Even rudiment dynamics - how important for beginners?

lxh039

Member
I'm a relatively new drummer, and I just recently started working through Stick Control in a serious manner. My goal, for now, is to learn each of the exercises on the first page, in the following permutations:
A) Bass drum and hi-hat simultaneously on each beat.
B) Bass drum only on each beat.
C) Hi-hat only on each beat.
D) Bass drum on 1 & 3, hi-hat on 2 & 4.
E) Same as D, but play R on floor tom and L on snare.
F) Same as D, but play R on floor tom and L on rack rom.
G) Same as D, but play R on floor tom and and alternate L between snare and rack tom.
H) Same as D, but play L on snare and alternate R between floor tom and rack tom.
I) Same as D, but play L on rack tom and alternate R between floor tom and snare.

I plan on sticking to one rudiment and not moving on until I can do it in each of those permutations at 80 bpm. I practice this specifically for at least 30 minutes a day, with a metronome click.

The problem is that trying to achieve even dynamics on each stroke is driving me insane. I can't even get past the first permutation of exercise 1, because I can't stop accenting the first stroke of each beat. When I stop accenting that note, I invariably lose time with the metronome.

Any recommendations?

PS - I'd like to take a moment to thank the DrummerWorld community. I don't have access to a personal drum instructor, and without you guys answering these sorts of questions for me I'd be completely lost. This forum is a godsend!

Edit: I wrote all this out and forgot to ask the question I originally intended to ask - How important is it for students to learn to perform all of their rudiments with absolutely even dynamics when they're first starting out? How even is "even"? I have an obsessive personality, and I'm wondering if I'm picking apart absurdly tiny variations in my dynamic levels with each stroke. Is it acceptable to be just a wee bit heavy on the first stroke in the beat? Or should I be shooting for 100% identical volume with each stroke in the exercise?

Ugh. I'm over-thinking this.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My recommendations...you already see your stumbling points. That's great. Nothing left but to keep chipping away at it.

When you have a practice session that totally frustrates you....you are doing it right. Practice is mental work. Sometimes it seems like progress is not being made. Rest assured that the more frustrated you get, the more ground you are gaining, even though it doesn't feel like it. The upside is if on Monday you are completely frustrated, chances are that on Tuesday it will become a bit easier....and so on until you crack it. So just keep chipping away at it, you sound like you are doing good.

It's better to learn just one thing all the way than to attempt 5 things and never get any of it down all the way. I would just concentrate on one stumbling point until you beat it, then move on. Be sure to revisit it at a later date to make sure you got it down. Just a suggestion. Better to practice deeper not broader IMO, you move ahead faster.
 

ronyd

Silver Member
I would say play dynamics (with each stick height: full, half, low) as even as possible, play as written. Use Accents and Rebounds book, which is written based on Stick Control.

As aside note, Another great exercise on the "pad" is using FreeStrokes only; low, half, and full. One minute each exercise. Learned from Dom Famularo himself and my teacher.

I like your permutations also. great job...

I can see why many drummers wear out Stick control. There are so so many variations, and just on the first page alone. Alex Acuna says he is still on page 1 !! Imagine that...
 
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eddypierce

Senior Member
I like your analytical nature, and the fact that you're thinking of different ways to use Stick Control. However, if you're having trouble playing some of the Single Beat exercises without accenting the downbeat, I would recommend spending a lot of time initially just working on playing the exercises on the first page with your hands only, and focus on making the strokes all the same volume. Once you feel you can do this pretty automatically, then I'd suggest trying some of the variations you listed.

While you're just working on your hands, you can spend some other time in your practice sessions working on simple exercises for your feet. Then when you finally put the two together (hands and feet) you'll probably find it easier and less frustrating.

Ed
 

firesgt911

Senior Member
I'm a relatively new drummer, and I just recently started working through Stick Control in a serious manner. My goal, for now, is to learn each of the exercises on the first page, in the following permutations:
A) Bass drum and hi-hat simultaneously on each beat.
B) Bass drum only on each beat.
C) Hi-hat only on each beat.
D) Bass drum on 1 & 3, hi-hat on 2 & 4.
E) Same as D, but play R on floor tom and L on snare.
F) Same as D, but play R on floor tom and L on rack rom.
G) Same as D, but play R on floor tom and and alternate L between snare and rack tom.
H) Same as D, but play L on snare and alternate R between floor tom and rack tom.
I) Same as D, but play L on rack tom and alternate R between floor tom and snare.

I plan on sticking to one rudiment and not moving on until I can do it in each of those permutations at 80 bpm. I practice this specifically for at least 30 minutes a day, with a metronome click.

The problem is that trying to achieve even dynamics on each stroke is driving me insane. I can't even get past the first permutation of exercise 1, because I can't stop accenting the first stroke of each beat. When I stop accenting that note, I invariably lose time with the metronome.

Any recommendations?

PS - I'd like to take a moment to thank the DrummerWorld community. I don't have access to a personal drum instructor, and without you guys answering these sorts of questions for me I'd be completely lost. This forum is a godsend!

Edit: I wrote all this out and forgot to ask the question I originally intended to ask - How important is it for students to learn to perform all of their rudiments with absolutely even dynamics when they're first starting out? How even is "even"? I have an obsessive personality, and I'm wondering if I'm picking apart absurdly tiny variations in my dynamic levels with each stroke. Is it acceptable to be just a wee bit heavy on the first stroke in the beat? Or should I be shooting for 100% identical volume with each stroke in the exercise?

Ugh. I'm over-thinking this.
I've been heavily accenting my downbeats when incorporating my feet on page 1. I think my biggest problem is trying to turn off my brain. I think I'm literally concentrating too much.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
DO you speak at one tempo or dynamic? No? Good because you'd be a drag to speak to!

Your drumming is a language that you "speak" with your hands & feet. Treat it as such and you'll develop a great and broad vocabulary.

Keep the training wheels on and you'll not progress past the stage of "See Spot run. Run, Spot run!"
 

lxh039

Member
I like your analytical nature, and the fact that you're thinking of different ways to use Stick Control. However, if you're having trouble playing some of the Single Beat exercises without accenting the downbeat, I would recommend spending a lot of time initially just working on playing the exercises on the first page with your hands only, and focus on making the strokes all the same volume. Once you feel you can do this pretty automatically, then I'd suggest trying some of the variations you listed.

While you're just working on your hands, you can spend some other time in your practice sessions working on simple exercises for your feet. Then when you finally put the two together (hands and feet) you'll probably find it easier and less frustrating.

Ed
See, the odd thing is that if I'm not using a metronome, I can play the rudiments without accenting the downbeat just fine. I work at a desk in a library, and most of my day is downtime (government jobs, gotta love em), so I bring my sticks to work with me and tap out rudiments and patterns on my leg. Can't use a metronome in the library, obviously, because of the noise. Because of the huge amount of time I can dedicate to doing this, I've gotten all the way to exercise 44 in just a few weeks. When I'm practicing in this manner I don't have any problem not accenting the downbeat. As soon as I take it to the set and add a metronome, though, it goes to shit. I can either stay in time with the metronome OR avoid accenting the downbeat. Not both, it seems.
 

firesgt911

Senior Member
DO you speak at one tempo or dynamic? No? Good because you'd be a drag to speak to!

Your drumming is a language that you "speak" with your hands & feet. Treat it as such and you'll develop a great and broad vocabulary.

Keep the training wheels on and you'll not progress past the stage of "See Spot run. Run, Spot run!"
So, are you saying to go through the motions and develope the feel without worrying about the metronome?
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
There's a lack of control going on. I think you're absolutely right to be as OCD as you are about getting things as right as you possibly can, although I do recommend the occasional reality check and don't forget to make allowances for being human.

Larry speaks wise words, as always: one thing at a time. If you want evenness AND metronome accuracy, slow it down until you can achieve both. If you can't achieve both, even when you go very very VERY slowly, pick one and work at that until it's second nature, then slow things down again and add the other.

I've just had a thought. You say you can't help accenting the first beat. So accent it. Then accent the second beat. And when you can do that, accent the third. Evenness will come as you manage to achieve more control, and as BillRay says, accents are interesting! But I agree with you that you should be able to choose where you put them.
 

eddypierce

Senior Member
See, the odd thing is that if I'm not using a metronome, I can play the rudiments without accenting the downbeat just fine. I work at a desk in a library, and most of my day is downtime (government jobs, gotta love em), so I bring my sticks to work with me and tap out rudiments and patterns on my leg. Can't use a metronome in the library, obviously, because of the noise. Because of the huge amount of time I can dedicate to doing this, I've gotten all the way to exercise 44 in just a few weeks. When I'm practicing in this manner I don't have any problem not accenting the downbeat. As soon as I take it to the set and add a metronome, though, it goes to shit. I can either stay in time with the metronome OR avoid accenting the downbeat. Not both, it seems.
Okay, I see. Here's a suggestion. Try playing just exercise #1 with variation #1 (both feet together on the beat--or pick whichever foot variation is easiest for you right now), and play it VERY slowly. For example, set the metronome to 8th note = 60, and try to play to play it without accenting beat one. If it helps, you might mentally convert the exercise so that you're thinking of each of the snare notes as quarter notes, and the feet are playing on half notes. Do just this exercise at that slow tempo until you can do it without accenting the downbeat. If that's too hard, it might be easier if you play the feet not on every beat (i.e., every two hand notes), but every other beat (every four hand notes). When you play it this slow, with so much space between the hits, it might be easier to give each snare note equal weight. It might feel ridiculous playing it that slow, but if you can nail that, it's just a matter of gradually speeding it up until you get it where you want it. But don't rush to get there--if you can sit on that slow tempo for a while and hold it and play it (relatively) perfectly, maybe for 5 minutes a day for a week or so--, then when you eventually speed it up it'll probably be a breeze. Do the same thing with exercise #2--super slowly, concentrating on making the hands even. Over time, if you do this, you should be able to achieve your goal. All the work focused on this one exercise and one variation will allow you to accelerate your ability to tackle all the other exercises with the other variations.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
So, are you saying to go through the motions and develope the feel without worrying about the metronome?

That's exactly what I'm saying. For as much playing "within the lines" as you do there should be a bit of time where you "step outside" and "freefall" a bit. Go explore. Put a hand on the hi hat and one on the snare and play the rudiment and get off on the sounds and textures they give you.

If you truly want to develop into your playing. Otherwise you're chained to a pole and you won't expand very far.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Do it right from the get go. It's better to execute rudiments perfectly and slowly at first than it is to do them quick and sloppy. You'll be building a much better foundation to your playing, which is kind of the idea.

Focus on your stick heights and hand-evenness. Pulling your sticks to the same height on each stroke will go a long way to getting the same even tone.
 

firesgt911

Senior Member
That's exactly what I'm saying. For as much playing "within the lines" as you do there should be a bit of time where you "step outside" and "freefall" a bit. Go explore. Put a hand on the hi hat and one on the snare and play the rudiment and get off on the sounds and textures they give you.

If you truly want to develop into your playing. Otherwise you're chained to a pole and you won't expand very far.
Awesome. I will give this a go.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
Do it right from the get go. It's better to execute rudiments perfectly and slowly at first than it is to do them quick and sloppy. You'll be building a much better foundation to your playing, which is kind of the idea.

Focus on your stick heights and hand-evenness. Pulling your sticks to the same height on each stroke will go a long way to getting the same even tone.

Go read some Dan Millman. Make up your own mind from there. http://www.amazon.com/Body-Mind-Mastery-Training-Sport/dp/1577310942
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
That sounds way too dry for my reading tastes. I like fun stuff, fiction, fast story lines.

What's the gist of the point you're trying to make? That we shouldn't try to execute things the correct way, and just go for it?
I'm saying to not get hung up on the technique of it so much to the point you lose sight of what's "fun and exciting". Yes, playing fast and reaching goals is a noble cause but it's not the only part of drumming. Playing polyrhythmia to the level that one has complete control over the nth fragment of time.... like playing 37 over 39 or some other ridiculously long phrase... that's a challenge. But at what point does it become an exercise in futility or bashing oneself against the wall? At some point the player thinks they're totally dogmeat but in reality the player is actually a monster!

We drummers tend to overanalyze EVERYTHING a lot of the time. Tell me I'm wrong, LOL!

While striving for "perfection" or "totally symmetrical" angles of a concept it's also great to know the "asymmetrical" or imperfection in anything.

When I go in to the studio to record for an artist I'll do three takes generally (this is after I've rehearsed the song so I know it already) - the first is that magical spark, the second take is the "safe" one and the third I always play it like I'm drunk. Just throw all caution to the wind!

Within each of those is something definitely useable.

Here's such a track- there's snippets from the first and third takes. https://soundcloud.com/anthony-lococo/touch-the-sky-mix-v-2

So the point being, don't limit yourself to being held to a ruler all the time. Sometimes you'll be disappointed, sometimes you'll be amazed. The thing is to record yourself playing and listen back to the results you're producing.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
So the point being, don't limit yourself to being held to a ruler all the time. Sometimes you'll be disappointed, sometimes you'll be amazed. The thing is to record yourself playing and listen back to the results you're producing.
I find this very encouraging.
I record when I practice at home - some fave grooves or whatever, often just to hear and tweak my setup sometimes. My playing in that setting is full of what I'd call 'flavour'.
Yet when i rehearse with my band, I find my drumming much safer, limited choices were made, resulting in far less flavour. Not willing to 'take chances' so much in that setting.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I'm saying to not get hung up on the technique of it so much to the point you lose sight of what's "fun and exciting". Yes, playing fast and reaching goals is a noble cause but it's not the only part of drumming. Playing polyrhythmia to the level that one has complete control over the nth fragment of time.... like playing 37 over 39 or some other ridiculously long phrase... that's a challenge. But at what point does it become an exercise in futility or bashing oneself against the wall? At some point the player thinks they're totally dogmeat but in reality the player is actually a monster!

We drummers tend to overanalyze EVERYTHING a lot of the time. Tell me I'm wrong, LOL!

While striving for "perfection" or "totally symmetrical" angles of a concept it's also great to know the "asymmetrical" or imperfection in anything.

When I go in to the studio to record for an artist I'll do three takes generally (this is after I've rehearsed the song so I know it already) - the first is that magical spark, the second take is the "safe" one and the third I always play it like I'm drunk. Just throw all caution to the wind!

Within each of those is something definitely useable.

Here's such a track- there's snippets from the first and third takes. https://soundcloud.com/anthony-lococo/touch-the-sky-mix-v-2

So the point being, don't limit yourself to being held to a ruler all the time. Sometimes you'll be disappointed, sometimes you'll be amazed. The thing is to record yourself playing and listen back to the results you're producing.
Don't forget that we're talking about rudiment practice here, which is kind of inherently not musical. They are like a base layer, and alphabet to start from. If you're going to do it, the best way to do so is to learn and do them right.

I thought "doing rudiments" was stupid for a huge amount of my time as a drummer. This is because I wasn't really understanding them for what they do. It's not just sticking practice, and the point isn't to do them as fast as you can... The point is to do them right. Focus on the mechanics, and the details of each stroke. Learn how to really snap a double stroke so that the second stroke sounds even with the first, for example.

And then go do something musical with whatever skill or technique you've got. Never hold back from just playing music. Specifically, in my opinion, there is no replacement, at all, for playing with other musicians as often as you can. You learn more about music from this than you ever will from rudiments or perfecting your techniques. That said, having spent some time on my fundamentals now, I have a much bigger quiver of metaphorical arrows to pull from as I make music.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
That sounds way too dry for my reading tastes. I like fun stuff, fiction, fast story lines.

What's the gist of the point you're trying to make? That we shouldn't try to execute things the correct way, and just go for it?
Don't forget that we're talking about rudiment practice here, which is kind of inherently not musical. They are like a base layer, and alphabet to start from. If you're going to do it, the best way to do so is to learn and do them right.

I thought "doing rudiments" was stupid for a huge amount of my time as a drummer. This is because I wasn't really understanding them for what they do. It's not just sticking practice, and the point isn't to do them as fast as you can... The point is to do them right. Focus on the mechanics, and the details of each stroke. Learn how to really snap a double stroke so that the second stroke sounds even with the first, for example.

And then go do something musical with whatever skill or technique you've got. Never hold back from just playing music. Specifically, in my opinion, there is no replacement, at all, for playing with other musicians as often as you can. You learn more about music from this than you ever will from rudiments or perfecting your techniques. That said, having spent some time on my fundamentals now, I have a much bigger quiver of metaphorical arrows to pull from as I make music.

This really happened.

Down on the beach where I live there was a guy who I used to see practicing martial arts moves very slowly. This guy was like a statue that seemed to very slowly change form over the course of of an hour.

One day these two idiots figured they'd try to mess with him and one of them went up to him and began making flinching movements at the guy. Nothing fazed him until one of them tried to lay a hand on him.

Faster than you could blink he put the one guy down in a crumpled heap and the other guy came at him and it was like 1,2, DONE.

He went right back to his movement study and those other guys limped off. The time he put into the small stuff was reflected immediately with the big stuff he performed in taking down the jerks.

But back to drumming... No matter if you think you're not playing a rudiment on the pad, snare or drumset, you're playing a rudiment. Rudiments are basic motions and patterns that hold many musical secrets. They are the consonants and vowels of the drumming and music world.

How you string them together is up to you. Some people prefer to work on enunciating things, and that's what working on a rudiment sticking is like. Just like trying to learn to pronounce a foreign word correctly, dialing in that sticking is a tedious manner.

But sometimes it's fun to take what you already can say and practice speaking it. Like the time I learned the word "Merde" in French- I ran around screaming "Merde, Merde" and people thought I was a total lunatic. But hey! They noticed... And that's a motivation of drumming, to be noticed and to be expressive.

The cool thing about Rudiments is that you can "slur" the pronunciation slightly and get something that sounds really cool. :D
 

lxh039

Member
Had something of a breakthrough tonight while practicing my rudiments. Spent hours on my snare, with a metronome, practicing the single stroke roll at really low speeds (2/4 time, eighth notes, 40 BPM, subdivided click on the 'nome). Still wasn't getting the timing right, so I got frustrated and stopped. I went and laid in my bed, turned on my metronome, and tapped the rudiments out on my knee. My timing was perfect. So I went back down to the garage and tried it on the snare. Once again, my timing felt off. Then I realized something: my shitty snare drum's overtones were at the exact same pitch as my metronome click! I would hit the drum, it would ring out, and my brain was sort of interpreting that as the click, so everything felt off! Tuned the drum down a tiny bit and slapped a moongel on there and the problem went away! What are the odds of that?
 
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