*** Pata-what?! ****

*** Pata-what?! ****

A pataflafla is one of those rudiments that many of you cringe at the very thought of trying to play. This is either because you just don’t like the name of it, or because you would rather eat your grandmother’s collard greens than attempt to play
something that weird.

Well folks, we’re here to tell you that it isn’t that bad. 🙂

The best way to approach this is “one step at a time”. First you need to realize that it’s simply made up of flams and single strokes. Well, we can all play single strokes right? So, that only leaves the flam part to deal with. (See how easy this is? 😉

Most of us already know how to play flams but some of us need some serious brushing up. If you’ll take the time to get those alternated flams down real good, there is only one more step!

The FLAM ACCENT is the next step and one of the primary rudiments within the Pataflafla. It just takes a little repetition and you’ll have it before you know it.

> >
1 2 3, 4 5 6

(Right-handed flam on 1, Left-handed flam on 4.)

Ok, it’s time to tackle the Pataflafla.
A good way to start is by playing 2 alternated flams, then 2 alternated singles back to back. Do this over and over again to get the motion down. You then simply phrase this over 16th notes as follows:

> > > > > > > >
1 e + a, 2 e + a, 3 e + a, 4 e + a

This will be tricky at first but hang in there! Keep it slow for now and play it clean. You’ll find that playing the Pataflafla isn’t nearly as hard as you thought.

Sweat The Small Stuff

Cymbal Cleaning / Cymbal Care:

Have you ever noticed that some drummers’ cymbals shine so much that it always looks like they’re brand new? Then there’s the rest of us. We’d rather take a bullet in the head then to have to clean those darn things.

Most like the way cymbals look when they’re shiny and bright. The stage lights reflect off of them and really set off our drumset. But…are we often too lazy to clean them? I must admit, I rarely ever cleaned my cymbals. When I did, I dreaded it as it would make a complete mess out of the kitchen. I’d have cleaners spread from one end of the room to the other. I’d have numerous rags, and usually papers or towels on the floor because the things were always so awkwardly big that you couldn’t fit them into the kitchen sink. I was relieved to finally play with a few big artists where the stage crew (and hired union workers) would clean them for me.

And so…
Well, I’ve written this article to help with the laborious task of cleaning your cymbals. Hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two and you won’t ruin a few of your cymbals the way I did. Remember there are numerous opinions on the subject and this will vary depending on personal experiences. Here are a few pointers based off of my own experience and research:
Cymbal Cleaner

1. Do it in the yard, not in your bathtub or kitchen sink. Take a bucket of warm water out there just like you’re going to wash your car. Leave your bath or kitchen be. It does nothing but make a huge mess and pisses off your girlfriend or spouse. Ha!

2. Experiment with all the cymbal cleaners. I’ve listed them below. Be careful with scouring mixes like Comet. They can scratch the surface of your cymbals if you’re not careful.

3. Determine whether your cymbal needs a polishing, a quick once-over, or a deep-cleaning (dirt and grime has built up on the cymbal over a period of time as opposed to just stick markings). If they only need a quick polish, buy a spray-on type of cleaner. It’s usually quick and effective.

4. When you clean your cymbal, wipe in the direction of the grooves of your cymbal. You can use an abrasive sponge or scrub brush but make sure that the wires of the brush are not metal or that they’re not something that will scratch the cymbal.

5. Some drummers will use household cleaners such as Fantastic or Formula 409 to help remove the initial deepened grime. It won’t get it all out but it might help loosen it up. You can also soak your cymbals in hot water before cleaning them. This will help loosen the dirt.

6. Remember that some commercial cymbal cleaners are more for polishing or touching up rather than deep-cleaning (and visa versa) so be sure to read the label before proceeding.

7. Clean small sections at a time, especially with really dirty cymbals. Again, think of it like your washing your car. You don’t wash the entire car at one time right? Take it one small section at a time.

8. Some drum shops have professional cymbal cleaning machines and they offer this as a service to their customers. It will cost you a bit but will save you a lot of time if you’re one that simply detests the chore.

9. Some cleaning agents can be harmful to your health. Be sure to use rubber gloves or a breathing mask if necessary. Make sure there is proper ventilation.

What are cymbals made out of?
An alloy (or combination of metals) consisting of copper, tin, nickel silver, brass, or bronze.

What makes cymbals get dirty?
Dust, cigarette smoke, and especially oil from your fingers.

Why do cymbals turn green sometimes?
This is a result of tarnishing. The cymbal becomes discolored due to slow oxidation. When there is brass or copper in the cymbal alloy, it will turn green over time if not polished.

Drum Lessons

What drummers often use to clean cymbals:

Drum Products:
Zildjian Cymbal Cleaning Polish
Paiste Cymbal Cleaner
Sabian Cymbal Cleaner
Groove Juice
Buckaroo Cymbal Cleaner
Blitz Cymbal Cleaner
Household Products:
Graffiti Remover
Fantastic or Formula 409
Car Wax
Lemon Juice

– Usually cymbal ink labels will rub off during cleaning. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to clean around them effectively.

– Although it’s debatable just how much, metal is lost in the process of harder scrubbing and if care is not taken to follow the grooves, it could affect the overall tonal quality of your cymbal.

– Avoid using a high speed drill with attachments. This could prevent undesirable results and/or you could ruin your cymbal.

– Vintage cymbals: Altering their age properties or original design structure could de-value the cymbals in the resale market. Use extreme caution.

Other Tips and Advice:
– Keep your cymbals covered. Store them in a cymbal bag (individual cymbal sleeves are recommended) or in a cymbal case. Keeping them properly stored keeps them cleaner longer. If you have to have your cymbals on stage for long periods of time, invest in cymbal sleeves or take them down each night.

– Pick up your cymbals by the edges and try not to touch the surface area. If you have to handle your cymbals frequently, keep a pair of gloves in your accessory bag and put them on before handling the cymbals.

In Loving Memory

We would like to give a shout out to Cole. One of Keiths favorite students who horrifically hit by a car and killed. Keith and Cole had a special bond even with the parents. He is survived by parents and sister who are all obviously devisted.  He is missed weekly at class. WE LOVE YOU COLE you were an awesome kid and still an awesome kid on the other side. We know you drop by the school as we feel your presence. We know you are rocking out in heaven.


Major Drum Companies
Parents often ask us who the major drum companies are. We’ve made a list of some of the more popular ones here. They’re in no particular order and this list was not intended to be a link database. Please use your favorite search engine to locate address, phone or website information.

1. Pearl Drum Corporation – One of the most popular drum companies. They carry a full line of drumset, marching drums and accessories.
2. Tama Drums – Full line of drumsets and accessories
3. Premier Drums – Based out of the UK. Drumsets, Popular in Marching Percussion. Known for their slotted tension lugs.
4. Gretsch Drums – Older, respected drum company known for their superb tonal quality.
5. Yamaha – Full line of drums including drumset and marching percussion.
6. DW (Drum Workshop) – Known for superb quality in construction and detail. First to popularize individual shell tone and pitch matching.
8. Sonor – German drum company. Legendary for unique design, attention to detail and incredible tone.
9. Ludwig – Who hasn’t heard of Ludwig Drums? This household name is still alive and kicking. Terrific drumsets and marching drums. Big resale value in vintage Ludwig drumsets.
10. LP (Latin Percussion) – LP set the standard for Latin percussion instruments. Known for high quality and full line of Latin drums, percussion and accessories.
11. Taye – A newer drum company known for quality and affordability.
12. Slingerland – Another legendary drum company. Famous artist endorsements through the years have made vintage Slingerland drums very valuable.
13. Remo Drums – Originally a drumhead manufacturer, Remo came out with a “pressed paper” manufacturing process for drum that took everyone by surprise. Although they make drumsets, their kid’s percussion line has really taken first chair.
14. GMS – High quality drums with lots of projection.
15. Ayotte – High quality drumsets popular with those that are extremely particular about their drum sound. They also popularized wooden hoops.
16. Baltimore Drum – High quality drum company specializing in custom orders. Very unique designs.
17. Mapex – An alternative to the others, Mapex drums offer an affordable choice without sacrificing quality and practicality.
18. Fibes – Largely American made! A company spanning 30 years with an emphasis on attack and dynamic projection.
19. Peavey – A few years back, Peavey got into the drum picture. Their drums looked bulky and impractical. Surprisingly they sounded great!
20. Orange County Drums (OCD) – More recently getting noticed due to unique and colorful designs and popular artist endorsement.
21. Brady Drums – This Australian company specializes in handcrafted made from Western Australian hardwoods such as Jarrah and Wandoo. Their claim to fame was the solid, one piece drum carved directly from the same tree.
22. Noble and Cooley – Originally known for their masterfully engineered snare drums. Customized designs with maple shells. Very respected company in the industry.
23. RocketShells – Newer on the market. Slick looking drums that sound terrific. Unique manufacturing process utilizing carbon fiber.
24. Rogers – Another legendary drum company. More popular in the 70’s, these drums have all but disappeared from the scene.
25. Arbiter – Developed by pioneer Ivor Arbiter, these innovative drums (Arbiter AT’s and Arbiter Flats) are tuned using one lug instead of 10. Apparently they still carry a surprising amount of tone and resonance (less so in the flats).
26. Monolith – Another drum manufacturer, based out of Canada, that specializes in carbon fiber drums.
27. Pacific – A division of DW drums. Not as high quality or customizable as DW but more affordable.

BE a pro drummer

“If someone earns money playing the drums, whether part-time
or full-time, he or she is a professional drummer.”


Sometimes how often a drummer works has less to do with his or her musical abilities than with how those abilities are applied. The following tips will help the young drummer get a perspective on what it takes to be a professional working drummer. They can also be helpful to the older, more experienced drummer-because we can all lose our perspective at times. I am sure everyone will find something on this list he or she has been guilty of neglecting, and will welcome the reminder.

1) Warm up before the gig. This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. Naturally, if you have practiced during the day you should still be loose enough by evening. But if you did not practice (or if it is a morning or early afternoon gig), a short ten-or twenty-minute warm-up will definitely give your playing an edge.
Some musicians feel that warming up is unnecessary -even amateurish-but that is totally wrong. In the first place, musical instruments (especially drums) are very physical, and a certain looseness and flexibility are required to perform on them at optimum efficiency. Why have to wait until the second set to be totally in command of your instrument? Besides, you never know who might be in the audience listening to just the first set-a reviewer, a record producer, other musicians-and that will be all they might have to judge your playing capabilities by. In addition, it’s really a great feeling to play smoothly and relaxed during that first set. Sometimes you can save a train wreck up there, and you can be sure it will be noticed by all involved.

2) Keep good time. This is the most important thing a drummer can do. Most musicians and singers rely on their drummers to keep time for them, but even when performing with players who have great time themselves, the drummer’s time needs to be excellent so as not to break the groove.

3) Be on time for the gig. Set up the drums earlier in the day if possible. It is always better to walk in on the gig with just your sticks and cymbals in hand than to have to lug equipment in, set up, adjust positions, tune, etc, –and then play the job (and even more so if you have to war a tuxedo).

4) Be a good sideman. This includes all the previous rules up to this point. Play what the leader asks, and don’t complain about times, tempos, styles, or anything that might give the leader any additional problems. The leader has to book the job, hire the musicians, negotiate money, please the club owner (or whoever hires him), satisfy the public, call the tunes…Good side musicians are really noticed and appreciated because they help make the job go smoothly. Become a leader one time, and I guarantee you will improve your attitude as a sideman.

5) Play in context. Play a dance job like a dance job and a rock gig like a rock gig. Trying to play avant-garde jazz licks on a wedding job won’t make it-and won’t get you rehired. Also, keep in mind the abilities of the other musicians. You may be light-years ahead of them in experience, knowledge, and technique, but if your playing becomes too complex for them to comprehend, you will just lose them-and the gig. Always try to make the band as a whole sound good while playing to the highest level possible in context with the music and the other musicians.

6) Control your ego. At times this can be the most difficult rule to follow. Ego is definitely healthy and necessary, but it must be kept under control.
Sometimes we can take it personally when asked to do things like turn the volume down or keep the tempo steady. But the problem could be someone other than you. Maybe the guitar is too loud or the bass player is dragging and you are simply being asked to keep them in check. Very seldom will a drummer be called for a gig to do solos under a spotlight. You are hired to do a job, so just do it and don’t let your ego get in the way.

7) Act professionally at all time. If you act professionally, chances are you will be treated in a professional manner. Treat your job like a job-not a big party. Dress cleanly and properly. Stay sober, and be reserved, not loud and boisterous, on the breaks. This is not to say you can’t enjoy yourself on the gig. If we didn’t enjoy our work, why have music for a career? However, keep things in perspective, and take care of business first. You will find that the better you do your job, the more you will enjoy your work-and the more respect you will garner.

8) Have the right equipment for the gig. It just does not make sense to bring a bebop set on a rock or funk gig, and vice-versa. The sound of your drums definitely affects the way you play-as wee as the sound of the band. Also, bring a good assortment of sticks, brushes, mallets, and the like to be prepared for any occasion. And be sure your equipment is in good shape. Equipment breakdowns in the middle of a set are unnecessary and can ruin a great groove.

9) Practice at home, not on the job. This gig is not the place to try out some new sticking or technique. Besides, the tendency, when trying something new, is to force it into a spot where it doesn’t necessarily fit. After a technique has been perfected at home, then by all means bring it on the gig. Just be sure to use it in context.

10) Play as if your reputation depends on it. It just might. As stated earlier, you never know who could be in the audience. Just play the gig in context and as perfectly as possible, and everyone will be more than satisfied-the leader and other side musicians, the customers, the club owner or concert promoter, and you.

11) Play yourself. Add something special to the music. This is what makes you different from other drummers: your own personal approach to music and drumming.

12) Play music! This is the ultimate goal. Whenever you sit down to practice or play, think musically. Relate everything-from your warm-up exercises and rudiments to advanced sticking and rhythms-to music. I have heard drummers with less technique than others sound better because they were playing musically. Study music and musical form, including some melody and harmony. Spend time reading different drum books and charts. It will definitely improve your playing


Essentials Every Drummer Must Know

Essentials Every Drummer Must Learn!

Learning the drums for the first time can be a very difficult thing to do. There is so much to this massive instrument that somene could get lost very easy. Perhaps you already know how to play the drums but are finding it hard to progress with your skills. Whatever the situation is, learning the essentials of this massive instrument is a must. There are a few lessons that need to be learnt in order to be able to play and practice the drums effectively. Before starting any other lessons on the drums, make sure you go through these essentials and master them. If you are an advanced drummer already, you definitely want to go through them again to make sure you haven’t missed anything. There are a lot of drummers that do not know a few of these skills, which throws their whole groove off! Like I said; these skills are ESSENTIAL for every drummer!

The first essential skill a drummer must know before anything else is how to hold a drumstick. This is something that most drummers do not take the time to actually learn; they will just grip the sticks any way they feel comfortable. This is not the right thing to do at all! There are specific ways to hold the drum sticks for a reason, so make sure you go over all the different variations. Whether you play traditional grip, matched grip, or French grip, there is a distinct way to hold the sticks in order to get the maximum bounce and response from your stick. If you learn this right early in your drumming life, you will be that much better off, as your practice sessions will become more effective. Check out these few articles on this concept so you can master this skill:

The next thing every drummer should know is how to count time. This is not as easy as counting to 4, there is a little more to it. Being able to count time means being able to count different time signatures, notes, and beats. If you cannot count the beat or groove you are playing, then how do you expect to play it properly? That is why you must develop your internal clock skills right away as a drummer. Most drummers think they can do this no problem, but when asked to play a 16th note pattern in 7/4, they stare at me with a blank look. So work on counting time so you can master you beats on the drum set. Here are a few lessons and articles on this concept:

One essential skill most drummers do not know is how to tune a drum set. You would be surprised how many students I get asking me how to tune a drum kit. The method isn’t really that hard, yet so many drummers never take the time to learn it. If you can tune your drum set correctly, your whole drumming experience will sound that much better. You will also get a further understanding for the instrument you are trying to master. Knowing your instrument is the first step in learning it. So to help you out, here are a few lessons on learning how to tune a drum set:

Believe it or not, another essential skill drummers must learn is how to read sheet music. So many drummers do not take the time to even consider learning this. Understanding a little bit of drumming theory is the best thing any drummer can do for themselves; after all, drums are still music. Knowing how to read drum notation will get you a ton more gigs and jobs as a drummer. Musicians will appreciate you more too. But aside from all of this, you will be able to learn more quickly. When you are starting out on the drums, this is key, fast development. When you can read sheet music you can take advantage of all the free drum lessons and beats online. You will be able to learn more diverse beats. So before you decide to just improvise and ignore drum notation, check out these easy to follow lessons to give you a further understanding of sheet music and drum theory:

These 4 skills are a must for any drummer, beginner or not. If you learn these concepts correctly before you start practicing, your practice sessions will be much more effective. If you are a drummer who has been playing for years now, go back and see if you can cross each one of these off. If you can’t, then you better get practicing. I guarantee you will see an improvement in your drumming if you follow these steps!

A Beginners Guide To Rock Drum Lessons

A Beginners Guide To Rock Drum Lessons

What makes a good rock drum lesson? How do you balance having fun and progressing as a musician? These are questions I am constantly being asked by my private drum students, and that I have had a hard time answering over the years. However, after talking to literally dozens of students, reviewing the topics and techniques most rock drummers deem “important”, and taking a self-evaluation of how my personal lessons go – I hope to provide answers to these questions for you here.

Balancing Fun and Progression With Drum Lessons

Let me say this right up front – the drums, and any other musical instrument, should be “fun” above all else. If you are not having fun while playing an instrument, then being a musician probably isn’t for you. Sure there will be challenging times where you really need to focus on developing a few difficult techniques, but at the end of the day – it needs to be fulfilling to you. If you aren’t having fun, it’s only a matter of time before practices become a chore, and gigs become a hassle.

However, with that said – it’s also important that you look inwards to see the value of hard work and practice. In other words, the more you practice – the more fun you can have with the new and creative beats and fills you come up with. So, there should be a challenge, but in the end you should feel the payoff. You don’t want to be constantly working and never reaping the rewards, but you also don’t want to become bored due to the limited material you are able to play.

In the end I think all true musicians feel much better having put in a good practice as opposed to jamming around on older material. It’s that constant challenge that makes playing an instrument so much fun.

Essential Elements of Rock Drumming

As I see it, there are three key things to focus on when it comes to rock drumming lessons:

    • Control – with the timing of a song, and with the dynamics of your drumming.
    • Independence – using the various limbs you use to play the entire drum set.
    • Groove – playing the drums musically with or without a band.

These three elements really build on each other, and are a foundation to any drummers ability to play with or without a band. Therefore, I feel any drum lesson or private practice should focus on developing these essential areas of drumming. In the end, they will make you a better drummer, and allow you to play in more situations with confidence.

A Simple Rock Drum Lesson Structure

Now, if you are anything like me and the thousands of other ADD drummers in the world, you probably have a tough time focusing for an extended period of time. The solution to this is to break up your practices into different blocks. This way your drum lessons never get repetitive.

For example, I like to practice in one hour sessions 4-5 days a week. So, I make a list of all the topics and techniques I want to cover, and split them into 20 minute blocks. Then I mix and match three of those blocks to make up my one-hour practice for each day – always moving on to the next three items each time I sit down at my kit. Every few days I will restart at the top, but as long as my list isn’t divisible by three… the repetition is never exact.

It’s also important to remember the “don’t practice while you play, and don’t play while you practice” rule. Essentially what that means is… don’t try to practice a drum-related technique during a band rehearsal or performance. Take your own personal time to do that. On the flip side, don’t jam with beats you have already mastered while you should be practicing. Leave that time for technique improvement, and mastery of new beats and fills. Keep these two aspects of drumming separate, and you will continue to develop as a musician while having fun along the way!