Moving around the drums

These exercises make for a great warm up and are an excellent way of training your ears how different groups of notes sound when played around the drum kit.

As you’ll see from looking at the worksheet, each exercise has a repeating number pattern written beneath the notes. If the numbers go up to 3 that means you play three notes before switching drums, if they go up to 5 that would mean playing five notes before switching drums, if the count only goes up to 1, you only play one note on each drum.

You’ll see some of the exercises have “...” at the end of the count. This is to signify the number pattern has been cut short. You have two options if this is the case. 1) You can just go back to the beginning of the bar, ignoring the fact you are only part of the way through your number sequence or 2) you can keep your number sequence going, ignoring the fact the bar has ended.

Here are a few suggestions of how to practice the exercises: 

  • Play using single strokes, starting on the right hand if you are right handed and the left if you’re left handed

  • Practice to a metronome or with your left foot on the beat, counting the number sequence as you move around the drums (if the exercise is 3s, you’d count 1 2 3 1 2 3 etc). Alternatively try counting the subdivision — 1 e & a 2 e & a etc for semiquavers, 1 & a 2 & a etc for triplets

  • Initially, only move between two drums so you can clearly hear the number grouping. Then try moving either clockwise or anticlockwise around all of the drums. Once you can do this you can get a little more creative with how you move around the kit.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it! If you have any questions about the score, let me know in the comments.

Enjoy and good luck… 👉 download PDF

ps. If you’ve found this helpful and would like to support my efforts, feel free to buy me a coffee. The caffeine is greatly appreciated.

“Somebody Told Me” The Killers — drum score

This is a simplified transcription of Ronnie Vannucci’s drum part from The Killers’ song Somebody Told Me from their fantastic debut album Hot Fuss.

The transcription is based on one that appeared in the October 2012 edition of Rhythm magazine. It had quite a few errors and was difficult to read so I’ve attempted to fix that. I’ve also made a few tweaks to bring the transcription closer to what Ronnie plays on the recording. However, I didn’t try to match it note for note to avoid overcomplicating things. The transcription is a good starting point and once you’ve nailed it you can fine tune it by listening to the original recording.

If you’re able to, I’d suggest playing to a slower version of the song as it’s very fast. 139bpm to be precise. If you have Logic Pro X or similar software you’ll be able to slow it down using that. Alternatively learn the drum part to a click track and gradually increase the tempo until you reach full speed.

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

Enjoy and good luck… 👉 download PDF

PS. If you’ve found this helpful and would like to support my efforts, feel free to buy me a coffee. The caffeine is greatly appreciated.

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

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