Syncopation for the Modern Drummer

5 Drum Education Books That Will Last a Lifetime

1. Stick ControlStick Control by George Lawrence Stone
By: George Lawrence Stone
First Published: 1935
Publisher: Stone Percussion Books, LLC

Book Premise: Series of hand exercises that were designed to serve drummers of all levels and styles. The exercises help improve control, speed, endurance, and touch, with equal attention given to both hands.

Why it will last a lifetime: George Lawrence Stone’s stick control has become the bible for drumming education.  The simplicity of the design enables the book to be used in a multitude of ways. For example, you can play a foot pattern underneath the examples or you can just simply read the exercises with your feet. You can play all the rights with your bass drum while playing the lefts on the snare or reverse that scenario while adding in your hi-hat on certain beats–the list goes on and on and so will your relationship with this classic drum book.


2. Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer Syncopation for the Modern Drummer
By: Ted Reed
First Published: 1958
Publisher: Alfred Music

Book Premise: Better known by drummers as “Syncopation” this book was designed to address just that. This book also includes many accented eighths, dotted eighths and sixteenths, eighth-note triplets and sixteenth notes for extended solos.

Why it will last a lifetime: Many drummers have developed systems to be used with different sections of this book thus making it a great tool to develop independence, coordination, and reading chops. Jazz master and educator, Alan Dawson developed about forty different systems to be used with this book.  One of his students–John Ramsay wrote a book that includes this information (see #5 below).  This classic is also a “must have” for anyone looking to develop their reading with swung eighth note interpretations.


3. The New BreedThe New Breed by Gary Chester
By: Gary Chester
First Published: 1985
Publisher: Modern Drummer Publications

Book Premise: Written by an extremely prolific and skilled studio drummer this practical book aims to develop all four limbs towards drum set mastery. Gary Chester accomplished this by creating 39 systems that go along with the exercises of his book. The systems assign different rhythmic patterns to different limbs. Master all 39 systems and you’ll have a vast amount of independence and control to play different styles as needed.

Why it will last a lifetime: The book is designed to be completed 39 times. You can also make up your own systems once you have mastered Chester’s methods.


4. Modern Reading Text in 4/4 For All Instruments Modern Reading Text in 4/4
By: Louie Bellson and Gil Breins
First Published: 1963
Publisher: Alfred Music

Book Premise: Syncopation exercises designed to develop speed and accuracy while sight reading. The text entails every possible placement of notes and rests which are written out sequentially as the book unfolds.

Why it will last a lifetime: Similar to Ted Reed’s masterpiece, this book has been used by educators to add different systems to play the exercises. Just about every rhythmic combination that can exist in 4/4 time is written out in this book–done so incrementally. You will need plenty of time to master this book as well.


5. The Drummer’s Complete Vocabulary as taught by Alan Dawson The Drummer's Complete Vocabulary as taught by Alan Dawson
By: Alan Dawson and John Ramsay
First Published: 1996
Publisher: Alfred Music

Book Premise: Alan Dawson (July 14, 1929 – February 23, 1996) was a true jazz master and a widely influential teacher based in Boston. Written by one of Alan Dawson’s prominent students–John Ramsay, the book contains all the important techniques and concepts that Dawson embraced in his own playing and subsequently taught to his students.

Why it will last a lifetime:  The first part of the book includes Dawson’s infamous “Rudimental Ritual.” You’ll have the rest of your life to work on the latter parts of his book which includes the systems he used with both Syncopation for the Modern Drummer and Stick Control.

Memories of Kim Plainfield

Master drummer and educator Kim Plainfield suddenly passed away at the age of 63. In addition to his passion for teaching, Kim’s playing career spanned many years including gigs with Jon Lucien and The Pointer Sisters. Kim’s departure from this world is a huge loss for so many people he inspired.

I had the pleasure of studying with Kim while I was at The Collective in the early 2000s. One of my first impressions of Kim was his ability to authentically play any style of music while servicing the song. Kim was not a big fan of flashy chops and he really stressed that no matter what style of music we were playing that we played in service to the song.

Kim seemed to favor anything with a latin edge and modern feel and had great taste in tunes. He would have us learn pretty advance tunes such as Carribbean Jazz Projects’s Stolen Moments. Weather Report’s Mysterious Traveler was another tune Kim had us shed.

Kim had a knack for motivating his students. He would set individual goals with each student and stay on top of us. Kim was honest and sometimes tough. I remember I had some rudimental work to catch up on as well as getting my quarter note swing together.  Kim was highly motivated to get all his students prepared for any type of work.

Below is a video of Kim playing  at Drummer’s Collective 25th anniversary show in 2002 with Bob Quaranta and Leo Traversa. My condolences go out to Kim’s family and close friends.

Building Grooves Using 3-16 Hi-Hats (FREE PDF)

These exercises, which utilize 3-16 hi-hat accents, will help build your polymetric groove vocabulary. We’ll start with playing the hi-hat accents against a quarter note to get familiar with the three measure phrase–notice the 4 against 3 pattern. Then we’ll mix in the measure positions with 16th notes on the hats and snare drum backbeats in order to create more usable grooves. Enjoy!


Outside Pedestrian, jazz trio

Workshop and Clinic at The Drum Lab on Sunday 10-9-2016

My band Outside Pedestrian is returning to The Drum Lab in Laguna Hills, CA! We will be reprising our jazz clinic and workshop from last year. From 4-5pm, we will be presenting a clinic in which we will perform and discuss several of our compositions and standards. From 5pm-7pm, workshop participants will have the opportunity to perform a selected standard with the band and receive feedback.

Reservations with Deposit Recommended – Contact The Drum Lab (949) 460-0054 for more information. Check out the highlights from last year’s clinic.