by Steve Fidyk

This month’s Jazz Drummer’s Workshop features some of my favorite applications of the classic Ted Reed book Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer. Syncopation has been a staple since it was first published in 1958 and is regarded as one of the most versatile and practical drum books ever written.

I first studied from it with my teacher Angelo Stella in 1975, strictly as a snare drum method with bass drum accompaniment. Angelo later had me add the hi-hat on beats 2 and 4 (three-way independence), and eventually I worked up to four-way independence while reading from pages 29–44 (from the original printing). Legendary teachers such as Alan Dawson, Joe Morello, Jim Chapin, Bob Grauso, Ed Soph, and John Riley use Syncopation with their students as a means for developing coordination, dynamic balance, and phrasing around the kit.

The applications in this article and video can be used with any of the repetitive one-measure reading materials from pages 29, 30, and 33–36, or from the thirty-two-measure rhythm melodies from pages 37–44.


Steve Fidyk has performed with Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dick Oatts, Doc Severinsen, Wayne Bergeron, Phil Wilson, and Maureen McGovern, and he’s a member of the jazz studies faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia. For more info, visit