In The Pocket

The Commandments of the Half-Time Shuffle

Part 3: 10 Classic Tracks

Welcome to the final installment of my three-part series on the half-time shuffle. I thought it would be fitting to end with some transcriptions of a handful of popular recordings. Immerse yourself in the music so that the grooves envelop you. This is the most crucial step to mastering any style.

Make sure you study not only the nuances and subtleties of each groove but also the fills and the way the drummers play the ensemble figures with the band. This is the key to playing the half-time shuffle authentically for each era of music represented. Let the songs motivate you to add new dimensions to your playing.

Most important, have fun! If you’re not enjoying yourself when you’re making music, then the people playing with you or listening to you won’t enjoy themselves either. Like anything else in life, you’ll always have more fun doing something that you do well, which is the reason to practice diligently. Once the hard work is done, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and play with passion, purpose, and power.

I hope the information I’ve shared with you in this series educated, enlightened, and inspired you in some way. Perhaps it will give you a deeper love and appreciation for this great groove and act as a catalyst for further exploration. Happy shuffling!

Song: “Please Return Your Love to Me”
Artist: The Temptations
Album: Live at the Copa (1968)
Drums: “Stormin’” Norman Roberts


Song: “Knucklehead”
Artist: Grover Washington Jr.
Album: Feels So Good (1975)
Drums: Jimmy Madison


Song: “Down to Your Soul”
Artist: Tom Scott
Album: Blow It Out (1977)
Drums: Steve Gadd


Song: “Mama”
Artist: Toto
Album: Hydra (1979)
Drums: Jeff Porcaro


Song: “Any Foolish Thing”
Artist: Michael McDonald
Album: No Lookin’ Back (1985)
Drums: Jeff Porcaro


Song: “Pamela”
Artist: Toto
Album: The Seventh One (1988)
Drums: Jeff Porcaro


Song: “For Your Love”
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Conversation Peace (1995)
Drums: programmed


Song: “Jingle Bells”
Artist: James Taylor
Album: At Christmas (2006)
Drums: Vinnie Colaiuta


Song: “Grapevine Fires”
Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Album: Narrow Stairs (2008)
Drums: Jason McGerr


Song: “Pretty Wings”
Artist: Maxwell
Album: BLACKsummers’night (2009)
Drums: Chris Dave


Zoro is an award-winning drummer, author, educator, and motivational speaker. He has toured and recorded with Lenny Kravitz, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Bobby Brown, New Edition, and others, and he teaches at Belmont University in Nashville. For more information, visit The contents of this article were adapted from The Commandments of the Half-Time Shuffle by the permission of Alfred Publishing, © 2013. All rights reserved.