Desert Island Drum Books: #3 ‘Syncopation’ & ‘Modern Reading Text In 4/4’

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I’m cheating. 2 books in at number 3? These books are reasonably similar. Take your pick!

I always knew ‘Syncopation’ by Ted Reed was right up there with ‘Stick Control’ in terms of a famous drum resource. But I never knew how to use it. At first I just learnt how to read the actual rhythms… and that was it. I put the book away having ‘mastered’ it. ‘What a let down… i mean it’s soooo dry and i already know how to read this…’ HAHA!
Hashtag epic fail.

At University I learned how to apply the material in both books for co-ordination and reading figures while playing time. But no one ever showed me how to apply this great material to hand development.
When used properly this material is a goldmine to develop reading, time, chops, accents, speed, phrasing and technique.
The melodies are real life applicable to all kinds of situations from setting up a big band, taking a melodic, musical solo or just ripping out a killer fill.

Whatever you like. Whatever you need to work on. Any genre. This is malleable to your needs.
Just as our friend Morpheus says at the top there are literally infinite ways to approach these vital texts.

Certainly if your aim is to be a monster reader you will want to sink your teeth into both books.

I actually prefer the Louis Bellson book ‘Modern Reading Text in 4/4’ over Syncopation. It doesn’t include a quarter note bass drum which makes the melodies far more difficult to read. I also find the exercises in the Bellson book a bit more musical. That is not meant to be a critique on Syncopation, just my opinion.
My advice would be start on Syncopation then move onto the Bellson stuff.

In all 4 videos here I’m just playing the first 4 bars of pg.16 From the Bellson book different ways but at the same tempo.
– Play melody (straight)
– Play melody (swung)
– Play melody as accents (straight), fill in 8th notes
– Play melody as accents (swung), fill in 8th notes
– Play melody as flams/accents (straight), fill in 8th notes
– Play melody as accents (straight), fill in 16th note doubles
– Play melody as accents (swung), fill in 8th note triplets
– Play melody as accents (straight, RH lead), add 16th note singles
– Play melody as accents (swung), add in 16th note triplets (doubles)

Here’s the same approach on the kit. Still working on one surface but introducing a left foot ostinato.

Finally a couple more videos utilizing the accent/melody pattern and orchestrating it around the kit.

Let me know how you use these great teaching materials!
Take it easy.

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