22 December 2008

The Year End/New Year Edition

And we're back. Another wonderful Day 10 entry and this marks the beginning of my new year's resolution. Yes, I know it's still not yet 2009, but I usually start mine approximately 10 days before the new year so I can work out any bumps along the road. I find that if I say I want to start on 1 Jan and once I find a problem, I feel like it's a big dent in my resolution and it crashes into my confidence and just makes the whole thing seem like a mess.

So how are you and what are your resolutions? But before we go into that, how many of your previous years' resolutions did you manage to accomplish? This is always a sensitive topic. Well I'll admit, there are a tonne of things I didn't manage to accomplish, for example, it's been over 2 years since I told myself I really want/need to master the use of Adobe Illustrator and till today, I'm not confident in using it like I am with say Adobe Photoshop. However, I have to admit, putting this next to all the things I did accomplish makes it seem like a very minor set back. For one, where I am as of today has completely surpassed where I aimed to be, at least with my comedy and my band as well as my self-confidence. I've said this over and over again, success breeds success and the more you succeed, the more you believe you can succeed and in doing so you succeed more. And it goes the same way, failure breeds failure. The more you screw up, the more you will screw up. Think about it, the more you feel depressed about say, your body composition, the more you're going to avoid the gym and hit that tub of yummy ice cream and end up hating yourself even more.

For those of you following my blog, you'll realize that I'm one to believe in invest now, reap tomorrow. A prime example is my drumming. Had I not picked up those drum sticks and invested in an electronic drum set 3 years ago, I'd still be dreaming about playing drums today. I will never, ever forget the days I used to stare into the mirror and air drum thinking it was the coolest thing since slice bread but feeling hopeless as I knew I couldn't drum so who was I really kidding? But then again, no one was born with the ability to drum or do a lot of things for that matter, it's something you just have to start now and keep working at it. Then you have those excuses of oh but I'm too old to start. It's like that with any musical instrument. I started playing drums at 23, that's a pretty darn late age to start seeing as every other 23 year old drummer I knew put my skills to shame. However, with disciplined practice all the time, I've managed to grow fast in the last 3 years. At least I'm proud of my drumming abilities for a 3 year old player. Another great example is someone who doesn't know how to ride a bicycle. It's a shame if you're my age and you can't ride a bicycle. Imagine needing training wheels when you're old enough to shave yourself? How embarrassing is that?! But to be honest, embarrassment is really all in your head. Sure, it's easier said than done, but it really is. Take for example a guy who has to dress up for work, say in a clown suit. Is he embarrassed to be in that suit? Perhaps on the first few days, after that it just becomes normal. I try my best to keep reminding myself of that idea. Especially when I'm at the gym working out during the time the trainers are. Just keep reminding myself that at one point, these trainers were as weak as me :) I'll get there. Oh and keeping a log really, really helps. Like I have a training log that reminds me what weight I was pushing in my last work out and that definitely puts a smile to my face when I see myself pumping a tad bit more today than I did last time.

So what are my new year's resolutions? Well this year I'm going to try to take it as seriously as I can. Not just putting down points "Learn illustrator". After reading countless books on achievements and goal setting, I've come to realize, goal setting is a bit more than just setting a goal. You need to work out the full strategy of achieving that goal to make it happen. Like, how many times have you said "lose weight" and just sat there staring at the goal and doing nothing about it? :\ Also, I've come to really appreciate the idea that there is a different mindset for different things. For example, you have to get into a different mindset when planning stuff out versus when you're actually doing those things. For example, when I sit and think about how to do something, I'm writing it all out based on the ideas I have and what should work in theory. Of course, we all know, rarely do things happen as planned and that's why we need this guide to help us stay on track so that we don't need to worry about that part of the issue. When things don't work smoothly, we know what our next step is and so we find new ways to getting towards that next step we already defined in our think it out phase.

I'll give you one break down I've created to accomplishing my new year's resolution. I've always had the dream of being Hong Kong's best metal drummer. Sure this sounds quite far fetched, after all, I've only been in this for 3 years but so what? It's not how long, it's how well you adapt. I've seen people work out all their lives and still never get that six-pack they aimed at achieving when they first got their gym membership. Reason? They didn't do their research properly and ended up just going in circles. They'd work out great but not eat properly, or else they'd work out badly and starve themselves. So here's the break down.

What makes a good metal drummer?

Well playing drums for metal music is basically about speed and power. A lot of it is about creating that adrenaline rush and feel like an engine roaring. To achieve that you need to really hit people with the lower end of the sound spectrum. In other words, it's about the bass drum constantly fire. This means I need to have lightning fast feet while playing. The normal goal for metal is to have 200 beats per minute, right now I can hit 160 and on really good days 165 beats at most.
So now I know I need to increase my bass drumming speed by 40bpm in a year's time. That might seem scary at first, but if you break it down, it's really (40/12 months) approximately 4 bpm per month only. I think that's achievable.
So now I have my first goal:
Increase bass drum speed by 4bpm per month

Wonderful. What else? Well it's about blast beats. They really bring out the brutal sound of drums gone wild. What are blast beats you ask? Well here ya go:

Crazy eh? Yep. So now the next thing I need to do is learn my blast beats. How can I go about doing that? Well there's the various books I can buy, the DVD's I can purchase or simply falling in love with the power of YouTube and all the free lessons you get on it. I'm going with YouTube. Lovely.
Learn 1 type of blast beat per month

Now I've also got to have crazy speed fills to help my musicality. I've found one of my weaknesses in drumming are fills. A lot of my fills I create are groovy. Not as in cool, but like bouncy. I really like playing drums that make people want to bounce (hip hop drumming is fun!) but I need that intensity sometimes, like a car engine roaring, not bouncing, so I have to work on my single stroke rolls. Single stroke rolls?

Saw the ending? See how the seemingly boring beats suddenly became so brutal all because it was done super, duper fast?! Ive got 2 chapters in one of my drum books teaching all about drum fills and incorporating hands and feet together, exactly like you see in the video. So I guess that's where I'll have to go.
Learn 1 drum fill a week
Do a recap of all 4 drum fills learned in the month and apply them to various drums/songs

Lastly, I need to learn to be musical with my drumming as well. With speed and power doesn't come musicality. I could be the fastest drummer ever but no one wants to hear noise, they want to hear music. This requires my studying different music and learning from the masters. Seeing as I want to develop my metal musicality, I need to work on cover songs in my genre. One of my favorite drummers is Chris Adler of Lamb of God. I like his taste in drumming as well as his goatie. Yes. I wish I could grow a goatie like that. So the best thing for me is to try to follow him and learn what he does best. Playing drums
Play 1 Lamb of God cover song per month

Now here comes an issue, since Lamb of God songs are so darn complex and fast, how the hell am I supposed to be able to hear out exactly what he's doing? Well here comes the awesome-ness that is Lamb of God, they've come out with a Producer Edition of their latest CD which includes separate tracks of all their instruments. In other words, I can hear the drums and only the drums for each track. Accompany this with my search for drum tabs and voila, I can train my ear as well! Fantastic!

Hopefully by following the above, I'll reach my goal by the end of 2009 :)

And there you have it, one example of how I make my resolutions and my hopes of it being the way of my achieving them too :)

I could go on and on and on but seeing as I've just spent the last hour thinking/typing this out, I'll stop there.

So you've got 10 days to go and I strongly suggest you start your planning and begin within the next 5 days so you still have 5 days to take care of any teething problems with your resolutions. Good lucky and Merry Christmas! :)

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08 December 2008

The one man show + others

Well, I did it. I finally did my own one-man stand-up comedy show in Cantonese! I was officially on stage for 45 minutes that night! 45 minutes! The last longest time I'd done was 24 minutes! And the best thing is, it was sold out which meant 140+ people packed in the cozy room of TakeOut Comedy in Soho! Boy it was fun!

Now as you may have noted on the poster, the show was on 29 November 2008. And today's already 8 December 2008. And I'm sure as you guessed, the reason for the late blog entry was... my being busy. The truth is, I really am! So much has been happening in just these last few days! I got my one-man show done. I performed bi-lingual shows a few times for different corporate/charity events! I'm one of the personalities for a new ad campaign at havemybank.com. My band, Eve of Sin, played at Underground 73 and the Yamaha Asian Beat Competition (we didn't win, we're a metal band after all :P), I'm eating extra healthy and feel more energized than ever :) Yep, a lot has happened recently!

So what about being stressed out? Well, to be honest, I've reached a point where I don't feel overly-stressed because I know I can deal with whatever is thrown my way. Especially with my proper diet and working out, I'm energized and focused enough to get anything done. The only issue is having the time to get all that stuff done. The coolest thing now is that with my proper eating, I'm energized as hell during the day but when it comes to bed time, my body just crashes completely, which I admit, is indeed a good thing because I used to have trouble sleeping properly before and now when it hits 1am, I'm just plain exhausted and burnt out of fuel. I strongly suggest anyone who's feeling down energy or mood-wise to stop trying to "relax" and start trying to eat better. After all, garbage in, garbage out right?

To be honest, the more I research about proper nutrition, the more I realize how important it is to anyone, let it be a biker or just your average Joe. A lot of people spend so much money on ointments or spas to feel better, but all this is external work. Without a healthy core from deep inside, all you're doing is trying to cure the problems caused by your weak core. I don't just mean this by the food in your gut, but also your fitness level. A lot of people at my gym will work the hell out of their upper body (specifically chest and arms) and forget about their legs, especially their core. Ok, so you'll see a whole load of guys doing crunches but what about your oblique muscles? Lower back? Back? Rear shoulders (deltoids)? So many people are so caught up in looking good in the mirror, they don't realize they forgot the other part of themselves that the mirror doesn't show.

Which brings me back to nutrition. This a silent factor that a lot of people don't discuss because everyone assumes it's not that important. I was doing a bit of research about staying in tip-top alert mode and nutrition is a factor that always seems to be an issue in regard to this topic and basically staying in good condition. Like for my stand-up comedy. If I'm mentally exhausted, no matter how funny I am, the audience will feel it and the energy will not bounce and the laughter will not be roaring. With good food, I'm able to stay more focused and also energized and chances are I'll think faster too which makes my witty come-backs all the more possible :) Along with that, I'm sure it also affects my drumming abilities. After all, drumming is, in a way, like a sport and much like my fitness, this could be counted in the same category as Cardio, so I really ought to treat it the same way, focusing on making sure I give my body like an hour after meals before I get into it and also giving my body the right post-drum-workout nutrition.

I've been keeping track of my daily food intake and boy has that helped! If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have realized that I actually don't eat enough protein for my body to properly grow! I strongly suggest that you do the same and realize what's lacking if you feel like your not achieving that physical goal you've always dreamed of. My current fitness phase is still cutting and toning so I'm not expecting to have guns on my arms any time now, but I can say that having kept track of what I eat has helped me immensely, especially at times when I feel like nibbling on some food (which is less and less now), I'll know if it's really my body in need of calories or me being greedy.

So there we go, a well overdue Day 10 entry but this time instead of the mental aspect of life or the perspective on seeing your next challenge, we talked about nutrition, which to me, is really a big factor in my well-being now. I hope it helps you out and within the next 10 days helps liven up your every day :) Oh and if I'm late for my next entry, which I think I will be, then Happy Holidays! :D