A life lesson I learned from Tommy Igoe: "Take the shot" | Steve Such Drums

Hey drummers,

Before we hit 2017, I want to share an extremely personal story with you all that I haven't shared with very many people before.

My hope is that this story will help motivate you (and the rest of the drumming community) to start 2017 off with a little push.

Exactly 2 years ago today, I was named winner of the Tommy Igoe Groove Essentials Contest by Hudson Music (video here). It was such an honor to be recognized by the drumming community and seriously meant the world to me.

HOWEVER... 

What meant more to me was the opportunity to then get to have a lesson with the incredible Tommy Igoe, someone who I look up to both as a musician and an educator.

Little did I know that my lesson with Tommy would end up changing my life.

You see, during our lesson in 2014, we actually barely played any drums at all (Maybe 15 seconds on the hi-hat).

Instead, we spent the entire time talking about life, music, and identifying what my goals/struggles were in both.

I had really needed to hear his advice at that time in my life. While I had both a great drumming gig and a solid corporate music job, I'd been feeling super stuck in my life for quite some time.

Deep down, I knew that I was continuing to play it safe, yet at the same time was too afraid to actually do anything about it.

Can anyone else relate?

In the lesson, Tommy told me something that I'll never forget:

"Steve... NOBODY lays on their death bed and says: ' You know what?... I sure wish that I had NEVER had taken a shot on that thing."

These words hit me like a brick wall! (If you missed it, re-read it again, placing yourself in that situation)

The lesson I learned is that our existence on this planet is seriously a blip on the radar (when you really think about the grand scheme of the universe). This isn't meant as a negative or as something dramatic, it's meant as a literal reality-check.

Inevitably, you and I will also be on our deathbeds too someday, reflecting on how our 20's, 30's, 40's, 60's, 80's, etc. went.

Once you become comfortable with this reality, why WOULDN'T you just go for it in life??? It would seem silly not to!

Tommy motivated me to start taking more chances in life and to STOP playing it safe. He pushed me to put myself out into the world fully, not just as a drummer (I've since been playing drums for the show Rock Of Ages), but also with my various online projects (Rules For Drummers, Ask The Drummer Podcast, 24 Days Of Vinnie, etc.) to help inspire the drumming community.

It's all been SO rewarding and I can honestly say that today, I feel so much closer to living my life's true purpose than I was in 2014. I have Tommy to thank for this!

The point of sharing this story with you all is this:

If you are even remotely THINKING about doing/creating/taking action on something in your life, JUST DO IT!

Thinking doesn't give you any results. Action does.

Don't be afraid to take action on the things you really want in life! You will lay on your deathbed feeling happy that you took that shot, not the other way around.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and totally crushes it in the new year... GO FOR IT!

-Steve

The Power Of Visualization, Preparation, and Inspiration | Steve Such Drums

The Power Of Visualization, Preparation, and Inspiration

Recently, I was asked to be a guest on the Conrad Askland show! (a show about business, arts, and all the intersections inbetween.)


In the interview with Conrad, we discuss many things, including:

  • What it means to become inspired.
  • Choosing between a Music Education degree & a Music Performance degree.
  • How to prepare for a big audition.
  • The power of visualization in both music and in life.

Listen To The Interview Here:

5 Ways To Handle Criticism | Steve Such Drums

Whether we like it or not, the actions we take in life are always subject to criticism from others.

This holds especially true in the world of music, where personal tastes can be so subjective and opinionated.

Criticism can often be a tough pill to swallow, so here are 5 things to think about when you encounter it:


#1 - YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYBODY

I have a confession to make. Personally, I can’t stand the taste of seafood.

I’d say about 99% of the time, seafood tastes absolutely revolting to me. Of course, when I mention this to someone at a restaurant, they look at me like I’ve committed a cardinal sin!

But… me not liking seafood doesn’t mean that seafood is a BAD thing and should never be served again. It just means that I, Steve Such, don’t like seafood.

Some people like jazz. Some people like metal. Some people like hip-hop. Some people listen to all three. Some people don’t listen to any of it.

Just because a person doesn’t like something (or criticizes it) doesn't mean that it has absolutely no place in the world. It just means that it’s not their cup of tea.

No matter how good your intentions are, you simply can’t please everybody. When you try to, you'll end up holding back and playing it safe.

Instead of trying to please everyone, ask yourself “What is my gift to offer to others in this life?” Once you have the answer to this, just go out there and make it happen. Criticism may come your way from time to time, but you will also 10-20x the amount of positive impact you can have during your time here on this planet. Why? Because you weren’t playing it safe.

Once again: You can’t please everybody, so stop trying to.



#2 - YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ON TO SOMETHING

Steve Jobs was criticized for creating computers with a “closed system.” The founders of AirBnb were laughed at for their concept (“You want a complete stranger to be able to pay to stay in another stranger’s home without ever having met?!”). Geddy Lee was criticized as having too high of a voice (the singer of Rush, one of the most successful rock bands of all time). Many of our world’s most respected figures faced heavy criticism before eventually being honored as an innovator.

Imagine if any of these people had quit at the first sign of criticism… what a shame that would have been!

The point is, whenever someone starts to criticize you, it might be a sign that you’re actually on to something. Many of your worst critics are simply those who are uncomfortable with any type of change. They “like it the way it is and want to keep it the way it always has been.”

Ignore their criticism. You may just be on to something.


#3 - YOUR CRITIC MAY BE JEALOUS OR ENVIOUS

Counterintuitively, some people choose to criticize you because they might be jealous of the very thing they are criticizing you for.

If “John" constantly teases you for being “too nice,” maybe it’s because deep down he wishes here were as nice as you.

If “Jane” writes a horrible review about how much she hates your album/playing/etc., maybe she's really trying to take the focus off of her own personal struggle as a musician.

Criticism can often be a coping mechanism for someone’s own securities or lack of action in their own life. Always keep this in mind when facing your nastiest critic.


#4 - WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF

If you encounter someone who criticizes your talent, profession, or character, ask yourself: “Why am I seeking validation from this person in the first place?” "Should his/her approval really matter to me?”

Think about this: if you aren’t receiving some form of this criticism from time to time, it might mean that you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough past your own personal limits and fears.

After all, it’s your life to live, not theirs. It becomes virtually impossible to let criticism effect you negatively if you stay focused your own happiness, goals, and purpose.


#5 - ARE YOU HEADING TOWARD THE MOUNTAIN?

I’ll end with this. Renowned author Neil Gaiman spoke the following words at a college commencement speech:

"Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.

And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain."

If someone criticizes what you are doing, stop and ask “For the thing they are criticizing me for, am I at least getting closer to the mountain?"

If the answer is yes, ignore their criticism.

As long as your actions and efforts are always moving toward the mountain, don’t let criticism stop you in your tracks. Instead, use criticism as fuel to get you to the mountain faster.

6 Reasons Drummers Play With Bad Time (And How To Fix It) | Steve Such Drums

 

To a drummer, time is everything… it’s the single most important role we play as a musician.

How do we develop solid time BESIDES working with a metronome? 

In this article, I’ll address 6 common problems that can cause drummers to play with bad time.



PROBLEM #1 - ADRENALINE HAS GOTTEN THE BEST OF YOU.

Have you ever played a show where all the songs seem SUPER slow? It’s most likely because your adrenaline or nerves shift the way that you PERCEIVE tempo. This can cause all sorts of timing issues for the working drummer!

The good news is that you don’t have to only experience this phenomenon on the gig; it’s possible to practice playing with adrenaline away from the stage.

YOUR ACTION STEP:  THE “DRUM AND RUN” EXERCISE

During your next practice session:

1) Play any groove along with a metronome.

2) Leave the room immediately and run around the building 2-3 times. Stop when your heart-rate is high.

3) Come back into the room and immediately play the same groove you played earlier.
 

Do you notice a difference? Does the groove feel slower now? Learn how to adapt to adrenaline or it will get the best of you!


PROBLEM #2 - ONE OF YOUR LIMBS ARE INCONSISTENT.

Are your backbeats ALWAYS placed on the same part of the pulse, or are some backbeats slightly late? When you crash, does your bass drum foot line up exactly with your right hand or is it a little different each time? It’s these types of subtle inconsistencies that can cause significant fluctuations in solid time-keeping.

YOUR ACTION STEP:  THE “RECORD AND ISOLATE” EXERCISE

1) Record your next performance. When listening back, DON'T listen to the big picture but instead, focus on each limb SEPARATELY.

2) Being honest with yourself, answer the following question: "For each limb, what are my timing tendencies?" Work to adjust these tendencies. (EX. My bass drum foot always plays ahead of the beat)


PROBLEM #3 - THERE’S A BETTER WAY TO FEEL THE TIME.

Yes, it’s possible that the way you FEEL the time is preventing you from playing solid time! Billy Ward’s DVD “BIG TIME” is an EXCELLENT resource as he goes into this concept in great detail. For instance, in the DVD, he discusses the example of playing extremely fast up-tempo swing and how rather than counting each quarter note individually (1234123412341234!!!), he will count/feel every half note, every bar, or even every 4 bars. (1……..2………3……..4…….). This mental shift will make your time-feel much smoother overall, and free you up to see the big picture rather than focusing on each quarter note. This is hard to explain in an article, so I'd really recommend checking out the DVD.

YOUR ACTION STEP: THE “BIG TIME COUNTING” EXERCISE

1) Play up-tempo swing time (~200bpm)

2) Feel each quarter note on the ride cymbal individually as the pulse (Say out loud: “1234”)

3) Feel each half note as the pulse (Say out loud: “1.2.3.4.”)

4) Count each bar as the pulse (Say out loud: “1…2…3…4…”)

5) Count every 2 bars as the pulse (Say out loud: “1…….2…….3…….4…….”)

6) Once comfortable with all variations, practice shifting between all 4 without stopping.


PROBLEM #4 - YOU AREN’T REAAAAALLY SUBDIVIDING THE PULSE IN YOUR HEAD.

Yes, we know that subdividing is important… however when’s the last time you consciously FOCUSED on subdividing in your head during the gig?

Sometimes the reason our time isn’t solid is because we’re not paying close enough attention to subdividing the pulse! We know we should be doing it, but we often forget to subdivide in the moment.

When we actively focus on subdivisions, it becomes quite difficult for our time to fluctuate because the subdivisions act as frequent “checkpoints” that keep us in time.

YOUR ACTION STEP: THE “BRAIN-METRONOME” EXERCISE

1) Imagine that you’re turning a metronome on in your brain. Before playing your first note, hear the subdivisions looping in your head. For example, if you’re playing a swing tune, feel the triplets running in your head first. When ready, begin playing.

2) While playing, verbally count these subdivisions out loud ( “1 E A 2 E A 3 E A 4 E A”).
 

You will be surprised at how quickly this exercise can expose fluctuations in time.


PROBLEM #5 - YOUR KIT SETUP SUCKS.

It’s possible that the way you’ve set up your kit makes it difficult to play in time because the amount of energy required to move from piece to piece is more than necessary.

YOUR ACTION STEP: COMPLETE A “DRUM KIT MAKEOVER"

Yep... we’re going to re-build your kit from scratch. Remove all drums, cymbals and hardware from your setup area.

1) Start with the throne. Is the seat height set comfortably?

2) When seated, notice where your feet naturally rest. Add the bass drum and hi hat stand in these spots (you may find this goes against the conventional setup as the bass drum may now be angled a bit).

3) Next, set up your snare drum comfortably between your legs.

4) Set up your toms. How can you position them so that it’s easy to move between the snare drum and the toms?

5) Set up your cymbals. How can you position them so that you don’t have to spend a lot of energy in order to reach them?


PROBLEM #6 - YOU HAVE TROUBLE DRIVING THE TRAIN.

In a dream world, everyone in your band has metronomically perfect, rock-solid time. Hooray!

But in the real world, it’s not that simple. Let’s face it… everyone feels time differently. Maybe a bassist tends to lay back while a singer tends to be on top of the beat. We all have our own tendencies, and we have to remember that everyone else does as well.

But, we’ve all been in a situation at least once in our career where someone in the band just seems to have terrible time. When these situations happen, it’s YOUR job as the drummer to become the unstoppable train that keeps going no matter what!

YOUR ACTION STEP: THE “SILENT METRONOME EXERCISE"

INSTRUCTIONS: If you’re in a band, try playing a song you usually play, however this time, you’ll be playing along to a click track / metronome.  The twist: the rest of the band will NOT hear this metronome, only you will. No matter what, your job is to stay locked in with the metronome and the rest of the band is to follow you.
 

This will not only help the other members in your band to improve their ability to lock in with you, but it will train you to develop the confidence to LAY IT DOWN when you need to keep the band locked in.

BONUS EXERCISE: “LISTENING EXERCISE"

It’s important for us to know how to LEAD, but it’s also equally important for us to know how to FOLLOW.

INSTRUCTIONS: Repeat the above exercise but have another bandmate listening to the click this time. Now your job is to follow THAT band member!
 

This exercise can be extremely difficult for a drummer, and many embarrassing train-wrecks will ensue… but after a bit of practice, you’ll notice your ears opening up and will find that you and your band mates are locking in with each other like never before.

How I Lost 10 Pounds Of Fat in 10 Days

For the past a week and a half, I've been performing an experiment on myself. The result? My body has transformed significantly. I've lost 10 pounds of fat, my clothes are looser, and I have more energy than I’ve had in months. All in just 10 days. Here’s how I did it, (and here's EXACTLY how you can do it too).

stevesuch1


COMPONENT 1: NUTRITION

(Cliff Notes Version: Slow Carb Diet + Water + Supplements + Tracking = AWESOME)

FOOD

For the last 10 days, I have been following Tim Ferriss’ Slow-Carb diet. Here it is in a nutshell:

RULE 1: AVOID "WHITE” CARBOHYDRATES.

RULE 2: EAT THE SAME FEW MEALS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

8:00AM - English Breakfast Tea
12:00PM - Veggie Stir Fry ( 3 whole eggs, and about 2 cups of normandy style veggies, plus teriyaki sauce)
3:00PM - Turkey Burger (plus hot sauce, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and garlic salt)
5:00PM - One handful of Cashews
8:00PM - One can of Black Beans (plus hot sauce, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and garlic salt)

RULE 3: DON'T DRINK CALORIES.

Sadly, this also includes any alcohol :(
...except for my cheat day, of course :)

RULE 4: DON'T EAT FRUIT.

RULE 5: TAKE ONE DAY OFF PER WEEK.

Oh yes, this is the best part… the day when you literally eat ANYTHING you want! For my first cheat day, I ate an entire (yes, an entire) Little Caesar’s Hot-N-Ready Pizza, plus an ice cream cookie sandwich. Oh, and a few more slices of pizza + beer later that night. (I’m a madman.)

***For a complete reading on the Slow Carb Diet from Tim Ferriss’ book (The 4-Hour Body), visit: http://gizmodo.com/5709913/4-hour-body---the-slow-carb-diet
 

WATER:

Drink 1 Gallon Of Water Per Day. This may seem like a lot to some people, but I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and can confirm its positive benefits. Water is to the body as oil is to a car. With proper hydration, you’ll feel amazing. Go to Vons and buy a 99 cent gallon water jug. Make sure you drink it all before the end of the day. Rinse and repeat. Easy peasy.
 

SUPPLEMENTS:

1 Tablet - Kirkland Premium Performance Multivitamin
1 Tablet - Kirkland Signature Fish Oil Concentrate with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 400 Softgels, 1000mg
10 Tablets - Kirkland Signature Vitamin C 1000 Mg with Rose Hips 500 Tablets  - (Yes, you read that right... 10 x 1000mg pills per day = 10,000MG. There’s a lot of research about the benefits of high doses of C in your diet. Here’s a good starting point: http://fatburningman.com/dr-andrew-saul-the-megavitamin-man-high-dose-vitamin-c-diy-health/)

TRACKING:

I track my diet using MyFitnessPal (http://www.myfitnesspal.com). Download the APP, it works like a charm. As long as you don’t go over your calorie intake for the day, you WILL lose weight. Period.

 

COMPONENT 2: EXERCISE

Here’s exactly what I did over the past 10 days. Notice that the amount of time spent working out is completely reasonable. As with most things, it’s about quality (how hard you push yourself), not quantity (time).

MON 1/4:      CrossFit (1 hour)
TUE 1/5:       Off
WED1/6:       CrossFit (1 hour)
THU 1/7:       Off
FRI 1/8:         CrossFit (1 hour)
SAT 1/9:        Off
SUN 1/10:     Yoga Class (1hour)
MON 1/11:     CrossFit + Yoga Class (2 hours)
TUE 1/12:       Run (30 minutes)
WED 1/13:      CrossFit (1 hour)

Total Training Time in 10 days: (7.5 hours)
 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

In all honesty, even though I’ve already seen differences in how my body looks, the biggest difference I’ve noticed is how sharp I feel MENTALLY. I’m completely convinced that 95%+ of this shift is due to one thing… DIET. When I eat like crap, I get “Grain Brain"... I feel depressed, weak, and unmotivated. However, by following the slow-carb diet, I’ve had more energy in the last 10 days than I’ve had in months. I feel more alert, more positive, more creative, more productive, and simply put... I feel happier!

Well folks, that’s exactly how I lost 10 pounds in 10 days. If you follow the advice above, I’m almost certain you’ll see a positive effect in both body and mind. I’m NOT saying that this formula will work long-term for everyone, but if you’re someone out there who’s not satisfied with your current lifestyle and want to make a change, it's definitely worth a week of your life to try this out as an experiement. If you do, please mention your results in the comments below!


Did you enjoy this article? If so, please show this to a friend who could benefit from it and suggest they sign up for the weekly dose of TUESDAY MORNING INSPIRATION

 

10 Ways To Practice WITHOUT Touching Your Instrument | Steve Such Drums

Often times we find ourselves in situations where we are unable to practice our instrument.

Maybe the volume is too loud for you to practice in the space you're in, maybe you're traveling, or maybe you can only play during limited hours in the day.

These situations happens all the time... so what do we do?

Here are 10 ways you can become better at your instrument... without even being near it.


#1. TRANSCRIBE

Learn from the greats, and use their vocabulary to develop your own personal sound concept.


#2. READ BOOKS ABOUT MUSICIANS

Learning about the life of a musician who has been successful in their genre can provide great insight on how to (or how not to) succeed at a career in music.


#3. PRACTICE A NEW DISCIPLINE

Take up painting, writing, photography, or anything creative. Music has always been (and will continue to be) influenced by non-musical art forms.


#4.  COMPOSE

When you write a piece of music, you start thinking “Big Picture,” which helps you to focus on the role of your particular instrument.


#5. GO SEE LIVE MUSIC

Professional musicians and educators spend a lot of time on stage, but we can’t forget what it’s like to be an audience member as well. Go enjoy the concert experience and soak in the inspiration!


#6. LEARN A NEW INSTRUMENT

Becoming familiar with another instrument allows you to 1) communicate with other musicians more effectively and 2) recognize what other players would expect from YOU on your instrument.


#7. READ MUSIC MAGAZINES / ARTICLES

Knowledge is power. Subscribe to music magazines for news, interviews, and lessons relating to your instrument.


#8. DISCOVER A NEW ARTIST

We all have favorite artists/albums, but it’s important to check out new music to keep things fresh and to get new sources of musical inspiration.


#9. WATCH INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS

Be a musical sponge, soak up as many approaches to playing your instrument as possible. YouTube is your friend!


#10. VISUALIZATION

Many books have been written about the power of visualization. In your next practice session, work on everything as you normally would, but WITHOUT your instrument. Instead, visualize the physical movements made and sounds created, the way you WANT them to be. The next time you pick up your instrument, you’ll notice a difference. Try it!