Friday, January 20, 2012

how To Drum - Beginner Linear Groove

Sometimes linear patterns can seem least to me they are. The reality is, they're simply several smaller patterns, or fragments, put together to make a longer pattern. Once you learn the "words" you need to make a "sentence" then you're good to go. Here's a simple linear groove that sounds cool and that you'll be playing in 5 minutes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Student Video From Belgium

It's amazing to me that I am able to teach students in Belgium...and Finland...and the UK...and Scotland...and Canada...and the list goes on and on. Seriously, it's humbling to teach a linear pattern and then hear from a drummer halfway across the see their progress. That's what drives me these days...seeing drummers from all over the world improve their playing. Here's Tielman from Belgium kicking one of the linear patterns from the live lessons...

On the Pad

On the Kit

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hip-Hop Drum Fills?

Hey Stephen,

First off i like all your clips on youtube. Ive been following techniques and tips from your videos for over a half year now.
I will subscribe to your site later on this week.

I am currently playing in two groups. The second is in the hiphop.soul.rock genre.
For the second group all the songs are already recorded either electronically or by there formular drummers. The presure is a bit bigger for this group, because there is a management and everything...
Because it is hiphop it is much about the beat and i have no problem to play there songs but i want to give them and make it for me a little bit interesting. Most of the songs are around 80-90 bpm and played in 16th notes,2 bar or 4 bar beats. I really have a hard time finding descent fills to make it interesting.

Is this for example also something you help people with?
I am only playing for 3,5 years, started at age 25 :)

What's up Tielman!

Once you gave me your YouTube named I knew exactly who you were...Thanks so much for the email! I'm so glad the lessons on You Tube have been helpful...that's what they're there for.

It's great that you've getting involved in various groups. Hip hop is a different animal. I love playing it because the beauty is in its simplicity. It's all about the groove and making people move to the beat. That's a totally different skill than throwing a bunch of licks in. It's good that you're thinking about how you can enhance the parts that are already there, make it yours, and also make it a bit interesting rhythmically. My biggest piece of advice would be to LISTEN to the style of particular, listen to a band called The Roots. They've been around for a really long time. They're what is called "Organic Hip-Hop". All of them play the instruments live. Their drummer, Questlove, is a BEAST! Just by listening to their albums, you will learn a ton of effective and useful fills. My other piece of advice would be...when in doubt, keep it simple. Hip-hop doesn't need a ton of's all about the groove. Focus on making your grooves as tight as you can. Use this opportunity to work on that area of your playing.

It's alot of pressure working with a band that has management and a regular schedule of shows. You're on the right track're thinking about the gig and what you can do to enhance the music. That's a sign of a real musician.

I actually do help drummers with this sort of thing. If you subscribe to the live lessons, I'll make it a point to devote a couple of lessons in the next few weeks to this particular topic and style. I love coming up with lesson topics around issues that my students are having trouble with. It's what drives me as a teacher.

I'd love to have you join the online lessons. Today is Funky Drummer Day...we do it once a month and we pick apart a couple of funk grooves. We're looking at some grooves from a band called The Funky Meters with Zigaboo Modeliste on drums. Gonna be a blast!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Students Working Through the Lessons

I get really excited whenever I'm able to check out how some of the live students are coming along. Chris posted a few from recent lessons...Check it out!

Meet Chris

Cascara Soca Lesson

Some of the grooves we worked on in the Soca lessons

A fill from one of the linear lessons

This one is from one of the YouTube lessons. He KILLS it!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How To Drum - The Cascara Soca

What do you get when you mix a cascara bell pattern with a soca groove? Something really cool, that's what!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Do I Use Heel Up or Heel Down?

Hey Travis,

Of course I remember you bro! Glad the downloads are working now.

I get this question alot and I'm probably going to do an extended post on the topic in the future...the 'ol heel up or heel down conundrum. Here's the most recent question...

"Hey Stephen, my name is Travis. I actually have a question regarding the killer bass drum speed lesson. I have been taking lessons for about 2 years and that said am very curious about your pedal technique. Do you use the same pedal technique during the constant 16th notes hits versus the doubles and sextuplets section? Would love to see some shots of your foot during the video, but don't know if that's possible. I agree the internet is full of cure all bass drum techniques that don't deliver. I understand that lots of practice with solid technique is the only answer. I guess, as a beginner, I am asking if you might have any tips in pedal technique or videos available. Thanks!"

Hey Travis,

I don't have any lessons available on pedal technique. That being said, here's my two cents on it.

Yes, I use the same technique on both. It's a cross between heel up and heel down that allows me to get the beater off of the head quickly after I make the initial stroke but also gives me the speed and agility and power associated with heel up. I think you should know all three equally well...heel up, heel down, and neutral. You should be able to play quickly and slowly with all of them. They're just tools to use. One isn't right or better. It's your personal preference and what feels best to you. But most of all, you have to just put the time into practicing. I'm working on heel/toe technique right now...I think the possibilities with that position are countless, but it's really hard to reteach yourself technique, so it'll take a while.

I don't know if that helps at all, but that's my two cents on the topic. Foot technique is frustrating to deal with...I applaud you for taking the time and effort to really try and make yourself the best player you can be. You inspire me to go practice!

Don't hesitate to shoot me any other questions you may have in the future!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Question on a Chad Smith lick

"Good evening Stephen ! (I'm french so I beg your pardon for my bad english)

Firstly, I'd like to congratulate you for your videos which are very helpful, i really improved my play thanks to you! (I'm playing drums for two years). You are certainly busy, I don't want to annoy you or abuse from your work but I think you could help me. I really enjoy Chad Smith's drumming, I find it's really groovy. I try, but I don't understand a pattern

I would like to understand the pattern he is playing at 1 :00 with his floor toms and bass drum. Can you help me ?

Thank you very much !


Hey Louis,

Thanks so much for the email! And your English is fantastic, alot better than my French, lol!!! I'm really glad the lessons are such a big help for you. That means alot.

Your questions don't annoy me at all man...that's why i'm here, to help. The pattern you're asking about is pretty simple in concept, but the speed he's playing at makes it harder. It's essentially Right-Left-Foot-Foot or Left-Right-Foot-Foot. He starts the pattern on the left hand and alternates between the two patterns I just listed. Killer melody he's making on the toms! I hope that helps you pick it apart.

Since the lessons are such a help, I thought you might be interested in a special I'm running for January. Sign up for the live lessons and you can lock in the $18.99 monthly price (for 16 half hour lessons a month, sheet music, and the live lessons vault) PLUS you get one of my books of your choice for FREE sent to your mailbox (a $19.99 value in and of itself). It's just my way of saying thanks for the support! The live lesson vault already has over 30 half hour lessons in it on everything from linear fills to James Brown grooves to the mambo, so you would have a TON to keep you occupied for a while. You can sign up here if you're interested in taking advantage of the January offer:

Don't hesitate to send me any other questions you have!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Student Shed - Jason and the Linear Pattern

We studied a linear pattern in the live lessons a couple of weeks ago. Not only did we look at a pattern, we broke out the individual stickings and started to learn how to use those to create countless other fills and patterns. Love how Jason is already trying to think outside of the box with the pattern!