Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of the band Rush, in fact I think all of their songs pretty much sound the same. But I do have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone Stadium Status (world-class) whether I enjoy their art or not.
Arguably the greatest drummer (in any genre) of our generation passed away on Friday– Neil Peart of the band Rush.
There’s a lesson for everyone from Peart that has nothing to do with music and even less to do with drumming.
Despite his success, Peart always remained a student of the game. To the point where at the pinnacle of his career in 1995 he felt he’d maximized his talent as far as he could, so Peart sought out a coach to help him breakthrough that ceiling of success.
That coach was a man named Freddy Gruber.
Grubber watched Peart play for about one minute and gave him several suggestions:
- You’re wearing the wrong shoes.
Don’t play drums in sneakers. Freddy Gruber required him to play in dancing shoes.
30 years of musical excellence, developing himself into the most world class drummer of his generation and he was wearing the wrong shoes?
- You’re holding your drumsticks wrong.
Again, 30 years of experience and a style that obviously worked well for him. But he had been holding his sticks incorrectly.
Amateurs take offense. Professionals take notes.
So after 30 years of excellence, he was willing to start over again at ground zero, and reinvented his craft from scratch.
Upon his insistence the band took a hiatus and under Gruber’s coaching Peart literally went into his basement and practiced daily for hours for a year and a half. Much like he did when he initially learned to play the drums at age 13.
He met with his coach every couple of months to refine technique and get new assignments and exercises to go home and practice.
Gruber had him do some other very counter-intuitive things that yielded far better results for Peart:
- Gruber taught him economy of motion, playing in a circular motion as opposed to pounding the sticks straight down through the drums.
- Had him switch to a traditional grip instead of butt end with a matched grip.
- Positioned him further back from the bass drum.
- Elevated his snare drum much higher.
- Taught him an enhanced sense of time and approach to rhythm.
Peart’s commentary on Gruber’s work
“I was a pretty good butcher. But Freddy taught me to become a surgeon.”
And THAT is what we do as coaches, we teach subtle changes that are practically unrecognizable to the untrained eye.
The best performers don’t just have a coach, they WANT a coach. Neil Peart, Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and every world class performer you can think of has a go to resource who helps them see what they cannot see themselves. You simply cannot effectively coach yourself, no one can.
They don’t need a coach to teach them how to play the game. They have a coach to teach them how to become more efficient, more comfortable and more effective.
The evolution of Neil Peart is proof that success is not an act, it is a habit.
As John Wooden so famously said “It’s what you learn after you know it all that makes the biggest difference.”
As a professional, it’s your responsibility to get better. And if people are admiring the work you do, that ought to be even more motivation to improve and take your game up another level.
So if, like Peart, you’re secure enough in your own skin and don’t have a fragile ego, I currently have two spaces that opened up in my coaching program. If you’d like to schedule a call to discuss complete the form here: