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This is an introduction to playing jazz swing time on the drums. These exercises are the beginning of basic independence needed to play jazz. The pulse is the quarter note subdivided into eighth note triplets (dividing the main note into threes). Here is the standard ride pattern with the hi-hat foot on 2 and 4. Work out the ride cymbal first, then add the hi-hat.


This will be our foundation. Next, we are going to work on placing the snare and bass drum in various parts of the measure. Where you place and how you phrase the bass and snare will generally be how you interact with the other musicians you play with.

Now let’s put the snare drum on 2 and 4 so it lines up with the hi hat.


Next, put the snare drum on 1 and 3 so it alternates with the hi-hat. (If you’re having trouble adding the snare, leave out the hi-hat part and focus on how the snare lines up with the ride cymbal. Then add it back.)

And then, let’s put the snare on all of the quarter notes.


Now do the same with the bass drum. First on the 2 and 4.


And on 1 and 3.

And then on all of the quarter notes.



There you go. Now that you have the mechanics of basic jazz drumming, I highly recommend you play along to jazz standards likeSo What(Miles Davis), On Green Dolphin Street (Thelonius Monk), and Memories of You (Benny Goodman). This will give you a sense of the dynamics and feel it takes to play jazz correctly.

When you have these basic patterns down, move on to these independence exercises.

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