Friday, June 24, 2011

Stick Control Revisited

Today I'd like to share an exercise/concept with you that Montreal drummer Michel Lambert showed me many years ago.

The book Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone is a must have text for any aspiring drummer. However, despite the multitude of important sticking variations to be found in its pages, there is not much for dynamic variations. And as I've stated before, it's really important for drummers to think dynamically when playing the drums.

Michel's basic concept for his exercise was to add different accent patterns over a given line of Stick Control to come up with interesting variations. This is, as I found out years later, was also the basis for many of the exercises found in Stone's follow up book Accents & Rebounds and Joe Morello's important book, Master Studies as well.

However, using the first page of Stick Control you can figure out probably a million variations and possibilities (and not have to go out and buy yet another book haha)

So basically the exercise is the following:

1) Take any line of Stick Control and play it on the snare drum.

2) Once you have that sticking pattern down come up with a simple, one or two bar accent pattern and play that sticking pattern in conjunction with those accents. Really exaggerate the accents and make them clear.

For example:



Here's that same sticking pattern with some different accent variations:

You'll find that the more creative you get with whatever accents you come up with that simple patterns like RRLL or RLRR LRLL won't even feel like the familiar patterns you are used to playing after a while. It's a great way to get your hands playing familiar patterns in unfamiliar ways.

You could probably write out all the different accent variations within a given sticking pattern (and hey why not write another book?) but don't be afraid to come up with your own patterns in the moment and mess around with it. Not everything we play has to be written down, right? Nothing wrong with giving your brain a bit of a drum pattern workout. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Furthermore, play the accents on the drums with the right hand on the floor tom and the left hand on the high tom with all the unaccented notes staying on the snare drum. This is a great way to learn new and interesting ways to get around the drums.

Add some kind of a stock foot pattern to play between the hihat and bass drum and you're in business.


  1. Why nobody has posted on this is beyond me. What a great exercise for any drummer to use. Most young students don't understand the importance of rudiments because they aren't playing them in any context. If I had known about these exercises when I was younger I would have practiced a lot more. There is unlimited possiblities in this!

  2. Thanks for this!