Swing, Swing, Swing To Clean Up Accent-Tap Exercises

Welcome to The Beat Laboratory!!  This is a place where we can break down exercises, examine musical phrases, experiment with new ways to drum, and create Frankenstein rudiments.

Will we be straying from the simple nature of the site?  Not entirely.

Everything we do here will be explained in the simplest terms possible.  Naturally, simple building blocks combined together will create a more complex structure.  For example, a flam-tap is essentially made up of three notes played in one hand.  Each note after the first evenly decrescendoing in dynamic.  As your right hand plays the third note of three, your left hand plays the first note of another three note grouping.  This pattern continues creating a continuous stream of alternating overlapping three note groups.

Is it easier to call it a flam-tap?  You bet.  Can it simply be defined and explained as ‘a flam-tap?’  No.

So in our first Beat Laboratory episode, we will be dissecting a simple accent tap exercise and different ways to clean it up.  Let’s get started!

Continue reading


Part 3 of 3 – The Minimum Effective Dosage of Drumming: Rehearsal

This final post of the Minimum Effective Dosage Series will focus on the rehearsal of an ensemble.  In the music and technique sections we touched on individual practice.  Now we need to put all that individual practice time together in an ensemble setting and make music!

I’m going to use the marching idiom and stage as the example for how to achieve the minimum effective dosage of rehearsal time.  This method could be used for any stage, but I’m choosing the marching stage because of how vast it is.  The large stage allows us to clearly define the steps to create more effective rehearsals.

Rehearsing front to back, or the aligning of music from the battery to the front ensemble, is something that we can spend days and days on.  Is there a minimum effective dosage for rehearsals?

Continue reading

Part 2 of 3 – The Minimum Effective Dosage of Drumming: Music

The second installment of the Minimum Effective Dosage series will focus on music.  The memorization and learning of music.

You memorize music much quicker than you believe.  Music isn’t like multiplication tables where you have to drill yourself over and over to memorize the problem and solution.

Remember that new song you heard the other day?  I bet you could hum the tune if you wanted to?  AND I bet you only heard it once.  Music has a profound effect on the way we memorize something.

But is the learning and memorization of percussion music mutually independent?

Continue reading

Part 1 of 3 – The Minimum Effective Dosage of Drumming: Technique

The person I attribute this blog to the most and the lifestyle I’m seeking to live isTim Ferriss(Along  all of the musicians I have ever learned from).

I read his book The 4-Hour-Work-Week on a whim in the Spring of 2010 and I haven’t looked back. Since then I have started drumsimple, lived in South Korea, gone to school/lived in New York, co-wrote 3 English-Language-Learner textbooks, and been certified by Cambridge University. The book is the real deal.  Pick it up, borrow it, steal it, whatever you have to do, read it.

One of the big concepts Tim talks about in his second book The 4-Hour-Body is Minimum Effective Dosage.

He says the minimum effective dosage is the smallest dose that produces your desired results.  He uses this method in regards to weight training, endurance training, and dieting. Since playing percussion is so physical, it too can benefit from the Minimum Effective Dosage treatment.

Playing percussion is an extremely physical activity.  We use our large muscles standing, moving around, reaching for the triangle in the 20 square foot setup.  We also use our small muscles for delicate passages, changes in touch, and gripping the many implements (sometimes more than one at once) we use to strike our instruments.

This method is contrary to the ‘more is better’ approach I see in percussion everywhere I go.  Play it again.  5 hour sectional blocks.  10 hours in the practice room a day.  Seriously? Haven’t we found a more effective way to produce our desired result?

Continue reading

Bass Drum Splits: Even And Odd Ways To Create Understanding

Are you having trouble playing your bass drums splits?

When you look at the music does your run look like this?  Does it sound like this?

Don’t fret.  There is a simple method to smoothing out your splits.  You’re already capable of playing the rhythms.  As a bass drum section, we need to address how we play rhythms together.

How do we do that?   Continue reading

Added Incentives to Donating!!

Hey everybody!  I have some exciting news!

I am giving you 5 great reasons to help send Patrick Williams to WGI Finals.

The bottom line is he WILL be going to Finals no matter what I have to accomplish.  Here are 5 things I would be ecstatic to do for you.

$20Student Level:  Receive a 30 minute lesson either in-person or over Skype.

$50Section Leader Level:  Receive a 30 minute coaching session on leadership skills and how best to use them in your section.

$100Instructor Level:  I will hold a 2 hour clinic/rehearsal for your percussion ensemble or drumline.

$500Director Level:  I will write battery parts tailored to your ensemble for the 2012 Marching Band season.

$1000Composer Level:  I will write the front ensemble portion of your 2012 Marching Band production AND you will receive ALL of the above!!

Those are FIVE GREAT reasons to donate to Patrick!

Don’t hesitate as there’s only two months left before WGI Finals!!

Schmiley – Circa 2009

I was digging through some old files today when I found this little gem.

Schmiley is a ram that was constructed during late nights with the help of Carlsberg(not the dog) and contains some hints of Scottish drumming.  It is quite the opposite of simple and is finished just as quickly as it starts.

If you listen closely, you can still hear it within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, which isn’t too far from where it originated just off the Royal Mile.

It is aptly named for the 10-12 year old snare drummer who befriended us during our tour at the castle.  He performed every day, just as we did, and is one of the best ‘young’ snare drummers I have ever met.

So I now present Schmiley in American and Swiss notation by Jared Thomas, Ted Leith, Justin Lewis, and Matthew Raynor.