Fill Of The Week instagram Tips for students

Fill Of The Week #60

Give your drum fills a kick with some 16th note triplets.

This week’s drum fill is a simple 16th note fill played between the hands and feet but on beat 3 we have a sixteenth note triplet twist. We did something similar on Fill Of The Week #13 with beat 4. Check that one out to get more ideas.

Learn The Fill

The best place to start with this drum fill is to count the rhythm that we’re playing. Here’s the basic rhythm of the drum fill:

The basic rhythm
Going Basic

Start by playing this on your snare drum with single strokes and counting along. I like to use a metronome that clearly counts 8th notes and I listen to check that all my numbers (1,2,3,4) and “&”s are lining up correctly with the metronome.

Once we have that, we can apply our sticking pattern to it. This fill features some bass drum notes also, so we’ll put those in too.

the basic sticking + kicks
Give it some kicks

Practice playing this pattern slowly with the metronome – 50bpm is a good place to start. Go slower if need be. Count all the notes.

The final step is to orchestrate the drum fill around the kit. I encourage you to play around with it and find your own orchestrations. Here’s mine:

The full drum fill
The full fill

Take It Further

I consider the first half of this fill to a set up fill. That is, it’s setting up the second half for the big ending. After playing the first half of the fill, you can do whatever you like on the last two beats depending on the context you’re playing in. The first just provides you with a nice platform to jump off of and create something memorable. Here’s 3 suggestions:

three drum fill variations
Three variations on a theme

The first fill goes for a power finish with flams and kick drums but stays with 16th notes.

The second fill brings back the 16th note triplets but puts them on the 4th beat for a surprise ending.

The final fill brings in some 32nd notes to create an elegant ending around the toms.

Try out all three of these variations and then create some of your own.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #60. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the Contact Us page.

Groove of the week instagram Tips for students

Groove Of The Week #60

This week we’re upgrading a favourite groove. Let’s take look:

On the surface we’re playing a groove that most people learn in their first few months of playing. However, we’ve upgraded the ride pattern to include some 16th notes and the bell of the ride cymbal and we’re adding an offbeat pedalled hi-hat just for fun.

Get The Groove

Let’s start by taking a look at the basic groove we’ll be modifying.

The basic groove
The Basic Groove

Hopefully you’re already familiar with this groove. Let’s start modifying it. We’ll start by changing the ride cymbal pattern.

Changing The Ride

Now we’re playing a common 16th note rhythm on the ride cymbal. This adds a co-ordination challenge between the hands. The left and right hand are playing very different rhythms. You may want to spend time just focusing on the hand pattern.

Just The Hands

Go slow with this pattern and get comfortable with it. Listen for accuracy, are your hands really hitting together when they are supposed to?

Once you have this hand pattern down, then try adding the bell of the ride cymbal on the quarter note pulse.

Add The Bell

When you can execute this pattern cleanly, then we can add the bass drum back in.

Bring in the bass

The final touch will be adding the pedalled hi-hat on the off beats. To be able to do this, you may need to go back a few steps. Let’s try adding it to the basic groove first.

Basic Groove + Left Foot

You may need to break this down into smaller steps. Play just the ride cymbal, bass drum and hi-hat first. Then add the snare drum on beats 2 & 4. Finally add the 16th note snare drum in. Once you can play this pattern, then we can change up the ride pattern.

Not So Basic Groove + Right Foot

Again take this slow and break it down into smaller chunks if you need to.

The final step will be to add in the bell of the ride cymbal to give us the full groove.

The Full Groove

Taking It Further

Congratulations on conquering a tricky groove. Now let’s use the ride cymbal pattern and the offbeat hi-hat pattern in some further grooves.

Getting Tricky

The first groove has the challenge of putting the bass drum on a 16th note.

The second groove has more bass drums on 16th notes but the left hand pattern is a lot simpler.

The final groove features more 16th note bass drums. You may want to focus on getting the footwork correct first on this one.

Follow the steps we used to play the original groove to play these ones. Good luck!

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #61. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week instagram Tips for students

Fill Of The Week #59

What I’m about to tell you is highly classified: The cheat code for awesome drum fills is… uggh… I’ve been shot…

This week’s drum fill revisits a sticking pattern that we’ve used on more than one occasion: RLL. There are tons of uses for this simple sticking pattern. We most recently used it on fill of the week #56, check that one out for another example.

Learn The Fill

On fill of the week #56 we started the RLL sticking from beat one. With this week’s drum fill we’re displacing it so the RLL starts on the “&” of 1. This gives it a different sound to fill of the week #56.

Let’s start out by looking at the sticking pattern we’ll be using for this drum fill.

The basic sticking pattern
Stick it to ’em!

As you can see we start with R L before getting in to the R L L sticking which we play 4 times before finishing with another R L. Practice this sticking until it is easy for you.

Now lets add in some accents.

Basic Sticking pattern + accents
Is that an accent I hear?

We’re accenting all the Right hand notes except for the second one which is on the snare. Now practice the sticking pattern with these accents added.

Our final task is to orchestrate the accents around the kit. I decided to start my drum fill on the 2nd tom because not many drum fills start there but maybe they should. Here’s the pattern that I played:

The final fill.
The Fill.

Take It Further

Once you have mastered this fill, the only logical thing to do is try out some other orchestrations of the same fill. Here’s four for you to try.

alternative fills
Four Fun Fills For You

The first drum fill has us playing the accents up and then down the toms from floor tom to the high tom and then back again.

The second drum fill reverses the first drum fill and has us playing the accents down and then up the toms, from high tom to floor tom and then back again.

The third tom accents the snare on the first and last accents and plays down the toms in the middle. Try using a rim shot on the snare accents to get an extra pop.

The final fill sees us putting the accents on a crash cymbal together with the bass drum. Now create some of your own… here’s a tip… the left hand doesn’t have to stay on the snare drum.

I hope you enjoyed fill of the week #59. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the Contact Us page.

Groove of the week instagram Tips for students

Groove Of The Week #59

Drums: Do you still love me?

Me: Yes, I’m still into you.

This groove is borrowed from the song “Still Into You” by Paramore. It occurs for 8 bars during the bridge of the song, but it’s not really audible on studio versions of the song, but if you check out the live versions you’ll see the drummer doing this. The version I picked this up from had Ilan Rubin playing it. Search “Ilan Rubin Still Into You” on youtube and you’ll find a video with a clear view of his right hand playing the tambourine.

Get The Groove

I picked this groove because it’s a great 4 way independence exercise and also a good example of the benefits of open handed drumming. Our first step in playing this groove needs us to comfortable playing the base groove with the left hand on the hi-hat.

the base groove,
Give your right hand a rest.

The base groove has us playing a common disco groove with a four on the floor bass drum pattern and open hi-hats on all the offbeats; however, we’re playing it with just the left hand. The left hand is responsible for the hi-hat and the snare drum. Your right hand should be doing nothing. Get this groove down first before moving on.

Now lets work on the independence needed between the hands to pull off groove of the week #59. We’ll put the left hand on the hi-hat and the right hand on a surface of your choosing. If you have a cowbell or tambourine you can hit with your right hand, then use that; If you don’t, use the bell of the ride cymbal. Let’s play the cowbell pattern against the 8th note hi-hat.

basic hand pattern
Just the hands.

The left hand is playing the 8th note hi-hats (1&2&3&4&) the right hand playing the cowbell pattern. I suggest taking this slow and counting out loud as you play it.

The next step will be to add in the snare drum. The left hand is going to move from the hi-hat to the snare drum on beats 2 & 4. Keep everything else the same.

adding the snare drum
Adding The Snare.

Moving from one surface to another can be tricky and you may trip up here. Again, take it slow and don’t move on until you can play this pattern with ease.

Now lets add the bass drum.

adding the bass drum
Bringing In The Bass

The bass drum pattern is nice and easy. Just pumping out quarter notes. Take your time with it and get this groove to a point where you can do it without thinking. Can you play it for a while and then stop it and start it again. Can you play it for a while, take a 2 hour break, and then come back and play it immediately? Can you play a different groove and then change into this one, play it for 8 bars and then change back? That’s how comfortable we want to get with this.

Our final step is to add in the open hi-hats. This just involves us lifting out left foot up on the “&s” and putting it down again with the bass drum on the beat. If you could play the base groove from above, then you should be able to do this. Here’s the full groove:

The full groove
The full groove.

Good Luck!

Taking It Further

There are other songs where we need to be able to play a groove between the left hand and the feet while the right hand plays a percussion part. Often songs have a prominent cowbell or tambourine pattern that was overdubbed on the original song but needs to be played by the drummer in live, small band settings. Honky Tonk Woman by the Rolling Stones, Stone Free by Jimi Hendrix, Listen Like Thieves by INXs and the Everlasting Now by Prince all spring to mind. Let’s look at some ways you can develop this.

Here’s the base groove that we’ll build on. Again, the Right hand should be doing nothing right now. The left hand should handle the hi-hat and bass drum part.

The new base groove
Our new base pattern.

Here’s 5 patterns to overlay on top. Again, use a sound source of your choosing – Cowbell, Tambourine, Ride Bell, Tom Tom, it’s up to you…

5 groove variations
5 grooves of doom.

The first groove has us playing just quarter notes on the right hand. You’ll hear this in Stone Free and Listen Like Thieves.

The second groove has us playing the off beats. Always a cool and funky addition to any groove.

The next groove has us playing all the “e” and “ah” of the 16th notes. Try playing this on the ride and not too loud. Keep it subtle. It’s a nice alternative to playing both hands on the hi-hat.

The next 2 grooves have us adding a Latin flavour. The fourth groove has us playing a 3:2 son clave on the cowbell and the final groove reverses that to a 2:3 son clave.

Once you’ve mastered these, pick another base groove and do it all again. Add open hi-hats to taste.

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #59. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Songs Songs with scores Tips for students

Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor

Here’s my drum cover of Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor

This is one of the world’s best known songs and it sounds relatively easy to play drums to, and for the most part it is. However, like a lot of songs, once you get into the details, there are little things in there that can trip you up if you’re not careful. This song has two such things – that introduction and the third chorus. Let’s take a look at these areas.

Let’s get introduced

This intro to this song is instantly recognizable… tense guitar, stabs with the whole band… and it sounds pretty easy to play… but… there’s a twist…

Listen to it carefully and count along… not all of the stabs are the same…

Don’t stab me…

The stabs mainly follow the same rhythm. We first time we have a hit on beat 1, then beat 3, the “ah” of 3, and the “&” of 4… then we repeat the stabs on beat 3, the “ah” of 3, and the “& of 4 two more times.

The second time, we start the same way – beat 1, beat “3”, the “ah” of 3, and the “&” of 4; however, the next set is offset by an 8th note, so it’s the “&” of 3, the “e” of 4″ and beat one. The final set is back starting on beat 3.

That little 8th note offset makes the last two sets feel strange, the second to last set comes too late, and the final set comes too early. Practice it slowly with a metronome and count.

The Third Chorus

The third chorus is very much the same as the first two, just that it’s a bar longer. This a common musical device used to add tension to music. The chorus is normally 8 bars long and you’ll easily get used to playing that 8 bar phrase with the fill on the 8th bar. The third chorus puts the fill on the 9th bar and adds an extra bar of groove. It’s easy to play the fill a bar too early here – I did it several times myself. I can only suggest counting all the bars here and maybe writing a note on the score to remind yourself.

Other Areas Requiring Attention

Hopefully you’re paying attention to your groove and are focused on not flamming between the snare and bass drum on the backbeats.

The drum fills for this song may require a little work. The main fill that’s played after the chorus may need you to count, note that the fill is slightly different after the third chorus. It’s pretty much the same rhythm but is orchestrated differently. Here’s the counting and orchestrating for the fills.

The fills

The first fill is played between the first two verses. The second fill is played at the end of the first two choruses. The final fill is played after the third chorus.

Truth be told, if I was playing this on a gig, I would probably just play the second fill after each chorus. The third fill feels awkward to me even after practicing it.

Here’s the full score courtesy of

I hope you enjoy playing Eye Of The Tiger. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week instagram Tips for students

Fill Of The Week #58

Stop dragging around, start practicing this fill.

This week’s fill uses drags to augment what is a fairly basic fill. Drags are a great way to enliven a fill and make them sound busier than they are. You can also open up the drags so they sound like 16th note triplets or 32nd notes.

Figure Out The Fill

Lets get started by looking at the basic rhythm that we’re going to augment with drags. Here is the skeleton of our fill:

The basic fill
Keeping it basic.

Now lets orchestrate our basic rhythm around the kit. Note that the right hand does most of the work. Also note the open hi-hat on beat 1; don’t close the hi-hat until beat 1 of the next bar, let it ring throughout the whole fill.

Orchestrating the basics
Orchestrating the basic fill.

Now lets get the left hand working by adding in the drags:

Adding the drags.

There you have the full fill. It looks simple, but when played at 120bpm those drags sound like 32nd notes or 16th note triplets and make the fill sound more complex than it really is.

Taking It Further

You can add drags to virtually any fill. Here’s a few more:

All three of these fills are fairly simple rhythmically. Try playing them with out the drags first, then add the drags to hear the difference the drags can make.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #58. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Groove of the week instagram Tips for students

Groove Of The Week #58

Things are about to get weird….

Groove of the week #58 starts out with a straight forward, rock solid, triplet groove but then at the end we add a touch of weirdness by playing 8th notes on the bass drum instead following the triplet subdivision. Back on Groove Of The Week #16 we did this the other way round; we played a triplet bass drum pattern against an 8th note hi-hat. You might want to check that out too.

Get The Groove

Groove of the week #58 is a bar pattern. The first bar is a common groove so we’re not going to look at that. Let’s focus on the second bar. Here it is:

the second bar
The troublesome second bar

The part of the bar we need to focus on is the last two beats. This is where we’re playing a little 3 over 2 polyrhythmic phrase. Let’s look at those last two beats in greater detail:

two beats with counting
Two beats of trouble

As you can see, the right hand is playing triplets – 1 puh let 2 puh let – and the right foot is playing 8th notes – 1 & 2 &. This is where the trouble starts. The left hand simply hits the snare on beat 2.

To learn the rhythm of this pattern, we can use this simple phrase: “Cold Cup Of Tea.”

Instead of counting “1 puh let 2 puh let” for the right hand, we can count “Cold Cup Tea Cold Cup Tea”.

Instead of counting “1 & 2 &” for the bass drum, we can count “Cold Of Cold Of”

Put the two together and you get: “Cold Cup Of Tea Cold Cup Of Tea”. It looks like this:

cold cup of tea
Two cold cups of tea please.

Practice playing this slowly until you can do it easily. I suggest using a metronome that can count the triplet subdivision. Focus on keeping “Cold Cup Tea” together with the metronome and slipping the “Of” smoothly between “Cup” and “Tea”. Once you can do that, you can play the full groove:

The full groove
I’ll have two cold cups of tea and a side of groove.

Take It Further

You may never get the chance to play this groove with a band. I can’t think of any songs with it in. However, getting comfortable with polyrhythmic phrases is always beneficial to your drumming and will help to expand your vocabulary in other ways.

Now that we can play this strange pattern between our hands and feet, lets create more grooves with it.

3 groove variations
Tea, Cool!

Our first variation just extends the polyrhythmic phrase over the whole of the second bar.

The second variation is a one bar pattern that plays the polyrhythmic phrase over beats 2 & 3 instead of beats 3 & 4.

The final variation applies the phrase to a regular 8th note rock beat. The right hand will have to switch from playing 8th notes on the hi-hat to triplets. You might find this one tricky.

I hope you’ve enjoyed groove of the week #58. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week instagram Tips for students

Fill Of The Week #57

Don’t blink, you’ll miss this week’s drum fill!

This week’s drum fill is a fast one. It’s at 90bpm, which isn’t the fastest tempo, but it’s using 32nd notes. We’re using flurries of 3 notes to create this fast and furious drum fill. We’ve done similar 32nd note drum fills before, check out fill of the week #18 for further ideas.

Learn The Fill

When I’m learning a 32nd note drum fill, I find it easier to rewrite it and double all the note values and the length of the drum fill. The reason for this is that it’s easier to count 16th notes than it is to count 32nd notes.

Once I can understand the pattern and get my hands to play it easily, then I can halve the note values again and play it as originally intended. Let’s start by playing the basic rhythm of this drum fill as 16th notes.

The basic rhythm - as 16ths and 8ths
Stretch it out.

This fill doesn’t seem so intimidating when written as 16th notes. Set your metronome to 80bpm and count out loud as you play the rhythm. Pay attention to the sticking pattern; your hands should be alternating.

Once you’re finding that easy, you can look to orchestrate the drum fill around the kit.

The basic rhythm orchestrated.
Orchestrate it.

The first four groups of three notes alternate between being played on the toms and on the snare. The LRL groups are played on the high tom and floor tom; the RLR groups are played on the snare drum. You might want to practice moving between those two groups. The final group of RLR is split between snare, high-tom and floor tom.

Now that you can play the fill and orchestrate it, it’s time to play it at full speed.

the full fill
One bar of fury.

When playing this drum fill, I count the 16th notes as notated and just trust my hands to play the 32nd notes in between. Start practicing with your metronome at 40 bpm and ideally counting 16th notes. Pay attention to which hand falls on which 16th note. Once you are playing it accurately, then speed it up slowly until you can’t go any faster!

Taking It Further

You’ve just spend time getting comfortable moving quickly been two groups of 32nd notes – one group on the toms and one group on the snare. Let’s create another drum fill using those two groups.

32nds on the one
Spot The Difference?

This time our groups of 3 are starting on beat 1 and we’re playing 5 of them before we hit the ending. If you need to, go ahead and rewrite the drum fill as a two bar pattern using 16ths, 8ths and quarters. The 32nd notes change to 16ths, the 16ths change to 8ths and the 8ths become quarters.

We can easily create another two fills by starting the 32nd notes on the “&” of one or the “ah” of one. Try these two:

32nds on the and
Starting on the “&”
32nds on the ah
Say “AH”

Try all four variations of this drum fill and find which one suits you best. For more 32nd note fun try fill of the week #21.

I hope you’ve enjoyed drum fill of the week #57, If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message via the contact us page.

Groove of the week instagram Tips for students

Groove Of The Week #57

Pssh… Groove Of The Week:

This week we take a rock solid groove and add a little hi-hat sound effect and a paradiddle lick to take it to the next level.

Get The Groove

Let’s take a look at the basic groove that we’re going to build this beat on.

The basic groove
Beat Of The Week

Hopefully, you can play this groove already. If not, spend some time practicing it. Get a rock solid groove happening before moving on to the next stage.

Our first modification is to add the open hi-hat sound effect on beat 1. This is not a true open hi-hat or even a hi-hat bark, it’s just a sound effect. I achieve it by relaxing my foot on the hi-hat pedal just for that one beat. The hi-hat doesn’t even open.

It’s an effect that Roger Taylor from Queen is known for using on beats 2 & 4 very often.

Adding the open hat

Experiment with your relaxing your foot on the hi-hat to find a sound that you like.

Adding the paradiddle lick

Now let’s add in the paradiddle lick on the second bar. We’re using a paradiddle / inverted paradiddle sticking to create this lick. Let’s check it out.

Take it slow and practice with a metronome. Note the ghosted left hands on the “e” of 3 and the “ah” of 4.

The final step is to put it all together to create the full 2 bar groove.

Two bars of funky fun.

Taking It Further

The slightly open hi-hat sound effect that we’ve added to this groove can be used to great affect with other beats & with other grooves. Let’s practice moving it on different beats of the bar.

Hat’s on the move.

Our first variation puts the hi-hat opening on beat 2.

The second varation has it on beat 4.

The third variation has it on beat 3.

The final variation has it on beats 2 & 4 ala Roger Taylor.

Which variation do you prefer? Pick some of your favourite grooves and try adding this sound effect to them. If you enjoyed this groove, check out groove of the week #25 for more paradiddle + open hi-hat fun.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s groove. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week instagram Tips for students

Fill Of The Week #56

Right, Left, Left, Repeat.

This week’s fill is a based on a three sixteenth note sticking – Right Left Left. Some of the most famous and popular fills are based on groups of the three sixteenth notes. Check out fill of the week #42 for another fill based on a group of three 16th notes.

Learn The Fill

The place to start with this fill is to be comfortable playing the 3 note sticking pattern over the sixteenth note subdivision. Let’s start by playing the RLL pattern on the snare drum. Count out loud as you do it.

the basic sticking pattern
The journey to enlightenment begins

Take note of where each group of 3 starts – Beat 1, the “ah” of 1, the “&” of 2, the “e” of 3, beat 4 and finally the “ah” of 4. This will help you with your accuracy because as you’re counting out loud you’ll be aware that you should be playing a Right on those beats.

Now let’s move the right hand around a little. For this week’s fill we’re just going to move it between the snare drum and the floor tom. Keep counting as you try this:

moving the Right hand around
The journey continues

So, now we have the floor tom on the “ah” of 1, the “e” of 3 and the “ah” of 4. I encourage you to try moving the right hand around on to other surfaces just to get more comfortable with the pattern.

Our final step is to move the left hand around. For this fill the left hand is just going to move between the hi-hat and the snare drum. Again, go slow and keep counting.

the full fill
We have reached our destination.

Now try playing a groove and then play this fill; when you return to the groove after this fill you should hit a crash on beat 1 with your Left hand because the fill finishes on the Right.

Take It Further

The first step in taking this further is just to re-orchestrate the fill around the kit and create some of your own fills using this sticking pattern.

The next step is to create fills of different length using the RLL sticking. Let’s create fills that start on beat 2, beat 3 and the “&” of 3. When learning these fills, count out loud and take note of which beat the first note of each group (The Right) falls on. This will help with your timing and accuracy.

3 variations of different length
RLL Awesomeness

For all 3 variations on our fill we’re using the same orchestration as the original full length fill, we’re just starting it in a different place.

The first fill starts on beat 2 and allows to play the RLL group four times.

The second fill starts on beat 3 and we only get two full groups of RLL and then a RL.

The final fill starts on the “&” of 3 and allows two full groups of RLL.

Try these fills out with your own variations.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #56. Check out fill of the week #32 to see another 3 note group deployed.

If you’re in Singapore and you’d like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the Contact Us Page.