The ability to transition seamlessly from one rhythmic grouping directly into another is a critical skill for any drummer. The following exercise specifically works that skill set in a compact and efficient structure. As you play from quarter notes directly into each successive rhythmic group, the speed of the strokes gradually increases until the thirty-second notes in measure 17, then reverses and decreases stepwise until the end. It’s of utmost importance that the tempo remains absolutely steady, and to that end you will want to use a metronome.
Play with single strokes from beginning to end leading with the right hand, then repeat the entire exercise leading with the left hand. First check how fast you can play the thirty-second notes to a beat; that’s the tempo at which you should try to play the entire exercise. Strive to avoid playing any accents. If you can play the exercise as indicated than you can congratulate yourself; it shows you have complete control for playing from one rhythmic group directly into another.
The ability to finally play this exercise is important for any student learning to read rhythm, and it’s a great warm-up exercise. I haven’ t indicated any dynamic markings, but if you use the exercise for warming up, make it your own by playing different dynamics throughout, and vary the dynamics each day, which will add to your overall control.
Joel Rothman is the writer and publisher of almost 100 drum and percussion books. Various exercises of a similar nature to the one in this article can be found in a part of Rothman’s book Sticking Patterns. You can view all his books at joelrothman.com. Contact Joel directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.