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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:37 am 
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When teaching a beginning snare drummer, what are the most important exercises they should learn and in what order?
Also, when should a beginner start to learn rudiments, and which rudiments should they learn first.

Thank you!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:25 pm 
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I think Dennis would be one of the best to answer this, not only with his expertise in teaching perc but also with his varied experiences as a band director. But my .02 would be to start them on an 8 on a hand exercise, just to get the hands moving with an exercise that can make the student feel a sense of accomplishment with both hands, while teaching proper grip, stroke technique and tempo. From there, I would have them add accents - something easy and not syncopated, like Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr Llll Llll Llll Llll. Even if they're not a Florida St. fan, you can always play this while singing along to the war chant :lol: Once they are doing pretty well with those exercises, at various tempos, I might try to teach them the ss and ds roll stickings at an 8th note speed. A good exercise to eventually work towards for both of these is the good ol four 8ths and eight 16ths exercise, R L RLRL R L RLRL R L R L RLRLRLRL and then eventually with the ds version, R L RRLL R L RRLL R L R L RRLLRRLL. Hope this helps.

Ok Dennis, your turn!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:10 pm 
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Hey Keith. You're dead on with the 8s and providing success early on with beginning students. Kids today live in a microwave society. If
something is too involved or too difficult,(or poorly presented) they tend to lose interest and opt for what their life experience has provided-
usually gaming or computer-related activities. (or something that will eventually prevent them form participating in band like organized sports.)

I start with rote 8ths using various sticking patterns and eventually morph into 16ths and various combinations of 8ths and 16ths. It has been
my experience over the last 34 years that a young drummer/percussionist MUST establish an organized sticking system from the get go.
You must be relentless with this aspect from day one or you'll end up with a random mess of a drummer who is tossed to and fro by the
wind. One day it's this and another day it's that. This can't be allowed or you will set the young student up for eventual failure.

Instead of typing an exhaustive treatise on what I have used and what I currently use for beginners, I would say take what you can from
Stone Stick Control, the Ted Reed Book, A Fresh Approach by Mark Wessels, ( this book has a play-along CD that is superb and I have used this
particular book and CD with private and group settings for many years now), and the list goes on and on and on.

Band class method books are a complete and utter JOKE when training beginning drummers/percussionists. Use this only when you are preparing
a young student for a school concert when the band director insists they play with the winds on a few one liners from the method book.
Otherwise, throw them out! I have even written my own drum parts when giving first time concerts for parents in a school band setting.

Personally I have simply taken what I have used over the years and written out everything on Sibelius and combined my material with the
best of what works for other people. Never stop learning! Use what works and throw out what doesn't. And remember every student is different.
What makes one tick will fail with another. It is a non-ending experiment and adventure to see what works and what doesn't and it is an exciting
process as you see the face of a young student light up and smile as they experience success.

Teach progressions using the pattern 4-2-1 and insert various rhythm patterns into the formula. Young drummers must get into the habit of
repetition for muscle memory- but remember.....bad repetitions produce bad habits that are very difficult to break.

Introduce rudiment figures after the basic strokes and combinations are comfortable. I teach buzz rolls before open rolls. (others may do just the opposite).
Make sure the kids can meter the rolls using basic 16th/ 8th figures. Hand motions should not change when transitioning to the roll figure or progression.

Paradiddles are a good place to start. And besides, the name sounds funny and the kids like to tell their parents about learning to play something
that has a funny name. I always tell my kids,"Hey, if your parents ask you" what did you learn in school today", don't tell them "Nothing"- tell them you
learned to play a paradiddle. Then the parents start the process of supporting their kids' music education. You never know what sparks a parent
to become involved. (hey- they might end up driving the equipment truck some day or lugging around all those heavy marimbas and vibraphones!)

With flams I like to teach multiple rights and show the students how low the left grace note should be played. (isolate this small stroke). Then
move on to multiple lefts and then alternate. Later on add flams to basic rhythmic figures before introducing flam rudiments per se.

Recently I have started burning CDs with "drumless backing tracks" for students (and me!) to play along with. It provides a very steady metronome beat
and provides more interest as they rep out the basics. You can find these all over YouTube.

Hope this helps some.

Keep on drumming and keep us posted on your success stories. (and failures.... because that's part of the learning process for sure)

Enough rambling.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:33 am 
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Great advice, Dennis. I wish you could do a clinic with my perc. It's the smallest section I've had in almost 30 years of teaching marching perc.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:25 pm 
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What i would do is have the kid come to my house. I would give them a bucket and sponge, and have them wash my car for the first three months. I would instruct them to wax it after; "wax on; wax off" .. :-)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:47 pm 
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Painting fences and sanding floors both help too.


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