Realistic Expectations using 4-Way Coordination

SeekonkRay

Junior Member
I need some realistic expectations using the "4-Way Coordination: A Method Book for the Development of Complete Independence on the Drum Set" book. I purchased the book a few weeks ago and have been working on the first page. My progress is pitiful, I set my metronome to 40 BPM and work through the page, and I struggle. Some quick background -- drums are my hobby, started when I was in 6th grade, but, as an adult got away from it for about 15 years before rediscovering it. I would not go so far as to claim I am at an intermediate level -- I can read music, perform the rudiments, groove with a live band and keep decent time and have fun. I started this book when I realized how limited my playing was when trying to learn other styles, or play fast. So I decided to give the book a whirl, in addition, I do 15-30 minutes daily (most days) using the first page of "Stick Control", which I can do with decent control and uniformity at 160 BPM. I don't want to be able to play 300 BPM, or speed metal, or double bass, but I would like to be able to handle your average Jazz tunes, Latin stuff, etc...

Any first hand experencies to help a guy see the light at the end of the tunnel?
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
I need some realistic expectations using the "4-Way Coordination: A Method Book for the Development of Complete Independence on the Drum Set" book. I purchased the book a few weeks ago and have been working on the first page. My progress is pitiful, I set my metronome to 40 BPM and work through the page, and I struggle....
Any first hand experencies to help a guy see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Yeah, I've worked through the book off and on for years. It can be tough slugging at times, but perserverance will bring results. It's not the kind of book where you're going to find yourself reeling off the exercises as "licks" right away, but it will slowly increase your control and coordination in my experience using it and teaching with it.

Can I ask - how/where are you placing your hands/feet when you play the exercises? Are you using two different sounds for your hands? I ask because I find this really helps me and my students get the exercises. They're called "melodic" for a reason. What you have to do is try to stop reading them and hear them and anticipate the next note. Using different voices for the hands allows you to follow the "tones" your hands are playing, rather than thinking "left" or "right" if they're on the same surface.
 
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SeekonkRay

Junior Member
Wow! I had never even thought about using 2 different surfaces! I was using my pad as I do the 4-way page before stick control (since it is slow I consider it part of my warm up). I will try that when I next do the page. I also do it at work using my hands and feet on the floor and my desk (somewhere I read that you don't need sticks to do the exercises and get results, but I figure, a little extra when I have the time at work won't hurt -- well, unless I use sticks and then I will probably get hurt from everyone around my cube).
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Wow! I had never even thought about using 2 different surfaces! I was using my pad as I do the 4-way page before stick control (since it is slow I consider it part of my warm up). I will try that when I next do the page. I also do it at work using my hands and feet on the floor and my desk (somewhere I read that you don't need sticks to do the exercises and get results, but I figure, a little extra when I have the time at work won't hurt -- well, unless I use sticks and then I will probably get hurt from everyone around my cube).
Do the same with your feet when you work it on a kit. Then you can "hear" the pattern.
 
C

Casper "DrPowerStroke" Paludan

Guest
It is an awesome book, and very challenging! I have been working on it for about 6 months now, and I am seeing increased fluidity of motion and ochestration around the drumset.

I have some videos on my youtube page which might be good to take a look at. They deal with some of the short solos on page 7.

http://www.youtube.com/user/casperpaludan

Casper
 

jazzin'

Silver Member
Do the same with your feet when you work it on a kit. Then you can "hear" the pattern.
I think this is very important for getting moving with this book. Trying to just repeat the patterns straight off the page without being able to actually hear them makes it a very difficult and tedious process. If you can hear them it makes a whole more sense, it makes it a lot easier and it also sinks into your playing much quicker.

Using two different voices is very important I think and this was great advice. Hopefully, you actually have a kit to practice on because I think it's highly beneficial to practice this material on a kit. Also, try to sing every pattern. Understanding this material as melodies between the limbs instead of just random patterns will really help your understanding and help you take it to another level.

Make sure you look at the pattern (every pattern) first before playing it, try to sing it in your head so you're hearing it well and then slowly put it together. This whole book is a slow process, but, this is truly one of the instances in which the journey is a hell of a lot more important than the destination because it is the journey in this case that will make you a better player rather than the destination. Being able to play the patterns (the destination) is the eventual goal obviously, but it is really the ability to be able to put your limbs together in any which way you please in order to express yourself fully, which is where the journey comes in. This book is all about learning how to play anything you hear by having no trouble playing anything with all of your limbs together or individually, and just simply being able to play the patterns is not as important as having your body/mind able to hear and understand the music or melodies that you want to express as the entire goal of the book is to that end.

So, saying all of that, take each section and pattern very slowly. Break it down as it suggests as the start by playing each part individually first and then add them together. I would suggest seriously spending at least three minutes on each pattern at the start. In terms of the first pages, each pattern is a two bar phrase in eighth notes. Play the first bar for one minute, the second for one minute and then put them together for one minute doing it slowly and focusing on the sound. Try to think of each one as a melody accompanying music. So, you're playing a linear melody with your limbs. It makes it much easier when you think of these as creating music instead of just playing random patterns that increase your coordination. You will also remember them easily the next time you come back to them as it will have meant something to you, apart from just being limbs in a different order.

In summary, I think this is one of those books that you need to take section by section and do each one separately before moving on to the next section. Spend a minimum of two months on each section, at least[/I,] and a minimum of three minutes with each pattern really internalising what you are doing with them. If you follow this kind of practice you will gain immense benefits from going through it. By hearing them, most of all you will have fun. Good luck.
 

SeekonkRay

Junior Member
Thanks, that is encouraging, being older gives me a slightly more 'long' view. I do have 1 question though, I often hear sing the pattern, does that mean to sing the drum sounds? I never really understood that concept, I always took it to mean counting??

Oh, and Casper, that video was great! To hear you splice in a rather mundane drill from the book into a jazz fill was totally awesome! That simply brought it alive for me!

Jazzin, I never thought to isolate the drills that deep, since each drill is 2 bars, I have been playing those 2 bars (repeat) then moving onto the next 2 bars horizontally before moving down (the way I play Stick Control). I will try that starting today (what you had said) -- although I am not sure how to sing it....
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
I think this is very important for getting moving with this book. Trying to just repeat the patterns straight off the page without being able to actually hear them makes it a very difficult and tedious process. If you can hear them it makes a whole more sense, it makes it a lot easier and it also sinks into your playing much quicker.

Using two different voices is very important I think and this was great advice. Hopefully, you actually have a kit to practice on because I think it's highly beneficial to practice this material on a kit. Also, try to sing every pattern. Understanding this material as melodies between the limbs instead of just random patterns will really help your understanding and help you take it to another level.

Make sure you look at the pattern (every pattern) first before playing it, try to sing it in your head so you're hearing it well and then slowly put it together. This whole book is a slow process, but, this is truly one of the instances in which the journey is a hell of a lot more important than the destination because it is the journey in this case that will make you a better player rather than the destination. Being able to play the patterns (the destination) is the eventual goal obviously, but it is really the ability to be able to put your limbs together in any which way you please in order to express yourself fully, which is where the journey comes in. This book is all about learning how to play anything you hear by having no trouble playing anything with all of your limbs together or individually, and just simply being able to play the patterns is not as important as having your body/mind able to hear and understand the music or melodies that you want to express as the entire goal of the book is to that end.

So, saying all of that, take each section and pattern very slowly. Break it down as it suggests as the start by playing each part individually first and then add them together. I would suggest seriously spending at least three minutes on each pattern at the start. In terms of the first pages, each pattern is a two bar phrase in eighth notes. Play the first bar for one minute, the second for one minute and then put them together for one minute doing it slowly and focusing on the sound. Try to think of each one as a melody accompanying music. So, you're playing a linear melody with your limbs. It makes it much easier when you think of these as creating music instead of just playing random patterns that increase your coordination. You will also remember them easily the next time you come back to them as it will have meant something to you, apart from just being limbs in a different order.

In summary, I think this is one of those books that you need to take section by section and do each one separately before moving on to the next section. Spend a minimum of two months on each section, at least[/I,] and a minimum of three minutes with each pattern really internalising what you are doing with them. If you follow this kind of practice you will gain immense benefits from going through it. By hearing them, most of all you will have fun. Good luck.


Thanks, mate. I wanted to come back and flesh my response out into something very similar. Great reposte...
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Thanks, that is encouraging, being older gives me a slightly more 'long' view. I do have 1 question though, I often hear sing the pattern, does that mean to sing the drum sounds? I never really understood that concept, I always took it to mean counting??
Do both, but in this case he's speaking about actually singing the sounds. Whatever the instruments sound like to you. Singing the part helps get other parts of your brain involved in remembering it as a musical idea.


Jazzin, I never thought to isolate the drills that deep, since each drill is 2 bars, I have been playing those 2 bars (repeat) then moving onto the next 2 bars horizontally before moving down (the way I play Stick Control). I will try that starting today (what you had said) -- although I am not sure how to sing it....
If I can be so bold as to respond for him, it's the kind of thing where slow, methodical repetition of each exercise is going to give you the best results. Sing it as much as you can. Sing it while playing it. Basically, sing it until it has a "sound" in your mind that you can hear and repeat without reading the notation, then you can turn your attention to your limbs and getting them moving as fluidly as possible. Another option is to take play-along tracks and use them as backing for the exercises. For instance, you can take a jazz bassline (start slowly) and play one note per quarter note in the music. Or, play them as straight 8ths with rock/funk grooves. I promise you'll find some interesting ideas that way.
 
I studied 4-Way with Elliott Fine, and a little with Marv Dahlgren, both terrific teachers. The book is difficult, granted. Sometimes, I'd get terrific headaches and have to lay down, because the book takes so much concentration.

Elliott had me working through three chapters at at time. He started me at the chapter with the ride cymbal rhythms, the first chapter, and the chapter on harmonic studies. I liked that way of tackling the book.
 

SeekonkRay

Junior Member
bjparadiddle did you actually get lessons with Fine and Dahlgren? If so, I'd be really interested in their perspective as to how long it would take. However, I have resigned myself to slugging through it (slow and steady) until I get results...
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Do both, but in this case he's speaking about actually singing the sounds. Whatever the instruments sound like to you. Singing the part helps get other parts of your brain involved in remembering it as a musical idea.




If I can be so bold as to respond for him, it's the kind of thing where slow, methodical repetition of each exercise is going to give you the best results. Sing it as much as you can. Sing it while playing it. Basically, sing it until it has a "sound" in your mind that you can hear and repeat without reading the notation, then you can turn your attention to your limbs and getting them moving as fluidly as possible. Another option is to take play-along tracks and use them as backing for the exercises. For instance, you can take a jazz bassline (start slowly) and play one note per quarter note in the music. Or, play them as straight 8ths with rock/funk grooves. I promise you'll find some interesting ideas that way.
It's pretty difficult (maybe too difficult) to sing specific pitches while counting (although that's precisely what you'd do if you were practicing scales on a pitched instrument!). To get started, you can simply sing "DEE, DAH, DOO" for the snare (highest pitch), rack tom (medium pitch), and floor tom (low pitch) respectively. You can sing a very low "OOM" for the bass drum, and "SST" for the hi-hat.
 

Fuo

Platinum Member
It's pretty difficult (maybe too difficult) to sing specific pitches while counting (although that's precisely what you'd do if you were practicing scales on a pitched instrument!). To get started, you can simply sing "DEE, DAH, DOO" for the snare (highest pitch), rack tom (medium pitch), and floor tom (low pitch) respectively. You can sing a very low "OOM" for the bass drum, and "SST" for the hi-hat.
This is probably how human beatboxing got started...

I think this book could work for someone of any skill level. I've been playing for <2 yrs... I don't know if I'd say I'm intermediate, probably not, but this book is totally doable... with some effort.

I wouldn't (and don't) focus on it, but just do a couple exercises from it per week, and take it slow.

Coordination exercises like this are great for beating slumps, because with coordination you can get immediate gratification. You can pick up something quantifiable in a single practice session, unlike things like speed, endurance, timing, etc. that take long periods of repetition and produce slow, barely noticeable, results.
 

jazzerooty

Junior Member
Came across this post, but wanted to add some perspective on tackling this difficult, amazing book: About completing, or mastering all of "4-Way" is an unreachable and unrealistic goal. Chris Dave indicated that he completed it, and I don't doubt it, as he's a gifted and ingenious drummer. I once asked Marv, who later married my aunt Joan and thereby became a part of our tri.be, if he could play all the exercises in the book. "When I first published it, I was afraid that I'd mess up if someone asked me to play a certain exercise, so I practiced it like crazy until I could prove it could be played." But he went on to say that he lost the ability to play all of the book soon after. The benefit of attempting to tackle this Everest of coordination books is teaching your body that the drum kit is a complete instrument of expression that integrates your feet with your hands in that attempt at mastery. The most difficult section of the book, for me, is the section on Harmonic Coordination. As I mentioned before, Elliott had me working on three chapters simultaneously. In the short period of study with Elliott--I left on a tour six months into the course--I mastered perhaps four pages of that section. But man, did that free up my creativity. I developed the ability to hear and play figures that seemed to come out of the ether, figures that resembled those of Jack Dejohnette, and did so without conscience thought. It seemed like someone else was directing my play. I must admit that as a 20 year old, I was told more than once to "tone it down," and they were right about that! The other chapters that brought benefits beyond my dreams are those that address playing the ride rhythms in swing time. These exercises were inspired by the rhythmic innovations of Elvin Jones, who Dahlgren analyzed while Elvin played for Marv on a practice kit in a New York hotel room. The book lives on through numerous printings. Dave Stanoch and I visited Marv in the hospital shortly prior to his passing, and he said he made more money from "4-Way" that year than any year previous. I'm sure Chris Dave's preaching the book had much to do with that late surge of popularity.

To be realistic--from a guy who's worked with this book intermittently for over forty years--just mastering the first two pages of each chapter will benefit any drummer, as long as he ensures that these techniques are musically applied. Don't sweat completing the book. Just accomplishing those aforementioned pages will work wonders. The book requires a serious commitment from the student. And I wouldn't recommend it to a drummer early in his study. Alan Dawson taught "4-Way" as his graduate course, after the student had mastered "Syncopation" and the Rudimental Ritual. With your talent and work ethic, "4-Way" will bring gifts for which you'll be forever grateful.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Thanks for that background-- clues about what the hell they were thinking are always welcome!

My experience with it: The book is really not written to be user friendly, or with a practical orientation-- they had a premise, and they wrote out all the possible combinations. You have to figure out how to practice it and what to do with it. I think it's important to understand that the premise of the harmonic part is not really a thing-- playing one stick control pattern with your hands while doing a different one with your feet. Nobody plays that way.

After hacking away at that harmonic coordination section for a few years, I figured out a way of doing the same thing in a more logical way-- that is progressive in difficulty, working on things the way you would actually play them.

The system I ended up with is actually really useful, way beyond the super-advanced idea of the original exercises-- and suitable for students of all levels. It's actually an excellent way of teaching people to fill, getting to a more textural type of drumming, a la Keith Moon.

You can read about it here-- there's no overall summary, so people have to either figure it out from a series of posts or write me for a lesson.
 
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