The Tim Ferriss Experiment Episode One: 4-Hour Percussion and Mind Over Meter

by Stephen

Is it possible to learn percussion in 4 days well enough to rock it out with the legendary band Foreigner playing an epic song?

As a lifelong wannabe guitarist I have to say I was totally excited to see Tim take to the drums in an attempt to deconstruct what for many (including myself) would seem to be and impossible task.

But isn’t this why we love Tim Ferriss? Watch the video, and we will discuss it down below.

What is the most important lesson from the video?

“I wouldn’t worry too much.  Play the song don’t play the drums!” - Chris Frazier

“Learn the drums through hot blooded, not learn the drums then try to play hot blooded.”  - Tim Ferriss

What does this mean in real life?

Sometimes we are afraid to take on new projects and we want to learn everything about a specific topic before we attempt it.

This is a perfectionists attitude. And in this episode Tim himself starts to go down the same slippery spiral slope.

Analysis paralysis… Tim becomes overwhelmed trying to learn to hold a rhythm, read music and insert frills such as drum rolls and fancy bass beats.

And this is where good advice and excellent mentors becomes so important.

If you watch the video Tim has three separate teachers all trying to teach him something different. One just wants to hit the drums (Stewart Copeland), another wants to teach Tim music theory (the School of Rock) and the last, Chris Frazier from Foreigner, lays it all out there in the fortune cookie piece of wisdom Tim needed to hear.

Play the song!

Everything can be complex if we try to take it all on at once.

That is why Tim’s process of DiSSS

  1. Deconstruction
  2. Selection
  3. Sequencing
  4. Stakes

is so important.

Tim goes through this process actually twice, because he has two goals wrapped up in one.

He wants to play the drums and he wants to play the drum section of the song “Hot Blooded” with Foreigner.  I personally see two parts:

  1. The drums
  2. The song itself

A band consists of many parts. In this case guitar, bass, drums and the lead singer.

If you want to play the drums this consists of several parts and several different types of drums to assemble a “standard” rock kit.

At the very beginning Tim is able to ‘DiSSS’ the drums  by realizing that to hold a basic beat he only needs to focus on three drums.

  1. kick
  2. snare
  3. hi hat cymbals

(in that order)

Deconstruction (check), Selection (check), Sequencing (check).

In order to play the drum portion of the song there are many parts, the general rhythm percussion and then any transitions or “frills” you may want to add on top. To hold a beat you have to understand the tenets of the particular song you are playing. So Tim searches for that essential 20%.

The MED – Unlock the Song

Tim with the school of rock teacher realizes that there are 3 “groves” that make up the song “Hot Blooded”.

  1. Verse
  2. Chorus
  3. Pre-chorus

This is the essential 20% and this is all he needs to focus on

  1. Omit Crash symbols
  2. Omit fancy bass drumming
  3. Omit flourishes
  4. Get fake snakeskin pants!

When I look at all this I get a bit confused by the DiSSS process. It seems in some respects it is pieced haphazardly together.

  • The stakes came first. Tim has to play in front of a live crowd in 4 days with the band Foreigner.
  • Then deconstruction, selection and sequencing are broken into several parts multiple times over. The 20% is distilled not by Tim, but by his teachers.
  • “Learn the drums through Hot Blooded, not learn the drums then try to play Hot Blooded.” – Is this actually the case?

What I learned

  1. Everything we do probably has more than one layer of complexity.
  2. It seems the number 3 is important, can we break most problems down to three essential parts and then just focus on these parts?
  3. Sequencing is something that we need to learn from somebody who has a lot of experience. In order to find the 20% you have to know that the 80% exist, and to know this you have had to had a lot of lessons from not just the school of hard rocks, but the school of hard knocks.

I am looking forward to The Tim Ferriss Experiment! I hope by the end of the series I will be able to make more properly “deconstructed” blog post about these topics.

Thanks Tim for the video, I have an old electric percussion set growing dust in my closet. “Hot Blooded” and snakeskin pants you better get ready baby!

You can subscribe to the Tim Ferriss Experiment channel on YouTube and watch it here as well on Upwave.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

sid December 2, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thank you. Great recap and breakdown of the episode.

I think I will work for stakes first. I am such a chicken shit and would wait until everything was right..just read one more book. The only reason I would not put stakes first because it makes me uncomfortable and fear of failure.

One part I liked a lot was at 16:20..Getting Uncomfortable. Getting uncomfortable and the discomfort will inoculate you against mistakes when you are afraid.


Stephen December 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I didn’t even notice that quote when I first watched the video but it is great. I never really thought of discomfort as a vaccine against mistakes in the face of fear, but this is so true. Especially in medicine. Starting out we are required to place ourselves in uncomfortable situations on a daily basis, and this truly is an “inoculation”. As most things in life though it is never as easy as a shot in the arm, it requires one to place themselves in a position most of us would like to avoid.

And I agree stakes are important but, they have to be concrete and real. I see so many people make “stakes” when they are really just half-hearted intentions at best. True stakes, the ones that seem to really make a difference, usually require some type of social component. Maybe like playing drums in front of a live audience of thousands of people. So if you are going to make stakes make sure that the side effect of not living up to your goal will involve some type of painful public humiliation (or at least the perception of it) :-)

Have a great day!



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