Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Practice Log Book

Before I launch into the topic...good news...just confirmed an interview with Rich Redmond, drummer for chart topping country artist Jason Aldean. If you don't know who Rich is, you should. Don't miss watching the interview.

And now on to the topic at hand...a practice log book. I've been looking for one for years. Something simple, sleek, with plenty of room to write and some empty bars to jot ideas down post shed session. Haven't been able to find one. So I decided to make one for myself.

I formatted the perfect page, uploaded it to the site I publish my books on, replicated that page 100 times, made a black hardback cover that reads "Practice Log", and then hit publish. Voila! Originally I had meant it just for my own use...but the more I've thought about it, the more I think others could benefit from it. So I'm making them available to anyone now. You can thank me later ;^)

If you want to see the format of the pages, check out the pic that goes with this post. A very simple and durable way to record your progress, correct mistakes, and scratch out inspired ideas (12 empty bars on every page).

So if you're wanting to log your practice times and track things better, GO HERE and use this code at checkout to get 25% off for the next couple of days: BUYMYBOOK305

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson: Fill from The Killers Drummer Ronnie Vannucci

Monday, November 28, 2011

Working on Ghost Notes

Had a quick question come in on what ghost notes are and how to work on's a couple of ideas...

Working on ghost notes can be really tricky! I took me a long time when I first started drumming to be able to execute them properly. (For those that are unclear as to what a "ghosted" note is)...A ghost note is an unaccented note used to help emphasize a musical pattern. They actually help the listener "hear" the accented notes of the rhythm or melody better. In drum notation, they are notated in a couple of is by the use of parenthesis around a regular sized note head. Another is by simply adding an accent sign to all notes that are accented. The player then takes for granted that all other notes on that particular drum are to be "ghosted".

A ghost note is not the same as a grace note. Grace notes, in drumming, are typically notated smaller than other notes and used as "ornaments" to primary notes. So the note might look the same, just half the size. They are most typically seen when playing flams. The note that precedes the primary note is called a grace note. Hope that clears that up a bit.

Now, as far as how to work on them effectively...Everyone has their own method. The end result is that you want your accented notes to "pop" and your unaccented notes to sound softer in relation to the accented ones. One way that I have students work on this is to exaggerate the movements involved. Example: accented notes are on 2 and 4, and the unaccented notes are played on the "e" of 1 and the "e" of 3.

I would have the student play the accented notes from a height of 8" above the drum. Every unaccented note would be played from a height of 3" from the drum. This exaggeration in the movement will usually naturally lend itself to helping the accents pop and the ghost notes not. Once you get the concept down, you can work on adjusting your stick height to a comfortable playing level (although these playing levels aren't necessarily "uncomfortable" ones).

Another way is to play eighth notes on the hi-hat and snare simultaneously. While doing this, accent all of the downbeats in the left hand and make all of the upbeats unaccented. Then reverse that...make all of the upbeats accented and all of the downbeats unaccented.

These are just a couple of examples...there are alot of ways to effectively work on ghost notes. And yes, in the end, practice and repetition remain king...sorry!

My New Book on Warm-Up Exercises and HUGE Discounts!

Just wanted to give you a quick update on what's been going on...I'll get straight to it...

I released a NEW BOOK this past weekend. It's called The Drummer's Bullpen: A Book of Warm-Ups (available in PDF/eBook or hard copy). I honestly wrote it for myself as much as for anyone else. It's a book that focuses on the all to often overlooked process of warming up...What to do when you first sit down at the drum kit. I haven't been able to find anything that spends time discussing this topic. Almost 80 pages of warm-ups to prepare you for a smokin' shed session! I wanted to go ahead and let everyone know about it...I'll be posting some free YouTube lessons on some of the topics in the near future and having the book will help you get through the lessons a bit easier. Also, in observance of Cyber Monday, I thought a discount would be in order for my e-mail shedders. Use the coupon code CYBERTUESDAY to get 30% off of your purchase. You can use it on one or both of the books until 11:59 pm PST on Tuesday November 29th, 2011. Check this review out:

"I have a copy of this book. It is a "must have" for drummers. I challenge you to find a better book for getting you in the zone for playing your best. In fact, you will be hard pressed to come across many books geared for the purpose this one is. This may well be the "Stick Control" of drum set warmup books. It is one of a kind. Don't wait! Buy it! You will be glad you did."

-Marcus Lewis

Wow, I don't know if it lives up to that, but I'm honored at the kind words.

Here's where you can snag it

Click for Hard Copy

Click for eBook/PDF Version

and of course, my other book Functioning In Time, which discusses the topics of permutations and combinations in depth, is still available.

I've been BEYOND busy lately. We had an open house at the Drum Shed that was fantastic. Loved having the guests hang with the regular subscribers! We dissected a topic out of my latest book (The Helicopter) and then looked at the Swiss Army Triplet on Friday (we ended the lessons by taking it through the rhythmic scale...a brain killer!). If you took part in it, thanks so much. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you guys around the LIVE STREAMING lessons in the future!

Ya'll are the only reason I want to be a better player...thanks so much for inspiring me!

-Stephen T.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 Second Drum Lesson: Linear Fill - 16th Notes

Quick and to the point. Enjoy!

Order my new book "The Drummer's Bullpen: A Book of Warm-Ups"



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Discount Code

I just got an email with a discount code for 25% off of my book "Functioning In Time". Thought I would share it with you guys: BUYMYBOOK305 Go HERE to snag a copy for yourself or as a Christmas present for another drummer.

Also...I'll have a new book out in about 2 weeks. It's a book that's solely about warming up. The exercises are somewhat simple in nature...I intended them to be. 75 lovely pages of simple drumset warmups that help you focus on the mechanics of your playing and get you mentally and physically prepared for those demanding shed sessions. Here's a sample section for you to check out...


Have fun with it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Advanced Cha-Cha With A Backbeat

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Snare Strainer Issues

Had a question come in on Facebook about a finicky snare strainer.

"Hey Steve ! question about my snare, I can't seem to disconnect the snare wire from the reso head, when I disconnect it, it's still buzzing and connected, and then when I re-connect it (flick the switch up) it's got the usual buzz. I can never seem to find the balance so that I can play a nice non-snare wire snare, and then reconnect it to play normal. I hope that makes sense. Is that normal !? I've got a Mapex Black Panther snare."


"Yea, it makes sense bro. Nice snare btw! IF I'm a gambling man, your problem comes from when you put the snares on. The throw off only allows you so much leeway in how much you can loosen or tighten your snares. The other component is when you're actually installing the snare. I would loosen the screws where the strings are run through the harness on each side. Then, loosen the knob for the throw off almost all the way. Then, pull the snare strings on each side to where they're just at the point of not touching the head. Tighten the screws back up. Now try to tighten the knob on the throw off. This should give you ALOT more versatility and room for getting various snare sounds. When you have a strainer problem, it either lies in the throwoff tension, a mistake you made in the installation of the strainer, or a malfunction on the part of the harness on your snare."

-Stephen T.

"yeah that does make sense, thanks ! I've had a good play around with it and it's sounding pretty amazing now actually, I tuned it and sorted out the snare wire (I think I had the throw off thingys way too tight, I've got one on either side as well) I've tuned the snare up more, and loosened the snare wire by using the screws. Thanks for the response... now ... on to re-tuning my toms !

thanks again"


For downloadable video lessons or to subscribe to weekly LIVE lessons with Stephen, go to

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Second Drum Lessons???

Every now and then I get complaints. Complaints that I talk to much in my lessons...which I sometimes agree with, LOL! That being said, it's a drum lesson. You play and you talk. That's all there is to do. I have some full half hour lessons and clinics up there, some shorter ten minute lessons, and some still shorter 5 minute lessons (you can find TONS more of them for download on my website HERE).

So I came up with the ultimate drum lesson for you guys that hate all of the talking...they're only 30 seconds long! I've posted a couple of them, and I've gotten a great there will be lots more. They essentially consist of a slow demonstration, a faster demonstration, and then a practical use demonstration. NO TALKING!!! They're not meant to be full drum lessons...just consider them drum "snacks". You can take the stickings and ideas and use them however you want. Hope you enjoy learning them as much as I did!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Intermediate/Advanced - "LIVE" Lesson Sample

A lot of drummers have emailed me wanting to know what the live lessons are like. So, here's an extended "LIVE" lesson from last night. I talk about a linear fill and how to break the sticking down to work on it. You can subscribe here SUBSCRIBE TO LIVE LESSONS WITH STEPHEN

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Drum Lesson - Cha-Cha With A Backbeat

Friday, November 4, 2011

Soloing Over An Eighth Note Ostinato

An exercise to get you on your way to soloing over an eighth note ostinato in your feet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Live Lesson Feedback

We launched the live stream lessons today (talked about the Soca) and it was GREAT! Here's some of the student feedback...

Great job this morning...You have a gift for teaching. I have had a bunch of instructors over the years and have learned something from all of them, but never have I had someone who can teach to the level that you do.

Take care and thanks again,


I dig it! That was my first experience taking a live online lesson, and, for me, it's perfect. I have the laptop next to my kit, playing along. I was able to watch the morn lesson before and warm up. World beats are one of my major weaknesses too. Ostinatos 3 & esp 4 were tough for me.

Matt S.

I'm live every Tuesday and Thursday, 10:30am and 6pm CST...come join the madness!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Drum Lesson - "Walk" by The Foo Fighters

Every now and then you just gotta have some fun's a breakdown of a song I've recently been addicted to.