In this lesson we’ll embellish 16th-note grooves with hi-hat accents. In Exercises 1–4, accents are placed on the main hi-hat in the first measure, and in the second measure the right-handed accents are moved to the ride or an auxiliary hi-hat. Play the accents with the shoulder of the stick and the unaccented notes with the tip so that the louder notes cut through and create their own melody within the groove.

You can try putting any of the accented notes on other voices, such as cymbal stacks, splashes, or other effects cymbals. Some of these phrases also make interesting tom grooves. To do that, simply move your right hand to the floor tom and your left hand to the rack tom, but keep the backbeats on the snare.

Next we’ll orchestrate the following single-voice accent pattern, which is pulled from Ted Reed’s classic book Syncopation.

Let’s move the phrase to the hi-hat, while playing backbeats on the snare.

Now move some of the right-hand accents to the ride or aux hi-hat.

You can also try playing the snare on beat 3 to give the pattern a half-time feel.

Exercise 9 incorporates occasional ride cymbal accents within the half-time feel.

Exercises 10–13 combine the concepts discussed in this lesson with a few bass drum variations.


Powell Randolph is a drum teacher at Alpha Music in Virginia Beach and plays rock shows with orchestras around North America for Windburn Music Productions. Randolph can be reached through powellrandolph.com.