Developing Independence: The Basics

Independence is an ability to play multiple parts at the same time, whether or not they overlap. The first and most important step is to develop muscle memory in order to free your mind from what your body is physically doing. The second step, which will come in later lessons, is to re-engage your mind so you can focus on other things as your patterns become multilayered. We will begin by using the following snare drum patterns while counting other patterns on top.

Snare Drum Sticking Patterns
RLRL*
LRLR
RRLL*
LLRR
RLRR
LRLL*
RLRLRR
LRLRLL*
RLRRLL*
LRLLRR
RRR LLL* (my favorite one)

[*] = Patterns demonstrated in the video, but you should practice all of them regardless of how similar they are. Let’s consider these patterns to be notated as sixteenth-notes, and start by playing one at the time, over and over again.

Play each evenly, without accenting any notes. Once you’re comfortable, start counting patterns aloud in sixteenth-notes on top of the established snare drum pattern (groups of three then five and then seven to the same snare pattern).

As you play, imagine a steady, consistent flow of sixteenth-notes, which you can use as your reference point. Look at your hands while you practice to be sure they remain consistent and to avoid being distracted.

After you’ve spent time on every exercise, you might notice there are points when your counting will intersect your snare drum pattern. Please be aware of these moments and resist forcing them to line up.

Don’t underestimate the role your brain plays in achieving independence. Success or failure is often determined by using your mind to conduct and overlook, not to interfere with the process. Good luck and be prepared to exert lots of patience.

Libor Hadrava runs the Axiom Music School in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Originally from the Czech Republic, Hadrava has studied at Berklee College Of Music, endorses SilverFox drum sticks, Grover Pro Percussion, and Dream Cymbals, and plays with the New England-based band Nascent."