Drum Books, Gear, and Accessories that I Actually Use...
I created this page for my students so they could quickly find links to the books and supplies required for lessons. I thought it might be useful to anyone else who stumbles across it though, so I've made it public. I'm a working drummer and teacher, so every product on this page is something I actually use in either my teaching practice or as a professional drummer.
FYI, the product pages contain affiliate links (mainly Amazon), so I make a tiny percentage (around 4%) for clickthroughs that result in a purchase. Thanks!
Teaching Rhythm For All Instruments – Joel Rothman
This is an excellent source for learning to read rhythmic notation. Around here we just call it “Rothman,” and it’s a requirement for all beginning drum students. Mr. Rothman presents the material in such a simple and logical way, that my students can literally read music from day one. The lessons become progressively more interesting and challenging as we move from quarter notes to 8th notes, 16th notes, triplets, etc. Honestly, my kids really love working from this book.
Gary Chaffee’s Time Functioning Patterns
It would take too long to write about the importance of Gary Chaffee here, so I’ll just say that this book is a must-have for intermediate/advanced players. The “Fat Back” section in particular is required for all my students once they can read 16th-note rhythms.
Chaffee designed the “Fat Back” section so that it methodically covers virtually every 16th-note rhythmic combination that can be played on the kick drum, while maintaining a steady backbeat (fat back) on the snare. The concept then is to vary your hi-hat or ride cymbal ostinato, making the sequence challenging and interesting. I tell my students that if they can play this sequence, in time, at different tempos, with some authority, then they can play pretty much any 16th-note groove they want.
Todd Sucherman said he still plays through this “Fat Back” section, and considers it like “going to the gym” for drummers. I agree wholeheartedly. That alone is worth the price of the book. So if you’re sitting at home, not sure what to practice? Practice the Fat Back exercises!
There’s a lot more in this book, and it gets pretty deep. I highly recommend it.
A Funky Primer for the Rock Drummer
Ah, the Funky Primer! I believe this was my very first drum set method book… I still have my copy from the 1970’s!
This book is primarily for beginning and intermediate drummers, but I regularly repurpose pages of this book to make it challenging even for advanced drummers. The first few sections cover basic notation reading and practically every 8th-note variation that can be played on the kick drum, then delves into 16th-note grooves and exercises, and even some 16th-note triplet exercises, very John Bonham-like.
Although Funky Primer is an older book, it’s still musically relevant, and is required for all my beginning students. It’s a great book to start your drumming journey.
Tommy Igoe’s Great Hands for a Lifetime
This is quite possibly my favorite drum education product, and I use it both in my teaching practice and as a life-long student of drumming myself. It’s essentially a guided sequence of snare drum rudiments all seamlessly connected by a double-stroke roll. It makes for a great warmup and is fun to play.
The product contains notation, guided mp3 play-alongs, and an instructional DVD. The DVD is very helpful for developing proper hand technique and to see and hear how the various rudiments should be played. I play along to the Advanced mp3 every day, which I still find challenging. There are 3 versions of the exercise, called Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. To be honest, the “Basic” version is too difficult for most beginners. It presumes the ability to play a double-stroke roll at 130 BPM. Beginners can, however, still learn the rudiments and play through the piece at their own metronome setting; they just won’t be able to play along to the guided mp3 until they’ve reached a higher level of proficiency.
The Intermediate and Advanced versions are progressively more difficult, as additional rudiments and combinations are added, and the BPM is increased.
I highly recommend Great Hands for a Lifetime. It’s my go-to daily warmup.