Crash Cymbals – Drills For Skills

Part 3 of 3 – Drills-For-Skills

As I’ve indicated in previous tutorials The Fundamentals of Cymbal Crashes and Crash Cymbal Skills, at the age of 40 I found myself going about the task of re-learning drumming skills. As a part of that process, I developed several practice drills to help me become more comfortable in utilizing both hands for crash cymbal work. Those drills and the demonstration of them will be the essence of this final installment of the cymbal tutorial. Hopefully, you’ll find these as helpful as I did.

Exercise #1

This is practiced in combination with a straight 1/8 note bass drum rhythm. I don't employ a specific pattern of crashes with either of these drills. I improvise, beginning with fewer, less intricate combinations and then progress in complexity as I become more comfortable with the exercise. A brief video demonstration is included below.

Exercise #2

This 2nd drill is practiced much like the first. The one big difference is the structure of the bass drum rhythm pattern. Here, I employed a jerkier feeling, shuffle-type structure. This exercise incorporates 16th notes into the bass drum line & is intended to increase your comfort level with a different type of rhythmic flow. Once again, a video demonstration is included below.

A Final Note

As your skills progress, you may find it useful to mix some hand/hand combinations in with your hand/foot combos. For any of you who didn't notice, that's exactly what I did in the final section of that last video demonstration. Back in the "fundamentals" installment of this tutorial, I pointed out that crashes are most commonly combined with either a bass drum stroke or a snare stroke. It's good to incorporate some crash/snare combos in with your crash/bass drills. Mix it up some! Variety in your practice routines will go a long way toward improving your reaction times, thereby making you a better improvisational drummer.

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About Tom Hoffman

Tom Hoffman currently lives in the Midwestern section of the USA. He started playing drums at the age of 13. That began the first phase of his musical journey. Seven months later he joined his first band. From that moment on, he was hooked! By age 15, he was functioning as both a drummer & a singer. At 16, like many other aspiring musicians, he began teaching in conjunction with local drum shop programs. From age 20 to age 23, he was one of the founding members of a band called "Nickels". During that period, Nickels was a common fixture throughout the local club circuit. The band was also given the opportunity to serve as opening act for a number of national groups appearing at local concert venues. At age 23, for various reasons, he decided to end the first part of his musical journey. He left Nickels, sold all his equipment and stopped playing altogether.

.....anyway, onward & upward into Phase #2. Apparently, Tom never lost the itch to play an active part in music. At age 40, he was looking to scratch that itch. He had something different in mind this time though......not performance.....writing. He'd always wanted to become more involved in the creative end of things, so that was the goal this time. One small problem though.....he lacked all of the skills, knowledge and equipment necessary to make it happen. That didn't turn out to be an insurmountable obstacle though. Over the next 2 years, he went about the task of addressing his musical shortcomings. By age 42 he had achieved a reasonable level of competency as a drummer, guitarist and bass player. He had also managed to acquire a fundamental knowledge of both music theory & home recording.

Tom is now 56. For the past 14 years he's been primarily an amateur singer-songwriter, but has never lost the passion for his first love....drums. He's still an active drummer and intends to continue in that capacity. In recent years, many of his songs have achieved various levels of recognition in international writing contests. He's been a finalist, a 6-time semi-finalist and a runner-up. He has also received a number of honorable mentions, but has yet to win. "Winning" is still a work-in-progress. For anyone interested, the following link contains a detailed breakdown of the award results. Tunesmith Awards.


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