Learning Independence


Senior Member
I've been drumming for years but still struggle with certain bass drum patterns. I'm too locked in with my right hand...so certain drums patterns I can play until I bring the hi-hat in.

Great example is the song Two Princes by Spin Doctors, I can't play that song to save my life. Another one Jessie J Price Tag.

Any lessons on line anyone has used to help with the independence between their foot and hands!


The way I learned to teach myself patterns that required a lot of independence was to play with only two limbs at a time. For instance, I might start out with both hands, repeating the pattern over and over until it was burned into my muscle memory. Next, I might do my snare hand and bass drum foot and loop that for a while, and so on....

Once you get comfortable with each two limb combination, you can start throwing in three, and then all four (if applicable) limbs. That's the frustrating part, and everyone struggles for a bit putting all the limbs together when learning a new pattern, but you just have to suck for a while until you get it. Repetition is the key.

For me it goes something like this: Try both hands and bass drum foot, can't get it right, go back to bass and snare for a while, do snare and hi hat for a while, then bass and hi hat for a while, try all three again, still don't get it, cycle through this as many times as req'd.

Like learning any other new technique, concept, or pattern; slow down and don't play it any faster than you can do perfectly with solid time, good feel, and no tension. For me, learning what I find to be a really tricky bit of independence usually requires me to slow it WAY down for quite a while.

This is just how I do it though. It may not work for you. I can't read worth a damn, so I've never delved into Gary Chester's The New Breed, but I think it has been considered a very good book for learning independence for a long time now.
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Gold Member
The best trick for me was to practice whatever independence or beat i am having a hard time with as slow as i need to go to nail it perfectly. And don't play faster until it's perfect.. then start ramping up. And by slow.. some harder ones have been like i'm a sloth as it sinks into my broken brain :)


Platinum Member
Time Functioning Patterns (Vol. III of the Patterns series) by Gary Chaffee. The "fat-back" exercises are designed precisely for this issue! Yes, you'll need to read and count basic rhythms.

The overall idea is to take a repeating rhythm (i.e. 8th notes) in your right hand, and then play all the possible combinations of bass drum and snare drum notes that are possible. There are about 6 pages of exercises; seems like a lot at first, but it starts to click after a while. Once you get comfortable with each exercise, then you create combinations, shifting from one exercise to the next. Finally, you can improvise freely in this context. It's a brilliant concept -- explore all the possibilities, and learn to improvise. Much more efficient, and better than just trying to learn a ton of songs or specific beats.