What Does My Drum Lesson Plan Look Like

Endorsed by HingeStix
Endorsed by HingeStix

What does my drum lesson plan look like?

Every drummer needs a drum lesson plan. And we find that every drummer has their own unique approach to practicing but without a drum lesson plan, a roadmap, and some guiderails, a drummer will not improve.

We’ve all heard this rule of thumb before: don’t practice what you know; practice what you don’t know.

This rule is meant to be broken if it helps drummers to warmup, or to reinforce a previously learned concept or pattern. I do it all the time, and what I find is that by revisiting old lessons, I can see how far I’ve come as a drummer. I often challenge myself with very difficult method pieces like those found in the Albright book, “Contemporary Studies for the Snare Drum” (I call them math problems). After working through some of the lessons in this book, I find that when I return to, say, Wilcoxon, NARD, or other more rudimental materials that I often breeze through the old lessons. I know progress is being made!

As a drummer and instructor, I thought I’d memorialize some of my personal lesson plans and practice routines. Feel free to contact me via email if you’d lessons. 

To begin, we all tend to gravitate to what we feel most comfortable doing, whether it’s singles, doubles, paradiddles, flams, flamadiddles, single stroke 4’s, drags, etc. But I always try to challenge myself whenever I can.  I recommend that you do the same. Don’t stick to the same pages, same exercises, or same lessons. Lord knows I am guilty of this myself. To improve and accel as a drummer, I suggest you take a deeper dive into every page, challenge yourself, and explore your full potential.

Next, most of what I’m documenting in this post should come as no surprise to the seasoned player. It may be considered too basic for the pros and too advanced for the beginners. But, no matter how experienced your are as a drummer, it’s always a good idea to start with, and revisit the basics from time to time. This will help you build strength, muscle memory, coordination, precision, 4-way INTERdependence, and speed. YOU WILL IMPROVE!

The Books and the Lessons

8 Minute Warm-Up – Borrowed from Tommy Igoe
Set your metronome to a quarter note click. Start slow, then increase speed. Your target should be 160->180 BPM. If you can go faster, terrific!

Spend one minute on each of the following. Flow from one pattern to the next without stopping:

  • 8 on a hand
  • 7 on a hand
  • 6 on a hand
  • 9-stroke rolls – alternate right and left hand lead
  • 7-stroke rolls – alternate right and left hand lead
  • 5-stroke rolls – alternate right and left hand lead
  • Paradiddles – alternate right and left hand lead
  • Para-paradiddles – alternate right and left hand lead

Next, loop the following patterns using a triplet feel for two 12/8 bars each and repeat for several minutes. Set your metronome to a quarter note click. This challenges your brain to play triplets against a straight quarter note pulse. Start slow, then increase speed. Your target should be 160->180 BPM:

  • Single strike as 1/8 note triplets
  • Doubles/diddles as triplets
  • Para-paradiddles as triplets
  • Double-paradiddles as triplets
  • 6-stroke roll as triplets

Book Lessons

  1. Stick Control – George Lawrence Stone
    1. Concentrate on pages 5,6,7, 14, and 34
    2. Start anywhere between 60-120 BPM and work your way up to >160 BPM
      1. I like to mix it up a bit by randomly starting with an exercise in the middle of the page to avoid playing the same exercises day in and day out
    3. There are a series of systems to apply to this book, which I will post
  2. Accents and Rebounds – George Lawrence Stone
    1. It is recommended to work with a local teacher to get the most out of this book
    2. It is also not a book to just dive into. I encourage everyone to work with the Stick Control book in tandem with this book
    3. Newer editions of this book have an added graphical legend showing precise stroke positions of the sticks for each stroke, meaning full, up, down, and tap strokes, which takes some getting used to
    4. If you’re just starting with this book, and you don’t have an instructor, I suggest the following:
      1. Start with pages 4 thru 7, working through the accented patterns. You’ll find the sticking quite familiar, however, the accents will challenge your ability
      2. Page 21 – 4 Stroke Ruffs
      3. Page 25 – Two-Beat Roll Versus Buzz – – Exercises 1 thru 8
      4. Page 26 – Two-Beat Roll Versus Buzz – – Exercises 1 thru 12
      5. Page 40 and 41 – Rolling in Mixed Rhythm Exercises 1 – 24
        1. I love these exercises because for every beat you’re either playing 8th notes, triplets, 16th notes singles or doubles, 5 stroke singles and 11 stroke rolls in each measure
  3. Progressive Steps to Syncopation PAGE 38 – Ted Reed
    1. System 1
      1. RH swings on the ride symbol
      2. Bass drum plays the melody line
      3. Snare and HH on 2 & 4
    2. System 2
      1. RH swings on the ride cymbal
      2. Snare drum plays melody line
      3. Bass drum play 4 on the floor
      4. HH on 2 &4
    3. System 3
      1. RH swings on the ride cymbal
      2. Snare plays all 8th notes
      3. Bass drum plays all quarter notes
      4. HH on 2 & 4
    4. System 4
      1. Play triplet fills as follows:
        1. Play all unwritten notes as triplets on the snare
        2. Play all written notes on alternating toms
        3. Bass drum plays 4 on the floor
        4. HH on 2 & 4
    5. System 5
      1. Triplet swing as follows:
        1. RH swings on the ride cymbal
        2. Bass drum plays melody line
        3. Snare fills in all unwritten notes with triplets
        4. HH on 2 & 4
  4. Extreme Interdependence – Marco Minneman
    1. This book challenges your 4-way independence by building 4-way INTERdependence and introduces patterns that will frustrate even the most seasoned player.
    2. A lot of the patterns are not necessarily musical and you will not find them working their way into your playing. But rather the patterns will free your limbs up and have you playing in ways that will fry your brain. You will see an immediate improvement in your playing once you begin to master the warm ups and patterns.
    3. I can’t tell you what pages to concentrate since it is purely dependent on your own skills and ability, but:
      1. Start by playing, and mastering, all warm-up exercises starting on page 20 and working through page 24
      2. Move into the patterns beginning on page 25 and then work through the book at your own pace
  5. New Breed II – Gary Chester
    1. The trick with this book is to understand the legend that dictates what limbs play what line in the chart and what melodies and patterns to substitute that you play from memory that appear throughout the book.
  6. Snare Drum Rudiments – Buddy Rich
  7. NARD
  8. Rockin’ Bass Drum – Charles Perry
Endorsed by HingeStix
Endorsed by HingeStix
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