Exercises for Your Hands

Developing Accents and Flams using the Up Motion

Recently I had a wonderful lesson with my friend and student, Cary Hitsman, from Ventura County, California. Cary and I are learning about snare drum technique as ttaught by my two teachers, Richard Wilson and Murray Spivack. The basic motions in this technique are the Wrist Turn, Rebound, and Upstroke or Up Motion. With these three strokes, you can play all the rudiments. This technique is also wonderful for teaching you how to relax and play the drumset better. It really works! Cary and I are working on Flams now, which incorporate the Up Motion in each hand, in an alternating fashion. During our lesson, I devised this exercise which I would like to share with you. The exercise will take some time for some of you to understand, as it deals with groups of 5 notes per beat and also with five beats against two beats. Then on top of figuring out the math behind this concept, you have to add accents and then Flams. This type of exercise challenges your hand-eye coordination, your counting and reading, your sense of time, and sense of groove. Yes, this exercise should definitely groove. There is a pocket here! Play each level of this exercise many time. Begin at metronome marking ("M.M.") equals 40 beats per minute (BPM). First we need to figure out how to play 5 against 2 (5:2). This is fairly easy to do. We first find the least common multiple of 5 and 2, which is 10. Then we divide two quarter notes into 10 equal pieces, two quintuplets, one for each quarter note. After this is done, we place a new note every two notes of the 10 notes we have just written. Here's what that looks like. (Forgive the handwritten notation. I don't have time to figure out how to write 5:2 with my Encore software!)

hand exercise

Counting and playing five against two is simple to do. You can see that there are three beats in between quarter notes one and two. (Please put your metronome at quarter note = 40 beats per minute.) If you go back to the first example, you can count the 10 beats (two quintuplets) like this...."1+ 2+ 3+ 4+ 5+". The "and" of beat "3" is counted on the second quarter note in the measure. You can count all the quintuplet notes using the 1+ 2+ method, you just play on every other note. "1+ 2+ 3+ 4+ 5+"(Come on, stretch your brain here and hang with me!!) Now, play five against two with only one hand (i.e. single-handed). Your other hand will be joining soon!

hand exercise

Now we have to add the accents. Remember you are playing with only one hand. The other hand should be ready to play, above the pad, not resting on your leg. Using the Spivack technique (somewhat similar to the Moeller Method), you raise your forearm first and then follow through, striking the pad. (This concept, very important to this technique, is not easy to explain in text. If you have any questions about it, please email me and I'll do my best to describe it to you.) But, before you make this motion, you bend your wrist slightly, the "bottom of the bead" of the stick will strike the pad. This is the note before the accent. So, with one motion, the "Up Motion", you can make two strokes.

hand exercises

And now we add the other hand, to make alternating flams. The other hand will be playing exactly opposite of what the first hand is playing. While one is playing an accent, the other is playing a tap.

hand exercises

Now we isolate the "other" hand, making the Up Motion and accented notes more clear. Notice that the pattern is opposite of what we were playing before.

hand exercises

Finally, we're back to the first level, 5:2, but this time we are playing with the alternating hand. (i.e. If you began the exercise with your left hand, you would now be playing with your right.)

hand exercises

Now, repeat the entire exercise.
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Hand Patterns Inspired by Afro-Caribbean Rhythms

Thanks to all of you for re-visiting my pages. It's a pleasure to share this rhythmic information with you. This lessons examines some applications of the clave and a very common Brasilian rhythm. Quite a while ago, when I was living in Miami, I had the pleasure of having Victor Lewis at my house. For those of you who don't know him, Victor's a great drummer and a wonderful person. Victor had a habit of playing clave with the Afro-Cuban music we were listening to. He played the pattern as alternating singles with accents. Victor's applications inspired me and I developed my own ideas. I just played the rhythms, the son and rumba claves, by using paradiddles and doubles. It's really quite simple to understand the concept; playing it is a bit different! First, just learn the hand motions. They're just paradiddles and doubles but they can take a little time to learn. Then, my suggestion is to play half notes with your feet while you're playing these patterns. Have your metronome also play half notes. This page of exercises is taken from my first book, Practical Applications, Book One. Book One examines the typical rhythms found in salsa music. There are many drum set applications in the book; some great funk patterns and hand patterns, as well as typical grroves. Please Email me for info about this book, Afro-Caribbean Paractical Playalongs, or any other of my books.

hand patterns

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More Hand Exercises

Here's a lesson to develop rebounds and what we call up motions. This exercise, written in 5-4 time, features groups of five notes. These are not quintuplets, just groups of 5 sixteenth notes. The first three groups of 5 sixteenth notes are sticked eaither RLRLL (first measure), or LRLRR (second measure). For those of you who know about up and down motions regarding stick technique, this exercise, and these sticking patterns give you opportunity to practice this motion. When you practice this, use a metronome and play both feet with the metronome. Very important.

hand exercise
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Singles Exercise

Here's a great exercise for warming up. Your goal is to remain relaxed during the entire exercise. Your metronome is playing 16th notes. Each beat of the metronome is one 16th note. You play one note per metronome beat just to warm up and remember to relax, just turn your wrists, feel the weight of the drumstick lying in your hands. I. OK. After this, you then play two notes per metronome beat (single strokes) which are 32nd notes. You do this for one full measure of 16th notes (16 beats of the metronome). For each beat of the metronome you are playing two notes. You are playing alternating single strokes. II. After one full measure of 32nd notes (16 beats of the metronome), you then play four notes per metronome beat. These are 64th notes. You do this for one full measure of 64th notes (16 beats of the metronome). For each beat of the metronome you are playing four notes. You then go back to I. then II. and repeat many times.
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A Very Basic Lesson on Holding the Stick

Let's go back to a singles exercise from the previous lesson. This exercise was given to me by my teacher, the late Mr. Murray Spivack. Now, when you've learned how this exercise "works", the actual technique of how to move between note grouping smoothly and evenly, I want you to actually practive feeling the weight of the drum stick lying in the fulcrum in your hand. The fulcrum being the "point or points over which the stick changes force or direction". This last bit of wisdom is from my other teacher, the late Richard Wilson. I only wish all of you had the opportunity to meet either Murray or Richard.
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Interesting (I hope!) Sticking Exercises

Recently one of my friends and occasional students, Doug Birmingham, came over to the house for some sharing of drumming information. We were listening to some Brasilian music which inspired us to come up with some interesting ideas for snare drum technique pratice. Here are some of the ideas.

The lesson starts with a phrase in 7/8 time signature. Just count all the 7 notes. (Have your metronome play all 7). Each eighth note is equal to 4 thirty-second notes. Count out loud and you'll get it. (Oops, the sticking is just a little messed up at the end. Finish with a paradiddle-diddle and then a double paradiddle, in each measure.)

hand exercises

We isolated the paradiddle-diddle and double paradiddle.

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Then we changed the accent of the double paradiddle.

hand exercises

The last thing we did, actually Doug did this, is devise a phrase using a group of 6 notes followed by a group of 5 notes. These are played as sixteenth notes, in Common Time. The accents will, of course, fall on different parts of the measures until the exercise comes back to beat "one". I have written just the first two measures of the exercise. Try and keep your feet with the metronome throughout the exercise. In fact, do this with all of the hand exercises here. Good luck!! Use singles for this exercise and also you can play a paradiddle-diddle followed by a group of 5 singles. Either way it's a cool exercise which has a very unique groove!

hand exercises
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Hand Exercise

This is a lesson I used with MaryBeth, one of my favorite students. :-) Feet with the metronome, always.

hand exercises
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Hand Exercises

Here's one lesson to develop wrist turns, counting and subdividing notes into smaller groups, such as 16ths and quintuplets. Also, since the metronome is marking 8th notes, you'll work on coordination and counting across the barline as well. Play each phrase twice then go on to the next phrase, repeating twice, and then repeat many times. Keep your feet with the metronome which is marking 1/8th notes, even though you're playing in 3/16 time. This means that your feet and counting will proceed across the barline. Watch the quintuplets and keep them even.

hand exercise
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Singles Exercise

I’ve developed this simple, effective, and challenging exercise, inspired by my students at the Community Colleges where I teach Beginning and Intermediate drum set classes. This exercise works on two important drumming goals: Coordination and Developing a Sense of Time. A metronome must be used with this exercise. Both feet need to be “marking time” with this exercise, falling with the metronome beats. This is Important and Challenging. Level One has you playing Alternating Singles as Quarter Notes, with the metronome. Try and make the sound of the metronome disappear as you strike directly with each metronome sound.

hand exercise

Level Two has you playing the same sound as the previous Level, but now with only one hand, in this case the Right Hand. (This whole Singles Exercise can and should be performed leading with the Left Hand as well.)

hand exercise

Level Three, you now add the alternate hand in order to create Eighth Notes. You are developing the skill to maintain your feet with the metronome while dividing and subdividing the metronome beats, which, in this exercise, are Quarter Notes.

hand exercise

Level Four has you playing the same sound as the previous Level, but now with only one hand, in this case the Right Hand.

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Level Five, you now add the alternate hand in order to create Sixteenth Notes.

singles exercise

Now, go back down through the exercise, Level by Level, until you reach Level One. Keep your Feet with the Metronome, both feet, Always! Strive for a Relaxed Stroke. Try to bury the sound of the metronome. Have Fun Developing Coordination and a Sense of Time and Groove.
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Working with Paradiddles and Stickings

I've been working with my students, both private and at PIT, with their ability to own some sticking patterns. Know what I mean? It's important to really understand how your hands work in order to orchestrate stickings on the drum set, or to be able to set up band figures. Or....just to be able to create new grooves, fills, and other interesting sounds.

This exercise utilizes a common permutation of the single paradiddle, RLLR LRRL. This is a four note phrase. By adding more doubles in between the single strokes at the beginning and end, I've developed this relatively musical idea. As you will see and hear, the first measure, to br repeated twice, is a phrase of eight notes. The second measure, also to be repeated twice contains two phrases of six notes followed by one phrase of four notes. Try and play the doubles as rebounds. That's important! Very important is the sticking. Have fun!

paradiddles
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Single Paradiddles

A very basic lesson now, just single paradiddles and their permutations which, in effect, change where the accent is played within the four note phrase. Although basic, this rudiment and its variations, are very important to most drummers. You should practice this rudiment with BD on all quarter notes, HH can vary from 2 and 4, to all 4 quarters. After you get the feel for how the accents work, try orchestrating the patterns. Combine them, use them however you choose! And, start them with your Left Hand as well!

paradiddles
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Hand Exercise Using AfroCuban Inspired Rhythhms

Fellow Drummers, I hope you're enjoying our lessons here. Please write to me with any comments. Thanks. This lesson takes two common 6-8 rhythms and makes them into hand exercises. Both Feet Should be with a Metronome throughout the exercises. The First pattern is based on a typical Afro Cuban 6-8 bell pattern, outlined by the accents. Line 1 is to be played by one hand, R or L. Play twice. This is to be followed by Line 2. In Line 2, you add the "other hand" to make a single stroke roll, with the accents still present in the lead hand. Repear t Line 2 twice, and back to Line One. If you want to alternate at the end of the four bar exercise, you can play this sticking which will maintain the accents (written here in caps): RlrrLr or LrllRl The Second Exercise uses the clave, played in 6. Follow the same instructions as before, maintain the pulse with both feet, preferably with a metronome. If you want to alternate at the end of the four bar exercise, you can play a Double Paradiddle.

hand patterns
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Hand Exercise Using AfroCuban Inspired Rhythhms

Fellow Drummers, I hope you're enjoying our lessons here. Please write to me with any comments. Thanks. This lesson takes one of the hand patterns from our previous lesson and orchestrates between snare and bass drum(s). I've included the singles exercise, so you can see how I've applied the bass drum. I think a good way to practice this would be to make the 16th triplets into 8th triplets (this would mean re-writing the pattern), use 2 and 4 in the HH and play (1) opposite the jazz ride pattern and (2) between SD and BD while maintainiing the HH on 2 & 4

hand pattern

hand pattern
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Singles Exercise

Here's an exercise I'm using with my students and Musicians Institute and at my home studio. Although this looks relatively easy, if you perform it 100% correctly, it'll be a challenge. Both feet always with the metronome. This is essential. Also, please start with either right or left hand.

singles exercise

Now, by adding a double paradiddle at the end of the measure of sextuplets, we'll reverse the sticking. I've added accents as I think this sound, the dbl. paradiddle into the first beat of the next measure, is an essential sound for drummers.

singles exercise
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Roll Speed and Endurance

This sheet of exercises comes from a great book called The Drummer's Rudimental Reference Book by Dr. John Wooton. I highly recommend this book to all of you who realize the importance of training with the rudiments. Dr. Wooton told me he's going to change the tempi a bit. The tempi, as they are, are very challenging! So, take your time with these, slow them down but make them challenging.

roll exercises
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Paradiddles

This sheet of exercises comes from a great book called The Drummer's Rudimental Reference Book by Dr. John Wooton. I highly recommend this book to all of you who realize the importance of training with the rudiments. This is the first page of a wonderfully thought out section on paradiddles. I have my students practicing this with feet with metronome and also various foot ostinatos.

paradiddles
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More Paradiddles

Please do check out John Wooton's book, The Drummer's Rudimental Reference Book. It's an excellent book for developing your hands __and__ feet. Currently, my students and I are working on the Paradiddles section of the book. It's really great! Here's a wonderful exercise from Dr. Wooton's book. You are just playing single paradiddles, but each measure has you playing accents on each subsequent 16th note.

wooton paradiddles
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The Up Motion

This is really such a good exercise. Try it, please, both feet with the metronome. With the "correct" instruction, you'll find that this exercise really works on developing accents in different ways. If you look at this with the idea of working on your up and This lesson now focuses on the "up" motion of the hand. In my intense studies with Master Teachers Richard Wilson and Murray Spivack, we concentrated on this motion in order to achieve "twice the speed at half the effort". Very basically, on the way "up" to make an accent or downstroke, you strike the drum or pad, without really exerting any effort to do so. The strike on the way "up", after you practice for many hours, just happens as a matter of natural movement of the wrist. It does take hours of practice, as many of my students can attest to. But, it's very worth it. IMPORTANT With this exercise, the accented notes that are immediately preceded by an unaccented note played with the same hand are the "downstrokes".

up motion

Of course, lead this exercise with either Right or Left hand.
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11/16 Hand Exercise

Here's something I've been working on. Believe it or not, this exercise in 11/16 comes from my experimenting with Brasilian rhythms. First we have just the 11/16 rhythm. As is, it may help you with your paradiddles and ease of execution.

hand exercise

What I learned how to do, or was instructed to do, by my teachers, was to play with a metronome, with both feet with the metronome. It'll be very challenging to do that with the previous exercise, but you should definitely try it! The metronome, in this case, could be playing quarter notes or eighth notes.
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Swiss Flams

Two ideas I've worked on with some of my private students. Personally, I'm trying just to play the flams, and let the other notes occur as a result of the motions of my hands. With most of my students, just the rudiments alone are difficult enough. :-) In the 9/8 example (it's the same exact sticking) try your feet with quarter notes, with the metronome.

nine phrase

In the 3/4 example, put your feet with the quarter note.

nine phrase

It's up to you as an individual studying drums and drum set, to apply these exercises and sounds to the drum set. Try orchestrating by having one hand play HH the other playing SD. Perhaps have your BD playing only where there are two rights. I'll try and post something online soon. If you have any ideas or applications, send them to me as an audio or video file or post them on youtube!!
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Andy Megna Exercise

Here's a very cool sticking idea from a good friend and amazing drummer, Andy Megna. Get this together on the snare, then orchestrate on the drums. Try it first as eighth triplets, then as 16th triplets. My suggestion is, with the 8th trips, bass drum plays quarter notes, HH on 2 and 4, to give it some balance and flavor. Enjoy!

drew megna

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