What I Teach                                                                                     

  Style Physiology     Coordination     Application     Timing     Vocabulary     Concentration    Olympic Training  

Style Physiology   

A new student must learn to use the arms and keep them close to the body while turning the wrist. The first lessons might be without sticks. Our sticks were taken from us and given back a week or two later when having proper hand position and arm motion.

I teach large motions at FFF. Large motions teach coordination better and faster than small motions. The strength of FFF can perform at PPP. The opposite has never been true. The great tenor Pavarotti taught new vocal students to scream. He was teaching them to use their lungs and diaphragm to support loud notes. 

"When I teach a student, the parents think I'm crazy. I teach them to scream. It isn't much for the first few weeks, but volume is screaming, yelling is what must come first. The old singers are the best.  We are very, very good."

                                  Luciano Pavorroti - Virtuoso Opera Tenor


Beginners first learn four basic stickings:

Double Stroke Roll: The most musically and technically important

Single Stroke Roll: Most basic coordination sticking for filler notes

Paradiddle: Easiest Lead Hand Switch rudiment for coordination

Flam: The most difficult rudiment, very useful for competition and drum set coordination.

A senior corps I was with as a 12 year old practiced on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 10pm. The instructor - Jay Tuomey - would stay with anyone who wanted till 2am. We worked in front of large panes of glass that acted as mirrors. When there was criticism, everyone knew what not to do. My father would pick me up on these school nights at 2am. It added up to 14 hours of instruction per week by the best instructor of basic form I have seen. He taught physiology using drum sticks. Each individual has a different coordination template, bone mass, length of forearms, length of fingers and ability of the wrist hinge to turn due to the joint and tendons. Sons of Liberty Fife and Drum Corps members perfected how each type of individual situation should be handled in the 1950s.

This is relevant today for line drumming or drum set. You might see 10 snares that look like they are using one style but the mastery of these gentlemen was that you were actually looking at 10 different styles that looked like one in the line.

I was around them long enough to understand what they did. Like Ancient Greek sculptors, Earl Sturtze and the Sons of Liberty drummers, took the art to its physiological limits. They took the time to figure it out. Their results are timeless.

It is what I teach.


Many of the Standard 26 American Rudiments are taught individually with additions such as the Tap Six Stroke Roll, the rudiment of choice for drum set performance, the Quad (four alternate notes with an accent on one) and others. Backstitching is later taught once the student has a reliable physical template. Once enough rudiments are learned, their coordinations and different accent patterns must create strands of music. The "Standard 26" from 1933 was created to save competition drumming from the influence of Vaudeville, who made sounds for acts as accompaniment and did not need to perfect drumming.

The result was a William F Ludwg/Gus Moeller attempt to place historically relevant rudiments in the order necessary to play Civil war "Camp Duty." Fife and drum corps, the best players of that time period, considered this a two year learning process relying heavily on breakdowns. If learned them correctly, all the speed, coordination and execution necessary to become a good drummer are present. It still works when combined with additions such as Swiss and Pipe band variations. The "26" gave drummers of yesteryear excellent coordination.


To perform in an ensemble, notes must be placed perfectly in time by controlling accent rebounds and making accents and interior taps sound the same, coming from the same attack height.

Work is centered around speed, distance and direction a stick must travel to remain in time.


Expand the recall choices available to the musician including diddles, flams, changing note bases, buzzed notes and rolls and introduction of dotted phrasing using Swiss and Pipe Band interpretations. Dynamics are part of nuance. One should be able to recall and pick wisely from a built up memory during ad lib situations and not stumble over syncopation. Building a large vocabulary helps when mixing different music genres, especially when performing on drum set.


The ability to "think through the style" under pressure and remain consistent musically is the goal. In World Class competition, the difference between first place and all others is concentration. The top 2 or 3 in any discipline will be similar physically. The separation occurs in the mind. It is noticed as confidence. This holds true for any audition. You know you can or you don't.

International Alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy was attempting to win his third gold metal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. Practice sessions had been cancelled due to blizzards, ice and rain. They would have one trip down the giant slalom for gold.

Jean-Claude stood on top of the hill the day before the race. When asked what he was doing he replied, "I go down the hill!." Reporters thought he was feel a bit too much pressure. As a teenager under Jay Tuomey, I knew he was memorizing the course, going down it time after time in his mind, practicing his concentration. At that level, the top 5 are all capable. The mind wins.

The day was almost a white-out of snow - a blizzard. Skiers on television would on camera, then disappear in a white cloud. It was dangerous.  There were crashes. Two excellent times were posted. Jean-Claude went last. He was fast out of the gate and announcers screamed when he almost wiped out a third of the way down. He made up time then almost crashed again. Behind and in trouble, you could see see the tips of his skis miss the poles by inches.  Fractions of inches. His body was hitting the poles. Killy took the last hill just before the finish line and stuck the landing. Thousands of training hours came down to having the strength and technique to execute one landing others did not have the training to do.


Jean-Claude Killy won his third gold metal by one one-hundredth of a second. There is something to be said for preparation. The masters always teach it.

Competitive drumline instruction involves accurately judging where the students ability will be months in advance. Basics are everything. Many units do not take the time to teach basic style. Music teachers somehow have come to believe the visual program is more important. It catches up with them when improvement stops mid-season. An exercise package determines their strength, endurance and coordination capabilities. The music will mimic these elements, A guess must be made in October where the line will be at in August for drum corps, January for November for a marching band school line. It is the instructors job to take them to the level chosen beforehand. In this manner, inexperienced members can learn ensemble over a longer period while still learning technique.

The use of preliminary arm motion taught by Sons of Liberty instructors. There is a preliminary motion - a lift - of both hands to get that weight into the attack and make it stronger and faster if sweetening is performed.

Power is put into the attacks and carries through into the remaining notes between accents.  The arm bone weight  is used for power, grip strength for control and wrist turns for grace notes.

Olympic Training

I am the inventor of Olympic Training for drummers using what Olympic coaches term "Interval Training" after seeing the Summer Games in Mexico on TV in 1968. The idea was to increase the amount of measures of a rudiment against time with good execution. In his book, "The Theory and Methodology of Training", Tudo O. Bompa, head of the Soviet Block Olympic team, states that his concept was first used in 1974 for most of his athletes. Drummers were ahead of him as the Anaheim Kingsmen were "tracking" in 1969 - doing quarter mile laps around a track for endurance. They tested their opponents mental state in warm-up parking lots. It works for any competitive purpose.

Olympic Training involves using opposite ends of the sticks (5% more weight), practicing on old books (resistance for power and grace note control) and placing a thin to medium thick towel over the practice surface for strength training. Half the rehearsal can be done without your coordination pattern changing from the performance stick weight. It pays huge dividends.


The Standard 26 American Rudiments from the 1933 NARD meeting were set in an order that teaches Civil War War Camp Duty 

The order that I teach is based upon coordination difficulty and stickings needed to perform modern competition material with a focus on lead hand switching and development of the left hand lead, which improves the normal right hand performance lead about 20%. Flams are given more weight for coordination purposes and the textures of other genres such as Swiss, Pipe Band and orchestra are added to the vocabulary.


Basic Combinations: Double Stroke Roll, Single Stroke Roll, Paradiddle, Flam, Quad, Triplet

Alternate Lead Hand Switch Stickings: Single Stroke Ruff, Four Stroke Ruff, Seven Singles, Thirteen SIngles

Basic Double Stroke Roll Rudiments: 5 7 9 17  (The 11 and 13 are eliminated)

Ruff & Diddle Rudiments: Three Stroke Ruff, Drag, Lesson 25, Drag Paradiddle, Double Drag Paradiddle, Paradiddle Diddle

Basic Flam Rudiments: Flam Quad, Flam Triplet (switches lead hands)

Extended Diddles: Double Paradiddle, Triple Paradiddle

Basic Multiple Bounce: Triple Stroke Roll (the fulcrum remains tight while the back of the hand allows for bounce and regrip)

Flam Diddles: Flam Paradiddle, Flam Tap (both bounce rudiments)

Open & Tap Double Stroke Rolls: Open 6, Tap 7, Tap 6 (The best speed rudiments for used energy.Used on drum set).

Ratamacues & Extentions: Single Ratamacue, Ratamacue Septuplet, Ratamacue Nontet

Soft Flam Coordination: Flamacue, Flam Quad – Accent 3 (The accent of the flam is soft with the accent elsewhere)

Basic Backsticking: Backsticked Ruff, Backsticked Paradiddle, Backsrticked Drag (hand to hand)

Multiple Drags & Ratamacues: Doible Drag, Triple Drag, Double Ratamacue, Triple Ratamacue

Basic Buzz Textures: Buzz Roll, Buzz Triplet, Buzz Paradiddle (a different grip and regrip technique)

Backsticked Diddles: Backsticked Double & Triple Paradiddles (a different grip and regrip technique)

Short Duration Single Stroke Rolls: Single Five Stroke Roll, Single Six Stroke Roll

Accented Textures: Stutterdiddle, Stutter Drag (softer accent and lead hand switch)

Texture Variations: Swiss Army Sextuplet, Windmills, Pada-Fla-Fla, Flam Triplet Accent 2, Swiss Sextuplet

Buzz Coordination: Buzz Drag, Buzz Ratamacue, Open Six Stroke Buzz Roll (wrist and forearm coordination)

Lead Hand Switch Flam Coordination: Flam Drag, Flam Ratamacue (competition rudiments)

Difficult Lead Hand Flam Switches: Inverted Flam Tap, Flam Paradiddle Diddle, Flam Double Paradiddle


Training for solo work with increasing difficulty uses Olympic Training Techniques.

Advanced study involves inverteds, buzzes with the accent or the diddle and accents that switch making coordination harder.