Review: The Tim Ferriss Experiment Premiere: Rock N’ Roll Drums

First and foremost I have to mention that Tim Ferriss’s blog, writings and videos have been unbelievably inspirational for me over the last few months. I am very excited to watch and share all of the upcoming episodes of the new show. I have been employing a lot of Ferriss’s techniques in my day to day scheduling, music practicing and business approaches and I am eager to share my insights on how these techniques can be used in creative fields and/or fine arts. On that subject, I would like to offer my thoughts on ‘The Tim Ferriss Experiment Premiere: Rock N’ Roll Drums

The key to learning an instrument is finding the area that is either your weakest or the area that when worked on gives the biggest return in overall musicianship. You also need to have a fundamental knowledge of the applicable basics in the field you are working in. For example, when leaning a reggae bass line you need to first know the notes of the baseline (that can be quite complex) before you can attempt to learn the essential and subtle nuances of the song or genre. I believe the way the 80-20 principal applies to music practice is, by practicing extremely focused and targeted at the exact weakest point and/or most productive area, you only need to practice small amounts for dramatic improvement. I’m not sure it is possible to sustain a high level of practice very long each day. Sometimes, I practice so focused and so specifically for just a few minutes that my brain feels softened afterward. It’s very hard to describe, but you can practice so efficiently that it leaves you in an unusual head space.

In this episode, Tim set out to learn the drum parts for a Foreigner song. Being relatively comfortable with the notes, grooves and fills of the song is step one. Once that is accomplished, the two areas I would recommend drummers focus on for maximum gain are; stick swing, and groove manipulation.

1 – Stick swing
Although there are a few different approaches to stick swing, I am going to talk about a full rock stick swing and the ‘Moeller Technique’. To start, a good stick swing needs to have more than a 90 degree stick rotation. Some great groove drummers swing 180 degrees or more, often having their drumstick over their shoulder and pointing down their backs between hits. The grip of the stick needs to be loose enough that it allows the cymbal or drum to resonate. If your grip is too stiff, you may accidentally be ‘choking’ the stick. It’s easy hear when someone is ‘chocking’ the stick because when they hit a drum it sounds harsh or unnatural and they will also break sticks and drum skins frequently. There is an anomaly in the drum world with immaculate stick swing and technique, world famous drum n’ bass drummer Jojo Mayer. He is also the only drummer on the planet that can successfully do a clean drum roll with one hand.

Check out this video of Jojo Mayer breaking down the Moeller Technique.

Also, check out the monster stick swing of Tony Royster Jr.

2. Groove manipulation
The only way to practice groove manipulation is by recording or taping yourself. When practicing, the act of being behind your instrument skews the objective perception of the music you are making. Meaning, if you were somehow able to detach your observing self from your performing self with %100 objectivity, you would hear all of your mistakes, all the time. Recording and/or taping yourself helps gain this objectivity. Furthermore, to learn groove manipulation you can record yourself trying radical things. From a relaxed state of mind, experiment with your groove and try to get out of your comfort zone. When you listen back to your experimenting every now and then you will say to yourself, “oh what was that, that sounded good”. Then, you can develop some of the ideas and techniques that you ‘stumble’ upon. Another important note, don’t get caught up practicing to a metronome too much. It’s good to have a sense of metronomic time, but recording and experimenting should be done without a metronome.

Check out this video of Chris ‘daddy’ Dave really manipulating the groove

These areas are the most important and pay off the most when practiced by drummers. I suggest taking a very small amount of time and setting the goal of recording yourself for 5 minutes, listening to it, and not worrying about practicing for the rest of the day. Make sure that when you are playing and being recorded you are conscientiously trying different things, trying to be relaxed and inventive. When listening back, try and focus hard at where the groove is slipping or locking in and why. Practicing small focused amounts will lead to huge improvements and help to keep the physical association you have with your instrument positive.

I must re-iterate how much I enjoy all things Tim Ferriss and I’m sure the whole series will be amazing.
Thanks for reading and I’d love to answer any questions or hear any ideas on this if anyone has any.


Practicing Positive Assosiations

How to break down crippling and stressful anchors in the instrument you practice most.

Most serious musicians, myself included, have spent countless hours working tirelessly at the technique and proficiency of their most practiced instrument. Through the long tedious hours of practice your state of mind can actually become quite negative or ‘stressed out’. Many of us actually spend years practicing in this mind set, unintentionally reenforcing a negative physical association with touching and/or playing our instruments. Sometimes, it manifests in a negative internal dialogue such as, “who’s that sax player that’s so much better than me and why can’t I play that well” or “who’s that old legend that I’ll never be as good as” and many other sentiments of borderline self-loathing. Because you spend so many hours in this mind set while physically touching and practicing your instrument, a powerful link is created between the negative state of your brain and the physical feeling of holding and/or playing your instrument.

Here’s a video interview and improvisation I did for a web series called Counterpoint Vancouver. In this, we talk about what these barriers are and how to overcome them, among other things.

How do you break down heavily ingrained mental associations or “anchors”?

A lot, if not all of the information I’m talking about, I learned from Kenny Werners: effortless Mastery. If your interested in the high performance of any activity I highly recommend it.

Step 1: Meditation

I’m not going to go too in depth into guided meditation in this post, but I will briefly outline the general idea of what you are trying to achieve. Remember, all anyone can do is tell you the different ways they manage to control their mind and different tricks and methods that work for certain people. The only thing that matters about your meditation method is that it works for you.

Start in a nice comfortable chair where your feet can be flat on the floor and place your instrument in front of you. For piano, just sit at the piano bench, but try not to acknowledge the instrument too much. Take some really deep breaths. Start thinking about something you really enjoy, whether it be a food, drink, activity or person. Picture each breath filling you with that taste or emotion. As you feel yourself relax more and more you want to gradually try and watch different parts of your body relax from your head to your toe. Try and imagine every square inch of your body relaxing as you breath in and breath out until you’ve felt a warming sensation all over your body. To get to this stage it may take 2 minutes or it make take 20 min.

The next step is quieting your mind. For me personally, it’s best to try and become the observer. I find it very helpful to try and see myself in a 3rd person point of view. I deliberately end up viewing myself in a side profile where I can see my hands if I’m playing piano or the side of my face and horn when I’m playing saxophone. Some people find it helpful to think about flying out of the back of your head and then flying out of the back of that head and again and again until you can see a row of ‘backs of heads’. Again, whatever works for you is all that matters.

I truly feel that once you’re in this stage, where you are an observer of your own body, you can really elevate the execution of all sorts of different tasks. For starters, the relaxation techniques can be used during very difficult and physically grueling technical passages. Even in the most strenuous melody you can find relaxation and comfort through this method.

Step 2:

At this point you should be at a near euphoric state and extremely relaxed. The next step is to open your eyes and acknowledge or grab your instrument. If it’s piano, just place your hands on the keys. If it’s voice, just sing a few notes or even think about singing. If it’s guitar, just pick up your guitar and place your hands on the neck. As soon as you pick up your instrument you will immediately be pulled out of your meditative state that you spent so much time conjuring. Do not play your instrument for the rest of the day. Stop, and put your instrument down. Come back to it the next day and start the process all over again. For the first few days you should be barely able to pick up your instrument before getting pulled out of the meditative state. If you do this process for a week, hopefully by the end you’ll be able to hold your instrument and play a couple of simple notes or lines for 5 or 10 minutes before you are snapped out of it. I assure you that after a week of this the changes in your technique and performance will be so dramatic it will shock and amaze you and anyone else who knows your musical tendencies. These techniques are especially helpful for live performance and composition.

Once you have started to break down these negative barriers the effects will go up and down like a roller coaster. Sometimes it will be amazing and you will be playing far beyond your presumed skill level. Other times it may seem like you are back where you started. Remember, if you ever have a problem trying to think of a lyric, learn a difficult passage, or you want to approach a line that really makes you uncomfortable, the more you can approach it from this mind set, the faster you will learn it, the more you will enjoy learning it and the better you’ll perform it after it has been internalized.

Try this out for your self and please comment and let me know how your experiments go. Or, feel free to ask any questions in posts to this blog, I’ll try and get to them in good time.

Thanks for reading,

The Most Influential and Inspiration Websites, Books and Blogs

Here’s a short list of the websites I visit and read the most. All of them contain amazing amounts of information. With the blogs, don’t be shy, just dive in and read an article. I guarantee that your interest will be perked immediately.

Music Think Tank: MTT‎

Music Think Tank is “A group blog bringing together key thinkers in the realm of online music business”. This website was not only where I learned the basics of social media marketing and modern music business, but also one of the first websites to really inspire me to further my own independent education. Go on this website and look at the most recent posts and out of the first 3 or 5 at least one will be pertinent or enticing to you. Browse through many different topics if you are looking for answers to a certain question. I recommend not over thinking it, just go to the website and read any article. Before you know it, you’ll be visiting it everyday and researching different aspect of the music business.

This Business of Music: The Definitive Guide to the Business and Legal Issues of the Music Industry
Sidney Shemel, John M. Gross, M. William Krasilovsky
This is an absolute textbook of the ins and outs of the music business. While reading this book I tried to make it my own music business coarse. I was taking notes and studying and reading very thoroughly. I’m not recommending that you read all the dense legal chapters, but there is a lot of information on music industry contracts and other legal aspects of the business that can be very helpful. It’s on it’s 10th edition, so it stays fairly current.

Start and Run Your Own Record Label, Third Edition
by-Daylle Deanna Schwartz
This book is more of a collection of case studies within the music business. There isn’t as much practical information in this book, but reading case studies of really inventive and inspirational entrepreneurs can be more helpful than reading textbooks on the subject. This was my first experience reading case studies that really change the way you approach business. I still do it as much as possible today.

The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss
I can’t really say enough about Tim Ferriss. His concepts in working efficiently, metal performance, language learning and business strategy are all top rate, inspirational and innovative. I read his blog almost every day and I’ve had times while taking the bus to work that I’d read an article so inspiring and mind bending I would have to return home and take the day off work because my mind was too focused on its recent inspiration. I highly recommend reading this blog.

Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers created CD Baby that he later sold for 20 million dollars. I was very interested when I found out that Derek was influenced by the writings of Tim Ferriss. Ferriss’s writings had helped him to create an unbelievably efficient and self-maintaining business in CD Baby. He said he only worked a few hours in the last few months leading up to the sale of the company. Derek Sivers approaches the music business with the same professionalism and efficiency as high level modern marketing and online businessmen. I believe that MTT (MusicThinkTank) and online music forums are great, but at some point you need to shift focus from the music business to just business.

Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the COE of Marketing at American Apparel. He has also run marketing campaigns for Tucker Max and many other authors and multi platinum selling artists. His new book “Trust Me, I’m Lying” talks about his ideas in “growth hacking” and other innovative marketing strategies as well some of his stories and adventures along the way. His ideas have inspired me for the global digital marketing campaign I’m currently planning to launch for Soatoa.

Neil Strauss
Neil Strauss is a best selling author and a journalist for the New York Times. He is extremely prolific. Check out this hour long interview with Tim Ferriss and Neil Strauss where they talk about the methods they use to stay focused and productive. It will change the way you think about how you plan your day.

Effortless Mastery
by Kenny Werner

This book completely changed the way the I approached practicing, performing and composing music. It gives you many helpful tools in; performing from a strong and positive mindset, practicing more efficiently and/or elevating your general level of performance in music or any skill. Definitely some of the most influential lessons I’ve learned in music and sequentially life.

Let me know if you’ve found any of these links helpful. Or, if you know any other great sites for music business or general inspirational reading.



Opening for Shaggy @ The Commodore Ballroom with Tonye Aganaba

Wow, what an unforgettable experience.


So what can I say really? A very amazing experience getting to play my all time favourite venue in Vancouver with some of my all time favorite people in the world. Tonye Aganaba (Vox) is an amazing reggae, RnB and Soul vocalist residing in Vancouver, BC. Playing live with Tonye is a totally unbelievable experience unique as the lady herself.

Supporting Tonye was an all star line up of killer musicians and stand up people. From left to right; Allan Ollivierre (Keys), Paul Clark (Drums), Mike Agronivich (Guit), James Calvin Thompson (Bass) and myself Tom Heuckendorff (Keys).

Here’s a shot of the Shaggy sound check. This band was so incredibly tight. Very impressive on all fronts.


Here’s Tonye being her captivating self.







Great night