In this lesson, we’ll develop independence while reading a single page of rhythm. Developing and maintaining independence will help you execute any musical idea that comes to mind. There are many possible combinations with this material, so be sure to come up with your own new ideas and unique twists to this approach.

Here’s the rhythm we’ll be interpreting in this lesson. Remember to practice these concepts with other single-line rhythms.

To start, play the first line with your right hand while playing the second line with your left. At the end of each line, move both hands down the page by one line, so your right hand will play the second line while your left hand plays the third, and so on. Try orchestrating each hand on separate voices to expose your ears to new ideas, patterns, and phrases. I prefer using combinations of cowbell and snare, tom and snare, ride and snare, and hi-hat and floor tom.

In the following exercise, both hands are shown combined into a single system. However, practice applying this concept while reading the material as it’s written in Exercise 1. This approach will force you to look ahead when reading music.

Once you’re comfortable with that approach, switch the roles of your hands from measure to measure. Your right hand plays the first measure while your left hand plays the first measure on the second line. In the next measure, your right hand plays the second bar of the second line while your left hand plays the second bar of the first line. Alternate in this manner for the rest of the rhythms in Exercise 1.

Now let’s pick a single measure of rhythm to use as an ostinato. We’ll use the last measure of the full page of rhythm that was notated in Part 1 of this series in the March 2017 issue.

Repeat this ostinato with the left hand while reading through Exercise 1 with the right. Once this is comfortable, try flipping the roles of each hand.

You can also play the ostinato with the bass drum while reading the page on top with the hands. Experiment with the sticking by using alternating strokes, doubles, or paradiddles.

Next we’ll create a two-limb ostinato based on a single measure from the original page of rhythm. In this case, we’ll use the first measure of the sixth line.

Now play both of these previous ostinatos with the hands. The right hand will play Exercise 4 while the left hand plays Exercise 6. Use this new ostinato while reading the page of rhythm with the bass drum. Once comfortable, try reading the page with your hi-hat foot, or try different combinations that use the kick and the hi-hat. Here’s the hand ostinato.

Now move the ostinato to the feet by playing Exercise 4 with the left foot and Exercise 6 with the bass drum. Read through the page with the hands, and experiment with sticking.

Let’s check out a three-limb ostinato. Play the following right-hand ride cymbal pattern over the previous foot ostinato, and read the page of rhythm with the left hand.

For an added challenge, try combining the foot ostinato in Exercise 8 with the reading concept from Exercise 3 in the hands.


Libor Hadrava is the author of the book In-Depth Rhythm Studies: Advanced Metronome Functions. He also plays with Boston metal band Nascent and is an endorsing artist for Evans, Vater, Dream, Pearl, and Ultimate Ears. For more info, visit liborhadrava.com.