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I shot an impromptu lesson video at the Owl City show last night in Akron, OH.


– The sticking in the paradiddle sequence is the same throughout the rotation. It’s just RLRR-LRLL over and over. The thing that changes is which note you accent. That’s all. So don’t go shifting the entire sticking pattern by one beat… that’s a different deal.

– It’s important to keep a steady meter on the 1-6 exercise, but the 4-6 stroke parts are obviously WAY more difficult than the 1-3 parts. So you have varied degrees of difficulty all at the same tempo, which makes keeping the pocket almost the toughest part of the whole thing.

– Huge shout out to Vic Firth for giving me those “Chop-Out” practice pad sticks. They are amazing and totally changed my life, mainly because I don’t have to drag a heavy practice pad around in my backpack anymore. 

I sat on a plane today for a few hours. Lately that’s more common for me than it used to be, whereas opportunities to sit behind a drumset and spend time simply practicing are less common. So today on the flight I tapped out a rudiment pattern for probably 45 minutes just using my finger tips on my lap and my feet on the floor. The noise of the flight covered up any sound so I didn’t bother anyone around me… at least I don’t think I did.

It’s a variation on a Bonham triplet pattern that inverts the RL and LR strokes, but using a 4-stroke pattern instead of a 3-stroke one. The variation is that I’ve got all 4 limbs involved, instead of only 3.

Pattern A: R-L-Rf-Lf (that is… right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot)
Pattern B: L-R-Lf-Rf

It’s just simple single strokes between the hands and the feet, though what I’ve really been working on is switching between them. In other words, play the above patterns once each back to back…


I work up to it by doing each “half” 4 times (a full bar if you’re feeling the strokes as 16ths) then switching to the other. After a minute or so of that I switch to alternating each time (two full rotations per bar, still in 16ths).

It’s way more difficult than I want it to be. I’m not a dbl kick player, so I’m not sure what this is even helping, other than mind stuff and limb control. But that’s the more important part of the game anyway.

PS. The link above to my post about Bonham triplets contains a few more super helpful limb control exercises. So I guess we can file this post under the “From The Archive” series.

I came across Alan Dawson‘s composition of rudiments many years ago and have recently dug it back out for practicing on the pad when I’m not in my studio. This is great stuff! Eighty-six relevant rudiments for drumset players, all phrased in 4-bar segments of 4/4. Dawson intended that the exercise would be memorized and played over a samba foot pattern, which adds the 4-way coordination and limb independence element if you can practice at a full kit. The memorization is a huge task (it takes about 20 minutes to play the whole thing) but it’s totally worth it.

Anyway, the “Rudiment Ritual,” as it is known, can be found in John Ramsay’s book on Dawson, but can also be downloaded digitally here. I used this as a warm-up during my woodshed years. It’s massively helpful and beneficial. DO IT.

PS… To comprehend the gravity of Dawson’s influence as a teacher, check out the list of former students on his wikipedia page linked above. Holy cow.

A great lesson on some of the most basic and important issues in drumming, from my new online friend Matt…

Now, these sticking strokes, as far as I’m concerned, are immensely important.  But pay attention to this statement: one CANNOT really play music and simultaneously give cognitive attention to technical things like this.  The collision of this reality with the importance of technique/rudimental issues is a place where a massive disconnect lives in many musicians.

Probably the most important thing Dave King taught me was to know my rudiments and technique, and know them well – and in fact know and trust them so deeply that I no longer relate to them on a conscious level.  I speak about this in my clinics and private lessons regularly, and I’ll probably discuss it a little on the 19th.  The gist of it is this: When I drive a manual transmission car, I don’t want working the stick shift and clutch to require my focus.  I need to focus on the road, traffic, my speed, my driving directions… everything that driving entails.  A real musician must relate to technique in the same way, utilizing the benefits that proper technique brings without spending any of the mental dollar on it.

I’m sure I’ll write more on this in the future.

This is the final episode from the first shoot. There are plans for another shoot soon, but it might look a little different.

Bottom line: this lesson on “Hertas” isn’t the last video lesson. Stay tuned.

Legendary rudiment guru Jim Chapin passed away this last Saturday (4th of July).  His personality is evident in this video, and he’s SPOT ON with his assessment of technique vs real music.

Money quote: “There’s no sense in becoming a technical giant if you’re not going to be a musical giant.” Booya.

HT: Jay Corkran

I don’t normally post exercises (that’s what the video lessons are for), but this one is really good.

The “criss-cross paradiddles” exercise is built around playing the single paradiddle pattern with both your hands AND your feet.  Like this…

R/K – L/H – R/K – R/K – L/H – R/K – L/H – L/H      (pattern A)

The “R” stands for right hand, and the “L” for left hand (both on snare).  The kick and hihat foot are represented with “K” and “H.”  So, “R/K” means right hand with kick, and so forth.  The above pattern is the main deal, so spend some time practicing that.

Next, try this…

L/K – R/H – L/K – L/K – R/H – L/K – R/H – R/H      (pattern B)

In this instance, the feet have remained in the same pattern as the first example, but the hands have inverted themselves, so the right hand now locks up with the hihat foot, and left hand with kick.  Now your limbs are “criss-crossing” your body as they pair off.

In the final pattern, the hands are the same as the very first pattern, with the feet inverting…

R/H – L/K – R/H – R/H – L/K – R/H – L/K – L/K      (pattern C)

This pattern, like the one directly above it, has the limbs crossing each other and lining up in an inverse relationship of hands and feet.

Practice each of these three lines to get comfortable with them, but the real exercise is when you flow from one to the next consecutively.  Do each one two times, in this order: A > B > A > C… repeat.  The transitions will pose the most difficulty.  The flow from A to B means that your feet will remain constant but the hands will invert, then revert back as you return to A.  Going from A to C means the hands will stay constant but the feet will invert.

The goal of the exercise is limb independence.  It won’t produce specific independence like the Ted Reed stuff, but it will accomplish a ton of the compartmentalizing that your brain needs to do in order to gain independence.

So… John Bonham… drummer for Zeppelin… everybody knows and loves him. He’s the father of rock drumming as we know it, and his drum tone is one of the most sought-after sounds in studio work of every genre (his intro on “When The Levy Breaks” from Led Zeppelin 4 is one of the most heavily sampled grooves of all time).

Bonham was known for his lengthy solos, which often included 3-limb triplet patterns that have since come to be known by many as “Bonham triplets.” These patterns sound pretty cool, but aren’t necessarily very useful outside of a soloing context (in my opinion). I’ve found them more helpful as an exercise/rudiment than as a staple ingredient in my playing.

I was talking about these patterns with a student today so I thought I would post them and encourage everybody to spend some time getting comfortable with these. They’re very good exercises on many levels.

Main pattern: R-L-B, R-L-B, R-L-B, R-L-B

(note: These patterns are all triplet-based, and should be counted as “1-lah-lee, 2-lah-lee, 3-lah-lee, 4-lah-lee.” I’m inserting commas between each full triplet… aka every three notes. The “R” is right hand and should be played on the floor tom, the “L” is left hand and should be played on the rack tom, and the “B” is bass/kick. The patterns should be played smoothly with no pauses or accents).

Alternate pattern #1: L-R-B, L-R-B, L-R-B, L-R-B

Alternate pattern #2: B-R-L, B-R-L, B-R-L, B-R-L (you can also switch L and R on this)

Alternate pattern #3: L-B-R, L-B-R, L-B-R, L-B-R (you can switch L and R on this one too)

Alternate pattern #4: R-L-B, L-R-B, R-L-B, L-R-B (this one alternates as you go)

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