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!
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!
Warm-up: What are your goals for drumming? Write down your top 3:
- Short-term: Achievable within a month
- Mid-range: 6 months to a year away
- 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 SnareScience.com. 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.
Warm-up: Spend 5 minutes exploring some rhythmic variety in a 3/4 setting. Use “One-Armed Bandit” by Jaga Jazzist for time.
Skill work: Sometimes you just have to play a lot of flam drags. Start at 80 bpm, and focus on consistent flams and clear diddles. Work on the check patterns for at least 5 minutes before diving into the drag variations.
Challenge: How fast can you play letter B? This is a triplet flam drag grid where you keep the accent constant and grid the rudiment. Use a metronome, and turn your wrist for the accents.
Post tempos to comments.
Warm-up: Spend 5 minutes playing single and double strokes. Play a variety of heights and rhythms, and preferably play in time with a song. Try “Rock Your Body” by Justin Timberlake.
Skill work: Practice flam accents for 10 minutes. Try this exercise, and focus on playing consistent flams every time. Use a metronome, and start very slowly (1/8th note = 80 bpm). Once you have mastered the exercise slowly, gradually increase the tempo (try 10 bpm each time).
Challenge: How fast can you play 8 flam drags in a row? Start slowly, use a metronome, and play perfect flam drags every time. Over the course of 5 minutes, increase the tempo and work on your “sprinting” speed. The focus here is speed development, but still play great rhythms and distinct heights.
Post your experiences (tempos, heights, techniques, etc.) to the comments.