BY “TIGER” BILL MELGARI
This cross-wiring exercise is an advanced variation on a pattern that was a favorite of the great Tony Williams. If you missed Part 1, I suggest you click on Cross-Wiring Workout and practice that before moving to this one. When you’re ready to rock, proceed.
Our previous lesson had you playing your hands and feet in unison. Now, you will be alternating each stroke. This is also helpful in increasing your speed, which would be a big help for metal drumming.
Although I include some variations of this 24-bar exercise for “Extra Study” in the music notation, which you should add to your practice routine, here are some additional suggestions that will help you improve the “big three” critical drum skills:
Endurance: The key to increasing your endurance is to practice long continuous patterns at slower tempos, non-stop, for extended periods of time. Start by setting your metronome at a tempo 20-30 bpm slower than the fastest tempo at which you can comfortably play the 24-bar pattern. And by comfortably, I mean being able to play the pattern repeatedly without developing tension in your hands or feet. Start by playing the 24-bar pattern once. Then, increase the number of repetitions until you can easily repeat the pattern for up to five minutes without stopping. Once you can do that without getting tense, slowly increase the time up to whatever your final goal might be. I generally recommend about 15 minutes. Once you’ve met your maximum time goal, the final step will be to gradually increase your metronome tempo. Looping the 24-bar pattern like this will greatly improve your hand and foot endurance, as long as you stay loose and relaxed while playing it.
Speed: The key to increasing your speed is to practice short patterns at faster tempos, pausing briefly after each one. Start by setting your metronome to a tempo that’s about 5 bpm slower than the maximum speed at which you can execute any 2-bar phrase in this 24-bar pattern. Note that there are 12 2-bar phrases that make up the 24-bar pattern. Play each 2-bar phrase once, pausing for a few seconds after each one. If you practice this routine daily, your speed will gradually increase. Again, be sure to play each pattern without tension.
Cross-Wiring Coordination: To increase your coordination, break the 24-bar pattern into 24 separate 1-bar phrases that you will loop. Once you can repeat each separate bar in your sleep (meaning that they have become part of your muscle memory), play the entire 24-bar pattern from beginning to end without stopping. Start at a slow, comfortable tempo and increase the metronome speed regularly until you reach your desired goal.
As always, I suggest you track your progress by keeping a list of each exercise along with your metronome tempos in a notebook dedicated to your drumming workouts. Until next time, have fun and stay loose!