From Drum Magazine’s October 2017 Issue | Text, Music, And Video By Anika Nilles

This new subdivision study is based on septuplets, or seven sixteenth-notes per quarter-note. Although it’s written in 4/4 you can also see that each measure is in 28/16. This exercise includes a polyrhythm of four over seven, which brings a special flavor to it.

It is necessary to practice this exercise along with a metronome. I recommend starting at around one quarter-note = 50 bpm, but feel free to find for yourself a good starting tempo so that you are able to follow the movement of accented notes within the unaccented strokes. I suggest that you begin by practicing each measure as an individual exercise and repeat it a couple of times.

Measure one is the basic form, in which the septuplets are played with a single-stroke sticking, which naturally results in alternating between the hands on each quarter-note. Be sure to distinguish the accented notes from all other strokes, which are played as ghost notes.

In the second measure, you can see the four-over-seven polyrhythm written as a single-stroke sticking. Make sure you stay on the quarter-note pulse while playing the accents on each fourth stroke.


Measure three is the same as measure one and can be seen as a relaxing exercise between measures two and four. Another four-over-seven polyrhythm comes up in the fourth measure, this time with a paradiddle sticking, which engenders a natural switch from right to left within the group of four notes. This sticking pattern guides you to measure five, where the usual single-stroke sticking now starts with the left hand. Because of that switch, the paradiddle sticking in measure six starts with the left hand.

Finally, measure seven features a double-stroke workout within the septuplets. I suggest that you focus on the quarter-note pulse while playing it.

When you’re done with learning and playing all of the individual measures, try playing this lesson as one long exercise starting with the first measure.

These septuplet warmup patterns also sound really interesting when used as fills around the drum set.

Anika Nilles developed her chops through lessons with Claus Hessler, Udo Dahmen, and Jost Nickel, and further refined her musicianship while earning a degree in Pop Music Design from the University of Popular Music and Music Business in Mannheim, Germany.

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Watch Anika Nilles’ playthrough for the title track from her debut solo album, Pikalar:

Anika Nilles Debuts Playthrough Video For ‘Pikalar’