Fill Of The Week #18

You might need a doctor after fill of the week #18. This drum fill is going to herta a lot!

Fill of the week #18 uses a rudiment known as the Herta which we met back in fill of the week #11. In fill of the week #11 we were using the herta in 16th & 8th note triplet form; in this fill we’re using it in 32nd & 16th note form. If you’ve already studied fill of the week #11 then this fill shouldn’t “herta” so bad! If you’re not sure what a herta is, then maybe go study fill of the week #11 first.

Learn The Fill

The first step in learning this fill is to be comfortable with the 16th note sticking pattern that we’ll be using. This will be RRL repeated 5 times with an extra R on the end. Here it is:

Basic 16th note hand pattern
The basic hand pattern

Make sure you can play and count this basic pattern before moving on. Start at 50 – 60bpm and count out loud while you’re doing it.

Our next step is to form the Hertas by putting a Left handed 32nd note between the double Rights. Don’t alter your counting, just feel the 32nd note slipping in between the 2 right hands. Count out loud and work slowly.

adding the hertas
Add in those 32nd notes, keep counting.

Working slowly with a metronome at around 40bpm will help you to get comfortable with this rhythm. Use a metronome that can play the 16th note subdivisions for you and count out loud with it.

The final step in this fill is to orchestrate it around the kit. I chose to split the first 4 hertas between the high tom and snare drum and the last one between the mid tom and the floor tom. I finish the fill on the Right hand and therefore crash with my Left on beat one. You can try changing that last Right to a Left and then crash with your right if your more comfortable that way. However it’s good to be comfortable crashing with either hand. Here’s the full fill:

the full fill.
Hertas so good, ooh baby…

Taking It Further

This fill is already amazingly awesome, but we can tweak it a little. Here’s some simple re-orchestrations.

4 herta fill variations
You make it herta so good

The first two orchestrations are just moving the hands around. The last two introduce the bass drum into the fun. The third variation is similar to a drum fill John Bonham played on the Led Zeppelin Song “Stairway to heaven” – you can hear it around the 6:20 mark in that song.

I hope that fill of the week #18 didn’t herta too much & that you learnt something from it! 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 #17

Fish anyone? It’s time for a couple of buckets of fish.

Fill of the week 17th features a 16th note triplet lick often known as “Bucket Of Fish.” The 16th note triplet rhythm between the snare, toms & bass drum is often referred to as “bucket of fish” because that’s how it sounds. Let’s go fishing.

Learn The Fill

As always with complex fills, it’s good to get a rhythmic understanding of it first. The easiest way to do this is play the rhythm of the fill on the snare drum and count along with it. Play along to a metronome set to count 8th notes and count out loud.

basic fill rhythm
Count out loud.

The next step for this fill is to add in the bass drum on beats 2, the “&” of 3 and the “& of 4 – replacing some of the snare drum notes from above.

adding in the bass drum
Drop the bass.

The final step will be to orchestrate the hands around the kit and add in the flat flams between the snare and floor tom.

full kit orchestrated.
Can you smell the fish?

Here it is with the bucket of fish counting.

fill with buckets of fish
Fish play drums? Really?

Taking It Further

Two simple ways to change this fill up are to play flams on the snare drum instead of flat flams between snare & floor tom or to play the crash cymbal instead of the floor tom.

basic variations
Some simple variations

If you’d like more buckets of fish you can add one more on the & of 4.

another bucket of fish
More fish anyone?

Note that with this variation you’ll have to hit the crash on beat one of the bar after the fill with your Left hand.

If you really like your fish, then you can try this 2 bar fill:

very fishy fill
More fish than you can handle.

I hope you’ve had your fill of fish for now. If you’re in Singapore and you’d like drum lessons, send us a message on our contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #16

Here’s fill of the week #16:

Not a 16th note or an 8th note in sight on this fill, it’s all triplets; 16th note triplets for excitement and 8th note triplets for drama. Let’s get to work on our triplets.

Learn The Fill

This is a fairly simple fill in terms of co-ordination, but the rhythm may cause problems for more inexperienced drummers. We’re using 16th note triplets and 8th note triplets to create the fill. The first step is to be able to count and play the rhythm of the fill. Here’s the rhythm played on the snare drum with the counting underneath:

basic rhythm
Let me hear you counting

Play this basic version along with a metronome set to count 8th note triplets. It’ll help with your accuracy. If you’re still having trouble, you can try playing the last 6 notes with just your Right hand; that way your right hand will be playing a consistent 8th note triplet throughout the fill.

another way to learn it
Keep your Right hand nice and evenly spaced

You may find it easier just to count the 8th note triplet and feel the 16th note triplets in between. Basically you’re just counting the right hand.

a different way to count
Count the Right hand

Once you are comfortable with the basic rhythm, play the original exercise with the alternating hands over the last 6 notes. Once you have that, you can orchestrate your hands around the kit and play the full fill.

the whole fill
The full fill

Take It Further

The easiest way to change this fill is to re-orchestrate it around the kit. A simple idea is to use a 6 note grouping and repeat it 3 times during the fill. You’ll play it twice fast – over the 16th note triplets – and then once slow – over the 8th note triplets. Here’s a few examples:

6 note grouping examples
6 note groupings

Another simple way to change this fill around would be to change the order of the fill so you start with the 8th note triplets and end on the 16th note triplets. Here’s the first variation from above done that way.

reversed fill
Change it up

These fills work well played against an 8th note feel and an 8th note triplet (12/8) feel. I suggest practicing them against both feels as shown below

practice with a groove.
Groove n Fill

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #16. 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 #15

It’s Fill Of The Week Time, let’s check out fill of the week #15:

What? No Tom-Toms? No-Flams? No Crashes? Just Bass, Snare and Hi-Hats? Is this really fill of the week? Yes, it is. Fill of the week #15 is what is known as a Groove Fill. Just a simple variation on the groove that doesn’t interrupt the flow of time. This is one of my favorites.

Learn The Fill

The main feature of this fill is the bass drum on the 16th notes. As long as you can play alternating 16th notes between your right hand and right foot, you should be able to play this fill. If you can’t do that, then this first exercise is for you:

alternating hi-hat & bass
Alternating Hi-Hat / Bass 16th Notes

Play this exercise very slowly – 40bpm – and just focus on alternating your right hand and your right foot very smoothly. Once that is happening, we can start to learn the fill.

Here’s the first 6 notes of the fill:

First 6 notes
Count as you play!

The next 6 six notes of the fill are just a repeat of the first 6 notes. They start on the next available 16th note which is the “& of 2”

first 12 notes
Keep counting

Now we’re just left with beat 4 to fill in. For this fill I opted for two eighth notes to finish off beat four. A snare on 4 and a bass on the & of 4. I like this ending as the snare drum ends the fun of the fill in an authoritative manner and the bass drum on the & of 4 indicates it’s time to get back to work. Here’s the full fill.

the whole fill

Take It Further

There are 2 simple ways to change this fill up. The first is to simply move your right hand away from the hi-hat. Try it on the floor tom, for example:

adding the floor tom
Tom Tom Time!

The other simple way to change this fill is to play around with beat 4. I like to keep a snare drum on beat 4, as it fits with the rest of the fill, but what happens after than is up to you. Here’s a few examples:

alternate endings
Change it up!

The first variation is just a flam; simple, but powerful. A great way to put an exclamation point in a song and move onto a completely different section of the song.

The second variation has that flam, but connects back into the groove a little smoother thanks to the bass and 2 snare drums. It keeps the theme of the fill going by using just the bass and snare.

The third variation is just a standard 16th note fill played around the toms. This is just to add a little tom colour to the fill, but it still keeps that snare on beat 4.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #15. 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 #14

Warning! This fill goes OVER THE BAR LINE and should only be used in extreme situations! Let’s check it out.

This fill uses a 5 note grouping that’s played 4 times over 16th notes. That gives a grand total of twenty 16th notes, therefore it’s never going to fit in a bar of 16th notes in 4/4. Luckily for us though, it does allow us to end the fill in a rather cool fashion on beat 2 of the next bar, amazing all our friends and family.

Learn The Fill

The 5 note grouping used in this fill is Right, Left, Right, Kick, Kick or RLRKK for short. Playing just those 5 notes shouldn’t cause you a problem. The tricky part comes when we try to apply it in time. It can feel strange because the 5 note grouping doesn’t always start on the beat.

The first step in learning this fill is to just get comfortable playing the 5 note grouping continuously. Don’t worry about playing in time with a metronome to start with, just get comfortable playing RLRKK 4 times in a row, in an even manner, with no gaps between each group:


You can play this on your legs, on the table at work, on your desk at school, or just between the snare and bass/kick drum (K) on your kit.

Once that is smooth, we can start to look at the orchestration around the kit. All I did was simply move the 3rd note of the grouping around the kit. Here’s the fill with the 5 note grouping spelt out:

Fill with 5 note grouping highlighted.
Groups of five are fun!

So you can see, the 3rd note of each group of five is played first on Tom 1, then Tom 2, then the Floor Tom, and finally, the Snare. The RLRKK grouping remains the same throughout the whole fill.

To practice this fill, set your metronome to 40bpm and have it count 16th notes (I highly recommend TempoPerfect by NCH software) and play along with it carefully. It’s also good to learn this fill with the regular 16th note counting so you know where each group of 5 starts. Here’s the fill with the regular 16th note counting.

5 note grouping fill with 16th note counting
Let me hear you counting!

Our first group of 5 obviously starts on beat 1, the next is on the “e” of 2, the third on the “&” of 3 and final group starts on the “ah” of 4. Again, try playing it slowly (40bpm) with the metronome and counting the 16th notes aloud and focusing on where each group starts. This will help to solidify your timing.

Use this fill carefully, it can sound cool when done in a solo or drum-break section of a song. You can also use it in situations where you want to accent beat 2 after a fill and not beat one. The whole band should be accenting beat 2 together with you to make it sound good – check out the chorus of “In The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World for an example of a band all accenting on beat 2.

The other challenge with this fill is getting back into your groove after the fill. You can come back in on the “&” of 2 or on beat 3. Here’s some examples to try:

how to get back in the groove after the fill
Get back in the groove.

Taking It Further

You’ve just learnt a cool 5 note grouping fill and been told you can’t use it unless your band allows to use it… that sucks… however… with a quick modification, you can use it! Woo Hoo! As shown in the bonus fill on the video, (you did watch till the end right?) you can make this a 1 bar fill very easily. Here’s the 1 bar version:

one bar version of the fill
One bar of awesome coming up!

So we simply play just 3 groups of 5 16th notes and then add a single left hand snare note on the end.

The other way to take this further is to re-orchestrate our 5 note grouping. Here’s two examples:

orchestrations of the RLRKK pattern

So we’re still using the RLRKK grouping, we’re just hitting different drums on the RLR part.

Another option is to find other 5 note groups that we like the sound of. Here’s 2 more options:

different 5 note groupings
5 is the magic number

Our groupings this time were RLRLK and then BKBKK (B = both hands). Explore both of those groupings and see what variations you can come up with.

I hope you’ve enjoyed fill of the week #14. 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 #13

It’s time for fill of the week. Here’s lucky number 13:

This fill was inspired by the drum fill intro to “You Could Be Mine” by Guns n’ Roses. The fills use the same first 6 notes, but the GnR fill is over 2 bars, I had to cram mine into 1 bar. I also threw in a little 16th note triplet twist on beat 4 so I could get more notes in.

Learn The Fill

The first step in learning this fill is to be comfortable moving from 16th notes to 16th note triplets. If you haven’t already mastered this, I suggest just playing the rhythm of the fill on the snare drum and counting along. Use a metronome set to count 8th notes.

Be sure to count out loud!

If you are having trouble moving smoothly from the 16th notes to the 16th note triplets, try this exercise:

Listen to the 8th note Tom pattern.

In this exercise the Right hand moves between the floor tom and the high tom on beats 1,2 & 3, then when you move to the 16th note triplets the left hand has to play the high tom on the “&” of 4 to keep the tom pattern going. Listen to the eighth note Tom Tom pattern, can you make it sound even?

Once you can play the basic rhythm on the snare drum, then it is just a matter of moving it around the kit. Here’s the full fill:

Keep counting & work with a metronome.

The speed you can play this fill at will be determined either by your bass drum or the 16th note triplets. Start at 60bpm and aim for 120bpm. You may be able to get it up to 140 – 150bpm with practice.

Take It Further

To take this further, practice changing the last beat. Try these examples:

Simple 16th note ending
16th note ending with flams.
Alternative 16th note triplet ending
32nd note ending

Practicing in this manner helps to increase your fill vocabulary and will allow you to adapt the fill to the musical situation you are in. Do you want more energy? Go for the 32nd notes. Want to keep it nice and smooth? Simple 16th notes are the answer. Want to put an exclamation point on the end of a phrase, go for the flams.

You can also change the melody of the first 3 beats by keeping the hand/foot pattern the same but changing the combination of snare and toms. Here’s two examples.

Melody variation 1
Melodic variation 2

You’ll notice that I like to echo what happens in the middle of the fill, between beat 2 and the “&” of 3, in the 16th note triplets at the end. This helps to to reinforce the melody of the fill further and sounds quite musical.

I hope you enjoy this fill. For a free trial drum lesson in Singapore, send us a message via the contact us page.


Fill Of The Week #12

Here’s Fill Of The Week #12:

That’s a funky fill! There’s a lot going on. Lets get to it!

Learn The Fill

The first step to learning this fill is to get comfortable with the 16th note hi-hat barks. We’ll start by getting the arm movement correct between the snare and closed hi-hat.

Just hi-hat and snare
Just closed hi-hat and snare.

Next we’ll add in the open hi-hat. Make sure to snap the hi-hat closed on the very next 16th note. Do this as slowly as necessary to make it sound clean and to get a consistent open hi-hat sound – probably 40bpm – 60bpm to start with.

Opening the hi-hats
Snap those hi-hats closed.

After that, lets bring in the bass drum.

adding the bass drum
Bring in the bass.

The final step is to distribute the 16th notes from beats 3 and 4 around the kit.

adding the toms
The full fill.

Take It Further

The easy way to expand on this fill is to keep the first two beats the same and vary the last two beats. Try these variations:

Messing around with beats 3 & 4.

You can also experiment with extending the hi-hat barks throughout the whole fill. Try these variations:

Barking all night long

Practice these variations slowly at first and listen to the quality and consistency of your hi-hat barks.

I hope you enjoy fill of the week #12. If you’re in Singapore and would like a free trial drum lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.

Fill Of The Week #11

It’s time for fill of the week. Lets get to it:

So we’re in eighth note triplet mode again, but we’re spicing things up by using a popular hybrid rudiment – the Herta. Let’s learn the fill.

Learn The Fill

The first step to learning this fill is playing 8th note triplets using a R R L sticking:

8th note triplets played RRL
Count those triplets

Next we can insert the 16th note triplet with the left hand between the two right hands:

RRL triplets with additional left hand thrown in
Keep counting

Note that we don’t need to count the 16th note triplet, just place it evenly between the first two partials of the 8th note triplet.

Our final step is to orchestrate the fill around the kit. Here’s the full fill:

The full fill
Still counting?

In case your still wondering what a Herta is:

The Herta
Don’t Herta Me!

You may also see the Herta written as two 32nd notes followed by two 16ths or as two 16th followed by two 8ths. It’ll pop up in our fill of the week again in the future.

Take It Further

Here’s some simple ways of orchestrating this fill around the kit. Our first variation has us moving the first note of the herta around the kit:

Orchestration 1
Moving the first note around

Our second variation sees us moving the 2nd right hand around the kit:

Orchestration 2
Moving the middle note around

Our final variation sees us adding the bass drum on the last note of the herta:

Orchestration 3
Putting the bass drum on the last note

Put this fill together with Groove of the week #11 and start creating variations of your own.

Hope you enjoyed this fill of the week. For drum lessons in Singapore, send us a message via our contact us page to arrange a free trial.

Fill Of The Week #10

It’s fill of the week time. Here’s number 10:

This is a simple accented 16th note fill that shows how accents can bring life to anything you play. Let’s learn it.

Learn The Fill

There is not a great deal to this fill. It’s 16th notes played on the snare drum and we’re accenting some of them. Here’s the fill.

Fill of the week
Let me hear those accents

Practice this fill slowly at first, really exaggerate the motions and difference between the accented and unaccented notes. Your accented notes want to be as loud as a shout, your unaccented notes should be as quiet as a whisper. Speed it up slowly and try to maintain the different sound levels.

A common problem I hear when people try to learn these fills is they don’t focus on what the sticks are doing & they don’t listen to the sound they are producing. Often the fill sounds flat because the soft notes are too loud and the loud notes are too soft.

To prevent this, play all of the soft notes with the sticks at a 0 degree angle – parallel to the drum, 3 – 5 cm or 1 – 2 inches above it – don’t let them come up any higher than that. Play all of the loud notes from a 90 degree angle – perpendicular to the drum – don’t start them any lower. This should ensure your accented and unaccented notes sound different as you have a lot more time to accelerate the stick when starting at a 90 degree angle as opposed to a 0 degree angle.

As you speed up you may need to lower the accents from that 90 degree angle, but don’t let the soft notes get any higher and make sure there is still an easily discernible difference between your accented and unaccented notes. Focus on what your sticks are doing and the accents will come out naturally.

Take It Further

A simple way to make this fill sound a little fuller is to add the bass drum on the quarter note pulse. This adds more weight to the fill and highlights the contrast between the pulse and the accent pattern more.

Fill of the week with added bass drum

The easiest way to vary an accent pattern is to put some or all of the accented notes on the toms. This can create melodic ideas between the snare and toms. Here’s 3 examples:

Fill of the week with added toms

When you moving from an accented Tom note back to an unaccented snare note, focus on playing the unaccented snare note quietly. Often with this type of fill, the student focuses on playing the accents on the tom toms and completely forgets that most, or maybe all, of the snare drum notes are supposed to be quiet. If you play all of the snare drum notes loud, you’ll drown out the accents on the toms. It’s the Tom Tom melody that we want to hear, not the the snare drum (unless it’s accented and part of the melody.) Try adding the bass drum in on the quarter note pulse to spice these fills up further.

Another good exercise to try that will work on your stick control is to take a pattern that is commonly played around the kit and apply the accent pattern to it. In this first example I take a pattern that everyone has played, four 16th notes on each drum going around the kit, and apply the accent pattern to it.

Common pattern with toms added #1
Four 16th Notes Per Drum

What was originally a very simple pattern to play has now got more difficult. Take your time with it and develop the ability to drop accents into common ways of moving around the kit. It’ll help you to express yourself fully on the kit.

Here’s two more common patterns to try:

Common pattern with toms added #2
Two 16th Notes Per Drum
Common pattern with toms added #3
6-6-4 Fill With Accents Added

Have fun trying out all those variations of Fill Of The Week #10. 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 #9

Here’s fill of the week #9

This is one of the those fills that sounds easy but needs careful practice to play precisely. There is a fill similar to this on Extreme’s Get The Funk Out. During the song it’s played while a horn section plays the same rhythm and it sounds huge. Let’s get into it.

Learn The Fill

Lets take a look at the fill with the counting added.

Count it out!

That’s a lot of “Es” and “AHs” we have to play without any support from the notes in between. The first step is to get comfortable playing all those 16th notes on the “Es” and “AHs”. Try this exercise:

Keep counting!

Work with a metronome at 40bpm and count out loud. I recommend a metronome that can play 16th note subdivisions clearly – such as TempoPerfect by NCH software (it’s free.)

If you can’t play those 16th notes accurately, you can’t play the fill. Keep practicing and counting – it may take a while. Try mixing it up with this exercise to help feel the difference between playing on the 8ths and 16ths:

Still Counting?

If you’ve made it this far, you should be able to play the fill now. While playing the fill, focus on keeping your left hand moving smoothly; it should help get those 16th notes played evenly.

Taking It Further

As the original fill is all played on the snare, the simple way to change it up is to add in some toms:

Add some toms

Another simple way to change this fill up is to add a quarter note bass drum to it. It’ll help to keep the time going and hopefully prevent your bassist from getting lost.

Add some bass drum

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning this fill – take it slow and play with precision. If you’re in Singapore and would like a free trial lesson, send us a message on the contact us page.