Pretty cool exercise


"Uncle Larry"
Unisons, played on the snare only with the snares off, just hands, with the sticks kind of far away from each other so head flop is not an issue. It really lets you know how out of sync your sides are.

I recommend triplets at a comfy medium speed with an accent. It has to have an accent.

How many people practice unsions? Usually were are doing everything but.

It's a good sync exercise before a gig too.


Platinum Member
I practice unisons at the suggestion of WhoisTony on here some year or two ago. I never realized how difficult they were. I don't do triplets, accents or anything, just straight unisons to learn better sync. No regimen, just an exercise I will do along with a few others.

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I use unisons to practice the push-pull stroke. They are so useful for helping the weaker hand catch up.

I also find that sitting tall and having open posture improves my ability to play them perfectly together, instead of flamming.


"Uncle Larry"
unisons are extremely important
no one ever thinks so until they use a unison regimen for a while and see what it does for their playing

when studying with Steve Smith he stressed over and over the importance of unisons

I've also heard stories about Tony Williams and unisons being one of the only things he practiced for years
I remember you touting these before, and you said that Tony espoused their use too. I didn't know he laser focused on them. If Tony found them cool, right? I've been doing them here and there for about a year now, just straight 8th notes, usually just one boring tempo, between medium and slow. It showed up in my gigging fairly quickly too. Just today I started playing groups of continuous triplets and 16th notes....faster too, but when I added the accent, that took things up a notch, meaning it exposed more inconsistencies than me just playing straight 8ths. My accents were 2 different dynamics, it sounded sloppier, more flams, and I found it more revealing than unaccented 8ths.

It's not hard, yet it's challenging to land the sticks in sync consistently over a minute straight for instance. Good ear training too. My kind of exercise.

I practice unisons at the suggestion of WhoisTony on here some year or two ago. I never realized how difficult they were. I don't do triplets, accents or anything, just straight unisons to learn better sync. No regimen, just an exercise I will do along with a few others.
Give the accents a chance, it really spices it up. That's the main gist of why I made this thread, to encourage incorporating accents into unisons.


Platinum Member
Bill Bachman had a feature in MD a couple years ago about unisons. I found it very useful. It exposed my flaws and I think working on those exercises improved my playing.


Platinum Member
I'm remembering this thread:

Good stuff and if I'm not mistaken, Max Roach developed an exercise (at least I've heard it attributed to him) of playing all four limbs in unison and then systematically crescendoing/decrescendoing one or more limbs while the others stay the same.

Toughest for me on that exercise is developing dynamic control with my left foot on the hi-hat. This exercise actually prompted me to increase the space between my hi-hat cymbals to gain a wider dynamic range.


Silver Member
Hey Larry, right on with playing unisons...

I do them on the pad to keep my weaker hand in check. Playing the first three pages of Stick Control is fun to do - accenting the Rights and Lefts, but keeping the unaccented unison really low to the playing surface.

On the kit, one of my all time favorite exercises is playing unisons. Starting with just hands, moving across different instruments, keeping dynamics nice and even. Also adding your feet opens things up. There are 11 different combos available - RH/RF, RH/LF, LH/RF, etc. It’s a great test to check accuracy and control on the kit - for both timing and dynamics.


Senior Member
I like practicing independence exercises for the hands (like those in the Chapin book) on a gum rubber practice pad (so I can really hear whether my hands strike exactly together). It really helps develop precision, and when I do it I notice a definite improvement in my playing.

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Practicing unisons on the pad is also an excellent tool. The quieter surface will actually allow you to feel/hear the stick resonate in your hard. When I first did this years ago I discovered that the left was gripping the sticks too hard, even though I felt relaxed.

When your sticks are perfectly in unison on the pad, you will hear a phase effect. That let's you know you're locked in.

I do them on the kit as well but typically employing the feet somehow.


Platinum Member
Here's what I was remembering, Max Roach's exercise as he taught it to David Stanoch:

Not sure if Max is the originator though--this thread alone shows that lots of people have done and taught variations of this. But I first learned it from David.

This is one of those "sky's the limit" exercises where you can add endless variables (e.g., accent grids, stroke, dynamic, rhythmic variations, etc.).

Anyone else been at the kit working on these since the thread started? ;-)


Gold Member
Mark Guiliana is all about unisons and uses them in him play a lot, in a really forward, frank way. reeeeeally cool. I've always practiced unisons, but hearing them in a musical/improvised context between multiple instruments really changed me. Its a whole new array of voices on the kit - crazy.


Senior Member
Another one to throw into the mix: Dom Famularo has some good four limb unison exercises in his book, "It's Your Move."