rise. There is no END POINT. This is a lifestyle where we CHOOSE to experience curiosity, enthusiasm, and the joy of discovery. We don’t have to, but we GET to do this every day! Masters of minimalism fascinate me. Think of drummers like Phil Rudd and Ringo Starr, or song writers like Neil Young and Willie Nelson. How did they do so MUCH with so LITTLE? The answer lies in the realization that music is so much more than just NOTES. It is phrasing, emotion, and SPACE. They turn their weaknesses into strengths by doing more with less. They create things of depth with simplicity. Time spent exploring what you DON’T do matters.

“Half my life is an act of revision.” John Irving

Deciding what to CUT AWAY is the playground where the real masters play. The root meaning of the word decision is ‘to cut away’, and knowing what to DELETE will refine your expression to give more of YOU to your drumming and life. Becoming a life long student is to embody the art of NOT doing as well as taking action. Drummers all have in common a passion, energy, and a hunger to learn, but this can lead to information overload by taking on too much. This is when well meaning enthusiasm leads to worlds of frustration, and I’ve fallen into this trap myself many times. As the ancient maxim says, ‘the man who chases two rabbits catches none.’ Anyone taking on a path of mastery has learned the hard way that you can’t reach the summit of accomplishment with willpower alone. Having the humility to see the vastness of how much went before you and what will come after you, is where the masters live.

“What I love doing is cold calling people and getting their book list. What did you read? What did you learn?” Kobe Bryant

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant lived the white belt mentality lifestyle, always staying a humble student of the craft. Taking on new challenges after his retirement, he would approach anyone he wanted to learn from that could help guide him to new areas unexplored. The world is your teacher, and just by reaching out to those whom you look up to with the right QUESTIONS, the answers you get have the power to alter the trajectory of your life. Anyone you choose can be your mentor, and you would be surprised how giving most people are with their hard earned expertise and life experiences that can saving you years of toil and frustration. On Kobe’s list of self chosen teachers was billionaire Chris Sacca to learn about finance, designer Giorgio Armani to learn about retirement, and titan Oprah Winfrey for business advice. He has even studied cheetahs to learn about the way they move and hunt. He also posed his insatiable curiosity to legendary music composer John Williams to learn about leadership. What does conducting an orchestra have to do with basketball? If you’ve got all those musicians at your fingertips, knowing how all the different parts come together to harmonize is essential. Keeping them all together to make one glorious sound is a big accomplishment, and looks easier than it really is. All those different sections uniting under one leader was the overlapping lesson Kobe took to the basketball court. Something we learned earlier in the LTR METHOD, is that to master your craft you have to go OUTSIDE of it. Kobe had the perspective to draw the parallel between conducting a world class orchestra to leading a basketball team to multi championships. To guide others, Williams also told him that it’s better to ask people questions than to tell them what to do if something is wrong. To remain humble is to ask better questions to others, and to yourself.

Kobe’s office. Notice the framed pictures of his mentors J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, among others. This is an ancient concept you’ll see in yoga and martial arts spaces of keeping the presence of your teachers close to you through pictures, symbols, and totems.

Learning to ask better QUESTIONS is the key to a life of living the white belt mentality. Letting your ego hijack your learning is the beginning of your decline. Think of your brain as a connection making machine. Whatever questions you pose to yourself, your brain will give you an answer. The QUALITY of your questions have the power to keep you on the path of being a lifelong learner, or to bring you to the doorstep of disappointment and obsolescence. Asking yourself questions like ‘why does this always happen to me?’ will never give you empowering answers. A revealing question I always go to is ‘what’s the opportunity here?’ When you can learn use what life gives you as FUEL, the obstacle in front of you actually becomes the way FORWARD. But you just won’t see it if you’re clouded by your own ego. Detach to see how much BIGGER this is than you to keep your WHITE BELT MENTALITY at all costs.

This knowledge is of course not new. The ancient book ‘Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai’ written nearly 300 years ago by Yamamoto Tsunetomo captures the essence of the Japanese Samurai bushido warrior spirit. There is a passage advising the path of the aspiring Samurai to one of life long learning. ’This person is aware of the endlessness of entering deeply into a certain Way and never thinks of himself as having finished. He truly knows his own insufficiencies and never in his whole life thinks that he has succeeded. He has no thoughts of pride but with self-abasement knows the Way to the end. It is said that master Yagyū once remarked, “I do not know the way the defeat others, but the way to defeat myself.” Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.’

 

The 5th limb in drumming is THE VOICE

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MkvftVCYUY[/embedyt]

‘If you can say it, you can play it’

What holds so many drummers back from being all they can be, is not using the 5th limb of THE VOICE. Speaking rhythms is our reference point to create a SOUND. This tool is utilized so much more effectively outside of North America. Writing and reading music has it’s place, but being able to hear and speak the rhythms can lead us to a stronger sound, which is always the goal. Oral rhythmic traditions can be heard in Japanese, African, Cuban, and so many other learning of rhythms around the world, but nowhere is the art of vocal drumming more developed than in India. 

Studying music in North America, counting is FAR overused. Counting is a good tool, but different parts of the brain are being used that can get in the way of creativity, memorization, and dropping into flow states when drumming. When I went to India and studied the rhythms there, the way I learned was in the oral tradition. My teacher would get mad if anyone tried to write. Only listening and speaking allowed! 

Konnakol is a series of rhythmic syllables that come from India. The drumset as we know it is just over a century old, but Indian rhythmic systems have been around for hundreds and maybe thousands of years! Indian music has evolved over this long arc of time to have a highly developed percussive vocabulary, fusing simplicity, elegance, and richness. The system is strictly taught orally, which challenges the listening, concentration, and memory skills of the student. They work because they’ve been forged over long periods of time.

India has a population of over a BILLION people, so the differences in traditions, schools, and styles is vast. There is a big difference in the north and south Indian approach to music, then you have the enormous repertoire, history, and theory to go with it. This is NOT a course in traditional Indian music, we’re only going to scratch the surface and use the basic concept to help us in SPEAKING rhythms, which is the key. This is why the oral learning tradition is so potent and has worked for so long. SAYING the rhythms BEFORE playing them brings CLARITY to our rhythms by first visualizing the idea in our mind, feeling it in our heart, and forging it to sound strong and clear by the time it’s actually played on the drum.

Find your COURAGE through DRUMMING (with Dom Famularo)

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkqQebiagbk[/embedyt]
In the volatile landscape of the today’s world, our biggest challenges are to do whatever it takes to avoid mediocrity, lack of focus, and dis-couragement. Recently I was honoured to be interviewed recently by Dom Famularo on behalf of Sabian Cymbals, and we got DEEP into tactics on how to avoid getting to the end of your life meeting the person you COULD have been, and instead find the COURAGE to live out a life of possibility through the magic of drumming. Dom has been my mentor for over 25 years! The qualities we strive to embody in the LTR METHOD like LTE (long term excellence), enthusiasm, and the humility to be a life long student, Dom lives every day. In this exciting interview you’ll find out how to battle proof yourself with unbeatable courage to discover your potential and become your best self through drumming!

Find your COURAGE through DRUMMING (with Dom Famularo)

In the volatile landscape of the today’s world, our biggest challenges are to do whatever it takes to avoid mediocrity, lack of focus, and dis-couragement. Recently I was honoured to be interviewed recently by Dom Famularo on behalf of Sabian Cymbals, and we got DEEP into tactics on how to avoid getting to the end of your life meeting the person you COULD have been, and instead find the COURAGE to live out a life of possibility through the magic of drumming. Dom has been my mentor for over 25 years! The qualities we strive to embody in the LTR METHOD like LTE (long term excellence), enthusiasm, and the humility to be a life long student, Dom lives every day. In this exciting interview you’ll find out how to battle proof yourself with unbeatable courage to discover your potential and become your best self through drumming!

Balancing Family, Drumming, and Pursuing Your Passions

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmM_wVQE3ig[/embedyt]
‘Time is not on your side, but your choices are.’

How do you balance family, work, and pursuing your passions? YOU CAN’T. All you have is time and focus. There are so many ‘spinning plates’ we all have moving simultaneously in our lives, and the only thing that keeps them all going is our CHOICES of what to focus the only resource we have on: TIME. To see anything grow, we must MEASURE it. This brings AWARENESS, allowing us to course correct back to THE PATH of our mighty mission.

There is no ultimate balance of health, relationships, children, career, and finances, only course corrections. While focusing on one area, another suffers. Constantly coming back to our ultimate guiding WHY, the overall mission that directs our choices, will keep all areas healthy and growing. An airplane flying 30,000 ft above the clouds APPEARS to be on course, but 95% of the time it’s actually not. It’s constantly being jostled up, down, and around by powerful air currents and turbulence. The pilot is not drastically forcing the plane, but only nudging the plane back on target through AWARENESS of position. We can’t control the forces of nature, but we can use them. The pilot is always bringing the craft back on course, using the instruments, and ultimate destination as true north. What ways do you use to guide yourself back to THE PATH? Constant and consistent MEASURING OF WHAT MATTERS is key, with weekly reviews and daily journaling. Our habits and actions define us over time, and these widen the light of awareness, illuminating our better choices. This keeps your ultimate WHY front and center in clear view so you can always guide yourself back. What doesn’t grow DIES, but our attention, awareness, and FOCUS is the light that gives life to anything you choose to shine it on.

A stunning number of fathers abandon the fight. This mission is challenging, but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it well. There are no easy answers, just small daily CHOICES that add up over time. Without family to give to, to guide to be the best version of themselves to experience and explore the world to leave it a better place, what is the point of following a passion? Drumming for me is telling a STORY, and family is woven into the life story that I tell every time I express my passion. I never want to get to the end of my life and meet the man I COULD have been. Striving to make the best choices to grow in all areas will always be a messy game. I will be blown off course, I will make mistakes, but my family will see a man that gives his best EFFORT to grow others, while also developing the best of who I am so I can best serve and progress on the path.

This is an interview I did with Larry Hagner from the Dad Edge Alliance where we go deeper into these challenges of striving to grow the areas of health, relationships, children, career, and finances at the same time, and how drumming and music can elevate WHO WE ARE as we go forward. I am proud to be a part of the Dad Edge Alliance mastermind, a group of men dedicated to walking this path, as we face the challenges and grow into the best version of ourselves. This is the ancient concept of SYNERGY, tapping into forces greater than ourselves to come together and go out into the world better for it. We BECOME who we spend time with, and these men challenge me to be the best I can for my family and the world. This way, we can guide our kids to do the same with their lives, becoming not only great fathers but teachers as well, creating a ripple effect that is never ending.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams

Balancing Family, Drumming, and Pursuing Your Passions

‘Time is not on your side, but your choices are.’

How do you balance family, work, and pursuing your passions? YOU CAN’T. All you have is time and focus. There are so many ‘spinning plates’ we all have moving simultaneously in our lives, and the only thing that keeps them all going is our CHOICES of what to focus the only resource we have on: TIME. To see anything grow, we must MEASURE it. This brings AWARENESS, allowing us to course correct back to THE PATH of our mighty mission.

There is no ultimate balance of health, relationships, children, career, and finances, only course corrections. While focusing on one area, another suffers. Constantly coming back to our ultimate guiding WHY, the overall mission that directs our choices, will keep all areas healthy and growing. An airplane flying 30,000 ft above the clouds APPEARS to be on course, but 95% of the time it’s actually not. It’s constantly being jostled up, down, and around by powerful air currents and turbulence. The pilot is not drastically forcing the plane, but only nudging the plane back on target through AWARENESS of position. We can’t control the forces of nature, but we can use them. The pilot is always bringing the craft back on course, using the instruments, and ultimate destination as true north. What ways do you use to guide yourself back to THE PATH? Constant and consistent MEASURING OF WHAT MATTERS is key, with weekly reviews and daily journaling. Our habits and actions define us over time, and these widen the light of awareness, illuminating our better choices. This keeps your ultimate WHY front and center in clear view so you can always guide yourself back. What doesn’t grow DIES, but our attention, awareness, and FOCUS is the light that gives life to anything you choose to shine it on.

A stunning number of fathers abandon the fight. This mission is challenging, but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it well. There are no easy answers, just small daily CHOICES that add up over time. Without family to give to, to guide to be the best version of themselves to experience and explore the world to leave it a better place, what is the point of following a passion? Drumming for me is telling a STORY, and family is woven into the life story that I tell every time I express my passion. I never want to get to the end of my life and meet the man I COULD have been. Striving to make the best choices to grow in all areas will always be a messy game. I will be blown off course, I will make mistakes, but my family will see a man that gives his best EFFORT to grow others, while also developing the best of who I am so I can best serve and progress on the path.

This is an interview I did with Larry Hagner from the Dad Edge Alliance where we go deeper into these challenges of striving to grow the areas of health, relationships, children, career, and finances at the same time, and how drumming and music can elevate WHO WE ARE as we go forward. I am proud to be a part of the Dad Edge Alliance mastermind, a group of men dedicated to walking this path, as we face the challenges and grow into the best version of ourselves. This is the ancient concept of SYNERGY, tapping into forces greater than ourselves to come together and go out into the world better for it. We BECOME who we spend time with, and these men challenge me to be the best I can for my family and the world. This way, we can guide our kids to do the same with their lives, becoming not only great fathers but teachers as well, creating a ripple effect that is never ending.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams

The SECRET BODY LANGUAGE OF DRUMMERS, and how YOU can use it

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m41Kv8XlB1c[/embedyt]
How you move is how you groove! Within the way you move IS your sound, and everything you are that makes you unique. When the pressure is on it’s difficult to play drums with confidence, and to internalize the FEEL in the grooves we admire from our favourite drummers. To rise to our next level of excellence, we can take the body language of our heroes into our OWN playing to become our best selves through drumming. By adopting the body language of others, we can tap into an alter ego within ourselves that was there all along. We go deep with expert Mark Bowden to decode the secret body language of some of the best drummers on the planet. Find out what body language reveals is REALLY going on in the minds of the masters, and what you can steal to bring into your OWN game from Stewart Copeland, Carter Beauford, Neil Peart, Tony Williams, and Steve Gadd.

Go deeper HERE: http://bit.ly/TheBodyLanguageOfDrumming

How to make a crappy drumset sound AWESOME (with Jojo Mayer)

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35uxCrUMMpA[/embedyt]
GEAR DOESN’T MATTER

Here’s the big secret about gear that will be our basic approach: it doesn’t really matter! The paradox is that it actually does matter, but we’re going to approach it in a way that at the end of the day, the sound is in YOU and how you THINK, FEEL, and MOVE. You can create art and express yourself with a branch and log in the forest if you had to. We respect gear, keeping our tools sharp and choosing them with care, but always keeping in mind what really matters. The gear doesn’t create your sound, YOU do. This way you can be in any situation and still sound your best, not panicking if you don’t have access to all of your regular tools. There’s a great story about John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, when he was at a friends house taking his son to a children’s birthday party. There was a small kids drumset there, and as he sat down to play it, one of the parents there said, ‘He’s making that kids drumset sound like Led Zeppelin! When my kid plays it, it sounds nothing like that!’ That’s because the sound was in HIM. We all carry our personal sounds with us, and the overall goal of this journey is to bring it out, through habits, movement, and vocabulary.

The high standard we set of giving attention to detail and to the granularity of our craft, means we choose our gear with great care, but also to remember that our sound is within US, and in a way it really doesn’t matter. This is the ‘two-faced’ dichotomy of one of the many Yin Yang perspectives in drumming and art. Pay attention to the smallest of details, take great care in choosing your tools, giving focus to the smallest of details, then let it all go and just PLAY! The gear IS not your sound, it is only there to capture and enhance what is already within you. With this approach, you can make any drumset groove to create SYNERGY.

 

GAME OF THRONES: YOUR CENTER

What do you think is the most important piece of gear on your entire set? I saw this question challenged to a large group of drummers, and there were so many different answers given, that all made sense. ‘The drumheads, because that’s what makes the sound.’ ‘The sticks because that’s your connection to the instrument.’ ‘I play double bass, so it’s my pedal!’ ‘I play jazz, so it has to be my ride cymbal.’ ‘The snare drum, because that’s the heart of the drumset and where rudiments come from.’ ‘The shells of the drum, because that’s where the tone comes from.’ These are all good answers, but none hit the mark. It’s your throne! No one even thought to mention the seat. Pay special attention to the drum throne you typically use. When I got my first drumsets, my seat was always an afterthought. I saved all my money for cymbals, drumheads, pedals, and sticks, and spent whatever I had left over for the seat. The drumset is the only percussion instrument in the world where you are using two hands AND two feet simultaneously, so unshakeable balance from a strong core comes before all else. Your movements will flow from how solid your core center is, and this will define your sound. Think like a tap dancer, with a strong center core of balance in which to express your rhythms from. Someone playing a mediocre drumset with a high quality seat will create a far superior sound than someone with an amazingly expensive dazzling drumset, but a rickety, unbalanced throne. Strong balance will create a strong sound.

Why is it called the ‘throne?’ A regular old chair or seat is made only for sitting or resting. A THRONE is for a King or Queen. What does a King or Queen need to rule? Action, decisiveness, self control, alert but calm, intense focus and concentration, and awareness of surroundings are all essential. All of these qualities are needed by a strong drummer of any band. The drummer is practicing leadership from the foundation, the way that your spine or heartbeat would ‘lead’ your body by being the strong foundation for all else to flow from. The rest of the band has nothing without a strong drummer! A King or Queen also ‘forgets’ about the throne they sit on so they can focus on where they want to bring their attention, so a good throne is also one you won’t constantly be thinking about like a rock in your shoe, but where you’ll be able to be at the height of your powers by slipping into FLOW and letting go of conscious thought. Think of yourself not as a drummer, but as a SOUND CRAFTER using what you have in the moment to create ART out of what is in front of you. Have fun in the process. You’ve got this! IAO: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.

 

THE FLOW OF MOVEMENT: HOW YOU MOVE IS HOW YOU GROOVE!

Drumming in the LTR METHOD is all about the study of movement, because movement creates your sound. Whether you are relaxed, flowing, and smooth, or jerky, stiff, and tense, your motions will give you the equal auditory imprint. Relaxed movement creates a relaxed sound, and stiff movements create a stiff sound. The one time I really understood this in a massive ‘a-ha!’ moment was when I played a music festival in downtown Kingston, Canada. The entire downtown was transformed into a multitude of bands playing on many different streets and venues. As I walked around outside during our break, I would leave the earshot of hearing one band, and as I walked further on I would start to hear another a little further in the distance. Wherever I walked, I could hear a new band ahead as the one behind would fade. Since I’m a drummer I especially noticed the drums, and as I walked I could predict almost exactly what the drummer would look like only by HEARING them in earshot first before I actually saw them. It was a neat experiment, and was accurate every time! The movements matched the sound. If I really listened to the groove and noticed it was a little stiff and jerky, sure enough the drummer had those same movements. I remember hearing in the distance a really smooth, round, bouncy infectious groove, and headed toward it like a magnet. Now THAT’S where I want to go! I thought ‘let’s see how that drummer is moving’, predicting it before I actually saw it. I had a feeling I would see some pretty awesome technique, and I wanted to learn from that drummer to help my own sound. Sure enough, what I saw exactly matched what I had imagined in my mind only from hearing the drums. This drummer had flowing, controlled, perfect movements that was creating that same sound.

An experiment you can do on your own is to watch some of your favorite drummers on video, but with the sound MUTED. This sounds counter intuitive, because after all you do HEAR the drums! I’ve tried this, and its really fun to see how the movements of your favorite drummers are so crucial to the sound that we know and love. Then, almost like an actor or someone trying on clothes, you can mimic the body language of the movements and see how it changes YOUR sound, and also getting you closer to achieving and further inside the sounds of your favorite drummers. Put some mirrors around you as you practice, and video yourself as well to compare and experiment. Be bold, and have fun with this process! Movement really is everything, much more than the mistaken overemphasis on drums, heads, cymbals, sticks, and other gear. How you move is how you groove!

To get more of YOU on the drums, delete the UNESSENTIAL

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMt2waNG0_g[/embedyt]
There are three rules here: simplify, simplify, simplify. This takes continuous striving of your best effort and ultimate focus. It’s hard work to do LESS! Mark Twain said it best: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead”. To edit, delete, and simplify is a never ending quest that never comes easy. SPACE is powerful, and a big part of the LTR METHOD. Creativity and inspiration will come from the space you leave from the unessential that you remove. The urge we have as drummers and in life is usually to constantly ADD, and to do TOO MUCH. You usually don’t need as much as you think you need, whether it’s volume, ideas, or just sheer notes that you play. Simplicity is beautiful.

Find your ATTITUDE, TECHNIQUE, and RESILIENCY through DRUMMING

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkSCbZ9Kn6I[/embedyt]
I was recently a guest on Eric Boudreault’s show Drumfills Kafé where we went into some tools on how drummers can use adversity as a tool to get BETTER. Uncover ways you can use attitude, technique, and resiliency to be your best self through drumming by using obstacles to your ADVANTAGE. Check it out, and stay inspired!

Find your ATTITUDE, TECHNIQUE, and RESILIENCY through DRUMMING

I was recently a guest on Eric Boudreault’s show Drumfills Kafé where we went into some tools on how drummers can use adversity as a tool to get BETTER. Uncover ways you can use attitude, technique, and resiliency to be your best self through drumming by using obstacles to your ADVANTAGE. Check it out, and stay inspired!

Drum with CLARITY, not PERFECTION (play it WRONG & STRONG!)

A few years ago, I let go of perfection as one of my goals in my drumming, and replaced it with CLARITY. What is clarity? Expressing yourself so clearly, that the person at the very back of the room can hear and FEEL your ideas with a bright intensity. Going for clarity in your drumming brings an ATTITUDE with it, making it a MUST to express your ideas into the world. We’ve all had the experience of hearing an idea exactly as you want to play it in your mind first, or trying to mimic an awesome lick by one of your favorites, and it comes out sounding like a sack of potatoes falling down the stairs. Drums are a communication instrument, and this is about transmitting your ideas and feelings THROUGH the drums with crystal clarity, even if they’re not perfect. Can you make someone FEEL the emotion through your drumming that is listening to you play? Think of your favourite music, songs that speak to your soul, and everything it’s transmitting to you through the sound. Have you ever noticed the urgency and ATTITUDE coming off of some of your favorite players? Listen to Ginger Baker with Cream, or the first Clash album … it’s not perfect, but boy is it ever crystal clear, radiating with attitude and intensity.

The goal of perfection carries a burden with it, which is a great way to suck all the fun out of your drumming. Striving to be perfect sends a message to yourself that YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH. You don’t need ‘fixing’! Striving for clarity instead still means you’ll be sweating the details, and putting in the hard work of playing the hundreds of reps required to EARN the joy that drumming brings. With this new goal of clarity, we’re shifting our focus to genuine self expression. Perfectionism on the other hand, is usually about having to please others or compare to something. Saying what you have to say is all that matters, because this is YOUR journey.

The concept of releasing perfection and going instead for clarity can also show up in our daily practice. It used to be easy for me to put off my practicing until the next day, if it wasn’t going to be a ‘perfect’ full hour covering all my material. Now, along with clarity, I go for consistency. I SHOW UP. This means it will be messy some days, and a lot of imperfections will happen, but the burden of trying to have the ‘perfect’ practice session needing to accomplish something is gone. I’m still pushing myself to be the best version I possibly can be, but I know I AM ENOUGH. This is to be both satisfied AND striving. The frustration and disappointments that are a part of this journey are always there, but I’m having so much more FUN! Shifting the focus in my practice to getting my ideas out clearly makes me want to show up the next day. The cycle is born, and feeds itself.

The pursuit of perfection takes you out of the NOW, where all true expression lives. Going for ultimate perfection (which is really impossible) lives in the FUTURE, and worrying about the mistakes you’ve made lives in the PAST. Going for ultimate clarity in your ideas lives in the NOW. It’s ok to be YOU, so say it loud and proud! This is speaking from your heart, in the moment. This takes COURAGE. Perfectionism often times is armour to hide our true selves, an escape from being vulnerable. Any drumming that hits you in the gut, moves your heart, and speaks directly to your soul, is VULNERABLE. Releasing perfection does NOT mean we have stopped pushing ourselves to be our absolute best selves through drumming. This is not permission to be mediocre. Ironically, many drummers that go for perfection often come off sounding dull and uninspired. Why? Because the pursuit of perfection can become a shield to HIDE behind, and save yourself the pain of being vulnerable. The real way forward is to walk INTO this pain, taking on the risk of fearless self expression. This adds a 1% win everyday towards becoming a better version of YOU. Now you are only competing with yourself, or the ‘you of yesterday’. Remember the Michelangelo metaphor of ‘chipping away at the excess marble’, removing anything that is in the way of the sculpture living inside.

Practicing clarity instead of perfection will show you any ‘chinks in the armour’ in your drumming game, any weaknesses that are getting in the way of fearless self expression at all times. It could be a slower left hand, a coordination challenge, or any number of things. A chain under stress will always break at it’s weakest link, so in this way you are training yourself to embolden your drumming through bringing your weaknesses to light and turn them into fuel for your practicing. The urge is to back AWAY from these moments, because of how it makes us feel: inadequate, incapable, and dis-couraged. No one wants to sound BAD on the drums! But by running TOWARDS these moments, we can design specific exercises around any weakness that gets in the way of ultimate clarity. Using what’s called ‘part practices’, exercises designed to target areas of your drumming holding you back, you are now working on YOUR game. By running towards our weaknesses, we can use them as tools to get better. Now what you’re practicing didn’t come from a book, a song, or any other outside source, it came from your INNER game, from within you. This is noble practicing, honouring the endless ideas that come from the sea of your own creativity.

Over time after practicing this into a habit, this will become your new normal. It’s an attitude to bring to both drums and life, a way of being. When going for clarity instead of perfection, you’ll find many of your ideas may not be coming out the way you originally thought they’d sound, but may sound even BETTER. We call this WRONG AND STRONG. Miles Davis, Pablo Picasso, and Orson Welles are just some of the people in music, art, film, and beyond that use this as their tool to dare greatly and speak their truth. They all CELEBRATE their mistakes, or as Orson called them ‘happy accidents’. Make this concept a big part of your drumming expression! This will bring out more of YOU on the drums, which is the goal of the LTR METHOD and true practicing. It takes COURAGE to be yourself, not forcing ideas to come out perfectly from a page, but to ride the wave of your creation in the moment. This comes with a necessity, an urgency for bold self expression in the NOW of the moment, which is all we ever have in our drumming. Let’s use it to the fullest!

Drum with CLARITY, not PERFECTION (play it WRONG & STRONG!)

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVaN2fct3aU[/embedyt]
A few years ago, I let go of perfection as one of my goals in my drumming, and replaced it with CLARITY. What is clarity? Expressing yourself so clearly, that the person at the very back of the room can hear and FEEL your ideas with a bright intensity. Going for clarity in your drumming brings an ATTITUDE with it, making it a MUST to express your ideas into the world. We’ve all had the experience of hearing an idea exactly as you want to play it in your mind first, or trying to mimic an awesome lick by one of your favorites, and it comes out sounding like a sack of potatoes falling down the stairs. Drums are a communication instrument, and this is about transmitting your ideas and feelings THROUGH the drums with crystal clarity, even if they’re not perfect. Can you make someone FEEL the emotion through your drumming that is listening to you play? Think of your favourite music, songs that speak to your soul, and everything it’s transmitting to you through the sound. Have you ever noticed the urgency and ATTITUDE coming off of some of your favorite players? Listen to Ginger Baker with Cream, or the first Clash album … it’s not perfect, but boy is it ever crystal clear, radiating with attitude and intensity.

The goal of perfection carries a burden with it, which is a great way to suck all the fun out of your drumming. Striving to be perfect sends a message to yourself that YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH. You don’t need ‘fixing’! Striving for clarity instead still means you’ll be sweating the details, and putting in the hard work of playing the hundreds of reps required to EARN the joy that drumming brings. With this new goal of clarity, we’re shifting our focus to genuine self expression. Perfectionism on the other hand, is usually about having to please others or compare to something. Saying what you have to say is all that matters, because this is YOUR journey.

The concept of releasing perfection and going instead for clarity can also show up in our daily practice. It used to be easy for me to put off my practicing until the next day, if it wasn’t going to be a ‘perfect’ full hour covering all my material. Now, along with clarity, I go for consistency. I SHOW UP. This means it will be messy some days, and a lot of imperfections will happen, but the burden of trying to have the ‘perfect’ practice session needing to accomplish something is gone. I’m still pushing myself to be the best version I possibly can be, but I know I AM ENOUGH. This is to be both satisfied AND striving. The frustration and disappointments that are a part of this journey are always there, but I’m having so much more FUN! Shifting the focus in my practice to getting my ideas out clearly makes me want to show up the next day. The cycle is born, and feeds itself.

The pursuit of perfection takes you out of the NOW, where all true expression lives. Going for ultimate perfection (which is really impossible) lives in the FUTURE, and worrying about the mistakes you’ve made lives in the PAST. Going for ultimate clarity in your ideas lives in the NOW. It’s ok to be YOU, so say it loud and proud! This is speaking from your heart, in the moment. This takes COURAGE. Perfectionism often times is armour to hide our true selves, an escape from being vulnerable. Any drumming that hits you in the gut, moves your heart, and speaks directly to your soul, is VULNERABLE. Releasing perfection does NOT mean we have stopped pushing ourselves to be our absolute best selves through drumming. This is not permission to be mediocre. Ironically, many drummers that go for perfection often come off sounding dull and uninspired. Why? Because the pursuit of perfection can become a shield to HIDE behind, and save yourself the pain of being vulnerable. The real way forward is to walk INTO this pain, taking on the risk of fearless self expression. This adds a 1% win everyday towards becoming a better version of YOU. Now you are only competing with yourself, or the ‘you of yesterday’. Remember the Michelangelo metaphor of ‘chipping away at the excess marble’, removing anything that is in the way of the sculpture living inside.

Practicing clarity instead of perfection will show you any ‘chinks in the armour’ in your drumming game, any weaknesses that are getting in the way of fearless self expression at all times. It could be a slower left hand, a coordination challenge, or any number of things. A chain under stress will always break at it’s weakest link, so in this way you are training yourself to embolden your drumming through bringing your weaknesses to light and turn them into fuel for your practicing. The urge is to back AWAY from these moments, because of how it makes us feel: inadequate, incapable, and dis-couraged. No one wants to sound BAD on the drums! But by running TOWARDS these moments, we can design specific exercises around any weakness that gets in the way of ultimate clarity. Using what’s called ‘part practices’, exercises designed to target areas of your drumming holding you back, you are now working on YOUR game. By running towards our weaknesses, we can use them as tools to get better. Now what you’re practicing didn’t come from a book, a song, or any other outside source, it came from your INNER game, from within you. This is noble practicing, honouring the endless ideas that come from the sea of your own creativity.

Over time after practicing this into a habit, this will become your new normal. It’s an attitude to bring to both drums and life, a way of being. When going for clarity instead of perfection, you’ll find many of your ideas may not be coming out the way you originally thought they’d sound, but may sound even BETTER. We call this WRONG AND STRONG. Miles Davis, Pablo Picasso, and Orson Welles are just some of the people in music, art, film, and beyond that use this as their tool to dare greatly and speak their truth. They all CELEBRATE their mistakes, or as Orson called them ‘happy accidents’. Make this concept a big part of your drumming expression! This will bring out more of YOU on the drums, which is the goal of the LTR METHOD and true practicing. It takes COURAGE to be yourself, not forcing ideas to come out perfectly from a page, but to ride the wave of your creation in the moment. This comes with a necessity, an urgency for bold self expression in the NOW of the moment, which is all we ever have in our drumming. Let’s use it to the fullest!