Drum Library

The following is a listing of some of the many resources I use for my own study and in lessons with my students. I hope to soon have reviews/descriptions for all the materials listed.

General Technique

Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone
A classic text. With diligent and creative use, this book provides a lifetime's worth of technique building exercises applicable on many percussion instruments, and defies genre or style. It's been called "The Bible" of sticking studies for a reason.

Accents & Rebounds by George Lawrence Stone
This is a follow up to Stick Control and is specifically geared toward improving control of the double stroke roll and accents.

Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed
The title of this book has been shortened by its most recent publisher to simply "Syncopation". Under its original title, this is the first book that I used to learn to read and play rhythms on the snare drum and drum set. It can also be creatively applied to the drumset to improve the ability to play fills, increase coordination/independence and improve many other skills. This book and Stick Control are must-haves for any serious student of the drums.

Syncopated Rolls for the Modern Drummer by Jim Blackley
This book provides perhaps the most musical method for developing facility that I've ever used. It turns the usual method for learning hand and drumset technique on its head. Rather than begin with physical execution and then move to rhythmic and musical application, Jim's exercises begin with rhythmic ideas and then provide dozens of technical possibilities for expressing and connecting those rhythmic ideas.
The result is that the student builds their rhythmic vocabulary and technical prowess simultaneously. An absolute masterpiece. Copies of all of Jim's books can be obtained at jimblackley.com or in the UK from allancox.co.uk

The Reading Drummer by Ted Vose
From the excellent series of books published by Berklee College of Music, this book progressively introduces one-line reading skills including varying time signatures, rolls, dynamics, etc. by way of increasingly difficult etudes. This book is a useful adjunct to Syncopation for learning crucial reading skills. It doesn't explore more rare odd or "asymmetric" time signatures in great depth, and for that purpose I recommend Louis Bellson & Gil Breine's Odd Time Reading Text.

Master Studies (1 & 2)
by Joe Morello
Jazz great and longtime student of George L. Stone, Joe Morello, takes many of the concepts in Stick Control and Accents & Rebounds and expands on them in challenging and useful ways. Joe gives simple, practical exercises to improve velocity, endurance, dynamics, and control of buzzes and double strokes. Also included are exercises given to Joe personally by G. L. Stone and the great Billy Gladstone. As such, these books form part of a long and important lineage in the study of drum technique.

Technique Patterns
by Gary Chaffee
Gary's entire series of "Patterns" books are excellent. In this volume he focusses on developing hand and foot facility.

Time Keeping and Groove Studies


Groove Essentials Vol. 1 by Tommy Igoe
This is by far the best play-along method on the market today, in my opinion. The exercises progressively aid the student to improve their drumset timekeeping and coordination, technique, knowledge of musical genres and styles, understanding of song forms, and chart reading skills. The accompanying tracks are top-notch and provide a very realistic context in which to build crucial skills.

Time Functioning Patterns by Gary Chaffee
Another in his series of "Patterns" books, in this volume Gary turns his attention to exercises for developing the ability to play a variety of useful groove patterns. Personal favorites are the Fat Back exercises and exercises designed to build "linear" facility from the guy who coined the term.

The Essence of Jazz Drumming by Jim Blackley
Another Blackley masterpiece. This book takes the student from basic and fundamental jazz/swing patterns all the way to highly advanced phrasing and applications. It's been said that just learning to play everything in this book would make you a very good jazz performer on it's own, but the philosophical concepts behind Jim's approach - once absorbed - can provide the material for a whole new approach to the instrument. If that sounds heavy; it is.
Again, copies of all of Jim's books can be obtained at jimblackley.com or in the UK from allancox.co.uk. You'll be glad you did.

Play-Along Materials

Meet The Bass Player by Allan Cox
A collection of jazz basslines with guitar accompianment from 40 BPM - 300 BPM with a particular focus on 12-Bar Blues and 16-Bar Rhythm Changes. There are also selections in 3/4 and 5/4 so you can practice odd-meter playing. This disk was originally designed to be used in conjuction with Jim Blackley's material, but can be used along with just about any jazz/swing exercises incl. Chapin's Advanced Techniques, John Riley's The Art of Bop Drumming, and more. There are no sequencers or Pro-Tooled tracks here, just two great musicians swinging their tails off and begging you to dig in. Copies can be ordered directly from Allan Cox himself (allancox.co.uk).

Depending on the needs and abilities of my students, I also draw on the following partial list of excellent materials:

Mastering The Tables of Time by David Stanoch (also check out Dave's website at rhythmelodic.com)
Dave's inspiration for this book came from the great Tony Williams who said,
"Its all in time. Don't do things faster; faster doesn't get you anywhere. You have to play in time, in context. Pick a meter and play it, double it then triple it. Do it in eight note triplets, sixteenth notes, sixteenth note triplets, thirty second notes, thirty second note triplets. Don't play arbitrarily faster or slower. It has to be in time." The exercises take simple rhythmic motifs, rudiments, etc. and work them through various subdivisions of the quarter-note pulse. The result is an expanded vocabulary and a deeper sense of the interrelationship of time signatures, subdivisions and meter. Simply awesome stuff. If you don't believe me, check out the comments and reviews of some of the finest players in the business on Dave's site.

Drum Set Warm Ups by Rod Morgenstein
I like to think of this book as "Twister for Drummers". For those who don't know or remember, "Twister" was a game that required players to place their body parts on various places on a life-sized game board in random order, often putting the players into unfamiliar and precarious positions. Similarly, Rod's book is designed to get you moving around the entire drumset in a controlled way, beating the path between every combination of surfaces imaginable and working all the movements necessary to be able to get around the drumset with speed and ease. I have to admit, I often set out to do 15-20 minutes of "warm ups" with this book and end up spending much longer as I press to complete the movements more quickly. WARNING: MAY BE ADDICTIVE!

Portraits in Rhythm by Anthony J. Cirone
This is the classic book for symphonic snare drummers, and provides some of the most challenging material for snare drum that I've used. Cirone focusses on common forms and styles found in the classical/orchestral repetoire and the Etudes require all manner of control and musicality to execute well. The dynamic shading required will work your stick control and sloppy doubles, scratchy buzzes and too-rough ruffs will have nowhere to hide. This is the sort of book I pull out when I'm looking for a new challenge for my hands that I don't get doing the drumset thing.

The Logical Approach to Snare Drum (1&2) by Phil Perkins
Drumset Reading Anthology by Steve Houghton
Inside the Big Band Drum Chart by Steve Fidyk
Advanced Funk Studies by Rick Latham