Music is more about the MOVEMENT and SPACE between the notes, rather than the notes themselves. In drumming, I call this 'the martial arts of drumming'. How you move is how you groove!
When you play drums, even if you tried you can't help but sound like YOU. This comes from how you glide through in the air between your notes. Your movement creates your sound! Think of the rhythms we hear as the final product, the tip of the iceberg, but the movement and space in between is the depths beneath that makes the outcome possible. Video yourself and get a mirror to analyze your movements to see what is serving you and what is getting in the way of your personal and unique expression.
TENSION is what will hinder you; relaxed intense motions will create relaxed intense sounds. In drumming the Moeller stroke really epitomizes this movement in an efficient and beautiful way, where our drumming becomes a dance. Many drummers just listen to their final sound, but by this time it is too late, as the movement has already happened. That's where the magic is! Think of your own personal 'martial arts' of MOVEMENT and SPACE in your drumming and life!
'Know the rules to break the rules.' Question everything, stay curious! This to me in drumming and life is embodied in Stewart Copeland. His drumming and attitude was a bombshell which challenged me to be bold, break the rules, and be myself. I love his concept of 'why do I have to always play a backbeat?' He challenges the norm, and walks the path of true expression, authenticity, and individuality.
If you adopt this attitude to the next level as a LIFESTYLE, you will regularly REINVENT yourself by breaking your winning formula. Those around you may think you are crazy, but you are following your gut INSTINCT. Using the 'break things' protocol, you will consistently question, challenge, and alter your winning formula. Here are some action steps:
1) Take your influences from unconventional sources. Look where no one is looking, and go where no one is going!
2) Live on the edge, where you are uncomfortable. This means you are growing! Go into the blue ocean of the unknown. This is where growth happens, on the cutting edge!
This is where the success of your winning formula will actually HURT you, because you are staying where it is safe, where others have been.
Always stay hungry, stay uncomfortable, stay great!
I just watched a great special on Netflix, ‘Standup For Drummers’ by Fred Armisen. This was a fun reminder for three essential concepts: history, humour, and finding the balance of ‘caring so much we find the zone where we don’t care’, or not giving a f**&. Let’s get into all three concepts, then dive in and enjoy watching this special.
The history of the drumset is about a century old, but you can go deeper. Drummer Steve Smith is an enthusiastic student of history, and he recommended a book called ‘Blues People’ by Leroi Jones that goes back all the way to the 1600’s and roots of slavery, which is tandem to the history of the drumset and modern music. So, you can go back as far as you want! Drums are the original human instrument after all, perhaps after the voice. This richness found in the past gives us an understanding on how things evolved to the way they are today. One of my favorite reasons is the uncovering of all the great music, stories, and characters that make up the past one hundred years. Ironically, knowing your history also gives you a firm foot towards the FUTURE, because you are seeing more clearly with detachment, and can now question the present, seeing with fresh eyes. Let’s be curious and constantly question everything, allowing us to reinvent ourselves and live on the edge of our abilities to uncover our truest potential. This is not a comfortable place to live, but the rewards are great! This is true self expression of YOU, and not letting your voice get lost in the crowd of mediocrity.
Let’s not forget to LAUGH! Drums are supposed to be fun… that’s why we PLAY the drums! With such a challenging instrument, we need to keep our sense of humour. And, let’s see the ridiculousness of what we doing, hitting things after all! I have been lucky to spend time with some of the elder legends of drumming, and you always see a strong sense of humour in the greats of our craft.
As for ‘Not Giving A F**&’, what does this mean?? This is the yin yang of the balance of art, meaning we care so deeply about improving our craft, that we need to live slightly in the space of thinking (almost pretending) that we DON’T care about the outcome. There is the yin yang of a balance of the two sides, finding a little of both in each, because this is admittedly a bit of a paradox. But no one can strangle an ability to grow, force ideas, or to make an outcome happen out of sheer will. We need to let go, surrender, and trust our instincts. Saying ‘F-it’ is where great art lives. Go for it and trust yourself! BELIEVE. Not knowing what is going to happen, following a crazy idea, and surrendering to the process when you listen to your gut, feels scary! But this is the only place where true innovation lives, in that split second of taking the leap off the cliff. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?? Let us create fearlessly.
Watch this comedy special, let the world melt away, and then learn, laugh, and create!
If you can last through the mundanity of the 10,000 reps mindset, you will open the floodgates to a freedom that you can't even imagine! The best in the world all have this self discipline, from Bruce Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Kobe Bryant. This is about getting to the state of 'non thinking' by doing so many reps that you free up your mental bandwidth to unlock our peak creativity through FLOW, and being fully in the richness of the present moment to respond and react to all that is available to us. The 10,000 reps mindset is also about SURRENDERING to the process by cultivating patience, living our practice as a true LIFESTYLE with no ultimate destination, and not rushing the goal towards the paper tiger of perfection.
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This idea was born from students coming to my studio thinking they had to live up to a certain level, or come in a good mood, or come to play well. That's great if it happens, but also show up tired, in a bad mood, not feeling like playing, not at your best. If our practice is a LIFESTYLE, we can't judge ourselves, or try to live up to perfection. We just need to SHOW UP consistently, and accept the situation with perfect EFFORT, not results. Drums have a magic that way, in that when you start MOVING, playing, and getting out of your head and into the rhythm, you will always leave better than you came. The challenge is coming exactly as you are... just showing up, taking ACTION. Just knowing you showed up on THE PATH feeding your potential, you may not always hit the mark, but your consistent actions will give you more confidence over time than you can imagine.
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'Lessons From Dying': Drummers In Cars Getting Coffee with Aubrey Dayle & Chris Lesso | LTR Podcast #6
This was an awesome drive getting in the zone with amazing drummer and outstanding human Aubrey Dayle! Aubrey shares his incredible story on how he came close to dying, and his rise to coming back stronger than ever. These are some seriously heartfelt and deep insights that will show you how to take these lessons to your drumming and your life.
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In the NFL, the difference between the best in the league and the worst in the league is only a margin of 2%! This is because the standards in that arena are so high; we can take these same standards and hold ourselves accountable to these as well in our daily practices. The difference between excellent and OUTSTANDING is a tiny gap, that takes work and daily discipline to stay on the path. 'Miss 1 day of practice and you notice; miss 2 days of practice and the band notices; miss 3 days of practice and the audience notices.' Push yourself to keep these high standards alive in your life everyday, ESPECIALLY when you don't feel like it!
Check out the 2% Variance concept, let me know what you think, and share it with those you care about!
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Go back and have fun watching the original classic 1980’s movie The Karate Kid! I loved this movie growing up, but there are a lot of great lessons to take into life. Here, I go into my top 3: sharpening your FOCUS, surrounding yourself with great people and seeking MENTORS in your life, and the power of compounding precise and disciplined DAILY REPETITIONS in your PRACTICE. Have fun watching this movie and sharing it with others, and take your focus, mentors, and practice to the next level!
This is a story from one of my mentors, the great teacher Jim Blackley. He passed away shortly after this was filmed, so this is a tribute to the man he was, and the impact he had. The lesson he shared here was to focus on going inward, doing the WORK required and not always searching outward for answers. There are no hacks or quick fixes, just long hours spent building slowly over time. This is what FOCUS really is: going inward, and stripping away at the unessential. THANK YOU Jim Blackley!
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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!