How do you first start learning fills?

TWerner

Senior Member
Hi Guys,

To avoid any advanced advice, my son turns 12 next month. He played a drum pad 10 months, then got a full set about a year ago. He takes lessons and is working on rudimental solos, some simple independence exercises from syncopation or stick control (can't remember which), Tommy Igoe groove 5 or 6 (slow), and now some pieces that his school's jazz band is playing.

He's not playing the set parts for the jazz band. The kid on the drum set is 2 years older and apparently a decent drummer. My son has the charts just because he wants to be able to play those parts someday and his teacher is helping with that. In the actual band he's just playing some of the easy percussion parts now. It is great since its teaching him to keep time with others. (and I probably deserve a klondike bar since I've refrained from getting him a Gene Frenkle t-shirt.)

Lately he seems to want to learn to do fills, but I guess he doesn't want to ask his teacher about how. He just wants to learn by trying, and he is very frustrated by it right now. I read 10 or 12 threads on fills, but they were all responses to people asking how to improve their fills. I'm looking for the step before that. How does an 11 year old start learning to play fills? What's are the first exercises or steps?
 
This is always a tricky one. It's hard for me to explain because I learned how to play drums by copping other drummers. So I guess that's a good place to start.

What I find frustrating when listening to young drummers is that they play fills EVERYWHERE. ALL THE TIME. They speed up, they slow down, it drives me up the wall. So what I have my students do is explore different rhythmic concepts. I just have them trade 4s with themselves. Groove for 4 bars, play a fill for four bars. First using only quarters, then eighths, then 16ths, etc. It's a natural progression through the time grid.

First I'll limit them to just the snare - then add the toms - then linear patterns. Then I'll pick up a guitar, jam through chord progressions with them, and have them play along. The tricky part is having them play to the music. Cause most kids will just rip a 16th note headbanger over anything, which is not something you want either.

So what I do for that is give them a chart and just mark down what the "shots" are, kinda like a big band chart, and have them try and hit those target rhythms. They can play anything before or after, as long as they hit the shots.

You just have to build him up to it. It's tricky cause there are so many possibilities. Endless numbers of rhythmic combinations, accent patterns, and drums/cymbals to hit! Start by limiting him and slowly have him expand his vocabulary!
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
This is the method I use with my students:

I want them to have a useful vocabulary and be able to improvise, so though running 8s and 16s around the toms is good technical practice it's usefulness is limites.

1) First I will just take some rhythms from the first page in their beginner book and play them first on snare then around the kit in a typical 4 bars context using only the right hand.

2) Next I will start adding 8s. Right hand plays on the beat and left han plays the &s.

3) After that I usually just pick maybe 3 rhythms. Something like

1) 1 2&3 4&

2) 1 &3 4

3) 1 &3 &

Same rules apply RH on the beat &s with the left hand.

4) Then we start switching from hi-hat to ride between fills.

This way I have shown then a musical and useful way to practice fils and then we just start adding more rhythms. If they're motivated we'll use every bar of a whole page in whatevere book we used for basic training or whatever page of rhythm I feel fits this particular student.

After this we start practicing drums solo exercises the same way. Playing the whole page over a foot ostinato.

Always stressing musicality, time, groove, relaxed techinique and awareness of dynamics.

This is the basic framework and then I make it easier or more complex depending on each students understanding and ability. Different rhythms, adding bass drum and so on......... Again stressing control and musicality all the time.

If they do this for 30 mins every day it doesn't take long before they are quite useful and effective drummers.

I might play along with them on the drums, but when they start getting it I might pick up a bass instead, so we really can get a context for what we're doing.
 
Hello!
This is exactly what I'm working on right now with my drum teacher. I'm going to share some of the simple things I'm practicing, even though I'm feeling a little shy about it since I know there are many more experienced folks out there who can answer this question (in fact, the exercises I've been given are in line with what Odd-Arne Oseberg has recommended). But personally I like to hear what other beginners are doing, and what my teacher recommended has been working well for me so far so maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

There are two aspects of doing fills that we've been working on. The first is to get me comfortable with moving around the kit while playing a groove - being able to break away and come back to it. The second is to actually develop some fills.

Here are three of the exercises I'm doing:
  • play any groove, but at different points to hit the ride cymbal instead of the hi hat. For example, for a few bars I'll play the groove hitting the ride on the "1", then switch to hitting the ride on the "1&" (ie. the second eighth note), then the "2", etc through all of the eighth notes in the bar. Pretty simple, but at first I found it challenging to break away from what I was doing and come back to the hi hat in time. After a couple of weeks of practice I've gotten comfortable doing this even with new grooves I'm learning.
  • practice my rudiments around the kit. I started doing the rudiment once on each piece (for example, once on the snare, once on the right tom, left tom, etc...) and now I'm splitting them up a bit more. As well as practice moving around the kit, it gives me an idea of how rudiments can be developed into fills. Sometimes I even end up playing something that sounds good, so I repeat it a few times to remember it.
  • play a repeating 3 bars of a groove, then 1 bar of a fill. At first, my teacher told me just to do quarter notes on that 4th bar to get the timing down, then add more and more as I got comfortable.
 

TWerner

Senior Member
Thanks guys.

Thomas, My son doesn't play any fills. He does is keep time well on a groove. That was almost a problem when he started band this year. The first couple of days he didn't know to follow the leading parts if they sped up, so he'd ignore them and just keep on the band teachers initial tempo figuring the other kids were wrong. Tommy Igoe's stuff keeps time better than 11 and 12 year olds I guess. I think he probably has the coordination though. He finished Alfred's drum method book one, and is working on some of the easy stuff in Wilcoxon'sThe All American Drummer, and in Sycopation. Not much in the way of accents yet, but decent dynamics.

What you said about trading 4's. That's similar to what I found in Drumopedia, by Dan Britt. Found the book after I posted. Britt was starting by alternating measures I think, groove, then fill. IIs 4 bars of fill a lot, or is that pretty standard? Either way, the progression from quarter to 8ths to 16ths, and starting on just the snare, is very helpful. If I tell him that was suggested, it will let him know he shouldn't start by attempting to flailing away all over the kit.

Odd-Arne Oseberg,
I think I understand what you are describing, but I'm a bit confused by the right vs left part. Are you starting students doing fills with just their right hand? Also, my son is cross dominant, so he usually plays "open handed". Hi hat with his left hand, ride with his right hand. He's set up with a "right hand" kit, so are you suggesting he first play a quarter note rhythm measure on the snare, then learn to move it around the kit with just his right hand, and then later add the "&" notes with his left? I'm only asking about 1 and 2 for now.

Thanks again,
T
 

brady

Platinum Member
Hello!
This is exactly what I'm working on right now with my drum teacher. I'm going to share some of the simple things I'm practicing, even though I'm feeling a little shy about it since I know there are many more experienced folks out there who can answer this question (in fact, the exercises I've been given are in line with what Odd-Arne Oseberg has recommended). But personally I like to hear what other beginners are doing, and what my teacher recommended has been working well for me so far so maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

There are two aspects of doing fills that we've been working on. The first is to get me comfortable with moving around the kit while playing a groove - being able to break away and come back to it. The second is to actually develop some fills.

Here are three of the exercises I'm doing:
  • play any groove, but at different points to hit the ride cymbal instead of the hi hat. For example, for a few bars I'll play the groove hitting the ride on the "1", then switch to hitting the ride on the "1&" (ie. the second eighth note), then the "2", etc through all of the eighth notes in the bar. Pretty simple, but at first I found it challenging to break away from what I was doing and come back to the hi hat in time. After a couple of weeks of practice I've gotten comfortable doing this even with new grooves I'm learning.
  • practice my rudiments around the kit. I started doing the rudiment once on each piece (for example, once on the snare, once on the right tom, left tom, etc...) and now I'm splitting them up a bit more. As well as practice moving around the kit, it gives me an idea of how rudiments can be developed into fills. Sometimes I even end up playing something that sounds good, so I repeat it a few times to remember it.
  • play a repeating 3 bars of a groove, then 1 bar of a fill. At first, my teacher told me just to do quarter notes on that 4th bar to get the timing down, then add more and more as I got comfortable.
Don't feel shy about sharing. If you have something relevant to share, by all means, post it. Everyone's ideas are welcome here. Even the beginners...even the beginners girls. The jury is still out on beginner girls from Canada though... ;-)

What you said were really a bunch of great ideas. Very similar to what my first teacher had me doing. Grooving for usually 3 bars and filling for 1. Most of the fills were adaptations from Syncopation. For an added challenge, play quarter notes with the hi-hat during the fills.

Another teacher made my write a handful of 4 bars solos where I had to use at least 2 or 3 rudiments. You can get pretty creative by substituting the foot or playing rolls through a triplet rate, etc.
 

TWerner

Senior Member
Hi Leanne,
Thanks for those tips. They're good ideas and I'll share them with my son. Seems like there is a lot of similarity in the advice I'm getting, which is great. Sort of confirms the progression.

Brady,
Not wanting to side track my own thread too much, but I don't think the jury is still out. On topic, my son is still working on doubles in a roll or something. Are triplets much harder? 50% harder maybe?
 

brady

Platinum Member
Hi Leanne,
Thanks for those tips. They're good ideas and I'll share them with my son. Seems like there is a lot of similarity in the advice I'm getting, which is great. Sort of confirms the progression.

Brady,
Not wanting to side track my own thread too much, but I don't think the jury is still out. On topic, my son is still working on doubles in a roll or something. Are triplets much harder? 50% harder maybe?
The Canada thing was totally a joke. I'll try to make them funny in the future... :)

On the doubles, were you referring to triplet rolls? Yeah, there a little more complicated than straight sixteenths but not anything that can't be done with a little practice and starting slowly. Another option is double strokes in triplets. It would look like: RRL LRR LLR RLL...
 

TWerner

Senior Member
If we had smileys I'd have put one ofter the statement on the jury. After all, what could be wrong with the combination of "girl", Canadian, and drummer? (Sorry Leanne, will stick to the topic now.)

I think I'm language handicapped, Brady. I don't play drums. My son is working on the RR LL RR LL RR LL RR LL type roll, but not spaced. Just a continuous RRLLRRLLRRLL. It's getting there, meaning faster.

I thought the triplet you were describing would be RRR 16th rest LLL 16th rest RRR ...

RRL LRR LRR LLR actually sounds harder to me because the rest falls between rebounds. Is it?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
A triplet is merely a subdivision. Not a hard a fast sticking pattern. Just like quarter notes...or eighth notes....or sixteenth notes are subdivisions. It merely means a grouping of three notes. They can be played in a variety of different ways. RLR LRL RRL LLR RRR LLL.

Assuming 4/4 time then subdivisions will be counted as such:
Quarter notes = 1 2 3 4
Eighth notes = 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Eighth note triplets = 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a ....or 1 trip let 2 trip let 3 trip let 4 trip let
Sixteenth notes = 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a.
Sixteenth note triplets (also known as sextuplets) = 1 trip let & trip let 2 trip let & trip let 3 trip let & trip let 4 trip let & trip let

An understanding of these various subdivisions will do wonders in creating different fills.
 

TWerner

Senior Member
So even in drumming, we're talking about the rhythm when we say triplet.

I got confused because of the doubles terminology. I guess what I was thinking of is called a triple stroke.

Does that mean when Brady said triplet rolls, was he was referring to triple strokes?
 

brady

Platinum Member
So even in drumming, we're talking about the rhythm when we say triplet.

I got confused because of the doubles terminology. I guess what I was thinking of is called a triple stroke.

Does that mean when Brady said triplet rolls, was he was referring to triple strokes?
Nope. Not triple strokes. These things are so hard to convey in print...

What you mentioned (the RRR LLL RRR LLL thing) would be different. However, a very valid exercise. Look up Moeller exercises. It's basically a whip and 2 taps, usually in triplets. So the RRR LLL would be played "ONE-trip-let, TWO-trip-let, and so on.

What I tried to say before would sound more like hand to hand triplets but using double strokes. No rest, just continuous triplets. So "RLR LRL RLR LRL" would sound just like "RRL LRR LLR RLL".

Triplet rolls are another animal altogether. You're doubling each hand in triplet rate. When you play RLR LRL, say 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, etc. With double strokes, there are 2 taps for each note. Saying it and playing it would go like: "1" (RR) "trip" (LL) "let" (RR). That's 16th note triplets. It would look something like this: 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, for example, would be played RRLLRR LLRRLL. I hope that makes sense.
 

TWerner

Senior Member
I think we're getting too advanced for both my son and me with the triplet roll part, but it sounds like:

"What you mentioned (the RRR LLL RRR LLL thing) would be different. However, a very valid exercise. Look up Moeller exercises. It's basically a whip and 2 taps, usually in triplets. So the RRR LLL would be played "ONE-trip-let, TWO-trip-let, and so on."

=A way to play triplets with an accented first note using the Moeller technique? Da da da Da da da Da da da Da da da

"What I tried to say before would sound more like hand to hand triplets but using double strokes. No rest, just continuous triplets. So "RLR LRL RLR LRL" would sound just like "RRL LRR LLR RLL". "
= A way to play 1/8th note triplets using double strokes. da da da da da da da da da da da da

"Triplet rolls are another animal altogether. You're doubling each hand in triplet rate. When you play RLR LRL, say 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, etc. With double strokes, there are 2 taps for each note. Saying it and playing it would go like: "1" (RR) "trip" (LL) "let" (RR). That's 16th note triplets. It would look something like this: 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, for example, would be played RRLLRR LLRRLL. I hope that makes sense."

That makes it sound like Triplet rolls are a technique used to play 16th note triplets, which I personally think of as 24th notes /ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd/

Hope I'm close, but if I'm not, I'll take some notes on the next trip to my son's drum teacher and ask him to play examples for us. I can do that without taking any fun out of my son working on fills on his own.
I appreciate the explanations. Understanding this stuff makes me more useful when my son asks me to help clarify exercises he has on drums or piano.
Thanks!
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Odd-Arne Oseberg,
I think I understand what you are describing, but I'm a bit confused by the right vs left part. Are you starting students doing fills with just their right hand? Also, my son is cross dominant, so he usually plays "open handed". Hi hat with his left hand, ride with his right hand. He's set up with a "right hand" kit, so are you suggesting he first play a quarter note rhythm measure on the snare, then learn to move it around the kit with just his right hand, and then later add the "&" notes with his left? I'm only asking about 1 and 2 for now.

Thanks again,
T

We play a couple of quarter note fills with the right hand only to demonstrate the concept and to sell the concept of keeping time(which is necessary with the average student today), but if they actually are ready to play drumset (know their rhythm basics) they leave the lessons with more complex stuff. The three examples I wrote are the actual rhythms I've given everyone since I started my new job a couple of months ago.

After this it depends on the student. It realy is just bringing the syncopation exercises gradually on to the drum kit. The challenge today is really just how to motivate someone who usually doesn't practice, so I do whatever I have to do.

I think I'm gonna start sending them those 30 min jam tracks from Claus Hesslers book. That is really the way to do it.
 

brady

Platinum Member
I think we're getting too advanced for both my son and me with the triplet roll part, but it sounds like:

"What you mentioned (the RRR LLL RRR LLL thing) would be different. However, a very valid exercise. Look up Moeller exercises. It's basically a whip and 2 taps, usually in triplets. So the RRR LLL would be played "ONE-trip-let, TWO-trip-let, and so on."

=A way to play triplets with an accented first note using the Moeller technique? Da da da Da da da Da da da Da da da Yes. Exactly.

"What I tried to say before would sound more like hand to hand triplets but using double strokes. No rest, just continuous triplets. So "RLR LRL RLR LRL" would sound just like "RRL LRR LLR RLL". "
= A way to play 1/8th note triplets using double strokes. da da da da da da da da da da da da

"Triplet rolls are another animal altogether. You're doubling each hand in triplet rate. When you play RLR LRL, say 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, etc. With double strokes, there are 2 taps for each note. Saying it and playing it would go like: "1" (RR) "trip" (LL) "let" (RR). That's 16th note triplets. It would look something like this: 1-trip-let, 2-trip-let, for example, would be played RRLLRR LLRRLL. I hope that makes sense."

That makes it sound like Triplet rolls are a technique used to play 16th note triplets, which I personally think of as 24th notes /ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd ddd/ Not quite. The regular RLR LRL is considered 8th note triplet because it's basically played in the space of 2 8th notes. I know this sounds confusing...

Hope I'm close, but if I'm not, I'll take some notes on the next trip to my son's drum teacher and ask him to play examples for us. I can do that without taking any fun out of my son working on fills on his own.
I appreciate the explanations. Understanding this stuff makes me more useful when my son asks me to help clarify exercises he has on drums or piano.
Thanks!
I was going to mention before if you had access to a teacher, to see if he/she could demonstrate it for you. It definitely helps to see in person what I'm trying to explain in print.
 

TWerner

Senior Member
I'll request a demonstration on Tuesday (next lesson).
It's really this "Triplet rolls are another animal altogether. You're doubling each hand in triplet rate." that has me confused.

Is a triplet roll just a term used to describe playing continuous triplets no matter the technique used?
 

brady

Platinum Member
I'll request a demonstration on Tuesday (next lesson).
It's really this "Triplet rolls are another animal altogether. You're doubling each hand in triplet rate." that has me confused.

Is a triplet roll just a term used to describe playing continuous triplets no matter the technique used?
No. A triplet roll is playing the RLR LRL, but playing a "diddle" for each R and each L.

Played as "1" (tap-tap) "trip" (tap-tap) "let" (tap-tap) and so on.

Here is Tim Metz demonstrating a triplet roll exercise. There is also a pdf link at the bottom which might help to clear up some things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAkJYk3uJpM
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
It's a goofy thing to admit amongst so many educated musicians but in 1975 I put on Smoke on the Water on the record player at full blast and drummed along, trying to ape Ian Paice's drum parts (such as I could comprehend them at the time).

That's how the other half lived :)
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
..........He takes lessons and is working on rudimental solos, some simple independence exercises from syncopation or stick control (can't remember which)....
I'm going to try to offer a different opinion / view / approach.

He has all the tools he needs within this statement of yours to explore countless possibilities for fills.

Rudimental solos: Start with a 4 beat phrase in a solo he is comfortable with, no matter how simple or complex (actually it's better to start with simple). Depending on the time sig of the solo it may be 1 measure of 4/4 or 2 measures of 2/4.

Play a 3 measure phrase of basic 4/4 time, then play that 4 beat phrase as the fill.
- 3 measures of time then play the fill idea just on the snare drum
- 3 measures of time then play the fill idea just on a tom
- 3 measures of time then play the fill idea just on a different tom
- 3 measures of time then play the first 2 beats of the fill idea on one drum then the other two beats on another.

Once comfortable with a 4 beat phrase now move onto an 8 beat phrase: 2 measures of time followed by 2 measures (8 beat phrase) from the book.

The exact same concept works with Syncopation. Pick one measure and begin to use his experimenting creativity skills to discover voicing around the set.

The exact same concept works with Stick Control. This book is a great launching pad for exploring how to move around the set within the sticking guidelines in the book. Just experiment on voicing where ever the hands take him. Part of what will happen with this is ear development with voicing. Some patterns will take on a life of their own as time moves on. Meaning, favorite patterns will be discovered both for voicing and sticking. It all happens with time... None of this happens though, without practice.


It's a goofy thing to admit amongst so many educated musicians but in 1975 I put on Smoke on the Water on the record player at full blast and drummed along, trying to ape Ian Paice's drum parts (such as I could comprehend them at the time).

That's how the other half lived :)
This is also a critical process to follow. This can not be learned through any book. It's ear training for drummers.
 
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