DRUM LESSON: Steve Smith's Double-Stroke Warmup | Steve Such Drums

THE SIMPLEST THINGS TO LEARN CAN OFTEN BE MOST CHALLENGING TO MASTER.

This week, I'd like to share an incredibly simple warmup exercise with you... yet its simplicity can be quite deceiving.

I first picked up this exercise from drumming legend Steve Smith (drummer for Journey and more) in his phenomenal drumming video: Drumset Technique/History of the U.S. Beat, and still use this warmup today (some 15 years later).


HERE ARE THE TOP 5 BENEFITS OF THIS EXERCISE:

#1 - It will develop your double stroke roll sound quality.

#2 - It will improve your double stroke roll speed/smoothness.

#3 -It works both hands evenly (leading from both hands).

#4 - It will improve your transitions between sticking patterns.

#5 - It promotes a relaxed technique (you can't do this exercise tense!).
 


WAIT! BEFORE YOU BEGIN...

steve smith rules for drummers


You will not get ANYTHING out of this exercise if you just play the notes and move on.

Instead, your #1 OBJECTIVE should be to keep your sound quality CONSISTENT and EVEN, regardless of the sticking used. This is the goal of the exercise. 

In other words, if you were to close your eyes, you should NOT be able to "hear" the sticking. You should only hear 16th notes.

Be critical of your playing and record yourself... it's the only way to really know if you're doing it right!

I've included downloadable JPG and PDF versions of each exercise below.

Enjoy and happy practicing!


EXERCISE #1

-Measure 1 is a double stroke roll, RH lead.
-Measure 2 is an inverted D.S. roll, RH lead.
-Measure 3 is a double stroke roll, LH lead.
-Measure 4 is an inverted D.S. roll, LH lead.

 
STEVE SMITH DOUBLES

EXERCISE #2
 (SINGLES VARIATION)

Ready to step it up a notch? 

Try inserting 1 bar of single stroke rolls in front of each double stroke roll sticking pattern.

Again, if you're doing this right, you should never "hear" the sticking, you should only hear smooth 16th notes.

Pay special attention to making a smooth transition between singles and doubles.

STEVE SMITH DOUBLES

SUGGESTED PRACTICE ROUTINE FOR THIS EXERCISE:

As part of a daily routine, practice at each of the following tempos for AT LEAST 3 minutes before moving onto the next level. (7 x 3 = 21 min total). 

LEVEL ONE - 50BPM (3 min)
LEVEL TWO - 75BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL THREE - 100BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL FOUR - 125BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL FIVE - 150BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL SIX - 175BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL SEVEN - 200BPM
(3 min)

*NOTE - You won't be able to play this exercise (at a high level) very fast at first... and that's OK!!

Starting from LEVEL ONE, work up until you identify a level that you struggle with, then STOP!

For example: Let's say you can only play comfortably up to LEVEL FOUR. In the same 21 minutes, you can create the following revised practice routine to help you work towards LEVEL FIVE:

LEVEL ONE - 50BPM (3 min)
LEVEL TWO - 75BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL THREE - 100BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL FOUR - 125BPM (3 min)

LEVEL FOUR - 127BPM (3 min)
LEVEL FOUR - 129BPM
(3 min)
LEVEL FOUR - 131BPM
(3 min)

Stay with it patiently and gradually work towards the next level. This isn't a race.

You simply just need to put in the time and effort to see results... I promise! 

Here are your practice tempos below for convenience:


TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

In a future article, I will discuss how you can take Steve Smith's exercise and take it even further by exploring its application in different time signatures.

In the meantime, however; these 2 exercises above will certainly keep you busy for a while. 

Good luck, be patient, and happy drumming!


RULES FOR DRUMMERS

Want more articles like this? Each week, I select one person from the video "100 RULES FOR DRUMMERS” and write an article based on the three-word rule they offered.

THIS WEEK'S RULE: "PAD IT OUT" by Colin Campbell
 

Thank you to Colin Campbell for offering his 3 words of advice to drummers (PAD IT OUT!) and for inspiring me to write this week's article!

Drummer and percussionist Colin D. Campbell grew up in Kentucky, where he studied percussion with his father, James Campbell.  His postgraduate studies took him to the University of Michigan where he studied drumset with Dr. Michael Gould, as well as jazz and improvisation with piano luminary Geri Allen. 

An extremely diverse percussionist, his performance experience ranges from big band,  symphony orchestra, musical theatre, cruise ship lounge acts, basement noise shows, modern percussion repertoire, and  all points in between.  Campbell has played drums in venues ranging from a Wal-Mart entrance to the Rose Bowl.

His recording credits include work with Arlo Guthrie, Emily Hagihara, and electronic artist Off The Sky.  Now based in Chicago, Campbell is an active performer and teacher.  He can currently be seen and heard with Le Tour (letour.bandcamp.com) and Mawrcrest (mawrcrest.com). 

Campbell is host of The Throne: A Drumming Podcast, a bi-weekly conversation about all things drumming, available via iTunes.