This page contains drum lessons, tips, and videos from my teaching curriculum. There’s a lot here so take your time and check back often for updates. Feel free to download and share these lessons and articles.
(* PDF files require a reader to view. Download one here .)
* FINDING THE RIGHT TEACHER
Tips for finding the best teacher for you or your child.
* BUYING YOUR FIRST DRUM SET
What you need to know before buying your first drum set.
* THE ANATOMY OF A DRUMSTICK
This guide will help you know what to look for when choosing the right sticks.
* DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME PRACTICING
Learn the simple keys to getting massive results from your practice sessions. Minimize your frustrations and make practicing fun.
* DRUM NOTATION AND READING BASICS
Being able to read music is so beneficial to a musician and it’s not that hard to learn. This explains the essentials of reading drum notation.
* HAND-EYE COORDINATION FOR READING
Working on reading drum notation is primarily about developing hand-eye coordination. This lesson will help you to do just that.
* A BASIC BEATS STUDY
The beats and fills in these four measure phrases are a good introduction to what’s most commonly played on the drums. Play each exercise with a metronome at different tempos. (Download mp3s of this exercise HERE.)
* DRUM RUDIMENTS
The rudiments are the ABCs of drumming. Practicing them consistently can do wonders for your control and co-ordination. Applying them to the drum set can really open up creativity in your playing. Everything you do on the drum set can be thought of as a combination or variation of some form of the rudiments. (Download mp3s of the rudiments HERE .)
* INTRO TO JAZZ
This is an introduction to playing jazz swing time on the drums. These exercises will give you the basic independence needed to play jazz.
* HI HAT STAFF PAPER
This 4/4 chart can save time when transcribing. It has the 8th note hi-hat line written out.
* JAZZ STAFF PAPER
This chart has the standard jazz notation for the ride and hi hat.
* THE DRUM DIARY
Use this practice log to keep track of your progress. Write down when and what you practice, metronome settings, and other info. This will tell you what needs attention and will show you your progress over time. If you revisit something you were practicing months ago, it will help to have notes about where you left off.
* DAILY SCHEDULE
If you can’t seem to find the time to practice on a regular basis, try writing down everything you do in a day with this schedule. This will give you insights into when you can fit in practice time throughout the day. Even if it’s for 5 to 10 minutes, the trick is to do it consistently. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way.
* 3 REASONS TO PRACTICE WITH A METRONOME
Love it or hate it, most drummers would agree that they should practice with a metronome on a regular basis. Here are three reasons to make metronome work a part of your practice activity.
* MASTERING THE METRONOME
Working with a metronome (also called a click) will help to improve your sense of time. Include it in your practice routine. Here are some tips to help.
If you don’t have access to a metronome, you can use these for free with your computer or smart-phone (or do a search for a metronome in your app store).
Tempo (for i phone- i pod)
Mobile Metronome (for Android)
Tempo Perfect (both)
Drum Trainer (mutes the click for a set amount of measures)
* THE RESPONSIBLE TIMEKEEPER
These exercises will help you to sharpen your timekeeping skills by focusing on those subdivisions.
* THE RESPONSIBLE TIMEKEEPER (PART 2)
In the last lesson, we focused on each of the sixteenth note subdivisions. In this one, we will work with triplets.
GETTING INTO IT
* SPEED AND CONTROL
Even if you don’t want to become a super technical speed metal drummer, you need a certain level of speed and control to play any instrument well. These exercises will make your playing fast and clean if done consistently. They are divided into three sections. Try a 30-day challenge and play each section individually every day for 10 days.
* DEVELOPING YOUR WEAKER SIDE (PART 2)
Continuing to balance the limbs using paradiddles.
* DEVELOPING YOUR WEAKER SIDE (PART 3)
Finishing out the series by using different groupings of notes.
* THE HI HAT FOOT
This article is an introduction to using the hi-hat foot in your playing.
* HI HAT CONTROL
You can get some really cool sounds playing 16th note hi-hat beats with alternating hand and foot patterns. The challenge is to alternate the hi-hat with the hand and foot without getting any open hi-hat sounds. This exercise explores some things you can do with this concept.
* PARADIDDLE FILLS
Use the paradiddle to get some melodic phrasing around the drum set.
* DOUBLE PARADIDDLE BEAT IDEAS
The double paradiddle is a versatile and musical rudiment to apply to the drum set. Let’s look at a few ways to do that.
* SINGLE STROKE 4
The single stroke 4 is frequently used as a popular fill around the drum set. This rudiment seems plain enough but if we apply it to different drums, experiment with the phrasing, and work it up to speed, it can sound really impressive. Here are a couple of variations.
* SIX STROKE ROLL
The six stroke roll is also commonly applied to the drum set. Let’s explore some of the ways we can orchestrate it.
Working out your double stroke rolls.
* EVEN DOUBLES
Making each stroke of the doubles dynamically even.
* THE HELICOPTER
This exercise is a sweep around the drum set designed so that the right-hand moves counter clockwise while the left-hand moves clockwise. This is good for developing mobility around the drum set but you can also use it creatively for solo and fill ideas. (Watch a video of this exercise HERE.)
* PLAYING DYNAMICALLY
Sometimes the difference between a good performance and a great performance is expression; playing and moving the music dynamically. One of the best ways to improve your playing is to work on your dynamics. This article discusses some things that will help you play more dynamically.
* LINEAR DRUM BEATS
Linear drumming (playing only one drum or cymbal at a time) has a funky, syncopated feel to it.
* 16TH NOTE LINEAR VARIATIONS
Use these exercises to build your linear vocabulary.
* MORE 16TH NOTE LINEAR VARIATIONS
Here are some more linear beats to work on.
* 4 LIMB INDEPENDENCE
The ability to play rhythms against each other is important no matter what style of music you play. These exercises vary the three limbs against the standard jazz ride pattern.
* 4 LIMB INDEPENDENCE (PART 2)
More exercises played against the standard jazz ride pattern.
* 4 LIMB INDEPENDENCE (PART 3)
Even more exercises played against the standard jazz ride pattern.
* 4 LIMB INDEPENDENCE (PART4)
Independence using paradiddles.
* THE RUDIMENTS’ GREATEST HITS
One of the many benefits of practicing the rudiments is the control and coordination that you get by applying accents, flams, and drags to various stickings. These exercises extend that concept by using triplet marching grids.
* SHUFFLES WITH QUARTER NOTE TRIPLETS
Let’s take a basic shuffle and throw in quarter note triplets with the different limbs to spice it up.
We are going to take a basic beat and modulate it using different subdivisions. This gives the impression that you are speeding up or slowing down but the actual tempo does not change.
* SHUFFLE MODULATION
In this exercise, let’s take a couple of triplet shuffle rhythms and modulate them to basic 8th notes. This creates a 4 over 3 polyrhythmic feel.
* JAZZ MODULATION
Modulating the jazz cymbal pattern.
* HYBRID SONGO
A variation of the songo Cuban rhythm. (Watch a video of this exercise HERE.)
* POLYRHYTHMIC SUBDIVISION
A basic 4/4 beat with accents in 5 on the hi-hat.
* BASS DRUM POLYRHYTHM
This exercise in 4/4 implies a 3 over 4 polyrhythmic feel with the bass drum.
* TOTALLY AWESOME POLYRHYTHM
This is a creative use of a 4 over 3 polyrhythm.
GENERAL DRUMMING TOPICS
* 85 DRUM TIPS
Here are the best of the drumming tips about playing, practicing, and tuning the drums; archived from the weekly newsletter. (For all of the tips that have appeared throughout the years, click HERE).
* DRUM SOLOS
Ever been told that your solos sound like drums falling down a flight of stairs? Here are some thoughts on making drum solos musical.
* DEALING WITH STAGE FRIGHT
Performing in front of a crowd can be one of the most exciting things a musician can do, but for some, performing music in front of others can produce feelings of terror and anxiety. Here are some thoughts on what you can do to deal with stage fright.
* HOW TO GET THE GIG (Dealing With Auditions)
Whether you’re auditioning for a local band, a national tour, or a recording session, auditions are a part of being a musician. The reasons why we musicians sometimes don’t get the gig are not always in our control, but here are some tips that may help you with the auditioning process.
* GET YOUR DRUMS READY FOR RECORDING
Recording acoustic drums is one of the most difficult studio tasks.The following are some tips to get your drums ready before you enter the recording studio.
* 5 TIPS TO SIMPLIFY YOUR SETUP TIME
There are definitely times when we want to set up or take down our drums as quickly as possible (like at two in the morning after the show). Here are some suggestions that can simplify your setup and tear down time.
* 10 WAYS TO CHANGE YOUR SNARE DRUM TONE
Experiment with getting different tones out of your snare by playing it in different spots.
* 9 WAYS TO GET OUT OF A MUSICAL RUT
At some point, most musicians go through a period where they don’t feel the motivation to play or practice their instrument. If you feel this way, here are nine things that will help you get out of your rut.
* OPEN MIC NIGHTS
If you play the drums with the goal of being in a band, the sooner you can start playing with other musicians, the better. If you are having trouble finding other musicians to play with, an option could be to attend an open mic night jam at a nearby bar or club.
WHY DO YOU WANNA PLAY DRUMS?
This is a short survey of questions that will help you to think about your motivations for your drumming goals – and get you going towards an amazing year of progress and improvement.
* TIPS FOR PARENTS
If your child is learning to play, you can help them by encouraging them to practice. This article will give you some tips that will help.
* MUSIC GOALS MANIFESTATION
If you really want to get good, this questionnaire is designed to help you think through you musical goals and how you can achieve them.
Free recording software. Use it to record yourself and slow down songs to make it easier to learn them.
BP MINUS (for Windows)
This free software allows you to slow down songs without affecting the pitch; making it easier to learn difficult parts. You can also analyze the tempo of a track and loop portions of the audio.