Dropping The Sticks
This time I'll show you how to develop one of the most basic and important techniques in any drummer's repertoire: A smooth, even sounding Single Stroke Roll. If you've already completed my three-part series on Building Monster Chops (see sidebar), try applying the Gladstone Low Stroke and Half Stroke technique to the exercises that follow. If not, simply use your current technique.
Just Drop It
No, I don't literally want you to drop your drum stick, it's more a case of dropping in the Stick. This is one of my favorite drumming exercises and was first shown to me by Joe Morello. Basically, you vamp by playing continuous eighth notes with one stick while adding an occasional offbeat tap with the other stick (called "dropping it in") until you are playing a continuous Single Stroke Roll. This develops your ability to play cleaner, smoother sounding Single Stroke Rolls on your drums and helps to build up your endurance too. Here's how it's done:
- Use a metronome and start very slowly. (Start with Quarter note equal to 60.)
- Go for an even sound and equal volume from each drum stick.
- Increase your speed only after you can play all 8 exercises cleanly and evenly.
- Eventually, you should be able to play these exercises at speeds up to or greater than a Quarter note equals 160.
- Repeat each exercise a minimum of 20 times before proceeding to the next. The more you repeat each exercise, the better it is for your endurance.
- When you complete the exercises as written, repeat them from the beginning with the reverse sticking (vamping with the right stick and dropping in the left).
The previous study not only makes a great exercise, it sounds great on a drumset too. You can use it to build a cool drum solo by beginning with the left hand vamping eighth notes and "dropping" the right stick in various places until you're playing a continuous Single Stroke Roll around the drums.
The right hand can also be dropped on a tom-tom as well as the snare drum and moved around the entire set. There are many possibilities. Play with it a while. I'm sure you'll come up with some cool variations of your own.
Until next time: Stay loose.