Category Archives: Flams

Tuesday: Never Practice Struggle

The idea to “never practice struggle” was first presented to me by Total Immersion swimming coach Terry Laughlin. I would like to take this idea out of the water and onto the drum (or pad) with today’s lesson.

Challenge: Revisit Murray Gusseck’s “MasterClick” article from the Vic Firth Exchange. The goal today will be to begin playing either:

  • 1/16th-note book reports,

  • or 1/8th-note triplet flam drags.

Once the tempo increases to the point where you cannot maintain the quality and consistency of the rudiment, remove one diddle. In the book report you will play a diddle on ‘1’ to make it a diddle choo-choo,

and in the flam drag you will switch to flam accents.

Moving along in tempo, once you can no longer maintain this rudiment, remove the remaining diddle or flam to make either a choo-choo,

or straight triplets.

Lastly, at a certain point you will remove the flam in the choo-choo and begin playing paradiddles.

Still with me? The idea is to never practice struggle. Begin with a challenging rudiment at a slow tempo, then as the tempo increases switch to a more manageable rudiment at the appropriate time. When? That depends on your experience level and chops.

Post experiences to comments!

Friday: New Grid

Warm-up: Spend some time reminding yourself how to play The Triplet Grid. “My Moon My Man” by Feist can supply a good tempo if desired.

Skill work: Today we are going to try a new kind of grid, specifically where you keep the accent constant and shift the rudiment. Here it is, in classic 4-2-1 format, keeping a single accent on the first partial while moving the diddle from the first to second to third partial:

Spend 15 minutes working on this isolated diddle grid with a metronome, from 80 bpm up to 180 bpm.

Challenge: This one grid should open up a whole new plethora of possibilities: simply substitute a different rudiment, change the accent to a different partial, go backwards, etc. Here are some more options to stimulate your experimentation:

Happy gridding! Please share with friends and family as well. Anyone on Rudimental Hands auditioning for a drum corps or indoor drumline this season? Post to comments!

Wednesday: Flam Accents with Feet

Skill work: Today we will play flam accents with both the hands and feet. This can be quite unfamiliar for many players, so spend a good deal of time figuring out the coordination involved. As always, strive for flam consistency and even rhythms.

I am interested in how Rudimental Hands readers are doing with the drumset posts, so please post your experiences to comments. Thanks!

Wednesday: Feet Rudiments

Warm-up: Play some single strokes with your feet in time with “Ice Cream” by Battles. Refresh your memory with these patterns from an earlier RH post.

Skill work: Spend 15 minutes playing flam taps between your hands and feet:

Focus on achieving a consistent flam sound, regardless of which limb or surface is being played. Accent only the primary note of each flam, and keep the other notes low and quiet.

Challenge: Can you isolate the heel-toe technique on double bass such as Claus Hessler demonstrates in this video at 2:53? This is very helpful for the flam taps.

Post tempos and experiences with foot technique to comments.

Monday: Mayan Sacrifice

Warm-up / Skill work: Play flam accents, flam drags, cheeses, and flam fives open-close-open (slow-fast-slow). Take your time increasing in tempo, but be sure to both start slowly and get very fast. Aim for 15 minutes total here.

Challenge: Learn “Mayan Sacrifice”:

I wrote this after being inspired on a trip to Tikal, a site of Mayan Ruins in Guatemala. Start slowly, use a metronome, and tackle each micro-phrase by itself.

Ask questions, work it out, and then post a video of yourself playing the lick!

Monday: Flams and Goal-Setting

Warm-up: What are your goals for drumming? Write down your top 3:

  1. Short-term: Achievable within a month
  2. Mid-range: 6 months to a year away
  3. Long-term: Where will you be in 5 to 10 years drumming?

Skill work: Spend some quality time perfecting your flam drags, cheeses, and flam fives using this “Mini Three” exercise from Start with the metronome at 80 bpm, and work these patterns both RH and LH lead. If you are having difficulty with the cheeses, put an ‘intellectual accent’ on the 2nd partial of the triplet.

Challenge: How fast can you play “Mini Three”? Focus on quality rhythms and consistent flams, but let’s also take the speed up as you feel comfortable.

Post tempos, heights, and goals to comments.

Monday: Hand-to-Hand Grids

Warm-up: Spend 6 minutes playing a mixture of rolls (buzz, single, double, triple). Play along with “Llego la Banda” by Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

Skill work: We’re taking an old dog (single accent grid) and teaching ourselves new tricks by changing the sticking:

Check out this video of Redline playing a similar exercise; pay particular attention to the flow and ease with which they play. Start slowly, making each accent sound strong and every tap stay low.

Challenge: Can you put a diddle on the accents on the Inverted variation above? What about a flam, or a cheese?

Post tempos, heights, and variations to comments.