The following musical examples comprise what I term a “beat study.” It is by no means exhaustive (every possible variation), but simply presents related time feels.

Bar 1 is the pattern on which all the others are based. The focus of this study is the development of two sound levels within the exchange of hands and feet: the accented and unaccented notes. The best way I’ve found to communicate these contrasting levels is to liken them to the difference between a whisper and a shout. It also helps to use two stick heights: one-half inch at the highest for unaccented notes, and 8″ or so for the accented notes. It’s much easier to play quietly when the sticks are as close to the playing surface as possible. In general, playing loudly isn’t the problem. The problem is getting the unaccented notes soft enough so that there’s dynamic contrast between all the limbs.

When practicing this material, play each example for five minutes without stopping. Pay close attention to the sounds you’re getting. Also, as always, the first priority should be solid, even timekeeping.

A Beat Study 1

A Beat Study 2

A Beat Study 3