In this lesson we’ll explore grooves in which the ride hand plays a cowbell on offbeat 8th notes. Exercise 1 demonstrates a basic quarter-note kick and snare pattern while the cowbell fills in the holes on the upbeats. This creates a linear feel where no part overlaps.

Now let’s try some bass drum variations. Be careful not to rush the 8th-note rests in Exercises 2 and 3.

This next example can be a little tricky. Beats 1 and 3 have an 8th-note rest, and the bass drum and snare are played simultaneously on the backbeat. The resulting groove has a bit of a reggae feel.

These next examples incorporate 16th-note variations around the offbeats.

As the 16th notes get busier, be sure to pay attention to the accents on the snare, and play the unaccented notes as quiet/low ghost strokes.

Here’s an Afro-Cuban songo groove with an accented cowbell on each quarter note.

Now displace the songo pattern by starting it on its last two 16th notes, which moves the cowbell to the offbeats.

Powell Randolph is a drum teacher at Alpha Music in Virginia Beach and plays rock shows with orchestras around North America for Windburn Music Productions. He can be reached through