by Kim Plainfield
Seeing as I reference this book so often, I thought I'd better include it on my list of classic books. Here's a brief rundown of what you'll find inside one of my favorite method books of all time.
The following exercise was written by Kim Plainfield, and appears in his book titled Advanced Concepts. This is a great exercise that combines single, double, and triple paradiddles into a phrase that reverses itself every four measures (right hand leads four measures, then left hand leads four measures, etc...). The pattern consists of four singles, three doubles, three triples, and finally one double that flips the sequence.
Let's face it, most students scowl at the mere mention of a rudiment. And what about o-ring muffles? Oh, you mean that thing that came with my snare drum. I thought that was part of the packaging! While o-rings are easily replaced with some gaff tape or a cut out piece of an old drum head, the rudiments are an essential element of our craft that deserve a lot of attention. Fortunately, Rhythm Tech provides a product that incorporates both elements into one extremely convenient package. As an o-ring, the Drum Circle performs as expected. The ring is constructed of a noticeably thicker mil film than most other offerings, and can withstand direct blows without dimpling, cracking, or smearing. Obviously the main advantage of this product is the inclusion of 28 of the standard rudiments (see list below), and while there are some glaring omissions, the list covers everything necessary for beginner to intermediate students.
The Drum Circle retails for between 8 and 12 dollars, and while the price may seem excessive for such a basic accessory, the real value is found in the product's convenience factor. Even though I keep copies of the rudiments all over my studio, I found that after purchasing the Drum Circle I was referencing the rudiments more during my impromptu practice sessions. Also, as a teaching tool it saves time by no longer having to shuffle through pages for different students. Everything I need is right in plain sight on the snare drum. In my opinion, Rhythm Tech has done all drummers a favor by combining two seemingly mundane, yet necessary elements of our craft into one extremely practical product. While some may find the Drum Circle an unnecessary accessory, for others (especially teachers) it may be just what you're looking for to keep your rudiments fresh.
Author - Sandy Gennaro
Beginning in the early 90’s, Alfred Music began publishing a series of educational books derived from material being taught in the classrooms of New York City’s thecollective school of music. These early books were authored by renowned musicians and educators including Kim Plainfield, Bob Weiner, Frank Malabe, and Duduka De Fonseca. In the mid 2000’s, thecollective once again released a series of outstanding educational materials to the general public. Published by Carl Fischer Music, the Contemporary Styles series of books contain material authored by collective staff and derived from classroom curriculum. Targeting intermediate to advanced students, these books present an enormous amount of information across a variety of musical styles. Contemporary Rock Styles for the Drums provides an accessible starting point to acquaint newcomers to this valuable collection of material.
Unlike other selections in the Contemporary Styles series, the title of this book does not fully characterize the diversity of its contents. Contemporary Rock Styles for the Drums covers everything from straight eighth note rock and funk, to rockabilly swing, New Orleans second line and reggae. It's safe to say that this book is definitely written for those seeking to expand their musical repertoire. Each style is presented as a self contained chapter consisting of historical background and references, musical examples, performance tips, exercises, variations, and charts referencing the included play-along tracks. The book progresses in a traditional sequence, beginning with basic eighth note styles, increasing in difficulty with shuffle and blues patterns, and culminating with the more challenging reggae and odd time feels. Each chapter transitions logically into the next, with challenging variation patterns preparing for what comes next. This structure makes the book ideal for teaching, and I often reference it in my private drum lessons. One minor criticism from a teaching perspective is that a noticeable discrepancy exists in the difficulty among many of the variation patterns. Nonetheless, this variance does well to uncover student weaknesses, and as a teaching tool the book is invaluable based solely on the scope of information presented. The included discography and listening suggestions are especially helpful in guiding students to real word musical examples. Overall, Contemporary Rock Styles for the drums is a well thought out, cohesive package that presents a variety of challenging material while maintaining the ever important fun factor. From both learning and teaching perspectives, it doesn't get any better than that.
In this video lesson, Dan demonstrates how to apply the double paradiddle when creating fills, phrases, and solos in jazz drumming. Not into jazz? That's OK. The concepts discussed in this video can be applied to any style of music. Download the PDF and play along!
Once you've mastered this lesson, begin experimenting by applying alternate stickings such as those of the paradiddle-diddle and six stroke roll. Click here to learn more about private drum lessons with Dan.
Anyone who is familiar with my teaching knows that I favor creativity above all else. I developed the following lesson to help students increase facility when playing back and forth across the toms. This lesson represents an intro to thinking creatively not only about orchestration, but also how sticking and body positioning are involved in moving efficiently around the drum kit. Using these concepts, students areable to think more critically about how they choose to physically approach the drums, as well as fills requiring extensive movement around the kit. Utilizing basic 16th note patterns and simple stickings, this lesson will also help improve speed and dexterity. I've included a link to a YouTube video featuring Gabor Dornyei in which he discusses similar concepts, but on a more advanced level. The video is well worth watching (or at least skipping through) as Gabor has an interesting approach to his drum setup that perfectly demonstrates how the concepts in this lesson can be applied. Have fun with the lesson, post any questions or comments you may have, and share your patterns for moving around the kit.
Author - Steve Houghton
Steve Houghton has long been regarded as one of the premier educators in the drumming world. Having published a wide range of educational materials targeting everyone from beginners to advanced students, there is much to be gained from his expertise and easy to follow teaching methods. The Essential Styles series of books presents students with a collection of patterns, charts, and insights covering a broad range of musical styles. As the title implies, the styles covered are essential for any versatile drummer to be capable of executing in a convincible manner. Co-authored with bassist Tom Warrington, this series also includes bass charts and insights that allow for organized practice and collaboration in the rhythm section. Book 1 covers a total of 30 different styles in the areas of pop, rock, funk, R&B, blues, fusion, Latin and jazz. Book 2 also encompasses a broad range of music, but focuses more on Latin and jazz styles. Each book includes play-along tracks that are stereo split with drums on the left channel and bass on the right. Simply panning to one channel or the other removes either the drums or the bass, allowing for more focused practice with the recorded click track. Published in 1990 and 1992, some of the included play-along tracks feel somewhat dated, such as the funk rock track that's highly reminiscent of Chaka Kahn's Masterjam and the 16th note shuffle that closely replicates Stevie Wonder's Superstition. That being said, these books are still highly relevant. A number of high-quality, multi-style book / CD packages by the likes of Dave Weckl, Russ Miller, and even other Houghton offerings have been released since Essential Styles hit the market in the early 90's; however, the material in these books is presented in such a straightforward, unintimidating manner that it is even approachable by most beginners. From a teaching perspective, these books are absolutely essential, and in my case still often beat out newer titles that have a more contemporary sound. If you are a drummer or bassist who enjoys playing different styles of music, and are committed to becoming as versatile as possible, then the Essential Styles series is an absolute no brainer.
Check out Steve's website at the following link: http://www.houghtonmusic.com/index.html_
While I don’t consider myself a gear head, typically going to great lengths to make do with what I have, every once in a while I stumble upon a piece of equipment that quickly earns the status of indispensable. One such piece of equipment is the Slug Percussion Powerhead bass drum beater (standard model # L3D-2SS, available in green and black). After numerous modifications to enhance the feel of my now 22 year old Yamaha double bass pedal, including experimenting with a number of different gauge springs and manually modifying the cam angle, I still felt there was room for improvement. I began wondering whether or not a new beater could really make enough difference to breathe new life into my old pedal. My key consideration in making this decision was to acquire a more direct and responsive playing feel. After researching the different beaters available, the Slug model’s distinct features, claiming increased speed, power, and versatility, seemed to hit the mark. I hesitantly shelled out the roughly twenty eight dollars and placed my order, all the while hoping I hadn’t just fallen victim to a complete marketing gimmick.
The Slug beater’s main differentiating features include a tapered and balanced stainless steel shaft, along with a free-floating, self-adjusting head intended to maximize drum contact. The beater head is constructed of polyester elastomer, which the company claims provides better low frequency reproduction, and is designed to allow air to escape from both sides of the head. Together, these features aim to create a beater that increases feel and power, while minimizing sound coloration produced by the head. Slug Percussion also provides replacement felt beater strips, as well as complete repair service. There are a number of models available with varying features; however, my experience pertains solely to the standard model. With a MSRP of $40, and a street price around $30, this is no cheap beater replacement. Ultimately, the question to be answered is how did it perform?
My experience with the Powerhead beater has been nothing but positive. I immediately noticed a difference in feel, with the pedal becoming much more responsive, having an increased sensation of “directness”. The best way I can describe this feeling is the difference between swinging a standard baseball bat, as compared to a bat with a doughnut attached. Somehow the design of the beater made it feel as though the pedal was doing more work than usual. Did the beater magically increase my speed? No. Was the sound distinctly different than that of a standard felt beater? If anything, the sound may be a little punchier, but distinctly different it is not. The major benefit in my opinion was all about the feel of increased control that the beater imparted on the pedal (this may be interpreted as power as described by the manufacturer). As a drummer who pays close attention to whether or not I’m “burying the beater”, (sometimes I want to, but most times I don’t) this beater feels somehow lighter and seems to come off the drum head much better than a standard felt beater. Overall, the beater did improve my pedal’s performance along with my comfort level while playing. In the overall scheme of things, the Slug beater did provide a small improvement, and as musicians we all know that it’s these small improvements that lead to big results.
Artist - Herbie Hancock
In anticipation of Harvey Mason's new album Chameleon, I'm looking back at an album that was definitely a game changer for me. I was probably 10 when I dug this LP out of a crate, attracted by the bright colors and wild cover. Little did I know I'd be listening to this album religiously for years to come, and also that it would serve as my introduction to the likes of Davis, Williams, Clarke, and the list goes on. Mason's drumming on this album maintains a solid pocket, while pushing creative boundaries in a way that evokes feelings of a bomb about to explode at any second. Check out the groove on Sly at the 5:25 mark. To this day still one of my favorites. If you're not familiar with this album, do yourself a favor and dig in. You won't regret it.
Author - Joel Rothman
A definite must have for any serious drummer, as well as an invaluable teaching reference, Rothman's Basic Drumming presents reading, technique, and style development studies in a highly approachable structure. This book, along with Rothman's coordination series are indispensable.
Check out more at www.joelrothman.com
Dan Kinsinger is a versatile, freelance musician, audio engineer, and educator based in Canton Ohio. He has over 25 years of performance, recording, and teaching experience, is proficient in a broad range of musical styles, and productive in any performance environment.
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