Hands vs. Feet (Coordination Workout)
hands vs feet by ross farley.png

I didn't plan on sharing this, but as I haven't added anything here in a while I thought... Why not!

Since becoming the proud owner of an Apple Pencil I've taken to sketching out worksheets before I type them up in my music writing software. So this is one of those sketches — forgive the scruffiness!

These exercises are a great coordination workout and should be fairly self-explanatory. Here's a quick explanation of how to practice them...

  1. Pick a foot pattern.

  2. Before you add the hands, play the foot pattern, counting the rhythm (1 + 2 + etc) as you do so. It's important that you understand how the foot pattern sounds before advancing to the next step.

  3. Pick a hand pattern from the stickings section, and decide which rate (8ths: 1 + 2 +, OR 16ths: 1 e + a 2 e + a etc) to play it at. Practice the sticking, counting as you do it.

  4. Now that you can play the hand and foot parts seperately, try putting them together. Counting is important here as it'll help you understand how the patterns intersect. If you get stuck try writing the patterns out, that'll help you visualise what you are playing.

If you manage to blast through the stickings I recommend grabbing a copy of Stick Control and working your way through that with the foot patterns.

Practice Pad Workout: Paradiddle-diddle vs Paradiddle

Here's a fun set of exercises that I've been playing around with on my practice pad. They consist of two paradiddle-diddles with a paradiddle at the end. The sticking stays the same in each exercise, but the accent pattern varies.

In 1-3 the accents are on the 1st, 2nd or 1st and 2nd notes of the paradiddle-diddle and paradiddle. A-D then combine those accent patterns to come up with more interesting phrases.

First off, just get comfortable with the sticking (don't worry about the accents) and once you have a feel for it add the accents back in and focus on the dynamics. 

The accents should be loud and (unsurprisingly) the unaccented strokes should be quiet — The greater the contrast between your loud and quiet strokes, the better it'll sound.

The next step is to make these ideas your own. Here are some suggestions:

    1. Try combining the exercises to make longer (and more interesting!) phrases.

    2. Swap the order of the paradiddle-diddles and paradiddle.

    3. Accent the sticking in a different way. There are so many options here. If you want a challenge, try accenting the first or second note of the RR or LL.

    4. Play them around the kit. Accents on the toms, unaccented notes on the snare.

    5. Try to incorporate them into your playing. They can easily be adapted to make interesting fills, solos or even grooves.

    Singles And Doubles

    Single strokes and double strokes are the two main options we have when it comes to moving around the drum kit. Each hand plays either once or twice. 

    Three or four strokes per hand is definitely possible (as well as useful) but not as important. So for now we are going to focus on singles and doubles. Plus, once you have nailed doubles, playing triples becomes a lot easier!

    There are a ton of exercises you could use to get better at playing double strokes but the exercises below are some of my favourites. They are also straight forward to play and easy to remember.

    The “A” column contains the right handed exercises and “B” the left — don't neglect starting with your left hand! In each exercise the doubles start one 16th note (or semi-quaver if you prefer) earlier. Play each pattern individually at first and once you've got the hang of that try moving between the exercises. For example, play ‘1a’ four times, then ‘2a’ four times and then ‘3a’ etc. 

    As I said, pretty straight forward!

    PDF download: Singles And Doubles

    Practice Pad Workout: Fives

    A few quintuplet stickings (five notes per beat) that I've been playing around with on my practice pad for the last few weeks. 

    Try playing the exercises with an accent on the beat as well as without. Both will be useful once played on the kit. 

    As always, I recommend practicing to a metronome — beware, if you haven't played quintuplets before they will sound strange at first!

    To develop the exercises further try playing them around the kit or try reinterpreting them as 16th notes.


    Linear Phrases: Part 2

    In Part 1 we looked at eight linear patterns. In this lesson, we are going to combine some of those patterns to build more interesting and original ideas. 

    Each example consists of a base pattern and two different ways of playing it around the kit. The examples are just that, examples. So once you can play them get creative and try making your own and refer back to Part 1 for ideas. Just avoid ending patterns with two bass drums if you are going to use them as fills, as this will make it harder to go back into a groove.

    As always, I recommend you practice to a metronome!

    1. Loop each exercise until you can play it consistently.

    2. Try using it as a fill. e.g. Three bars groove, one bar fill etc.

    3. Repeat for each exercise

    4. Once you can play A-C try phrasing the pattern in other ways, change the sticking if you have to. (Sticking refers to which hand plays the note, phrasing refers to which voice — snare, high tom etc — we use.)

    5. Move on to the next example and use steps 1-4.

    Example 1

    Example 1 consists of patterns 1A, 6A, 5A and 4A from Part 1.

    Example 2

    Example 2 consists of patterns 7A, 5A, 1A and 3A from Part 1.

    Example 3

    Example 3 consists of patterns 5A, 3A, 7A, 1A from Part 1.

    If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

    PDF download: Linear Phrases: Part 2 - Examples


    Paradiddle Inversions

    As with accented paradiddles, paradiddle inversions are incredibly useful rudiments for grooves, fills and soloing. And they have an advantage over the standard paradiddle. They are less common! Once you start combining the paradiddle inversions you'll have a wealth of options when it comes to moving around the kit, allowing you to be more creative and original.  

    A couple of things to remember: a) Focus on how you are playing, not how fast you are playing. Speed is a byproduct of good technique, control, and being comfortable with what you are playing. The speed will come, so start slow. b) Dynamics make all the difference. Loud strokes should be loud and quiet strokes should be quiet!

    1. To start off, practice i-iv individually and at a steady speed. If these stickings are new to you ignore the accented strokes at first (the “>” indicates an accent). Once you feel comfortable with each exercise you can add them back in.

    2. Next, try switching between the different patterns. For example, play exercise ‘i’ four times before moving straight to ‘ii’ without stopping, then to ‘iii’ etc.

    3. 1A - 4C involve different combinations of i with ii-iv. In 1A-C the first beat changes, in 2A-C the second beat changes, etc — You get the idea!

    4. Get creative, combine the paradiddle inversions in new ways, try to apply the concepts from the Accented Paradiddle lesson or use them as grooves.

    PDF download: Paradiddle Inversions

    Kick Patterns And Ridelines

    There are two main obstacles we face when we first start drumming. The first is getting the hang of the coordination and the second is understanding the rhythm.

    The lessons below are going to help with both of these. Each lesson features 22 kick (bass drum) patterns in combination with a constant hi-hat pattern. Once you can play all of these you'll have a good feeling for the main rhythms used in western music and have a strong grasp of the coordination required to play the drum kit.

    Here is how I recommend you approach learning and practicing this material.

    1. Before you start playing, set your metronome and try to “sing” the kick and snare pattern you are going to try to play. By sing, I don't mean some operatic masterpiece, just something that sounds like the drums you are trying to represent — dum dum, gah, dum dum, gah — etc!

    2. Once you have an idea of how the beat should sound try to play it. If you can hear how the beat should sound in your head you are going to find playing it much easier.

    3. Play through the exercise until it feels comfortable and you can play it from memory, then move on to the next one. Try not to keep your eyes glued to the music, you'll remember the patterns better if you practice playing them from memory.

    4. The next step, once you can play all 22 patterns, is to try pairing them up to make longer grooves. One way of doing this is by writing the numbers 1 to 22 on a piece of paper and then crossing off the pairs of beats as you go. If you struggle with any groove, just stop and practice the patterns individually before combining them.

    5. Next, have some fun with them. Try adding fills or pairing up the pairs you have worked on in a verse/ chorus structure. For example, 1&17 for four bars, 6&16 for four bars and repeat.

    A note for those new to reading music. There are four possible positions for the bass drum in each beat, 1 e + a, and only two beats in each bar, 1 e + a 2 e + a (the snare is on beat 2). Start with the “16th Rideline” lesson. In those exercises the hi-hat is on every 16th note (the 1 e + a 2 e + a) so each bass drum will be played with a hi-hat. You can move on to the other lessons once you've got the hang of that.

    Linear Phrases: Part 1

    The word “Linear” refers to the fact that each note is played by itself — the hands and feet don't play at the same time. 

    The lesson below introduces eight linear phrases (the ‘A’ patterns) and then puts them into 4/4 as 16th notes (the ‘B’ patterns). 

    Make sure you practice the ‘B’ patterns to a metronome. This will help to train your ears (and brain) to hear how pattern relates to the beat.

    1. Start by looping the ‘A’ pattern, using the sticking written underneath the exercise. 1-4 have one bass drum at the end of the phrase, 5-8 have two bass drums. Playing two bass drums right next to each other is quite difficult, so take it slow and pay close attention to how you are playing each stroke. Regardless of tempo, they should sound the same!

    2. Once you can comfortably play ‘A’, move to the corresponding ‘B’ exercise using the same sticking. Beware that when you loop the ‘B’ exercises the ‘A’ pattern will cut short at the end.

    3. Once you can play the ‘B’ exercises try adding a left foot hi-hat on every beat (the beginning of each group of four 16th notes). Coordination-wise, this is pretty tough at first, so start slow!

    4. Now it's time to have a bit of fun! Try playing the ‘B’ exercises around the kit. Some ideas using ‘1B’ as an example:
      i) Play the first R L on the snare, the next R L on the high tom, the next on the low tom etc.
      ii) Move the R around the kit, leaving the L on the snare.
      iii) Combine the two ideas above. For the first R L use idea ‘i’, for the next R L idea ‘ii’ etc.
      iv) Reverse the sticking and try ideas a-c.

    5. Now try using the ‘B’ patterns you've practiced as fills. For example, three bars of groove with one bar of fill (the ‘B’ pattern). Do this with a metronome, you don't want to speed up during the fill!

    6. The next step is to try combining the ‘A’ patterns to make more complex phrases that we can use as fills or as solos. We look at this in Part 2.