In this lesson we’ll utilize different cymbal patterns to change the feel of your grooves and phrases. First let’s take a look at the kick and snare pattern that we’ll be using throughout this lesson.

Exercise 2 adds quarter notes on the hi-hat to create a driving pulse.

Exercise 3 incorporates the ride bell, giving this pattern an upbeat feel.

In Exercise 4 we’ll combine the patterns from Exercises 2 and 3 by alternating between the hi-hat and the ride bell.

Try playing the ride bell on the downbeats and the hi-hat on the upbeats, as demonstrated in this next example.

Exercise 6 employs a one-handed 16th-note hi-hat pattern that’s similar to the one Neil Peart played on Rush’s classic track “Tom Sawyer.”

We can also play the 16th-note hi-hat pattern using both hands with an alternating sticking, as demonstrated in Exercise 7.

Using the hand-to-hand 16th-note sticking from the previous example, let’s move the right hand to the ride bell on the “&” of each beat. This creates an alternating pattern in the right hand among the hi-hat, ride, and snare before returning to the ride.

In Exercise 9 we’ll utilize the same sticking pattern from the previous example but move the left hand to the snare. Be sure to play the left-hand notes lightly as ghost strokes.

Now try a mixed sticking pattern, such as the one that’s demonstrated in Exercise 10.

Exercises 11–14 employ combinations of 8th and 16th notes. In Exercises 11 and 13, try opening the hi-hat on the “&” of each beat.

Now try linear patterns around the kick and snare foundation. Here’s an example.

In this next exercise we’ll use a 16th-note-triplet subdivision to play a shuffle feel.

In this last example we’ll play the ride pattern on the floor tom with some 16th notes to fill in around the kick and snare.

I hope that these examples give you many ideas to add to your musical choices when you’re coming up with grooves for a song. Remember to let your ears be the judge of what works best. These are just a few ideas to get you started. You could also experiment with riding on other sound sources, such as the rims, the snare, a mounted tambourine, or a cowbell. You can even try playing a shaker in your ride hand. Have fun, and see you next time!


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, a tongue cancer survivor, can be reached through powellrandolph.com.