The following material is a presentation of some simple ideas I’ve developed for use with my private students. These exercises have been quite successful with my students, so I thought I’d pass them on to you. The simplicity of this material will allow you to begin developing a fuller sound when utilizing “The Big Three”— hi-hat, snare drum and bass drum—with a special focus on the snare drum. Having a solid snare sound on the accented notes is too often overlooked. Here is a snare drum technique which allows maximum snare drum projection with much less effort.
Play a rim-shot (not a rim-click, which is an entirely different thing), while striking the drum dead-center with whatever end of the stick you prefer. At the same time, the shaft of the stick hits the rim between two lugs. This gives a lower sound than hitting the rim over a lug. When thinking rim-shot, many drummers will unconsciously pull their hand back so that the end of the stick hits the drum between the center of the head and the rim, with no consideration of where the shaft is landing on the rim. This produces a thin, inconsistent sound. Being conscious of every detail of your playing, no matter how miniscule, will develop within you the consistency necessary to perform at a quality level at all times. Striking the center of the head and the rim simultaneously (between two lugs) gives you the full sound of the drum with less ring and the “crack” sound of the rim. This technique is used primarily for live playing. In a recording studio the rim shot has a tendency to choke the sound of the drum slightly and some producers prefer no rim shots. The situation you’re in will dictate what will work best. Also, be aware of the tendency to follow the bass drum part with the right hand. Strictly adhere to the written right-hand part.
Use the following hand patterns as you play pages four and six of Louie Bellson and Gil Breines’ book Modern Reading Text in 4/4 with the right foot on the bass drum. Play the written pages as one long exercise or isolate one- or two-bar patterns and play as individual time feels.
Play right foot/bass drum as accented notes. (Ex.’s 1 and 2 can also be played with open hi-hat).
Exercises 3 and 4 utilize the same left hand/snare drum, right foot/bass drum idea, but in these exercises the hi-hat is split between the right hand and left foot. Play the left foot/hi-hat with the heel up. This produces a tight “chick” sound and doesn’t allow the hi-hat to “swish” when combining the right hand and left foot. Remember, the hi-hat shouldn’t be allowed to swish, but should sound similar to the closed hi-hat sound of Example 1. The difference is the two closed hi-hat sounds.
Exercises 5 and 6 are also done in the same manner as 3 and 4, except the hi-hat is played with all open hi-hat notes.
The sound here is achieved by hitting the hi-hat with the right hand for one open sound and “splashing” the hi-hat with the heel of the left foot down to produce the second open sound. Remember, to achieve this sound with the left foot, do not kick the hi-hat with your heel. Simply keep it down on the footboard while splashing with the ball of the left foot. The addition of the left foot in examples 3 through 6 gives you a basic four-way coordination.
See you soon and God bless!