Posts in stick control
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.

    Enjoy!

    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

    Accented Paradiddles

    Accented Paradiddles are some of my favourite exercises to play for improving stick control and technique. The paradiddle is a versatile rudiment that has many applications on the kit. Having the technique to accent the different notes that make up the paradiddle will give you the ability to play a ton of cool grooves, fills and a world of options when it comes to soloing. That makes them well worth practicing!

    1. To start off, practice exercises i-iv on a pad or snare at a slow tempo to a metronome. 

    2. Once you can play i-iv comfortably, try moving the accented notes around the toms whilst keeping the unaccented notes on the snare at a low volume.

    3. 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. This a great way to become more familiar with each pattern. It also involves a bit of mental gymnastics to make sure your sticks are in the right position for each stroke!

    4. 1A - 4C involve different combinations of i-iv. In 1A-C beat 1 changes, in 2A-C, beat 2 changes, etc — You get the idea! These are great exercises for the pad and kit. Once mastered you can develop it further by combining the different exercises to form more complex phrases.

    5. Try applying these ideas to a different rudiment or sticking pattern, such as the reverse paradiddle (RRLR LLRL).

    PDF download: Accented Paradiddles