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About Private Lessons   |   Online Lessons

I currently keep a private teaching studio consisting of about 10 regular students from September to May. Regular means that these students will have at least two lessons a month. During the summer months I sometimes accept additional students. At this time I am accepting students on an audition only basis. Please call or email me if you wish to set up an audition. I do not accept beginners but I would be glad to point you in the direction of someone who does.

I can also give a limited number of lessons to students who are preparing for college, orchestral, or other auditions. I could also possibly accommodate very advanced students who can only come once in a while. The cost of lessons is $100.00 per hour and I only teach hour lessons. All of the lessons take place at my teaching studio.

The following studies are from my book "Advanced Coodination for Drum Set and Hand Percussion". They are presented in PDF format which should facilitate fast downloads. If you do not have a PDF viewer you can download Adobe Acrobat for free below. If you want clean (less fuzzy) copies of these pages you should get the book. Have fun!

Rhythmic Patterns   |   Two Note Groupings   |   Brazilian & Afro-Cuban Ostinatos
Brazilian Grooves   |   Afro-Cuban Grooves
Basic Beat Displacement   |   Beat Displacement Funk Grooves
Drum Set Techniques #1   |   Recording and Tuning Tips for Drum Set

All studies and exercises are PDFs. You will need Acrobat Reader in order to view them.
You can download it free here.



Rhythmic Patterns   back to top

Rhythmic Patterns study
Here are some rhythmic patterns for you to use with the ostinato studies in the following lessons. Work them out away from the drum set first and remember to use a metronome and count.



Two Note Groupings   back to top

Two Note Groupings study
Here are some more rhythmic patterns for you to use with the ostinato studies in the following lessons. They are presented in two note groupings and are great for developing bass drum technique. Work them out away from the drum set first and remember to use a metronome and count.



Brazilian & Afro-Cuban Ostinatos   back to top

Here are some of my favorite patterns that are the result of the previous study. I have notated them on a dual staff system so that you can easily see the separate components. Please pay close attention to the instrument and hand/foot directions for each study. Remember to use the rhythmic patterns on pages 7-9 (see Rhythmic Patterns above) as your left hand or foot solo patterns. Also make sure that after you are comfortable with a page, you improvise with your free limb. This means that you should try to make up the solo limb patterns without any written-out source.

Brazilian Ostinatos study
Here is a basic ostinato study for you to try. It is in the style of Brazilian Samba. Master each ostinato first and then plug in the left (or right) hand using the rhythmic patterns from the previous studies.

Left Hand Lead study
These ostinatos are played with the left (or weak) hand on the hihat while the right (strong) hand plays the rhythmic patterns. Try to also play the patterns around the toms since your right hand will now be free from having to cross over to play the hihat.



Brazilian Grooves   back to top

Brazilian Grooves study
These are some grooves that I have transcribed or come up with from doing the various ostinato type studies.



Afro-Cuban Grooves   back to top

Afro-Cuban Grooves study
Here are some typical and atypical Afro-Cuban Grooves from my book. These are the easy ones!



Basic Beat Displacement   back to top

Basic Beat Displacement study
Do this exercise with a metronome and be careful not to rush. This type of dispacement is the foundation for many modern funk grooves.



Beat Displacement Funk Grooves   back to top

Beat Displacement Funk Grooves study
Here are some grooves that I have come up with using the technique of beat displacement. Use a Metronome and sub-divide the 16th note.



Drum Set Techniques #1   back to top

Bass Drum and Hihat Technique
It is extremely important to learn proper bass drum technique if you are going to do a lot of recording. Many drummers play the bass drum by mashing the beater into the head and leaving it there until the next stroke. This is a very bad practice for several reasons. First of all, if you are leaving the beater on the head this means that you are actually pushing and holding your foot against the pedal board. Not only is this bad physically for the drumhead, pedal, and your foot -- it also greatly inhibits your foot technique. If you think about it you are actually doing two strokes instead of one. It takes one action to push the beater into the head and another to bring it back. Not very economical if you ask me. Another reason this is a bad practice is that it makes your bass drum sound terrible. Why spend a lot of money on a good drum and put lots of time into tuning it if you are going play it in a manner that won't let any tone get out. If you have doubts, ask a drummer friend who plays this way to play continues stream of 1/4 notes on the drum. Now go and stand in front of it or better yet put your head where the mic will be (you might want to use ear plugs for this). Now ask the same guy to slowly play the same 1/4 note pattern while not leaving the beater in the head. Hear a difference? I bet you do. The sound will be louder, rounder and full of tone. In other words it will sound good or at least much better than it did before.

To work on this technique, try to think of bouncing the beater off the head in the same manner that you bounce sticks off a drumhead. I also use a side stepping motion with my bass drum foot. I will lift my heel off of the pedal about one-inch and balance on the ball of my foot (the part just beneath your toes). Then, I will bring the heel of my foot down to get one stroke and use the ball of my foot to get another. This becomes an alternating action and you can gain incredible amounts of speed and power using this technique. At the same time, you can rock your foot sideways to relieve any pressure on one muscle group. As you can gather there is a lot of movement going on here. Your feet, like your body, should always be in motion when drumming -- sort of a perpetual dance. This motion also works great for the hihat foot when performing open and closed splash patterns. Here are some exercises for your feet using this type of technique. Play the bass drum and hihat examples separately at first and then combine them. These also work great as foot ostinatos to use when soloing or as foot accompaniment for rudimental type snare drum solos. bass drum and hihat foot exercises.



Recording and Tuning Tips for Drum Set   back to top

Over the years I have learned that you can use any brand, size, and material of drums and get a decent recording out of them, if the drummer can play. I’ve had guys bring drums in that looked like they had been buried underground for years and with some new heads and a can of WD40, they worked okay. That being said, there is no substitute for a quality instrument in a recording situation. Drums that work fine in a live situation will reveal all manner of squeaks, rattles, worn heads, and bad tuning under the interrogation of a good microphone. Therefore if you don’t own a good set of drums, you may want to rent one or check to see if the studio you are recording at has some available. This will make a huge difference in the quality of your drum sound. Also keep in mind that most engineers will not know how to tune your drums or for that matter fix them. It’s basically up to you, the esteemed drum owner. Here is a basic primer on tuning, head selection and recording your drums.

Note: When changing heads on your toms and snare drums always change top and bottom heads at the same time. That’s right, those bottom heads wear out too. Although you are not hitting them, air is forced down to the bottom head every time you hit the top. If you don’t believe me put you hand on the bottom head of the tom and hit the top. See what I mean. Over time this wears down the bottom head and it looses its ability to vibrate freely.

1) Bass Drum -- Sometimes called the kick drum (I hate this) the bass drum can produce a huge variety of sounds. It can be tuned anywhere from very low and dry for a fluffy type of sound, high and dry for a sharp attack or left completely open for a ringing and rounder sound. If you don’t like my adjectives here’s the breakdown.

  • Jazz Bass Drum -- Traditionally the jazz or bebop bass drum as it is sometimes called is tuned very high and uses very little muffling. There are two basic reasons for this. First, modern jazz drummers use their bass drum as a melodic part of the kit as well as for support. There is a lot of interaction going on between the limbs so that the bass drum is made to sound almost like a low tom. Second, since the bass player is mostly walking bass lines of some sort it is very important for the bass drum to stay out of that lower frequency range. If the drum is tuned too low it will most likely clutter up those low frequencies that the bass is playing and wreak havoc in the low end. Acoustic bass players don’t like this and they will tell you in not so many words. This is why you see a lot of mainstream jazz drummers using small (18”) drums. They are easy to tune high and they sound good (not choked) when tuned this way. The type of beater makes a big difference too. For jazz I like to use a wooden bass drum beater because it matches up well with the toms (which I am also hitting with wood) and because it provides plenty of attack to cut through a dense mix. When tuning this type of drum I will usually try to tune both heads at the same tension for a pure tone. I use a solid front head (no hole) and mic the drum from the front of the kit. One danger of this type of open tuning is that it will sometimes set off your toms. That is, the toms will ring when you hit your bass drum. To solve this problem try tuning your bass drum to a dissonant interval relative to your toms. A dissonant interval would be a second, fourth, or tritone below the offending tom. Avoid thirds or fifths since these intervals will set off any relative harmonic overtones. In years past this type of bass drum tuning has been used to great effect in other styles including Drums and Bass, Rap, Hiphop and Techno music. As far as heads go there are many good choices for this type of drum. Using thinner style heads will let the drum resonate more and believe it or not will be louder. I try to use a little thicker head on the batter side (the side you hit) than the back-your heads will last longer this way. Another alternative is to use calf heads. Before the days of plastic heads this is all that was available and it’s a great sound. Calf is much mellower and rounder sounding than plastic but it is also less durable and is affected by humidity to a great extent. As well as being abhorrent to animal lovers everywhere this type of head is also very expensive so you might not want to let old lead-foot sit in on your drums when using calf.
  • Rock/Pop Bass/Country etc. Bass Drum -- Years ago there was only one way that an engineer would record your bass drum for a rock or pop session. You would be instructed to remove the back head and place all of your dirty laundry, sheets, pillows and significant others inside the drum until the sound resembled a cardboard box. I can’t tell you how many times I argued with these guys that it was possible to get a great sound without doing this, all to no avail. They would rely on EQ and Compression to get the sound rather then the bass drum itself and the room. Over time this practice has abated to some extent and now it is not uncommon to record your bass drum open and with a back head on (thank god). You will still need some muffling to create a dry, sharp attack and you can cut a small hole in the front head to get the mic inside the drum and closer to the beater. You can use sizes from ranging 20” all the way up to 26” (or larger) for that John Bonham-type depth. I use thicker heads for this setup and also a heavy wood or plastic beater. If you need even more attack you can add a 5khz boost on an EQ. I will usually tune the front head slightly higher than the back. This is mostly for feel from the batter side but you can get a surprising amount of low end by tuning down the front head. Also experiment with mic position inside the shell of the drum. You will generally get more attack the closer you get to the batter head and more depth a little farther back. The overall tuning should really depend on the song itself. Try to stay out of the way of the bass players frequencies so that the bass drum can create a home for itself in the mix.

2) Toms -- I generally prefer smaller toms for recording since in my opinion they are easier to tune high without choking and seem to stand out more in a thick mix. They also exhibit overtones that are much more controlled than larger drums. I like the qualities of birch toms (drier with a sharp attack) for recording pop or rock and maple toms (open and round) for jazz. Heads for jazz should be thin and coated (for brushwork). You can also use calf heads. For the rock and pop genre try to use something a little heavier and perhaps even one of the double ply heads available. Unless you have a drum head endorsement this is the way to go since heads are expensive and if you play hard a thin head will hardly last a day. I tune my toms to dissonant intervals (see jazz BD above) to reduce unwanted overtones from the kit. I also try to tune both top and bottom heads to the same pitch. I fine this gives me the purist tone and maximum volume. The biggest problem I hear drummers and engineers talk about with toms is snare buzz. This fact of drumming life occurs when one of the toms -- usually the smallest -- causes a sympathetic vibration of the snares on the snare drum. It can range anywhere from not so bad to sounding like you have whole kit of snare drums. There is really no way to completely eliminate this anomaly with out choking the hell out of your snares or using electronic drums. To me snare buzz is a fact of drumming life but there are ways to minimize it. First of all try to tune you toms differently-sometimes a 1/2 step interval makes a huge difference. If this doesn’t work try a different snare drum or tighten the bottom heads on your snare. You should also be aware that snare buzz adds a lot of top end to you bass drum sound-not necessarily a bad thing. You can also ask the engineer to put a noise gate on your toms and snare. A noise gate is an electronic device placed in the recording chain after the mic and preamp that will let sound through when a certain threshold or loudness has been reached. Otherwise the gate remains closed and no extra sounds are admitted when a drum is struck. It is usually a good idea not to track (record to tape) with noise gates since if they are set up wrong they create a horrible sucking sound that will remind you of your favorite Hoover vacuum cleaner. It’s best to apply these effects on mix down.

3) Snare Drums -- Ah, the snare drum...the heart and soul of the kit (at least for backbeat based music). Most pro drummers own 30 but alas, I only have eight. Eight is enough though (probably more than enough) and I am able to get most tones I need out of four, yes four, different drums. They are: a 6.5” x 14” wood shelled drum, a 3.5” x 14” brass piccolo drum, a 7” x 12” wood soprano drum and a 5.5” x 14” metal drum. These four drums offer almost limited tonal possibilities and with a little tweaking at least one will always work for a specific song or session. I almost always use the same head combination that consists of a thin coated batter head with a very thin (read thinnest available) snare head. This gives me maximum sensitivity as well as volume. It also works with brushes and I have the option of leaving the drum wide open for a ringing sound or muffling for a drier sound. I am also a big believer in heavy die cast hoops for my snare drums. They will give you much more “crack” to your sound and will make tuning the drum much easier. When tuning a snare drum I start by tightening the snare head and tensioning the snares so that a light tap on the head gives a sensitive response without any errant snare noise. Then I turn off the snares and tighten the top lugs finger tight. Then, using a star tuning system (i.e. full turn on lug 1, then lug 7, lug across from it, etc.) I tighten the head until all wrinkles are out. At this point I will press down hard on the head to break the glue seal around the outer ring. I then try to fine tune each lug to the same pitch all the way around the drum. It usually takes a couple of hours to break in a new head. This applies to bass drum, toms and snare heads so make sure you change the heads a day or two before you session and not at the session.

4) Cymbals -- For recording, and in all other situations, use cymbals that work well together as a group. As an experiment try striking all of your crashes, rides and hihats one after the other. Now listen to the resulting ring. You want all the timbres to match but not the pitches. I prefer to use thin crash cymbals because they speak and decay quickly. Heavy crashes will sound too metallic and can wreak havoc at the higher frequencies. Make sure your ride cymbal does not hum at a certain pitch and does not “wash out” when played hard. For rock and pop music a strong clear bell is a must. A ride that is too heavy will call too much attention to itself in a mix so try to find a good combination of stick definition, clear bell sound and sustain. For jazz styles your ride should act as a cushion for all the other instruments. This is why the quality of the older K Zildian cymbals is so desirable. These cymbals are very dark sounding when played alone but when they are used with other instruments they blend incredibly well. Any special effects cymbals like chinas, splashes etc. should always be used tastefully as to not get overly annoying. Most drummers these days are moving towards smaller hihat cymbals such as 13” or even 12”. For the intricate rhythms of funk and latin styles these sizes work great. It is a good idea to own at least three pairs of hihat cymbals of various weights and sizes. This will give you lots of options on a session if the music or producer asks for something different. Finally it would be a good idea to learn the correct way to strike a crash cymbal. Always use a glancing blow. This means that you never should hit a cymbal straight on so that it absorbs all of the impact of your strike. Use a wrist motion instead of an arm motion. This will sound much better and will keep you from breaking those very expensive cymbals.

 
 

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