Category Archives: Drums

The Rock Drummer Boot Camp

Allright, let’s talk hypotheticals for a minute. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you played drums for quite a while in an uptempo band. And let’s say that the band broke up and you moved to a situation where you couldn’t play the drums at all. NOW, let’s say, hypothetically, that the band was getting back together for one night and you had to get your chops back in short order. What do you do? Well, fear not. This “hypothetical” scenario happened to me and today I’m sharing what I did to get back into playing shape. I call it “The Rock Drummer Boot Camp”.

What’s that? You still can’t play your drums without people being angry? No problem. For this exercise, all you need is a pair of sticks, a metronome, and a practice pad. If you don’t have a practice pad, then find some sort of surface that can act as one (a cushion-y chair works great for this). Once you get that together, we’re ready to go.

First, pick a mid-tempo place to start. I always start at 140 bpm, but you can adjust for your comfort. The sticking pattern is simple – since rock drumming is  almost all single strokes, that’s all we’ll be doing here. First note is played with your dominant hand – R L R L for the righties, L R L R for the lefties. Of course, feel free to switch it up if you want a challenge. Here you go (click to make big):

Rock Drummer Boot Camp

To clarify some notations: Play the first measure four times, then the other measures eight times each (except for measure five – that’s only played once). Don’t stop between measures – just keep moving. After you play the full example, bump up the speed (add 5 bpm or go up to the next “click”, depending on what type of metronome you have) and start over. Stop when either the notes become uneven or sixteenth notes start to go missing.

One final note: While you are playing, make sure your hands are relaxed and your grip is loose. Ideally, you should have as little tension as possible, especially in your hands and wrists. See you next week!


So You Want To Play The Drums: The “Entrance Exam” Coordination Test

So you want to play the drums, eh? Well, good for you. It’s the most physically demanding of the rock instruments for sure, but it’s also a lot of fun. As a bonus, somebody you know is probably looking for a drummer, so you could be in a band within weeks (Note: This sentence may sound sarcastic, but it really isn’t. In fact, it also applies to bass players)! How awesome is that?!

Before we get started on the drums, I must administer a sort of “entrance exam”. Playing the drums takes quite a bit of coordination, so we need to check that first. If you pass this test, though, then you have the basic foundation from which every 4/4-time rock beat is derived. This test is so simple that you don’t even need sticks, let alone a drum set. All you need is the chair you’re currently sitting in and your lap.

Here it is! The bottom space is the bass drum and the other space with notes in it is the snare drum.

Entry Exam

When you see the bass drum notes, tap your right foot. When you see the snare drum notes, tap your left hand. Counting-wise, you should be tapping your foot on “1” and “3” and tapping your hand on “2” and “4”. Repeat this measure as many times as you like. I recommend starting slowly then picking up speed as you go.

If you can play the two limbs separately (your foot and hand don’t play at the same time), then congratulations! You have passed the test. It’s that easy. Now go have some fun.

Coming soon: More tests, beats, fills, and some extra weird stuff. Stay tuned!

Note: The limbs given are for a right-handed drummer. If you want to set up your drums left-handed, use the opposite limbs (left foot, right hand). And, even if that doesn’t feel right, it’s okay – many drummers don’t use the traditional setup. That doesn’t explain this guy, though…