practice pad lesson drum set with blue background
This lesson uses a rhythm found in Caribbean music and applies it to the kit in a non genre-specific way. Applying the many accompanying percussion rhythms to the drum set, when they are not always originally designed for it, can open up a treasure trove of rhythms and can be a great challenge as well.

Let’s look at the rhythm commonly referred to as cascara. It comes to us from Cuba and is most often played on the timbales. We’re going to use the cascara as a one-measure fill that can be applied to any musical style or context (Ex. 1). Play the cascara pattern with your right hand.

drum afro carribean practice pad fusion groove ex1

Now let’s introduce another Cuban rhythm for your left hand: The rumba clave (Ex. 2). This five-note pattern is the “key” that dictates how all other rhythms are performed in Cuban music, so naturally it goes well together with the cascara pattern. For this lesson, when the rumba clave and cascara have simultaneous notes, we’re going to flam them (Ex. 3). Keeping the left hand on the snare drum while moving the right hand around the kit, you can create a nice one-measure fill (Ex. 4).

drum afro carribean practice pad fusion groove ex2-4

Another way to utilize the left hand is to fill in the vacant sixteenth-notes of your right hand cascara part with ghost notes (Ex. 5). You can then move that pattern around the kit keeping the left hand on the snare (Ex. 6). For a slightly more advanced exercise, try alternating hands with the pattern. This will give your left hand a chance to play some accented notes too (Ex. 7), which you can then apply to the drum set. For a change of pace, try the accents on the snare or cymbals (Ex. 8).

drum afro carribean practice pad fusion groove ex5-8

BRIAN ANDRES performs with numerous Latin, Caribbean, and African ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area and leads the critically acclaimed Latin jazz group The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel. He is a Bosphorus Cymbals artist and a Regional Artist Endorser for Sakae Drums.