If you could only recommend three instructional books, what would they be?

Joffry

Active member
I recently took (online) drum lessons with a undergrad music major for a semester. I recall we were talking about books at one point and he told me that he never really used any books other than Syncopation and Stick control, much to my surprise.

After he had shown me the versatility of Syncopation and SC, I realized that it was much less stressful and more rewarding to use fewer books in my practice time rather than stretch myself too thin.

That being said, what books do you consider to be the bare essentials that one could utilize in order to become a more solid and versatile drummer?
I would say Syncopation, SC, and The New Breed. The most important aspect of these books that I believe separates them from others is how widely applicable they are and how easy it is to use them forever. These books (and a teacher to explain how to use them!!) combined with diligent listening and emulation of whatever style you are trying to learn are pretty much all you need in my opinion.
 
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toddbishop

Platinum Member
He's not wrong, you really can do virtually everything with Stick Control and Syncopation. And my book Syncopation in 3/4, since Reed is all in 4. You do need to know what to do with them. To me Reed is the more important of the two, by a lot.

I still own and use a lot of books, and am continuously writing my own new stuff. You need a change of scenery sometimes, and Reed/Stone are not 100% ideal for every single thing I want to do. And there are some things you can't do with them.

I can't really think of a third book that would be as important as the first two. There are a few dozen things I wouldn't want to be without for teaching or for my own practicing.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Well, all you want from Syncopation are a few reading pages.

SC is what it is. As a teacher these days I use it with caution.

For myself I wouldn't limit myself to three books. I use All American Drummer, New Breed and the Patterns Series a lot, but I wouldn't want to be without the style specific material and the material I write for my students wouldn't be so well thought out without all the hundreds of books I have.
 

Old PIT Guy

Well-known member
Some of the old standards are redundant to a degree. Syncopation, Blackley's syncopated rolls, and Porcaro's big method book share concepts, and in some cases, content. Joe's book is the most exhaustive by far. Having said that, you could spend a lifetime with the first few pages of Syncopation using the myriad methods and orchestrations and still find something in it to keep you busy.
 
Just my 2 cents: since there are infinite interpretations and combinations you can spread yourself too thin with just Stick Control, too. :) I don't see a problem with having a few books that you use only for a few things. Learning some standard grooves is important to play music and it could take years of practicing Stick Control until you finally play a right handed Cascara with accents and a left handed Clave. What about ghost notes, intros and outros, dynamics and texture...? As you said, listening and emaluting is important but learning all kinds of common styles by yourself seems like a pretty daunting task. Owning a few good books on Funk, Jazz, Afro Cuban, Metal, soloing or whatever you're into won't hurt.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Just my 2 cents: since there are infinite interpretations and combinations you can spread yourself too thin with just Stick Control, too. :) I don't see a problem with having a few books that you use only for a few things. Learning some standard grooves is important to play music and it could take years of practicing Stick Control until you finally play a right handed Cascara with accents and a left handed Clave. What about ghost notes, intros and outros, dynamics and texture...? As you said, listening and emaluting is important but learning all kinds of common styles by yourself seems like a pretty daunting task. Owning a few good books on Funk, Jazz, Afro Cuban, Metal, soloing or whatever you're into won't hurt.
Right on! You’re not going to get all of the content or context of Funkifying The Clave by way of interpreting/modifying Syncopation. You can get some things, but even that’s a lot of mental gymnastics before you get to playing. Like, just spend the $15 already!
 

prokofi5

Junior Member
I'm mostly interested in jazz at the moment and I'm in Syncopation, Wilcoxon's 150, and something by Riley every day. I'm not an educator, but these books have been beneficial for years and I don't see myself ever outgrowing them. A couple others I would never part with are Ramsey's book on Blakey's drumming techniques and Billy Martin's Riddim. I'm certainly in the minority, but I've never been a fan of Stick Control. If I had endless time to practice I'd probably be more willing to do the work, but if I'm going to spend 20 minutes on a page it will be in Beyond Bop or Wilcoxon.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
Don’t limit yourself to 3 books!! Here are 3 that haven’t been mentioned but are worth a look:

“Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer” - Jim Chapin
“Drummer’s Cookbook” - John Pickering
“Buddy Rich’s Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments” - Henry Adler/Ted MacKenzie
 
Three books is limiting and hard to choose, but I personally would recommend that at least one book be a compilation or crash course on as many styles as possible and their basic drum beats, if the other books are along the lines of Stick Control, Syncopations, rudimental studies, etc.

Something like Complete Modern Drumset, Groove Essentials, or my favorite the Drummer's Bible.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
To a beginner? I'd say Rothman's Basic Drummer, so that frees up two other books. Maybe Groove Essentials 1.0 and maybe something a bit more advanced in whatever genre the player wants to go toward....so something like Art of Bop Drumming, or New Breed, or whatever the case.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
The great thing about Syncopation and Jim Chapin’s book is the level of interpretation you can use them. Exercising your imagination allows a depth toward self expression. Riddim: Claves of African Origin by Billy Martin is another book like that; you can gain technique but develop your own concepts.
 

someguy01

Well-known member
3 is not enough. not even close. There's entirely too much material out there to limit oneself.
Stick Control - Stone
Master Studies - Morello
Syncopation - Wilcoxon
Modern Drumset - Bay
4 way coordination - Dahlgren
That's just on my kindle, always more to acquire. You can't have too much knowledge!
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Could only be three to begin with?
  • S.C.
  • Syncopation
  • Effective Practicing for Musicians by Benny Greb
 
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TMe

Senior Member
What, no votes for Realistic Rock? (Just joking. I don't know why people hate that book so much.)
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
What, no votes for Realistic Rock? (Just joking. I don't know why people hate that book so much.)
It got a name for itself because it was literally the only thing out there for rock music for years. And it was way more popular than other titles once they started hitting the market. I remember wanting a "rock" book in HS/college, something like Art of Bop Drumming or on that level. I looked at Realistic Rock and it was way too basic for me by that point in time. If I only knew about Funky Primer, or even some Rothman books at the time, I would have been much happier. But I was in my mid 20's and it was my drum teacher at the time who introduced those titles to me.
 
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