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Creative Practice: Part I

Article by Jayson Brinkworth // January 02 2008
Creative Practice: Part I

CREATIVE MIND = CREATIVE PRACTICE

Happy New Year to you all, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I can’t think of a better way to start the year than to get our creative juices flowing, read on.

As a teacher, one of the greatest moments is when a student grasps an exercise or concept, and then takes it to another level by being creative on the drums. As a player, I get busy doing several gigs and other work, and sometimes lose sight of allowing myself to be creative.

The drum set is a beautiful instrument with an unlimited amount of sound and texture possibilities. Take for example Terry Bozzio’s huge setup, compared to a player like Billy Ward who prefers a more compact four piece setup. Both these players have a serious knack for being as creative as possible, and can stretch our idea of what we can do on a drum set beyond belief.

In my teaching practice, my students are learning rudiments, grooves and feels from all different styles of music, working on transitions/fills in songs, as well as reading and theory. All pretty standard stuff for improving on the kit to play with a band, jam with some friends, or just enjoy playing this wonderful instrument. But once every five or six lessons, I pick a concept or exercise and see how far they can let their imaginations go to come up with their own ideas. As we do this a few times, I have found the students confidence to increase, and the barriers that they had setup for themselves as players start to fall.  It is a great accomplishment for them.

I know there are lots of really good teachers out there who have their own creative environment, and who are able to motivate students very well. I have written this article to share a few ideas of my own that seem to work well. They can be changed and manipulated in several ways; this is where your own creativity comes in to play.

The patterns are not style specific, but you will hear several styles they can be applied to as you work through your ideas. These are all written for right handed drummers, the lefties can reverse them all (sorry to the left handed players). Remember, the patterns that you play are your ideas; I am just giving you a template to work with, have fun.

STEP ONE – THE LICKS

The exercises in this article are all paradiddle based. The paradiddle is a rudiment using a combination of single and double strokes – RLRR LRLL. The singles are the para (RL), and the doubles are the diddle (RR), and the opposite for the left hand lead. I haven’t written any specific rhythms (1/8 notes, 1/16 notes) as this keeps our mind open to create, the exercises are all rights and lefts.

Our first pattern is just 4 groups of paradiddles:

RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL

Play this first on the snare, as I am sure you have all done before. Now move your right hand to the ride cymbal and your left can stay on the snare. I am also going to add a star underneath some of the stickings, this will be our bass drum. So now we have this:

RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL          R=Ride, L=Snare, *=Bass Drum

*         *        *        *

This will be referred to as pattern #1.

Now here are 3 combinations in groups of 5, 6 and 7. You will notice they all start with the paradiddle sticking (RLRR), and I have added on 1, 2 or 3 notes.

5’s - RLRRL

6’s – RLRRBL  (the B is Bass Drum)

7’s – RLRRLRL

You can play these on the snare at first, but we want to move them around the kit for variety. Try the group of 5’s, and put your right hand on the floor tom and keep your left on the snare. Now play the same lick, but the first right will be on your first tom, and the double right will be on the floor tom, left hand still on the snare. You can play this lick together continuously:

RLRRLRLRRL

Or you can leave a space between the 5’s.

RLRRL   RLRRL

The 6’s are the same lick, but I have put a bass drum before the last left. You can move your right hand around the same way we did in the 5’s, or however you create the pattern.

The 7’s are just like the 5’s, but with a single RL at the end. I also like to replace the last R with a bass drum for variety:

RLRRLBL

Play these around the kit as well; you will totally get caught up in the creation of your pattern.

STEP TWO – PUTTING IT TOGETHER

The next step is to put these licks at the end of pattern #1, and play them twice. The 5’s would look like this:

RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL RLRRL RLRRL           

*         *       *         *       (your lick goes here)

You can do the same thing with the groups of 6 and 7 as well, just be creative.

At first, these may sound a little weird as we are probably going to be in an odd time signature (depending on how we phrase the licks). Let your ear tell you what sounds right to you, the only rule is the rights and lefts in the patterns.

STEP THREE – THE GROOVES

The last thing I want to show you in this article is putting this stuff into a groove context. Try the following lick. It is similar to the last pattern with the 5’s, but we will keep the rights and lefts on the same instruments throughout. We will also add a bass drum at the beginning of each group of 5.

RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL RLRRL RLRRL (R= Ride, L= Snare, * = Bass Drum)

*         *       *         *       *          *

The two groups of 5 at the end will feel really weird at first, but just keep trying to run the hands all together and loop the pattern. We can do this with the 6’s and 7’s as well, although the 6’s have a bass drum already, so we won’t mark the start of the pattern.

RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL RLRRBL RLRRBL   (R=Ride, L= Snare, * and B= Bass Drum)

*         *       *        *     

At first these may seem a little weird, as I have said, but with some time and patience you will come up with some really cool ideas. We can also use the hi-hat instead of the ride, and our left hand can move to different parts of the kit as well. To be creative, first we must allow ourselves to be creative, and that is our goal. This is why the patterns are written out in a very simplistic form; our brain can use its creative side.

Next month I will expand on this concept, and show you a few other ideas for some very creative practice sessions.




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About the Author
Jayson  Brinkworth

Jayson Brinkworth is an accomplished drummer, percussionist, vocalist, educator and writer based out of Canada. He is co-owner of the Saskatchewan music school Music In The House, as well as the founder of both the Regina Drum Festival and The Stickman Drum Experience.

Jayson proudly endorses Yamaha drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans heads, Impact cases, Kickport, Flix, Future Sonics and Mountain Rhythm. Visit Jayson online at www.jaysonbrinkworth.com.



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