Strictly Technique

Extending Stick Control

by Ray Fransen

Stick Control by George L. Stone is perhaps the most widely accepted text on “pure” technique for snare drum. However, many drum set players of very high caliber have also mentioned this book as a constant study source. Although any good method book can be expanded upon, the Stick Control book lends itself particularly well towards this end, due in part to the relatively simple rhythmic content. Very often the more graphic a text, the more difficult it is to apply many variations. Without leeway for variations it becomes difficult to draw something “personal” out of a book and it’s these personal excursions into material that help us to develop style. Very highly acclaimed teachers such as Alan Dawson, have developed extensive uses for this book geared towards developing both the player as an individual and his four-way coordination. 

The following outline should help spark some ideas about the creative uses that can be made of this book. All suggestions will work with the first three pages and most will sound effective with the entire book. The categories are broken down according to the number of pitches used. These are a result of my own experiences and are not intended to be the final word on the book. Look at them as a point of departure. Remember to repeat the exercises to the point where you can really hear them and not merely execute them. Great credit and appreciation goes to those whom I “borrowed” from. They are indicated appropriately. Good luck!

Using One Pitch
A. Just as presented by Stone (This is a “must.”)
B. Accent all R parts.
C. Accent all L parts.
D. Accent consecutive downbeats.
E. Accent consecutive upbeats.
F. Accent in random patterns of your choice. (Note: More extensive use of accents can be found in Stone’s Accents and Rebounds.)
G. Play each exercise on pp. 5-7 in sequence but add 2 bars of quarter notes (4 rights and 4 lefts). Repeat and add 2 bars of eighths (8 rights and 8 lefts). Make the additions after each numbered exercise. This is similar to a method used by Alan Dawson.

Using Two Pitches
A. Each hand on a different drum.
B. Alternate left hand part between two drums.
C. Alternate right hand part between two drums.
D. Bass taps quarters while printed part is played on snare.
E. Hi-hat taps quarters while printed part is played on snare.
F. Bass plays right part while left parts are played on snare.
G. Bass plays L parts while hands alternate the R part on the snare. This is also an Alan Dawson method.
H. Play as above but substitute alternated flams for all R’s.

Using Three Pitches
A. Bass plays straight four; hi-hat on 2 and 4; printed part on snare.
B. Bass plays;

Strictly Technique 1

hi-hat plays 2 and 4; printed part on snare. This will produce a Latin feel.
C. Add accents to the above.
D. Play as letter H of previous category but use right hand on a tom-tom.
E. As above but use left hand on a different tom-tom.
F. For fusion or funk styles play as letter H in previous category but use right hand on hi-hat.
G. As above but use left hand on hi-hat.
H. Experiment with open hi-hat sounds on letters F and G.
I. Play straight four on bass; play R part on hi-hat and L part on snare.
J. All R parts with right hand on hi-hat; bass plays R part also; L part on snare with left hand. Try combining several consecutive patterns in this style.
K. For jazz style play jazz cymbal rhythm with right hand while playing printed pattern with bass on all R’s and left hand on all L’s. Use jazz interpretation.Strictly Technique 2


L. Play bass in Latin style while doing written sticking on two different drums.

Strictly Technique 3

M. Do as letter H of previous category but use two different drums on hand parts. These can be used as the basis for solo improvisations.
N. To produce jazz variations try letter H of section II with right hand on cymbal. Use jazz interpretation and intersperse this with some straight jazz time.
O. As letter N above but substitute foot operated hi-hat for L part.

Using Four or More Sounds
A. Try using two drums on first measure and two different drums on the second measure.
B. Add hi-hat (with foot) on 2 and 4 or on straight four to any three pitch pattern lacking hi-hat.
C. For a challenge to four part coordination play single R’s on one drum; single L’s on another drum; double R’s on a third drum; double L’s on a fourth drum; triple R’s on bass drum; and triple L’s on hi-hat (with foot).
D. Starting on the snare drum move each R around the set clockwise (each tap on a different drum). Reverse right hand motion.
E. Starting on floor tom move all L’s counter-clockwise, one tap per drum. Reverse left hand motion. These two variations are similar to Marvin Dahlgren’s Drum Set Control Book.

NOTE: Following these guidelines through the flam section of the book can be very involved but also stimulating to one’s creativity. Remember: the goal should be to develop personal creativity through unorthodox approaches to relatively common material. Always listen carefully as you play (tape it, if necessary). Try to produce musical ideas and not mere licks. Left handers should reverse instructions accordingly. Good luck!