Back to basics?

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Has anyone gone back to an early instruction book - maybe your first one of you still have it - and played the parts and exercises? Does it help reinforce the basics of reading, and does it feel refreshing, or a boring waste of time?

I'm thinking about doing that with my original books dating back to 1965! I know it's not a big deal to grab a pad, sticks & book and find out for myself, I just wondered what the consensus is.

Bermuda
 

planoranger

Junior Member
I do that every single day. I've been doing that for years. I find that there are always things that I can improve upon, even the "simplest things" which we seem to always take for granted. Personally, I never find it boring...especially when I actually do hit upon a "new" way of phrasing something or being able to do something technically that I previously struggled with.

Probably the most useful thing my favorite teacher passed onto me was when he played (with the NY City Ballet Orchestra), he ALWAYS thought, "How can I make it sound better?" He found that going back to basics was usually the key.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Haskell W. Harr's Drum Method, Book One. It's the book I started out on with my first instructor, a professional studio drummer, back in the '80s. The exercises are snare-drum specific and are utterly elementary. I pull it out just for nostalgic fun sometimes. It was originally published in the '30s. Attached is an image of the cover.
 

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MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Singles and doubles, I always go back to them. I gave my book to my brother like 15 years ago, but dont need it for singles and doubles. I figure everything from the simplest beat to the most complicated of solos can be broken down into mostly singles and doubles, so I work on those the most. Sometimes it's in the form of exercises, sometimes it's just long strings of each.
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
Hell. Yes. That is what I have been doing for the past year. I completely stopped gigging in the beginning of 2018 due to back issues and surgeries. I went from 8 gigs a week, on top of a "normal" career, to zero. I did not pick up a drum stick for at least a year, and I was fine with it because I was burned out.

I always loved jazz, but rarely got to play it because my gigs were mostly dance and top 40, R&B, rock, country, and blues. I decided if I was going to practice, I was only going to practice what I want to do, which is jazz. I have been going through my old Syncopation book using the Alan Dawson method, which I could probably do just about anything with. I have also been working through Rudimental Jazz by Morello, The All-American 150 by Wilcoxon, and Beyond Bop by Riley.

I feel like a kid again and it has reignited my love for the drums.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I like intermediate snare drum books. They're mostly normal vocabulary and they're usually easy enough that you can play them faster than the intended tempo. I've got my old Garwood Whaley book from ~1981, but I mostly use Mitchell Peters's book. I use book 2 of Haskell Harr a lot too.

And of course most of Syncopation is beginning to intermediate level, and I use it every day. My first copy from 1982 fell apart, so I put it in a binder and use it that way now.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
Haskell W. Harr's Drum Method, Book One. It's the book I started out on with my first instructor, a professional studio drummer, back in the '80s. The exercises are snare-drum specific and are utterly elementary. I pull it out just for nostalgic fun sometimes. It was originally published in the '30s. Attached is an image of the cover.
Oh my! How about this one too:
 

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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Oh my! How about this one too:
Vintage stuff. I love the drum books of yesteryear, particularly those that haven't been "updated." Nothing to download, no videos to view, nothing to do online. Just get right down to the nuts and bolts of drumming and leave all peripheral noise at the door. Relics from no-nonsense eras to which we'll never fully return. It's saddening, in a sense.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
It's fine, reading music is still the standard for serious students and professionals.
No doubt there. The problem is that so many new students are diverted by a lot of nonsense that serves little purpose. Substance will always stand. Discovering it and staying focused on it is simply getting harder for the uninitiated. I'm glad I'm not an up-and-coming drummer in the current epoch. Maybe my views are just antiquated. If so, I can live with that.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Sounds like it's beneficial and fun, I'll give it a try!

Bermuda
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Personally, I never find it boring...especially when I actually do hit upon a "new" way of phrasing something or being able to do something technically that I previously struggled with.
Great insight, planoranger. Some drummers play a given pattern exactly as it's written, think they're mastered it, and move on to what they deem more challenging pieces. But if you maintain a creative frame of mind, it becomes apparent that an exercise can be customized in countless ways through the alteration of accents, dynamics, and so on. In other words, a single measure is worth a thousand strokes. Extract all you can from it.
 

moodman

Well-known member
I have a warm up that has stuff from several sources that I've studied. Mostly about accents, control strokes and pullouts, open and closed rolls, singles and doubles, dis-placing figures. I've memorized it and my books are packed away somewhere but, it came from Stick Control, Morello, Morganstein. It covers all the bases for me and gets me ready to gig.
Truth be told, I never really finished Stick Control though I spent years on some sections. Maybe that is where I need to go back to. Good idea.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Truth be told, I never really finished Stick Control though I spent years on some sections. Maybe that is where I need to go back to. Good idea.
An admirable admission, moodman, as no drummer ever truly finishes Stick Control, just as no living human is done with oxygen. It's the one drum book that has no ending. When you complete it, returning to the beginning is the only proper course.
 

planoranger

Junior Member
But if you maintain a creative frame of mind, it becomes apparent that an exercise can be customized in countless ways through the alteration of accents, dynamics, and so on. In other words, a single measure is worth a thousand strokes. Extract all you can from it.
You are so right!!! One of the things I've been toying around with is, for lack of a better term, "dynamics within dynamics". You would probably have a better way of phrasing it. Let me explain the concept:
I firmly believe that within any given dynamic (f, mf, mp, etc) there is an upper limit and a lower limit, In other words, for example, how softly can I play mf before it becomes mp? Similarly, how loud can I play f before it becomes ff?
So what I've been doing is going through some simple stuff like Wilcoxon's All American Drummer and playing crescendos and diminuendos all within an arbitrary dynamic. For instance, let's say I want to play a particular solo within the mf "range". I will then do something like play the 1st four bars at that "baseline" dynamic and toy around with a crescendo through the 8th bar, then a diminuendo through the 12th bar. If I'm real good (or just plain lucky), I'll return to the original "baseline" dynamic. The effect can be very subtle, but it certainly is interesting. Doing this helps improve quite a few things, the most important being am I hearing/listening/interpreting in a musical manner?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
You are so right!!! One of the things I've been toying around with is, for lack of a better term, "dynamics within dynamics". You would probably have a better way of phrasing it. Let me explain the concept:
I firmly believe that within any given dynamic (f, mf, mp, etc) there is an upper limit and a lower limit, In other words, for example, how softly can I play mf before it becomes mp? Similarly, how loud can I play f before it becomes ff?
So what I've been doing is going through some simple stuff like Wilcoxon's All American Drummer and playing crescendos and diminuendos all within an arbitrary dynamic. For instance, let's say I want to play a particular solo within the mf "range". I will then do something like play the 1st four bars at that "baseline" dynamic and toy around with a crescendo through the 8th bar, then a diminuendo through the 12th bar. If I'm real good (or just plain lucky), I'll return to the original "baseline" dynamic. The effect can be very subtle, but it certainly is interesting. Doing this helps improve quite a few things, the most important being am I hearing/listening/interpreting in a musical manner?
Well thought out and well stated. I like your practice methods. And yes, dynamics are the essence of great drumming. Without them, we're just playing chops, not making music. Keep up the hard work!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I like intermediate snare drum books. They're mostly normal vocabulary and they're usually easy enough that you can play them faster than the intended tempo. I've got my old Garwood Whaley book from ~1981, but I mostly use Mitchell Peters's book. I use book 2 of Haskell Harr a lot too.

And of course most of Syncopation is beginning to intermediate level, and I use it every day. My first copy from 1982 fell apart, so I put it in a binder and use it that way now.
One of my teachers hipped me to playing Syncopation all the way through then when I got to the end, flip the book over and play it backwards. I loved doing that!
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
For me some of those very basic books require to much imagination on my part to be useful to me. I have limited practice time and don’t want to spend it inventing stickings and accents using Syncopation. Not that I think it wouldn’t be beneficial, I’m just not going to take the time to do it.

I’ve spent the last few months on pages 28 and 29 of The Art of Bop (triplets based comping figures). There’s a good amount of reading and definitely challenging exercises especially if you take Riley’s advice to switch up the kick and hi hat. I think I could spend a very long time sitting on those two pages. And playing all of those triplets helps my backbeat, although I’m not exactly sure why.

I also picked up Todd Bishop’s “13 Essential Stickings” book. Again it’s not a “first book” but it takes first principles and flushes them out further than I would have on my own.
 

planoranger

Junior Member
I like intermediate snare drum books. They're mostly normal vocabulary and they're usually easy enough that you can play them faster than the intended tempo. I've got my old Garwood Whaley book from ~1981, but I mostly use Mitchell Peters's book. I use book 2 of Haskell Harr a lot too.
If you want to have some fun with the Peters book, try #IX (p.10) with 1/4 note set to about 60 bpm on your metronome, playing no louder than pp (softer is even better). I can't think of a better "study" to work on your soft rolls. If you ain't sweatin' at the end of that, you ain't playin it right:D
 
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