Most students would like to fly effortlessly around the drum set at high speed producing a dazzling array of solos and fills. Simple as it is, relatively tew drummers know the formula for developing the appropriate technical skills.
Because so many drummers are poor readers, I’ve selected some of the least complicated rhythmic-sticking patterns as the basis for tom-tom and cymbal exercises. Even a non-reader can easily learn them.
Let’s begin with what will be referred to from now on as Tom Format A (TF:A) Convert Example I to Tom Format A as follows: Play single strokes (RLRL). Accents that fall on the right hand played on the large tom. Unaccented notes played on the snare drum.
Accents that fall on the left hand are played on the small tom. Unaccented notes are played on the snare drum.
Accents that fall on the right hand are played on the large tom-tom. Accents that fall on the left hand are played on the small tom. Unaccented notes are played on the snare drum.
The bass drum and hi-hat may be used in the following ways: 1) Bass drum in four. 2) Bass drum in two. 3) Hi-hat on two and four. Or. omit the bass drum and play the hi-hat only when a tom-tom is struck.
Using the left foot this way almost guarantees a superior hi-hat technique. I t offers the option of another hand in the interaction between hands and feet, as well as additional tone colors for the drummer’s sound palette. Moreover, an above-average hi-hat technique will lay the foundation for double bass drum usage.
Basically, Cymbal Format A (CF:A) is like Tom Format A except that top cymbals replace the toms. The top cymbal on the right of the set is used in place of the large tom-tom, and the top cymbal on the left is used in place of the small tom-tom. Important: The bass drum strikes only when a cymbal is played. Omit the hi-hat.
Convert the remaining examples (4-6) to Cymbal Format A. Simple as they are, some of the more complex formats are pure dynamite when played at high speed. Obviously the elementary student should first practice in a very slow tempo and work up to moderate and moderately fast tempos as his technical skill improves.
It is also important that the formats be applied to music as soon as possible.
The Music Minus One album, All Star Rhythm Section, Volume 2, is ideal for this purpose because of its broad assortment of tempos and the exceptionally good timing and uncluttered playing of the rhythm section.
The fast tempos on this album can be converted to super speeds by playing them at 45rpm. The tune “Three Little Words” is fast, and the piece “Fine and Dandy” is even faster, but when accelerated to 45rpm, they move at super-sonic speed. If your turntable has a pitch dial you can further adjust the speed by degrees whether at 33rpm or 45. What more exciting way is there of learning to manage lightning fast tempos?
For a teacher working with the poor or non-reader. I recommend beginning with Ted Reed’s Progressive Steps to Syncopation. Start with regular eighths (pages 46-48), then dotted eighths and sixteenths interpreted as jazz eighths (pages 49-51). followed by triplet-eighths (pages 52-57). and finally sixteenth notes (pages 58-60). In this way, the student will work with advanced drum-set technique, four-way coordination, and drum set solos while learning to read music. Success is practically assured because the reading is painless, even for students with a built-in resistance to written music, and because these areas of drumming are so highly regarded by all students.
Another excellent book for this purpose is Accents, Accents, Accents by Joel Rothman. The entire book is suited for conversions to tom and cymbal format solos. Also pages 6-8, 12-14, 18-20 and 32-36 of Introduction To The Drum Set are ideal for accent conversions.