This excerpt is taken from the complete article that appears in the November 2015 issue,
which is available here.
Rock & Jazz Clinic
Bass Drum Development
4 Focused Exercises for Building Raw Speed
by Mike Johnston
One of the most common questions I get asked in clinics is, “How did you develop your foot speed”? And that is often followed by, “What pedal do you use”? I can promise you this: Bass drum speed has almost nothing to do with the pedal and everything to do with you. You have to put in the work, you have to maintain focus on your goals, and you have to be the one to stay motivated while practicing what can seem like boring, repetitive exercises. If you can do all that—if you can finish your vegetables—then the dessert will be that much sweeter.
Let’s first try to understand speed. There are two types of speed when it comes to drumming, and without proficiency at both you most likely won’t be able to reach your speed goals. The first type is raw speed—how fast your limbs can currently move. Think of it like this: If I asked you to play right, left, kick, kick (RLKK) as fast as you could, that would give me an idea of your raw foot speed. But if I asked you to play RLLRKK, most likely your foot speed would decrease drastically. Even though there are still only two kicks in a row, the hand pattern preceding those two kicks might be a bit foreign to you, which makes your mental hard drive work much harder, thus causing you to slow down.
For more on this topic check out the complete article in the November 2015 issue, which is available here.