Summer is upon us, and it’s a splendid time to do some physical maintenance. From time to time it’s good to take a step back and see where we really are regarding our playing, our goals, and our progress—re-calibrate our drumming, so to speak.

As we do through our daily and weekly practice routines, slugging it out from gig to gig, and taking in more and more information regarding everything drums, we can sometimes lose grasp of the basics. This month’s exercises are designed to act as re-calibration tools for your limbs, to re-focus your attention to note placement, balance of sound, limb independence, and even your balance on the throne.

This first exercise is based on eighth-notes. Starting at a moderate tempo, have all four limbs play matching (unaccented) eighth-notes simultaneously with the hands alternating R-L-R-L. After one measure—you can expand this to your liking—flip the bass drum from the eighths to every other sixteenth (the e and ah of the beat). The bass drum will now be freestanding from the other three limbs. This will immediately expose any balance issues you are having.

Don’t worry if the pattern gets a little sloppy at times, your focus here is to analyze technical issues within your fundamentals. Play this exercise while maintaining focus on your balance and note placement. If needed, omit the left foot hi-hat when starting.

Ex. 1 shows single strokes in the hands, Ex. 2 is doubles, and Ex. 3 is paradiddles.


The next step is to move from the snare drum to the tom toms. Ex. 4 shows singles between the toms, Ex. 5 is doubles, and Ex. 6 is paradiddles.


Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.

Lesson: ‘Bottoms Up’ 32nd-note Lick (Pocket Chops 4)