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Bruce Lee’s LTR attitude to DRUMMING


‘We play who we are.’

‘Life through rhythm’ is realizing our best selves through drumming. Your drumming will only rise as high as your inner world. This is LTR! We build our inner strengths to create the outer expression. Bruce Lee’s approach and attitude was also LTR. Bruce understood that self expression from movement was the key. The drums are capturing your MOVEMENTS, turning it into a SOUND. And to get the right movement, being in the NOW is essential. The present moment is the seat of all things high performance.

Bruce was also a master at stealing from any other area that would improve his own self expression. I once heard of a cooking class where the students had to choose from a pile of random books about anything but cooking, and distill points from them that they could then bring into their cooking. So if you grabbed a book on sailing, you had to find 5 concepts within sailing that you could steal and take to your cooking. Maybe the 5 concepts might be knowing your gear inside out, thinking ahead and anticipating, working on timing, having patience, and keeping up maximum endurance. The concept is that the secret of mastering one skill is to steal from another.

Bruce Lee was a master at this, stealing from any area OUTSIDE his discipline that would elevate his self expression. His obsession was expressing himself truly and authentically with simplicity, directness, and freedom. The game is to maximize self expression by any means necessary. When this is the goal, we see it’s not really about talent you were born with, but about your systems and rituals you run daily. QUESTION these, and constantly strip away and delete what doesn’t work. It’s not really about talent and being born ‘gifted’, but more about what your daily SYSTEMS are. At least 4X quarterly throughout the year I am constantly reexamining my own systems, building awareness on the results they bring through measuring, and then relentlessly recalibrating them. DELETE what doesn’t work, and DOUBLE DOWN on what does!

The word discipline comes from the Latin word for student, which is the source of the word disciple, or ‘one who follows’. Discipline is SELF CONTROL, and after that comes self direction. What is your guiding north star, your WHY? Discipline is ‘self direction’, so what future self are you guiding yourself towards and being a ‘disciple’ of? It may sound morbid at first, but always keep a vision of you on your deathbed having a big smile on your face having a lived life on your terms, to the absolute fullest. If drums is in your heart, I want to hear YOUR self expression, loud and proud and unapologetically YOU! Bruce lived his life this way every day, and has always inspired me to do the same. Take the LTR and Bruce Lee’s attitude to your drumming to your life!

For a deeper dive into the connection between Bruce Lee and drumming, check out this episode with Mark Kelso HERE:



The Connection of Bruce Lee to Drumming | Chris Lesso with Mark Kelso


If Bruce Lee was only a badass martial artist he would still be remembered, but it was his philosophy combined WITH his craft that made such an impact on the world. Bruce Lee was always one of my favorite ‘drummers’ because there are so many connections to Bruce’s martial art Jeet Kune Do to drumming! We can learn so many physical and mental approaches to make our craft and lives better. Bruce also had a huge impact on the drumming and life of one of the best in the world and one of my biggest influences Mark Kelso. We had a great conversation on everything we have learned from Bruce Lee to take to our drumming and our lives. Mark also drew the connection to Bruce Lee to Steve Gadd, and we go deep into this. Enjoy this episode, and stay great!

The Perfect Practice Hour: 4 Areas Of Focus


Even if you practice a small amount but do it consistently, the 1% wins will stack up over time! But what do you practice on the days when you DO get that perfect pristine hour to dedicate to your craft? What do you focus on? This hour can easily be whittled away by not knowing what to focus on, getting distracted, playing what you already know and meandering off the path of your vision. This is when motivation doesn’t work. I’ve had many times of being so fired up and inspired, and by the time I get to the drums I try to take on too much at once, or go into a practice without an effective plan.

Enjoy the podcast to go deeper into the 4 areas to maximize every moment of your practice!

The Perfect Practice Hour: 4 Areas Of Focus



I’ve written about the 3MRP (3 minute rule protocol) which is all about firing the drumming neurons in your brain DAILY, keeping them fresh, alive, and always growing. Even if you practice a small amount but do it consistently, the 1% wins will stack up over time! By giving yourself a 3 minute daily minimum rule protocol to follow, this takes away the friction of any excuses not to practice. Who can’t find 3 minutes in the day?! This gets us past any resistance that may prevent us from practicing consistently, like ‘I don’t have enough time’, so you can get there daily. Life will still get in the way and we all miss occasional days, but the goal is the practice a lot more on days than off days. The magic is that once you START playing you will gain energy, have fun, and most always go past the 3 minute minimum and end up playing a lot longer than you thought. Over time, this adds up to massive results!

But what about the days when you DO get that perfect pristine hour to dedicate to your craft? What do you focus on? This hour can easily be whittled away by not knowing what to focus on, getting distracted, playing what you already know and meandering off the path of your vision. This is when motivation doesn’t work. I’ve had many times of being so fired up and inspired, and by the time I get to the drums I try to take on too much at once, or go into a practice without an effective plan.

One of our mantras with the LTR method is that ‘there is no right or wrong, only consequences to all that you do’, so try different systems and see what results you get. Treat yourself as the ultimate life experiment! Measure your progress in 12 week blocks, treating each 12 weeks as a year in itself. We can so easily over estimate what we can do in a year! A year seems like almost unlimited time, that is until December comes. I use a practice journal to keep myself clear on this. Try the model below, see what works and mold it to your own connection with your instrument, which is a different journey for everyone. Use what works, and discard the rest. This model is not static but malleable … you can try it in a different order, or focus more or less on certain areas as your goals shift over time. This model is only a GUIDE for you to express your best self through your drums!


INTUITION (TAP INTO FLOW) | What’s the first thing you can play on the drums, RIGHT NOW straight from the gut? What’s in your soul to express right at this moment? Can you tell a short story through the drums with clarity and emotion? By doing this for 2 or 3 minutes trying not to think but to just PLAY from intuition is a great way to start your practice and connect to your instrument. This mimics real life expression; just like a language you want to speak from the heart in real time authentically and clearly. I like to record myself telling this short story on the drums, and when I listen back it always reveals specific areas to focus on, like clarity, dynamics, time, simplicity, beginnings and endings, and creativity.

BODY (STACK UP THE REPS) | Drums are very physical. You are an athlete! This part of the practice is the exercises you are doing to serve your greater goal. Your sound on the drums is created by MOTION, and for movements to be done automatically we want to program the most efficient ones into our muscle memory. This is conditioning your muscles to serve you when you need them in the moment. By expressing our ideas and thinking as little as possible we can drop into flow states when drumming, entering THE ZONE at will.

MIND (STRETCH TO THE EDGES) | This is the part of the practice that takes EFFORT. The dichotomy is that when you actually play in a flow state you’re not really thinking about it, just like when you walk or speak. But to get there, to EARN this flow state on the drums, it takes zooming way in and painstakingly working out the finer details of the challenge. There’s not way around it, this is HARD WORK. That’s why we call it ‘the no fun zone’! Greatness lies in the DETAILS; it takes patience to slowly smooth out all the wrinkles, and also to leave behind anything that is not serving you. I call this THE NO FUN ZONE because it’s accepting that this is the part of the practice you’re going to have to ’embrace the suck’. It’s GOOD to be uncomfortable, because you are stretching yourself into the unknown. You WILL feel like you don’t know what you’re doing because you’re a beginner fumbling through it, and you WON’T sound good. Many people are fearful to go deep into this section of their practice because you have to face what you are NOT good at. But this is true practice because everything you are good at today, was once unfamiliar and painful.

HEART (THE REWARD OF FUN, CELEBRATE THE WIN!) | Now it’s time to celebrate! You’ve EARNED this. This section of the practice is for YOU. Reward yourself! We don’t ‘work’ drums, we PLAY drums! This is your chance to run in the playground and have fun! I notice many of my adult students sometimes have a challenge with this, to live out that childlike side of themselves and let loose. Don’t neglect this part of your practice! Tap into the joy of WHY you chose to play this instrument. You’re done the hard work for today, so just like when we started the practice we also don’t want to think in this section. Just JAM!


How much to put in each area? That depends. When I’ve been through some challenging times and needed a lift from the drums, I’ve had entire practices of ‘heart’ where I just jam and celebrate playing my favorite music. If I’m working on a big project with a deadline, I need to do mostly ‘mind’ work. If I’m in a highly creative space I’m mostly playing in the ‘intuition’ pocket. If I’m trying to delegate a new movement to muscle memory, I dedicate a lot of time to doing reps in the ‘body’ space. Remember, the drums are there for YOU, in any way you need them to be. the goal is to practice for LONGEVITY. Here is a rough guide of where to start for a practice session covering all four areas in one hour.


INTUITION (FLOW) | 15% (about 10 minutes)
* short solo
* explore your ideas
* play what you’re feeling RIGHT NOW in the moment
* don’t ‘think’ but just PLAY, tapping into your ideas in the moment

BODY (REPS) | 30% (about 20 minutes)
* rudiments
* exercises
* use the mirror, ficus on MOTION
* you already know it, just not 100% (YET)

MIND (STRETCH) | 40% (about 25 minutes)
* books
* song deconstruction
* anything truly CHALLENGING
* go to your edges and embrace the suck, enter THE NO FUN ZONE

HEART (CELEBRATE) | 15% (about 10 minutes)
* jam to your favorite songs!
* celebrate your love of the instrument!
* get out of your head and into the MOVEMENT and play just like a kid!
* let loose and jam, CELEBRATE THE WIN!

There is no one right way for everyone. Even when you’ve found a balance that works for you, expect that it will be constantly changing as you evolve. Keep it fluid, keep it open, CHALLENGE yourself, and have FUN learning and playing drums!

The Magic Word Is YET! Growth Mindset For Drumming


Words TRIGGER your state for better or worse, consciously or subconsciously. The words you use affect how you and those around you see the world. They will program your perspective for HOW you will see future challenges. Sometimes we don’t notice how often we say the same things to ourselves over and over. You can use words to express how you see the world, but what truly empowers you is to use your words to change how you see the world.

What’s really powerful is learning to ask the right QUESTIONS, to yourself and to others. Questions will create your state, and cause your brain to hunt for evidence to the answers ‘out there’ in your universe. If you ask a question like ‘why am I so bad at this?’ your brain will give you the only answer it can: ‘because you suck!’, and then look for evidence to support this new story. (‘My parents weren’t any good at this either, I have bad drumming genes, etc etc…’) A better question to ask would be ‘how can I take action in a small way to change my strategy?’ You’ve now transformed your state to being curious and determined! You will now subconsciously start scanning your world for new ways to implement this and make it real. Your new STORY is now that of a person that will persevere and adapt through challenges.

Using the language of empowerment in the outer world is an art to consistently work on, but also essential is the self talk of your INNER DIALOGUE. What are the stories you are telling yourself? I see my students unnecessarily beat themselves up all the time. These questions and stories from the words we use in both our inner and outer worlds are coming from either a FIXED mindset, or a GROWTH mindset. (Check out Carol Dweck’s outstanding book ‘Mindset’ to go deeper on this concept.)

The meaning of Mantra: In Sanskrit, ‘Man’ means MIND and ‘Tra’ means FREEING, so a mantra is a phrase which is designed to free the mind, not cage it in or to set limitations. The word mantra sometimes has some baggage making you think of the chanting of a cult, but it simply means words you repeat to yourself for a certain aim, and as we know from the original meaning of the word, the goal is inner strength and freedom. What words do you use every day?

One great word is YET, which opens the doors of all possibilities to you. YET is the magic word! It is one of the most powerful words in the human language. CAN’T is the opposite. ‘Can’t’ is arrogant, because it is FINAL, closing the doors on all possibilities. To open your potential, always ask ‘WHAT IF?’ Think of all the greats from history that asked this question and changed the world. ‘What if’ was the guiding force of Edison, Mozart, and so many others. About 100 years ago, someone asked ‘what if someone could play drums with their feet AND their hands at the same time?’ This spurred the invention of the first foot pedal, and the drumset was born! We take this as a normal instrument now, but at the time it took a big ‘what if’ to make that happen. Do you know Futureman? He is the drummer from the Grammy winning band Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and brother of Victor Wooten. He invented an instrument that is the same shape as a guitar, but instead of strings his fingers play the drum sounds on the neck. He looked at both a drumset and a guitar, and asked ‘what if they were combined?’ Use language that TAKES AWAY limits, not language that constricts you.

Your words have great power on yourself and others. Below are words and phrases to use that will GIVE you energy, and words and phrases to avoid which DRAIN your energy. Be patient, this is a process not an event!

LTR POWER WORDS Use more of these! The more you repeat them you are tapping into the power of repetition, which shapes your subconscious mind slowly over time.

* ‘I’ve got this’ This has helped me through so many of my challenges. Tell it to yourself out loud, and you will start to believe it. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
* ‘I don’t know this YET’ Yet is the magic word at the end of the sentence that OPENS up possibilities for your future to unfold.
* ‘I ROCK!’ You really do. Celebrate the win!
* ‘YES’ Saying yes with conviction is electrical. Notice the feeling in your gut change between when you say no and yes. Saying YES like you mean it is fantastically energizing!
* ‘Every day, I am getting better, stronger, and healthier’ Using the phrase I AM is very powerful on your subconscious and overall state. You can change ‘every day, I am getting…’ to whatever you need that day.
* ‘Thank you’ Tap into the massive power of gratitude to propel you forward on the path. Give thanks to your instrument, your money, your tools, your food, and everything and everyone that helps you on the path.
* ‘Let’s try it’ Be a possibilitarian! Always be open to new possibilities to grow your untapped potential. Sometimes you don’t really know until you take action and experience it for yourself.

WEAKENING WORDS Stay away from these at all costs! Literally delete them from your vocabulary.

* ‘That’s a problem’ Always replace the word problem with challenge! Notice how the words make you FEEL completely different when you say that’s a problem (energy draining) to that’s a challenge. We always RISE to the challenge!
* ‘I’ll try’ We can learn from the saying of the great drummer known as Yoda for this one: ‘Try not! DO or DO NOT, there is no try.’
* ‘I can’t’ Can’t is PERMANENT, and locks you into a fixed mindset. Can’t is also arrogant… who are you to say it can’t be done? Many people said ‘can’t’ about space travel, electricity, cell phones, and many other things that are now a part of our everyday lives.
* ‘I should’ Never should all over yourself! Just do your best in the moment, or learn from the past action. Saying should will weaken you.
* ‘I’m sorry’ Apologizing is good, but never say ‘I’m sorry’ for making a mistake when you are giving your best.
* ‘This won’t be very good, but…’ Never set yourself up to fail before it’s even happened!
* ‘I’m tired’ Yes, you may actually be tired, but saying this out loud, you’ve just made yourself 10X more tired and locked yourself in this state by making it REAL and permanent.
* ‘I hate that’ Hate is one of the most destructive words in any language, and can actually damage your health. Avoid at all costs! This also helps you keep a non-judgemental mindset as well, by replacing with the phrase ‘I’m not a fan of that’.


Watch the entire podcast with Mark Bowden HERE:

Confidence Through Drumming: OPEN HANDED


The body language of confidence is in open handed drumming, NOT cross handed drumming. In today’s musical landscape anything is possible, and this will only grow in the future. Open handed drumming brings out the art of possibility and freedom into our drumming, and through this will bring out more of YOU.

One part of the goal in daily practice is to TRAIN the body language of confidence into your body and muscles so you can go into it instantly without thinking. Body language can change your STATE faster than conscious thought. When an idea is EMBODIED (‘to be in the body’) you’ve actually experienced it feeling it many many times over, compared to an intellectual idea which is only fleetingly alive in your short term memory. When the stress comes at you, which it WILL, the training of your PSS (pre set standards) technique habits of MOVEMENT, and your SOPs (standard operating procedures) you have rehearsed thousands of times will save you in the heat of the moment. The Spartan Warriors have a saying: ‘sweat more in practice, and bleed less in war.’ Your training will save you every time. TRUST YOUR TECHNIQUE. Always go back to the fundamentals, the basics. This is your solid core that you can always return to, and is yours for life.

Become aware of what your body WANTS to do when it is triggered into fight or flight, and practice the opposite. Knowing how to counteract and bypass our survival responses to stress is essential to performance. The two extremes that can be triggered when stress hits you are fight and flight (clenching up, shrinking and minimizing), or being TOO aggressive and over compensating. The middle way is a state of relaxed confidence. Become aware of your BREATHING, and notice the connection to your body language. If you have body language that tells your brain it is safe, your breathing will change accordingly. Concentrate on the body first, and the breathing will take care of itself. Navy SEALS train in controlled breathing techniques to counteract the shallow breathing response they know will come with the extreme stress they are going to face. A way I use to trigger my body throughout the day is to think ‘sternum out’! Even if your sternum (the joint in the middle of rib cage) is out forward by only 2mm, it will make a difference to your physiology, and directly influence how you FEEL. The body can affect the mind faster than the mind can affect the body.

All of these movements that empower us to be our best most confident selves come out strongest when we’re drumming OPEN HANDED. Make AT LEAST some percentage of your drumming OPEN HANDED so you can tap into the body language of confidence, and see how it enhances your drumming expression and adds more confidence to your drumming!

Watch the entire podcast with Mark Bowden HERE:

*Get on the mailing list at for free tools to take your drumming and life journey to the next level!

How To BULLETPROOF For Stagefright In Drumming | Chris Lesso with Mark Bowden



“Under duress, we don’t rise to our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Bruce Lee

Everyone that’s played music knows stress; stage fight, nervousness, pressure. This is GOOD stress (known as ‘eustress’) because it pushes you to your next level of your potential. It’s a part of the game! This is why we embrace it, and say nervousness is good. It means you are excited, and you care about what you are doing. But how do you use this energy to fuel the performance instead of debilitate it?

You can’t simply THINK your way out of the stress, it’s more effective to decide on the body language to use beforehand. The mind can influence the body, but the body can influence the mind FASTER. A quick way to snap the brain and body into STATE is with cues. These are rituals to signal you into action without thought. It could be anything from using a certain pen, arranging your pillows a certain way, or a morning exercise routine. Choose your daily rituals to cue your brain you tap into your best state. This works so much better than trying to THINK yourself out of FEELING a certain way. It’s normal to feel doubtful, anxious, and even obsessed with the performance coming up, mulling it over and over in your mind. Triggers like deep breathing and so much more will keep you on track. (There’s a great book by Mason Currey called ‘Daily Rituals For Artists’ that details cues used by writers, musicians, and artists of all kinds). It’s not about what you do right before you drum though. The body language of confidence starts the moment you wake up! Every small choice you make matters, because it sends a signal to yourself. You want to let yourself know YOU’VE GOT THIS. Focus is finite, you only have so much to use during the day so don’t waste it on email, news, and conversations that don’t matter. DELETE all extra stress from a performance day, or any day, in choices like ‘what do I wear’? My closet is pretty boring because I use what’s called a ‘capsule’ wardrobe, filled with many versions of the same thing so I don’t waste precious decision power, focus, and energy on deciding what to wear. Not everyone uses the same techniques, but the process is the same. Find what works for YOU. How do you cue yourself to be ON for performance game day? Everything matters: what you eat, mantras (inner and outer dialogue you say to yourself), and your daily rituals. Music playlists are powerful. You’ll always see athletes before a game getting into the zone with headphones on, jamming to a meticulous personalized custom playlist. (You can search my name on Spotify and check out my own ‘game day’ AWC (absolute world class) playlist).

Give away any chance of it being PERFECT and surrender. Don’t think, rely on your training and just DO it. There comes a point were it’s no longer about trying to play it well, but just to GET TO THE END. People will feel effort and emotion more than rigid execution. FOCUS ON THE FINISH. Your training has been done. Trust it. This is where OVER PREPPING helps you. If you think you need to play the song five more times, then actually triple that and play it fifteen more times. Play the song in as many ways you can think of, being slightly uncomfortable so you can be ready for any situation. Record yourself. Do it 100X more than you think you need to. Get the reps! There’s no magic to genius, it’s really a reps game, repeating it over and over and over again. What is the training in drumming? This is the two pillars of movement: the Moeller stroke and the Freestroke, coming from your natural position. By having a daily practice plan reinforcing these to your brain and muscles, when the pressure comes your body will KNOW what to do by shear repetition. The Moeller and Freestroke and infinite variations on these techniques train you to use REBOUND and MOMENTUM to your advantage, which is the antithesis to TENSION. The ‘Fight, Flight, or Freeze’ survival mechanisms of our ‘ancient brain’ the amygdala is to clench up and shallow breathe, the opposite of what you want to you in performance. Daily practice of the natural position, deep breathing, and exercises incorporating the Moeller and Freestroke will sharpen your tools of utilizing rebound and momentum to keep you ready for any performance situation. (If you want to go deeper on this, check out my free video series ‘The Technique String’ which focuses on tools for your drumming with this foundation). You WILL be nervous but when you start playing you will be free of any tension, which only gets in our way of expressing the performance we are capable of. Drumming IS exciting, so when we merge our training to embrace this and express our best selves it leads to unforgettable experiences on the path of drumming and life!

OPEN HANDED DRUMMING: Flam Rudiments for Unlimited Expression!


Open handed drumming is all about bold freedom of expression! Even by adding as small as 1% open handed drumming to your playing, your weaker hand will improve, and you WILL come up with some new and different ideas. Unavoidably, you will sound more like YOU! This takes courage, but will make you feel a lot more fulfilled than trying to be a clone of someone else. After all, you can only do YOU; everyone else is taken!

One unlimited source for open handed drumming ideas is RUDIMENTS. Let’s make them fun to explore! It’s always a nice surprise when playing any rudiment to take away one hand and see what rhythm your single hand is left playing. (We call this ‘mechanics’.) For instance, by playing a flam tap and then shuffling it, each hand on its own ends up playing the jazz ride pattern. Cool! There’s so many other rhythms that happen when playing rudiments in each hand separately and simultaneously that you may not even be aware of. Flam rudiments in particular are fascinating to dive into because the rhythms played with each hand OVERLAP, creating some very rich layers. Taking this to the drumset in open handed drumming, just add one of your hands to the hihat, ride, or other voicing, put the bass drum somewhere simple at first, and the rhythms and grooves that will jump out at you from this concept are endless! Maybe you’ve played these same rudiments for many years, but never explored them with opened handed expression. It’s always a delight to see what some of these one handed rhythms are as they come alive within the groove on the drums, that have been buried inside these flam rudiments the whole time! The LTR method is not about systems and rules to constrain you, but about CONCEPTS for you to take and make your own. Explore deeply, and run with this idea to take your drumming to new heights!

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Drumming & Speaking Event at Momondays Toronto


I was recently speaking and drumming the LTR message at the awesome Momondays event in Toronto. Starting with the drums, everyone in the room viscerally FEELS the power of the drum and the rhythm we all carry within us. I love teaching, and I also shared a transformational story about how one of my students used drumming to live his untapped potential to create his dream and overcome massive challenges.

Drumming brings out the best of who we are: perseverance, discipline, humility, and service, and having FUN while doing it! FEEL how drumming taps into the best of who you are to let your inner voice shine.


Jagaan by modus factor: Konnakol in action (performance and breakdown lesson)

If you can say it, you can play it! This song from my band modus factor (from the album The Picasso Zone) is using Konnakol, which is a spoken rhythmic system from India. The drumset is only just over a century old, but many rhythmic systems around the world go back hundreds, and even thousands of years. After I learned Konnakol, it was such a valuable tool for me to breakdown ideas, and HEAR them by saying them before playing them. Counting is over-used! SPEAK and SING the rhythms to express your ideas, because MUSIC is the goal.

For this modus factor song Jagaan (which means awakening) this is a main feature of the song, breaking it down first in the voice, then combined with the hihat, and then within the drum groove itself. This started as a small idea that grew into something very different, and went to a place no one was expecting. Along with the Konnakol, DJ Shadow was a big influence on this one for the over all soundscape and vibe. One ultra valuable process in modus factor is the taking of an idea and passing it to the next person, and then passing it to the next person, and like the classic ‘telephone’ game, once it gets to the end it is a completely different animal than it was when it started! I had the Konnakol / DJ Shadow idea, which led to Ian creating a bassline over the rhythmic hits, which led to Brownman coasting a soundscape over that. The result is totally different than we thought it would become, but if freedom of expression is the goal the ART will tell you where it wants to go, and we listened.

The whole point of learning these older traditions is to propel them into the future to create anew and disrupt. It is a TOOL. Learn from the concept, STEAL it making it truly your own, and have fun boldly creating!

modus factor is:

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

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LDM Soundscape Jam | Chris Lesso & Ian DeSouza


Improvised jam with Ian DeSouza. (This session is an excerpt from the online course LTR METHOD)

One of my favorite bassists in the world to play with is Ian DeSouza. His time feel and groove, razor sharp in the moment listening skills, spectrum of world rhythms and beats to draw from, authenticity and originality, and improvising skills are unmatched! Ian is a Juno award winning artist having played with Sisters Euclid and many many others, and is one of the best in the business. Don’t miss Ian and I playing and creating together in our bass and drums improv duo (LDM), and in my band modus factor.

FOLLOW Chris for regular free LTR content to keep drumming for your best self!

LDM improv (with Konnakol) | Chris Lesso & Ian DeSouza


Improvised jam with Ian DeSouza. (This session is an excerpt from the online course LTR METHOD) One of my favorite bassists in the world to play with is Ian DeSouza. His time feel and groove, razor sharp in the moment listening skills, spectrum of world rhythms and beats to draw from, authenticity and originality, and improvising skills are unmatched! Ian is a Juno award winning artist having played with Sisters Euclid and many many others, and is one of the best in the business. Don’t miss Ian and I playing and creating together in our bass and drums improv duo (LDM), and in my band modus factor.

The Drummer’s Best Friend In The Band: THE BASS PLAYER | with Ian DeSouza


There is something I call ‘The 4 Offenses Of Drummers’ (see the separate blog and video lesson on my website and Youtube) where drummers must be aware of the four greatest offenses they can do to at worst get fired, or at the very least highly annoy the other players in the band. This list came from talking to many musicians OTHER than drummers, and finding out what drummers do that get in the way of the most important big picture: THE MUSIC. They are Space, Time, Listening, and Dynamics. An essential way for drummers to test where they are at in these four areas is to spend time playing with your best friend in the band: the bass player. Bass and drum duo jams leave you nowhere to hide and will show you exactly where your drumming is currently at, and also happens to be one of the most FUN things you can do to practice! Leave the other musicians at home, and spend more time with the bass players in your life.

One of my favorite bassists in the world to play with is Ian DeSouza. His time feel and groove, razor sharp in the moment listening skills, spectrum of world rhythms and beats to draw from, authenticity and originality, and improvising skills are unmatched! Ian is a Juno award winning artist having played with Sisters Euclid and many many others, and is one of the best in the business. In this session I wanted to get and insider perspective of Ian’s approach to playing in a band and locking in with the drummer, and also what he appreciates most in his favorite drummers to make music with. Sometimes as drummers, we can learn MORE from other musicians that are not drummers! Ian’s insight and advice to drummers is invaluable, so enjoy dropping in on this conversation we had. Also, don’t miss Ian and I playing and creating together in our bass and drums improv duo (LDM), and in my band modus factor.

How To Trigger Your Best STATE Instantly


If you’re going to really go for it to be the best version of yourself you possibly can be, you probably will feel what’s called imposter syndrome at some point. This just means you are REACHING for something that is just beyond your grasp, as you step into the great unknown to actualize your vision. I love reading autobiographies of the greats, and this is a common theme. The flipside of this is to believe in yourself unequivocally (because sometimes no one else will), and to over-prepare so when your moment comes you know your stuff inside out. But often when we’re trying to train a skill, what we should be training is a STATE.

The fastest way to change your state is through empowering body language. Don’t feel like it first and then do it, do it first then feel like it. This is body to mind, rather than mind to body. When feeling imposter syndrome, any thoughts you have like ‘who am I to be here with these people’, ‘I don’t know if I can do this’, ‘I’m going to fail’ or similar waves of self doubt, thinking your way out of it won’t work, it has to be through empowering body language which is your mainline to change your state almost instantly. MINDSET is not everything!

Reproduce the BODY that you have when you’re at your best, not the THOUGHTS. (You can even ‘steal’ empowering body language from your heroes) This is where you will have to ‘ignore’ your brain; think of it as an alert that you just discard. Your brain is only trying to keep you ALIVE and surviving. Say ‘thank you for this notification’, and let it go. However you can, either by recording yourself, using mirrors to observe your body language, become almost like an actor that’s able to snap into the body form of your best self at will. Here’s a clue: when you’re at your best, your chest will be out slightly. Your sternum only needs to be out by 2mm, but this can make all the difference in your STATE! After using the empowering body language, watch your thoughts start to change like magic. Self talk changes to ‘I’ve got this’, ‘In this moment I am giving my best’, ‘I am creating, not competing’, ‘Let’s go out and have some fun’. AWARENESS is the first step in making the best choices to take CHARGE of your state. When you’re at the top of your game observe every detail you can, and ask yourself ‘how am I holding myself right now’, rather than asking ‘how am I THINKING right now’. Asking the right QUESTIONS to yourself consistently is a habit the best in the world all share. 

So how do you TRIGGER your most effective states? Cues to yourself, engineering your environments, your self talk, and of course using the body language that empowers you to be the best version of yourself you can be!

Watch the entire podcast HERE:

The 7 Levels Of Intensity For DRUMMING | Chris Lesso with Mark Bowden


Our body language influences our behaviour and STATE, which shapes our drumming. They are so connected!  There is no bad body language, only results that you wanted or didn’t want. Remember, there are no rules here, only consequences! We want to engineer our lives and drumming to get the results we want, and to have the maximum amount of fun by getting rid of any states that don’t serve us. A bit of nervousness and excited energy is GOOD, this just means you care and want to be at your best. But too much can lead to tension (tightness), and as we say ‘tension is the enemy!’ This can get in the way of the MOVEMENT that you are using to express your best ideas.

How do we bring the right level of intensity to the drums at the right moment? The key here is to develop SELF AWARENESS, almost as if you are observing yourself from the outside, and see what level you are playing at. Then constantly recalibrate as you go up or down a level to make the music and band stronger. This is changing in every moment, and we need to become a master of how much to fire it up and pull it back at the times that bring the most impact to the music. As you cultivate self awareness, you’ll see what your natural tendencies are, and how to adjust when needed. As you master them through self awareness, you will be able to float state to state at will, as the situation dictates. I can remember Kobe Bryant talking about the first few minutes of a high pressure championship game, and how his players were TOO fired up to win, and in these early minutes they would be most likely to miss shots unless they calmed down, loosened up, and eased into the flow of the game. If you think of the thoughts you might have when entering a championship game, such as ‘This is it! Let’s do this! We’re going to CRUSH THIS!’, you can see how this can create tension that might actually make you play worse. However during the last few minutes of the game when everyone is getting tired, this may be the time to ramp up back into this state and bring the intensity UP. Once you can control this at the most effective times that serve you, you will be able to go in and out of this flow to get the most out of your drumming and life. Always ask, ‘is this state I’m in right now best serving myself and the music?’ Be patient, this takes practice!

Here are the 7 levels of intensity:

  1.  Asleep (zombie state, unfocused)
  2.  Cool (almost asleep, barely awake, dreamy)
  3.  Neutral (no urgency, detached, unemotional)
  4.  The Manager (just alert enough to get things done)
  5.  Is There A Bomb In The Room? (slightly higher alert, heightened senses, curious)
  6.  There Is A Bomb In The Room (fight or flight starts to take over, high alert, maximum aggressive action or freezing)
  7.  The Bomb Has Exploded! (total tightness and tension, loss of mind and muscle control, panic, frenzy)

Watch world renowned body language and brain expert Mark Bowden do a deep dive into each of these levels and how they can empower your drumming and your life! 
Watch the entire podcast HERE:

You Are The Instrument: ‘How You Move Is How You Groove’


Here’s the big secret: you don’t need any gear! The instrument is not as important as the player. Your sound is in YOU. That’s why I’m so big on the study of MOVEMENT, because in the end I only care about one thing: UNLOCKING YOUR SOUND. This starts in the soul, manifests through the mind, and is expressed through the body. Your instrument, your TOOL is just there to ‘catch’ whatever you throw out at it. Or look at it as a mirror… it will just reflect back at you whatever is put in front of it.

There are many examples out there of some of the greats drumming on the most junky drumsets, and yet they still sound like THEM. This is truly empowering, meaning you will always know and carry yourself knowing that you don’t NEED your gear, it’s only there to enhance what you already have. You always carry your sound within you, which is being sharpened and refined daily as you live out each moment, growing without you even realizing it. This means you could walk into a forest, pick up some branches and just start playing on a log or rock, and there it is … your own personal sound come to life.

You are a sound crafter, and the sound is always within YOU. This is living LTR (life through rhythm), knowing every step you take, thought you think, word you speak, and movement you dance adds up to what you EXPRESS out in the world. How you move is how you groove!

Watch the entire podcast HERE:


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Body Language, Drumming, & The Brain with Mark Bowden


What does studying body language and the brain have to do with drumming? It has EVERYTHING to do with it! LTR (life through rhythm) is about studying outside disciplines to get better at your main discipline. If you want to improve your golf game, steal from cooking. If you want to improve your martial arts, steal from calligraphy, and so on. In this case, we are seeing drumming as A LANGUAGE, and our body expression paired with knowing how our brain is wired from eons of evolution will empower us greatly.

In this session I had the opportunity to hang out with one of my favorite people, Mark Bowden! He is one of the worlds top experts on body language and the brain, and also has an awesome energy and sense of humour. We dig deep into these concepts in ways that will both help you in your everyday life, and infuse every note you play on the drums with more of YOU. At the end of the podcast we analyzed the body language of some of the most iconic drummers of all time to get further inside their minds and approach. This is definitely insider information that will give you an edge, so watch it 10X and literally ’embody’ the learning. (Embody: to BECOME a part of your body) Feel these body language and brain lessons to absorb them into your own game of life and drumming!