In our previous lesson we looked at independence from a slightly different angle. We took our snare drum patterns one by one and played them with our feet while playing the rest of patterns one at time with our hands. We also assigned these hand patterns to two different sound sources making it more challenging to hear them the way we normally would.
Every drummer’s dream is to possess equal skills in all limbs, so that you can play any combinations based on sound rather than ability. It is a little easier to deal with patterns spilt between your hands and feet since both parts are divided equally – hands against feet. So in this lesson we will take another step toward total four-limed independence by shifting it to the left.
We will play our snare drum patterns one by one with the left side of the body (left hand on the snare drum and left foot on the hi-hat) while playing the remaining patterns with our right side (right hand on the tom and right foot on the bass drum). Since these hand-foot combinations between both sides of your body are quite difficult we will start off with warm up exercises before moving on to our systems.
Warm Up Exercise #1
Play alternating sticking between left hand and left foot over and over again without stopping. When comfortable add right hand and right foot alternating between tom and bass drum on top. After a while, switch the lead on your right side by doubling your hand on the tom. Keep switching the lead back and forth until this feels effortless.
Warm Up Exercise #2
Play alternating sticking between your left hand and left foot over and over again without stopping. When comfortable, add your right foot and right hand alternating between bass drum and tom on top starting with your foot. After a while switch the lead on your right side by doubling your bass drum. Keep switching the lead this way back and forth until this combination also feels effortless and easy.
Feels good? Great – now it’s time to move on to our systems.
For this lesson I arranged our patterns from the easiest to hardest. Also, only for this lesson, play letter “R” by hand (regardless of what side you use the pattern for) and play letter “L” by foot (regardless of sides).
In the video I demonstrate all (*) marked patterns with my right side against paradiddles between my left hand and left foot.
Start by playing each pattern between your left hand and left foot over and over to develop muscle memory for each individual one. It’s a lot harder than it might seem at first.
When comfortable, play each pattern on top between your right hand and right foot. Sometimes it helps when you take only a part of your “right side pattern” and play it on top of your “left side “ system. You might want to start with two or three notes out of the pattern and keep adding notes when comfortable until you complete the system. At the end you should be able to start playing any combination of patterns at the same time without hesitation.
You will experience patterns overlapping, especially patterns of the same length within the same time signature – with hands matching your feet and vice versa. Muscle memory is way more powerful than following occasional subsystems you might find in each combination of patterns. Remember all exercises have to be in relationship to time, “the master code,” not to each other.
Right Side/Left Side Patterns
Stick Control page 5 exercise #6 - RLLR LRRL*
Stick Control page 5 exercise #7 — RRLR LLRL*
Stick Control page 5 exercise #8 — RLRL LRLR*
[*] = Patterns used in the video, but you should practice all of them regardless of how similar they seem to you.
Please spend a lot of time on these exercises. Once you are very comfortable, then and then only, you can try to unleash your creativity. We are getting closer to the point where your musical mind tells you what to play and your limbs will just do so. Have fun.