Exercise in Control And Time

hitting the drums

The following exercise is designed to teach you how to play triplets over 12/8 time. To execute this routine, play 8th notes (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8) on your bass drum, and 8th note triplets (1e and a2e and a3e and a 4e) on your snare drum.

Begin with single strokes for one measure and then switch to a measure of double strokes, then a measure of paradiddles. You may have to start slowly and perform several measures of singles, then doubles, and then paradiddles before you can switch comfortably from pattern to pattern. (switch after every 8 kicks).

tutorial exercise

drum rhythm

Remember to keep eighth notes pulsing on your bass drum and to keep the strokes nice and even, all sounding the same. For a challenge, try switching back and forth between right (as illustrated) and left hand leads.

This exercise covers an important aspect of drumming that’s especially of concern for many self taught drummers who may have learned by listening rock and pop recordings. Since most rock and pop compositions are written in 4/4 time, many drummers develop an instinct to play in 4/4. This tends to limit your ability to play off beat rhythms and accents and sometimes causes a habit of accenting on 1 when playing fills.

Play slowly at first and work up to a comfortable speed gradually. The object is not to play as fast as you can, but to play as evenly and consistently as you can. Do your best to make every snare note sound the same. Nice, even and clean.

Speed will come to you if you practice this way on a regular basis. Always play to a metronome. Beginner and intermediate players should start slow at speeds of 40 – 80 beats per minute, advanced players at speeds around 100 – 150 and professional level players should be able to perform this exercise at speeds in excess of 200 bpm.

Once you are comfortable playing this pattern on the snare, try moving around the kit and incorporating stokes on toms, hi hats, cymbals, etc…

I learned this exercise while studying with the legendary Joe Morello. A variation of it can also be found in Joe’s book, “Master Studies”. Joe has used patterns like this and others similar to it in some of this famous drum solos with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Have fun with your studies! Don’t hesitate to contact me at Druminfo@RickApgar.com with any questions you may have!