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Double Strokes #2

   Let's take a small step back and expand on a previous lesson, Double Stroke Exercises. You might want to go back there for a moment and review.

   The first Double Stroke lesson was pretty basic; we're going to expand on that here, combining doubles and singles with the feet. We'll even work around the toms a bit. Check the Notation Key at the bottom of the page to see which staff line represents which drum.

The Concept

    Double strokes are the key to becomming a fast drummer. If you're into Jazz, then you already know how important they are. Unfortunately, many rock drummers never explore this fundamental tool. These exercises are designed to start you down the road to confidently adding Double Strokes to your arsenal.

   Use these lessons as a model: you can add to them and design your own as you develop your skills.


   Remember Lesson #1? Warmups? These should be a regular part of your Practice Routine by now.

    Double Stroke #1

   This first exercise is your basic Double Stroke Roll; it's also called The Long Roll in the Rudiments section. Everyone does this when you take structured lessons. It's an important skill.

   The basic idea is to start out very slowly. Gradually increase your tempo. The notation below is just a guide; you should be able to do this without notation. Make your speed-ups gradual; this is important! You should finish with a buzz roll; hold this and then slow down just as you sped up, until you're doing the slow doubles like you started.

   You should notice a few things here: when you start you're basically pushing the stick down with your hands for both strokes of the double. As you speed up this becomes impossible because your hands can't go that fast; this is where the bounce comes in. You will now be pushing down on the first stroke of the double, but the second stroke will be a natural bounce. Now going faster is alot easier! You should eventually be doing a buzz roll, where you're pressing the sticks into the head; at this point the amount of strokes (doubles, triples) doesn't matter: what matters is a smooth buzz sound.

   The second thing you'll notice is what I call the "break point:" this is the point where you shift from pushing down both strokes to letting the second stroke bounce naturally. You should be able to go right over the break point without hearing the change; easier said than done, you say! You're right. This is one of the most difficult things for young drummers to master, but it's crucial. So, stick with it, do it every day, and eventually you'll find it comes naturally.

    Double Stroke #2

   Now that you've got the Long Roll mastered we can move on to some applications. Why did I go through all that, you ask? Because I want you to do the same thing with every other exercise in this lesson! Start slow, speed up until you can approximate a buzz (I know it will be almost impossible between toms), and then slow down. Don't just do them statically: you'll never grow beyond that: reach beyond your grasp!

   In this exercise we're adding the toms for the first time. I'm assuming you have two toms on the bass drum and a floor tom; if your setup is different, modify the exercise.

    Double Stroke #3

   Exercise #2 was pretty predictable. This one is the same idea, but we're moving around the toms in a different pattern. Try to make up your own patterns!

    Double Stroke #4

   Now we're going to add the foot! If you have a single pedal, you should do a doublekick. If you have a double pedal you should practice it both ways: double kick with one foot, and double kick between two feet.

    Double Stroke #5

   This exercise returns to just the toms, but notice that I'm requiring you to cross your sticks; hitting the snare with the right hand and the floor tom with the left hand. It will seem very awkward at first, but you'll get used to it.

   Again, try and mix up the sticking, hitting different toms. Force yourself to do things you're not used to doing.

    Double Stroke #6

   This exercise is an accent exercise. You can really go to town with this one: change the accented notes, play them on the toms, even add some bass drums stuff! Get some staff paper and write out your own!

    Double Stroke #7

   Now we're going to add some single-strokes in the mix. We've also been working primarily in sixteenth notes: lets throw some eighth notes in there!

    Double Stroke #8

   This one takes the previous exercise one step further by making the sixteenth groupings triplets and adding the bass drum again!

    Double Stroke #9

   More bass drum. I've put in a number of alternate stickings into this one, so you can get an idea of how different patterns feel. Notice we're going from a double on the toms to a single on the snare to a single on the bass, then repeated. Tom, tom, snare, bass; we've just changed the sticking so you're not always hitting the snare with the left hand! This breaks things up and forces you to think out of the box.

    Double Stroke #10

   Let's start the last exercise with a double on the bass drum. Then a single on the snare and a double on the toms. You double bass players should do this exercise with single foot and double foot, like we did in Exercise #4 above.

   This one has alot of potential for variation; notice the second line is for double bass players - varying the feet. You can also swap the sticking so that the hand mini-pattern starts with a double instead of a single. Lots of different ways to play this!


   Future Double Stroke exercises will expand this skill even further. If you find these difficult I would suggest you get a set of those squeeze hand exercisers; grip strengtheners. You can find them in just about every store that has an athletic section. I use them everyday and I'm constantly amazed at how faster, trickier patterns don't seem to be such a challenge anymore. As you build strength, you also build tone; toned muscles respond faster.

   As always, let me know how you've done!

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