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HOW TO PLAY A DRUM SOLO THE FIRST TIME YOU PLAY DRUMS

by Danny Cox, 1st January 2020

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A DRUM SOLO?

Did you like it?

Would you like to be able to play a drum solo the first time you sit at a kit?

Here’s how.


You’re going to use a very simple sticking pattern– the single stroke roll– which just goes right, left, right, left on repeat. ‘Single’, of course, means ‘one’. ‘Stroke’ is the word drummers give to a ‘hit’ of a drum or cymbal. ‘Roll’, in this context, just means ‘continuous’. The feet won’t do anything in this exercise, so don’t worry about those.

Using the single stroke roll, you’re going to explore the range of sounds available to you on the drums.

First, try playing that right, left, right, left pattern slowly. Leave as much space between hits as you can.

Next, gradually increase the speed (AKA: tempo) until you reach your upper limit. Make sure you keep the rhythm consistent. Slow down and speed up gradually as many times as you can. This will give you a solid experience of the way that changing the speed of your strokes changes the sound you’re making.

Second, try playing the single stroke roll quietly: as quietly as you can. Now, increase the volume until you reach the loudest you can comfortably achieve. As you did with your tempo, practice moving up and down and up and down in volume. The musical term for what you’re manipulating here is dynamics.

Third, it’s time to move around the kit. Start up that single stroke roll on the snare drum and then, when you feel ready, move your hands somewhere else. Then move them again. And again. Try splitting the hands up. Try every different combination you can imagine (spoiler: there are endless combinations!)

Now the real fun begins. What would happen if you were to move around the drums and change the speed and change the volume? Well, you’d be playing open improvisation... You’d be playing a drum solo.

It doesn’t have to sound good yet. Hell, it doesn’t have to sound good for years. Just enjoy all the different combinations of sounds you can make with this wonderful instrument.

Have fun!

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(c) Danny Cox 2020. All rights reserved.

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