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A focused musician and an extremely affable and knowledgeable teacher, Lionel Duperron represents what any drummer should strive to be – passionate and dedicated. He’s been making a name for himself for a while now, as a drum teacher, a studio and a live performer, having achieved worldwide exposure with his work for the FreeDrumLessons.com website.
Lionel Duperron was raised in a household where country music literally ruled the airwaves. He was exposed to this style of music very earlier in his life through songs his parents would play on their guitars, or from records they enjoyed listening to. His father played guitar for a country band he also sang with. So it would only be natural for Lionel to end up by taking the guitar as his instrument of choice instead of a drum set. However that didn’t happen because drums naturally chose him.
The year was 1971. A 5 year old Lionel Duperron was accompanying his mother to visit his cousins. After arriving to his relatives’ house he was given permission to go down to the basement and play on his cousin Brian’s drum set. Lionel remembers being enamored with the drums and with how quiet and loud he could play them. Dynamics sealed his fate, he wanted to learn how to play drums. However it would take a while before he finally began learning how to play them.
With 8 years of age Lionel decided to start taking drum lessons. He phoned a music store asking about drum lessons. The news he received were far from good. He couldn’t start taking lessons straight away because it was required of him to have a drum set. At the age of 14 Lionel got a paper route and earned enough money to purchase a pretty banged up kit with two different colors – blue and red sparkle. The kit was in such a bad shape that the two toms over the kick were taped together so they wouldn’t spin around.
Lionel Duperron began taking lessons with Ross Stracton who worked on his reading skills and stick control. At the time, Lionel had severe timing issues. Nonetheless, this didn’t demotivate him at all. To work on his timing Lionel started walking everywhere with a metronome around his neck. As he listened to the click through headphones he would sing along rhythms, which really helped him improve on his timing. This comes to show the level of determination and commitment he had for honing his skills behind a set of drums. His level of motivation arose from the energy he would hear in the music from bands like “Rush” and “AC/DC”. So besides practicing the material passed down to him in each drum lesson, he would have fun playing along to songs from “Rush”, “Yes”, and “Triumph”. These were also the bands for the drummers that first inspired him the most – Gil Moore from “Triumph”, Allen White from “Yes”, and Neil Peart from “Rush”.
With 15 years of age Lionel Duperron started taking lessons with Wayne Hanley, who taught him rock, how to listen to music, and different practice tips. The following year he would start learning from drum teacher Bill Hone who would introduce him to different styles of music. It was also at this time that he began playing with his first band – “The Suspects” – who played “Rush” and Top 40 tunes, besides some originals.
One of the most important moments of Lionel Duperron’s career came when he was only 17 years old. At the time he auditioned for a gigging country band named “The Gamblers”. He was given the chance to play with them. As a result, he started making money with music for the first time in his life. It was at this time that he took upon himself the challenge of making a living out of his drumming. To further help him make this endeavor into a reality, in 1990 when he was 24 years old, someone approached him asking for drum lessons. Realizing it was something he could actually do and enjoy, motivated him to start offering drum lessons, which further helped him establish his life through drumming. The next year, with 25 years of age, an opportunity arose for Lionel to do some session work for the very first time. He accepted to record a drum track some friends asked him to do for an independent project of theirs.
Lionel Duperron is a graduate from “Grant MacEwan College” in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with a “Performance Major”. In 1990 he was under the guidance of Brian Thurgood. While studying with him Lionel furthered his knowledge on musicality, different styles of music, dynamics, and chart reading.
In 1996 Lionel Duperron started having lessons with a great technique teacher in Vancouver called John Fisher. It was at this time that Lionel’s hand technique began being revamped. He had to start learning it from scratch, since he’d been playing with improper hand technique for his entire drumming career. John Fisher taught him how to hold the sticks properly, and concepts like “The Motions” and the “Moeller Method”. This helped Lionel get more power, control, finesse, and speed than ever before, improving the overall tone he got from the drums also. Brian Thurgood and John Fisher had a great impact on Lionel’s drumming. They not only influenced his playing, but also the way he teaches, what he teaches, and how he listens and plays music.
In 2000, and with only 3 years of drumming under his belt, an 18 year old Jared Falk came walking into Lionel’s teaching room for his first drum lesson with him. This was a very important event for both. Jared, which had developed bad habits in his playing, would end up by having in Lionel the polishing hammer to his hand technique. Lionel helped Jared achieve a level of proficiency that until then looked impossible, due to Lionel’s teaching methods and Jared’s willingness to learn and practice hard. Lionel developed a great relation with Jared, both as a teacher and as a friend, which ultimately culminated in an invitation for Lionel’s participation in a very ambitious project developed by Jared Falk and an associate of his called Rick Kettner in 2006 – “FreeDrumLessons.com” – and for the development of Lionel’s first instructional product – “Drum Rudiment System“. In 2010 Lionel started endorsing Casey Drums, a custom drum kit builder from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Lionel Duperron’s current major influences are Mike Stern, Roy Brown, Oscar Peterson, Dave Weckl, Antonio Sanchez, Ty Tabor, and Neil Peart.
After he started making a living out of his favorite hobby, with his teaching methods, chops, and musicality, Lionel Duperron is finally becoming a household name throughout the drumming community. A very talented musician and teacher, Lionel has deservedly been given the chance to say “Hi!” to the world through “FreeDrumLessons.com”, but doesn’t seem poised to say “Goodbye!” any time soon; fortunately for you.
Lionel Duperron’s first band focused mainly on playing covers. As time and his drumming progressed, he started branching out into different styles and band arrangements. From jazz trios, progressive rock bands, to a full orchestra, Lionel has worked with a plethora of bands and artists both in studio and in concert.
From 1988 to 1995 he worked with bands/ artists such as “New Covenant” (1988), “Opus Rock” (1989), “Loose Change” and “Chad Ballentine and The Discrepancies” (1991), a progressive rock band called “Red Side” and “Dobb and Dumella” (1992), “Rhythm Works” (1994), pop band “180” and one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian music, Terry Clark (1995). Lionel did some touring along Canada’s east coast with “Chad Ballentine and The Discrepancies”, toured various times across Canada and the United States with “Dobb and Dumella”, and did some shows with “Rhythm Works” in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. As for albums he recorded two – “Verbs” with “Red Side” and “Never Thought” with “180”.
From 1996 to 2004 he worked with bands/ artists such as pop musician Jason Strange (1996) with who he recorded the album “Silhouette”, “Selah” (1997), Bob Hanson (2000), pop-jazz band “Even Keel” (2002-2004), and jazz-fusion band “The Brent Ellis Group” (2004). He toured overseas with “Selah”, played in a blues festival in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada with Even Keel in 2004 and the “Marrot Mountain Music Fest” with a band called “The Gospel Connection” in 2003. Since August 2010 Lionel Duperron is playing with Canadian jazz band “Quintessential“.
Between 2006 and 2010 Lionel Duperron, through Railroad Media Inc., released two very unique training packs for drummers – the “Drum Rudiment System” (2008) and the “Drum Fill System” (2010) – and was one of the drum teacher involved in the recording of free drum lessons for the website “FreeDrumLessons.com launched in 2007. The “Drum Rudiment System” contains 4 printed workbooks, and 6 DVDs with over 13 hours in lesson content. It shows you how to play very creative and unique beats and fills using the 40 essential drum rudiments. In this pack Lionel Duperron also teaches you how to accurately perform rudiments and technical concepts like finger control and “The Motions”. The “Drum Fill System” comes with 2 workbooks – DVD workbook and a fill encyclopedia with over 1100 fills – 9 DVDs, and 5 play-along CDs. The “Drum Fill System” is a massive encyclopedia where Lionel teaches you how to play fills for any situation, showing you a lot of different ways and formulas for you to create literally a trillion new fills of your own.
“Thinking big but acting small is the same as acting small.”
Lionel Duperron has spent most of his adult life drumming for a leaving, so he’s one of the epitomes of what’s stated in the quotation. Lionel has practiced while walking on a street, while doing his grocery shopping, while taking a bath, during classes, and while eating. He was very hardcore with his practicing, but what mattered to him was his final goal – to get better quicker, to have a lot more fun sooner than later. He eventually became a monster behind the drum set and a successful drummer in Canada. This comes to show you one thing – if you really want something and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to be good at it, you’ll attain a great level of success. So if you have a desire and a passion go full tilt and don’t hesitate, but remember to have a lot a fun in the process.
“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than have an opportunity and not be prepared.” — Les Brown
Diversity is another great weapon in Lionel Duperron’s arsenal of drumming knowledge. This is relevant for two very distinct purposes. Knowing different styles of music increases your level of musicianship and creativity, giving you new ways of looking at the drum set as a musical instrument for any other style of music you already know how to perform. It’s also something very crucial to know if you’re not in a very famous band and intend to make a living out of this craft. This won’t guaranty you’ll be having all the paying gigs and studio sessions you’d want, but will give you the much needed weapons to be prepared for when good opportunities find you. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Think about it, if you only know how to play rock music, for how many type of gigs will you be able to audition? What if you knew rock, funk, and bossa nova? Lionel Duperron is mainly a fusion and progressive rock drummer but is playing with a jazz band right now. So the more you know about drumming, the more opportunities you’ll have for playing while being payed to do so.
“Don’t let someone’s opinion of you become your reality.” — Les Brown
Lionel has developed ambidexterity, one of the cornerstones of drumming. So whatever he can play with his right hand leading, he can play with his left hand leading. This obviously takes a lot of time to develop, but the more you work on it, the better you’ll become since you’ll be developing a lot more independence and control. If you take any groove you can already play with right hand leading, by playing it with your left hand leading in open handed stance, you’ll really work on your weaker hand strength, control, and speed. If you want to try playing open handed go for it. This stance gives you more options than crossed does. So don’t let what is preconceived as the right way of playing the drums, to stop you from being different and from experimenting. This is music, there is no right or wrong, there is only your right and your wrong. Be yourself and work on your own voice, in the long run you’ll be better off. Lionel Duperron is a good example of just that.
For some years now members of the drumming community see the drum rudiments as pointless, especially when applied to the drum set. Lionel sees things differently and with the “Drum Rudiment System” showed a very unique side of his playing. He took all 40 essential drum rudiments and created solos, fills, and beats while adding a great level of originality to them, proving once and for all that mastering the 40 essential drum rudiments will not only expand your hand technique, but your own creativity as well. So explore your own ideas and concepts just like Lionel does/did, and don’t be afraid to try new things, new styles music or even weird approaches to playing the drum set, even when everyone says otherwise.
“Musicians should never forget that we’re blessed. We have a special gift that people can enjoy through us. We’ve had the good fortune to receive this and pass it along to others.” — Ed Thigpen
At the end of the day technique will only get you so far. We can learn technique because we like to of course, but technique should be a tool for further musical expression. Behind all the chops, independence, and control, there is a highly musical Lionel Duperron.
Dynamics were his first passion in drums and surely influenced his whole musical approach to drumming. He’s a musician first and foremost, and only then a drummer. Dynamics are important in achieving the desired level of communication that takes music to a whole new level. They can communicate a lot of emotions when combined with different voices, rhythms, speeds, and accents. Watch Lionel’s solo work or even as he plays along to music to have a better understanding of how well Lionel uses this concept to achieve a greater level of expressiveness through the drums. Working on your dynamics is also a great way of achieving a greater level of control over your limbs, since it’s hard to play soft in time whether at high or low tempos, or to play transitions between hard and soft strokes.
“Proper practice makes better.” — Lionel Duperron
It’s important that you focus on quality instead of quantity and speed. Focus on learning simple things with great quality. It’s better if you play 10 beats as a master drummer, than 1000 beats like a 1 year old. Focus on learning things correctly the first time around, and you won’t have to relearn them again in the future. Speed will come, as will control and independence, you just have to keep working on the stuff you are learning right now. With time and patience you’ll be able to do them, and eventually become just like Lionel or even better – it may not seem like it, but if you work a lot it’s possible.