If this exercise appears to be something you’d learn in your first drum lesson, that’s because it is. It’s a simple three-bar exercise that is repeated. The main point I want to get across is, as simple as it seems it’s actually quite hard to play well with a relaxed grip, good technique and precision.
We’re looking to use only full strokes using the German grip. This is where the palms of both hands will be facing the floor. This grip is perfect for generating very large, powerful strokes. Each stick should be thrown down and then be able to bounce straight back up. We want each stroke to come right up and stop at the top. Think of bouncing a ball with each hand for the feeling of a full stroke.
On the third bar you’ll notice that you’re playing using both hands at once. This throws up many issues. The first is making sure both sticks come back up to the top (vertical, bead of the sticks pointing to the ceiling). The second is making sure each stick hits the pad/drum at exactly the same time and becoming what’s known as a double stop. If your sticks don’t land perfectly, you’ll be playing a flam (we’ll be looking at these in later lessons as they’re great fun).
I’d also like you to practice these at five different stick heights: 3”, 6”, 9”, 12” and full. It’s hugely important to be able to control your sticks at all dynamic markings and at a variety of speeds. I suggest practicing this exercise at many different tempos. Put a quarter-note click at 50 BPM and then keep pushing the speed as fast as you can, whilst maintaining the relaxed grip, good technique and precision we spoke about earlier.
The reason I feel the content of this exercise is so valuable is that it’s what we drummers spend most of our time as playing: 1/8 notes! Be it on hi-hats, rides or beating the hell out of a crash, we just love 1/8 notes! If we practice this well on a pad with a click, when we do jump on our kits and play with our bands or just in our rooms, the sound and feel of our groove will be greatly improved.
I hope you’ve found this informative and helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to get in contact. Till next time!
Will Taylor is an author, educator and session musician based in London, UK. Find him online at willtaylordrums.co.uk.