If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in my decades of studying the drum set, it’s that 99% of drummers (myself included) neglect to practice some of the most obvious and basic coordination elements. My own theory, from personal observation, is that if we happen to think of these particular coordination combinations, we immediately realize how hard some of this stuff is and put the work off for a rainy day. That rainy day never comes!
Friday, 2:00 PM — Virtual
“Wow this is hard; I’ll practice this other stuff and remember to come back to get this down next week” is what I’d tell myself. Of course, that “next week” would turn into “next month.” Eventually, years later, I finally stop avoiding the work and put some practice time in.
I’m sure we can all relate to this feeling, and I’d like to point out one of my own areas of neglect: practicing playing my kick drum underneath my left hand. Being a right-handed player, it’s just plain difficult to get my left hand and right foot to work together very well, and therefore I avoided playing them together for years.
The first bar you see below is the hand pattern only for the classic (Bernard Purdie) half-time shuffle. It’s important to make sure to play a kick drum under every note in the measure. You’ll see the kick drum on the downbeats, and then on the middle partial of the triplet (this is the hard one, with the left hand!) the third partial, and then the two note combinations.
When you practice these patterns and come across one that’s difficult, don’t do what I did! Instead of avoiding that middle partial for years, put your metronome at a slower tempo, carefully line all your limbs up while playing the pattern, and be extremely particular about cleaning up any flams between your hands and feet. You can get it faster than you think with a little focus, and it will have been time well spent!
Dimitri Fantini has been drumming since he was given a set of drums for his first birthday. At first self-taught, he began studying with Woody Sutton at age 11, moving on to study percussion, piano, and music theory at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, Delaware, where he started gaining experience performing in many situations including concert bands, marching band competitions, and multiple gigging jazz groups. After graduating, Dimitri focused on studio recording, engineering, and composition, perfecting his craft both on and off the drum kit. Today, Dimitri can be found performing and recording in a wide variety of situations, all drawing on his lifetime of musical experience. You can find him in pop and R&B settings playing festivals and touring with Sarah Paige, Lauren Ruth Ward, and Liz Vice, in fusion and improvisational settings with his own duo Smile and Wave, and producing and collaborating on music with a wide variety of artists at Red Bridge Studios. In his clinics, masterclass and private lessons, he shares his experience and insights on everything from music theory and composition to all manners of rhythmic concepts and drum set techniques.
photo by Kiati Plooksawasdi