Here's a coordination exercise and some variations that I recently came up with and have been practicing lately. These were inspired by my ongoing lessons with John Riley, a Max Roach exercise that Joe Farnsworth recently shared in a Zoom masterclass sometime ago and some challenging 12/8 exercises from Colin Stranahan's excellent My Music Masterclass series (found here).
All these examples have really challenged my approach to dealing with four-way coordination on the drum set. Needless to say, these have also really taken me out of my comfort zone (always a good thing!) I've quickly discovered several deficiencies in my drumming from a coordination perspective, so it's all been a real learning experience for me (and overall a real kick in the pants!)
Anyways, the goal of the exercise that I've come up (in the spirit of the others I've already mentioned) is to achieve a relaxed sense of flow, unity and balance on the drum set while also exploring some different four-way coordination combinations.
A couple of notes before we begin:
• I've written this exercise in 6/4 however...
1) It should really be felt in 4/4 as an over-the-barline phrase
2) The 8th notes should all be swung and interpreted with a triplet feel (make sure to play it slow enough so that you can really feel the triplet subdivision)
Okay, so here's how it works:
• The Right hand plays the standard ride cymbal pattern
• The Left hand plays continuous dotted quarter notes on the snare drum (see below):
• Work through the following six triplet variations, played between the bass drum and hi-hat, while playing the Right and Left hand combination from above (repeat each one many times until you get a sense of flow going):
• Each rhythmic cell is played 6 times per measure of 6/4 (or one cell for each beat)
• The Right hand plays the ride cymbal pattern (as before)
• Play continuous dotted quarter notes with either the bass drum or hi-hat (!)
• Play the six triplet variations above accordingly, either between the snare drum (left hand) and hi-hat or snare drum (left hand) and bass drum
If you're like me you'll probably rush the hell out of the dotted quarter notes, so practice it slow and concentrate!
• Always remember...
Take it slow.
Relax and remember to breath.
Make it swing!