Subdivisions Lesson: Transitions In Five


This warmup focuses on transitions between subdivisions of five-note accents. It’s a good way to train your ears to keep five notes, while switching the note value and filling the space. These are simple exercises for the practice pad, but they can easily be turned into great fills on the kit.

Ex. 1 shows the basic form of the five-note accents smoothly on sixteenth-notes. Make yourself comfortable with the rhythmic melody of the accents. The main goal of this warmup is to keep these going while doubling the notes between different stickings.

subdivisions transitions in 5 ex1

In Ex. 2, start doubling the notes between the accents with regular double strokes.

subdivisions transitions in 5 ex2

One more thirty-second-note is coming up right after the accent strokes in Ex. 3. Now you’re using paradiddle and paradiddle-diddle sticking.

subdivisions transitions in 5 ex3

Ex. 4 uses the same sticking in the same style as Ex. 2, but there are five sixteenth-notes, meaning the accents don’t move. Instead, they show up on each quarter note pulse.

subdivisions transitions in 5 ex4

The sticking in Ex. 5 is the same as in Ex. 3, but again using five sixteenth-notes. The first accents always start on the quarter-note pulse.

subdivisions transitions in 5 ex5

Note that Exs. 4 and 5 feel faster than Exs. 2 and 4, with the same sticking and accents but more strokes per quarter-note. Practice each bar by itself with a metronome on a comfortable speed. Once you’ve got that down, try combining Exs. 2 and 3, or Exs. 4 and 5. For an added challenge, try combining Exs. 2 and 4,  or Exs. 3 and 5.


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.