Have you ever followed through on a friend’s recommended book, and upon reading it you oddly just weren’t “feeling it?” These recommended drumming method books are in a similar place. You may not like working on these books. If that happens don’t feel guilty. The main thing is to keep playing while keeping an ear open for your progress. In fact if the ONLY thing that you do is work through these books? Yuck. We are supposed to be musicians, not chimpanzees learning how to move and make a noise! I believe the most important things in studying drumming are to listen harshly to recordings of your favorite musicians AND listening to how you sound when YOU play. Technique will come in its own time.
Now, continuing on what worked for me. “Rhythmic Patterns” by Joe Cusatis: A perfect book to work through while doing Ted Reed’s “Syncopation” as describe last week’s Technique” blog. With Rhythmic Patterns, you play jazz time – again, four on the floor on BD and rocking the toe/heel on your hi-hat foot to have it play 2 & 4. Then you go from time and perform the exercise. Triplets can get you tangled up, so it needs to be taken slowly and then worked faster in speed. I like method books that inspire. Once learned to play at reasonable tempo, you will be able to keep the brain out of the pattern. Then you can extend the solos on the drums with your own ideas while keeping the triplets going. Running into tangled arms or hands? Slow it down and work it back up and you will be able to own Ferris wheels of triplet cities.
One of you might say: “I’m a rock drummer so I don’t need to learn this jazz ride pattern stuff with two and four on the hi hat, let alone four on the floor. That’s stupid!”
Me: Don’t do it then. Enjoy your drumming in the shape and form you wish. The only thing I hope you are doing is holding yourself accountable for the notes by listening to your recordings. Strive for excellence.
BUT… The main benefit of learning the hand patterns with the feet on autopilot is that you will maintain a better balance on the kit. If those feet are really playing on their own, they will help you to keep the tempo steady. In my DVD ”Big Time” I show this in specific detail.
Now it is time to get to Jim Chapin’s bible, “Advanced Techniques For The Modern Drummer.” Bebop was just breaking out in NYC and it was a hyper fertile time for music and drumming. Jim noted what he was hearing and made the single most important book I’ve ever worked on. He once told me he had to carry sticks and pad around town because drummers were giving him grief, that some of his exercises were unplayable! There is one exercise with jazz time and playing ¼ note triplets inside the jazz ride pattern was my single most important exercise because it taught my hands and ears that triplets have a different mysterious flow to them that 8ths or 16ths (duple time) cannot. Playing 3 over 2 was, for me, like cracking the atom open and seeing another Universe! Being able to add a bit of swing feel into some duple (8th note/16th note) grooves adds so much feeling and swagger! Ladies and gentleman of the jury, may I introduce to you Levon Helm, Al Jackson, Ringo Starr and the list goes on and on. Have you heard Omar Hakim solo in a 6 over 4 (or 3 over 2) feel in his clinics? Magnificent.
I promised to discuss a particular book that was pictured in the last blog yet once again I have diverted away to other method books. Bear with me as I continue to attempt staying on point.
And finally we can’t forget this. Snare drum/rudimentary solo books! It’s your job now. What is or was your favorite and why? Please share your ideas here. You know where to write for me to see – on my blog at billyward.com or wherever you are reading this.