5 Ways To Dive Out Of Your Comfort Zone
‘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!
What an amazing experience at Vic Firth headquarters … where the magic happens!
Self Improvement / Music / Business Books:
- ‘Think And Grow Rich’ Napoleon Hill
- ‘The Big Gig’ Zoro
- ‘The Greatness Guide’ Robin Sharma
- ‘How I Failed In The Music Business’ Steve Grossman
- ‘The Cycle Of Self Empowerment’ Dom Famularo
- ‘Striking Thoughts’ Bruce Lee
- ‘The Music Lesson’ Victor Wooten
- ‘The Power Of Full Engagement’ Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
- ‘The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin’ Benjamin Franklin
- ‘Open’ Andre Agassi
- Benny Greb ‘The Language Of Drumming’
- Tommy Igoe ‘Groove Essentials’
- Keith Carlock ‘The Big Picture’
- Jojo Mayer ‘Secret Weapons For The Modern Drummer’
- Steve Jordan ‘The Groove Is Here’
- Victor Wooten ‘Groove Workshop’
- Gregg Bissonette ‘Musical Drumming in Different Styles’
- Steve Smith ‘Drumset Technique, History Of The U.S. Beat’
- Steve Smith ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants’
- Jim Chapin ‘Speed, Control, Power, and Endurance’
- ‘It’s Your Move’ Dom Famularo
- ‘Pedal Control’ Dom Famularo / Stephane Chamberland
- ‘Stick Control’ George Lawrence Stone
- ‘The Weaker Side’ Dom Famularo / Stephane Chamberland
- ‘The Drumset Musician’ Rod Morgenstein
- ‘Modern Drumset Stickings ‘Swiss Chris
- ‘Open Handed Playing’ Claus Hessler
- ‘Indian Rhythms For Drumset’ Pete Lockett
- ‘Groove Essentials’ Tommy Igoe
- ‘Elements’ John Favicchia
The Chris Lesso LTR Drum Event
optimizing the power of drumming for
FOCUS | CONFIDENCE | SELF EXPRESSION
‘Chris Lesso is an expert on optimizing the power of drumming to improve focus, confidence, and self expression in music and in life.’
This event challenges everyone to be the best drummers and people they can be. Targeting the beginner to professional, this event is motivational, educational, and entertaining!
MUSICIANS WILL LEARN:
THE TECHNIQUE STRING
6 Game Changing Tools To Improve Technique
THE OPEN HANDED MINDSET
Inside Open Handed Drumming
THE RHYTHM OF PRACTICE
Take Your Daily Practicing To The Next Level
Chris performs songs from his band modus factor (featuring members of Jay-Z and Sister Euclid)
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION and Q&A
“Chris brings a fresh, fun, and interactive approach to the clinic concept. He engaged our customers with great music and drumming, and interacted with our all ages crowd with personality and endless creative ideas. Great job, the show rocks!”
Darren McClelland, Long & McQuade, Waterloo
“My sincere appreciation for such a fantastic drum event. Sold out at over 200 attendees is a huge success! Thank you very much for including Music Pro on this tour. Our customers will be talking about this clinic for months to come!”
Ted Johnstone, Music Pro, Barrie
“This was a great drum event to present, and I am inspired to see it reach this level. Keep up the good work, I wish you much more music and success!”
Aldo Mazza, KOSA ACADEMY, Montreal
CONTACT Scott Atkins for inquiries and bookings
The Power Of Drumming In Schools
FOCUS | CONFIDENCE | SELF EXPRESSION
‘With so many schools today facing budget cuts, many times the arts are the first to go. But there is a growing movement of schools that realize the impact and value this area has on our youth’s potential and possibility. Music is joy, expression, and creativity, and contains so many skills and lessons that can enrich our lives in every way.’
Read more HERE
“Chris made an immediate connection with the students. Important elements of ensemble playing were effectively explained and demonstrated, and students felt comfortable volunteering to perform. A fun learning experience for all involved!”
Bill Mighton, Malvern Collegiate, Toronto
“It is with great pleasure that I write about Chris’ workshop presented in our school. The students thoroughly enjoyed the friendly, interactive, and enthusiastic nature of this event. It is without hesitation that I recommend Chris Lesso for your school!”
Louis Lefaive, Elmvale District High School
“Chris Lesso provided a refreshing and down-to-earth workshop for our high school music students. He related to all musicians in the classes, especially about listening skills. Chris was quite flexible in adapting his sessions to connect with my music curriculum expectations. The workshops were both fun and enlightening.”
Jay Rothenburg, Barrie North Collegiate
“The workshops you did for us have really helped our kids! You demonstrated the drumset and the relationship of the rhythm section instruments very well. I now have kids that are interested in learning more percussion, and that want to get together to form a rhythm section and start bands. I was very impressed by the way you got kids involved in the workshop. Thanks for an energized event!”
Chris Ness, Innisdale Secondary School, Barrie
“Chris gave a great presentation to my students. It gave valuable information to my rhythm section players, but also gave everyone insight into how to listen to music of different styles. They had the answers and examples for all the curious questions that were asked. It was a great session.”
Daniel Johnston, Bear Creek Secondary School, Barrie
“As a mother and an educator, I am so pleased that my son has been taking lessons from Chris Lesso. He has a way of balancing the sometimes tedious but essential technique training with ‘the fun stuff’. My son (16 years old) comes out of his lesson excited, usually making such comments as ‘I had the best lesson today!’ Thanks so much Chris, for being a great teacher and also a positive role model for my son!”
Cathy Brouse (Innisdale Secondary School, and also mother of student)
Bring the power of drumming and self empowerment to your school!
Definition: Mechanical skill in an art and/or manner of artistic movement
This is the “how to” of a skill. In drumming, this opens doors to new avenues of expression! The goal is always to play what you feel, and good technique allows your ideas to flow much more easily. Good technique also eliminates tension in your playing. Tension stunts creativity! The goal of technique is always to improve and expand on these areas: Speed, Control, Power and Endurance.
Some techniques we will work on to improve these areas will be: rudiments, the Freestroke, the Moeller Stroke, Finger Control, Pull-Outs and Control Strokes, etc. Good technique gives you a strong foundation from which to play your ideas freely to the best of your ability!
Definition: A system of ideas explaining something.
If you were going to live in Germany, wouldn’t it make sense to become fluent in German? Wouldn’t this be a great advantage? Well, this idea applies to music as well. Theory is the language of music. In the definition, the “system of ideas” is the notation that musicians use to communicate ideas. The “something” is Music.
Musicians in this day and age are coming together from different cultures all around the world, more than any time. It is an exciting time to be a musician. The better you can communicate your ideas, the better you can express yourself! Throughout the levels, we will explore reading and writing notation, sight-reading, reading dynamics, melodic notation, and transcribing music.
Definition: The study of past events.
Two famous quotes you may have heard are “you must first understand where you are from, to understand where you are going” or “to create the future, you must first understand the past.” Sound familiar? History is a great teacher.The drumset is a relatively young instrument, but it has a rich history of many great players, and
Through the levels, we will study the pioneers of the craft, the ones who pushed the limits past what was accepted at the time. We will explore the playing of the masters, and the groundbreaking innovations they made. This will give you a clearer picture of why drumming is the way it is today, as well as inspire you to build upon their ideas and break new ground yourself by ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.’
Definition: Thinking musically; to have a musical outlook/the ability to apply patterns and ideas in a musical way.
This is a broader area, but vitally important. This area includes anything that contributes to your musical paradigm, or that adds to your vocabulary of what you can say musically. This includes covering different musical styles and instruments from around the world, and playing what you have learned in a musical setting.
We will explore tools such as dynamics, phrasing, song form, and learning to sing the different drums. You will also be playing with other musicians. It all comes down to listening.
Definition: To be inventive and imaginative. To have the ability to create.
Music is creativity. It is important to approach music with a creative attitude. This means: learning how to express your ideas!
The most creative people are very inspired. When you hear music that really inspires you, it lights the fire of creativity. Throughout the levels, we will spend time listening to all kinds of incredible music. We will also work on creating different grooves, improvising, and even taking on some projects;
Chris Lesso’s LTR DRUMMING WORLDWIDE
Connect with Chris from anywhere in the world, either in person at the studio, or live on Skype! Learn the language of drumming to take your rhythmic expression to the next level, optimizing your focus, confidence, and self expression along the way to realizing your goals.
one on one | group sessions
performance | online learning
‘Live the benefits of drumming every day, and play every note like it’s your last.’
Start Your Journey:
I have been using Sabian cymbals since I was 9. It all started when I was a kid, begging my parents for that shiny fire-engine-red Westbury drumset. They said ‘well, no that won’t be happening, but try the piano!’. But my dad did take me to a music store and, for reasons no one knows, instead going the traditional route and buying me a practice pad, or a snare drum, he bought me … a set of Sabian B8 hihats. Only the hihats! And that was it: no drums for you! So I had to fill in the rest of the set myself, with anything I could find, like barstools, phonebooks, a coffee table, pots and pans, the cats (not really) …. anything to fill out the rest of the set. So you can imagine it, these shiny, very real and very loud full blown hihats with my hand crafted ‘drum’ set built around it, rocking out to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Kiss.
It was awesome! Such great memories … but I recently after all these years had to go back and ask my dad, why JUST the hihat? He has no idea. And even though since that young age I’ve tried what else is out there in the world, there are no other cymbals for me. There is simply not another company on the planet that is as innovative, has consistently excellent quality, and is creating a spectrum of such rich musical tones. I’m blown away every time I sit behind my kit and play these great cymbals!
Visiting the Sabian Factory I came away with such a profound respect for the craftsmanship, tradition, and the warm community of people that are dedicated to excellence. I was lucky enough to work on some prototype sounds with Mark Love, the Picasso of Sabian, who is responsible for so many of the amazing tones and colors we hear from these cymbals.
These are my colours that create my sound and give me inspiration every time I sit down to play. Thank you Sabian!
WHAT I’M USING
I love using the HHX line of cymbals, for their dark and modern tones, so inspiring to play these cymbals!
My main setup usually consists of (but can vary depending on the situation):
- 18” HHX OMNI Ride/Crash
- 17” HHX X-Treme Crash
- 20” HHX LTR Prototype Ride
- 17” HHX Fierce Crash
- 13” HHX Groove Hats
- 12” HHX LTR Prototype Hats
- 7” HHX Evolution Splash
Creating new sounds at the Sabian factory