Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5/4 Dawson Exercise

This exercise was swiped!
A Swiped Single Stroke Exercise!
Today's single stroke exercise comes from a combination of two different exercises that I swiped.  The first was Todd Bishop's idea of translating "Stick Control" into 5/4.  As usual, Todd's ideas are brilliantly clear, useful, and thought-provoking all at the same time.  

I wanted to find a way to incorporate this idea into things that I was already practicing, so I thought of combining it with Alan Dawson's fabulous single stroke exercise from "The Drummers Complete Vocabulary".


The result is below, and I am happy to report that based on my time with it so far it is a great way to both work on your single strokes, and to get your hands feeling more comfortable in 5!

The Dawson Single-Stroke Exercise In 5/4
For those of you not familiar with the Dawson Single-Stroke exercise, the premise is really simple.  Using the first column of "Stick Control" alternate between playing a line and playing two measures of eighth notes in groups of four to a hand.  Always start the groups of four on the opposite hand of the one that played last on the line.  The result is a great exercise for developing your single strokes, as well as your ability to move seamlessly between rudiments.

Here is that same exercise translated into 5/4 ala Todd Bishop:



Playing tips
If you don't have this already, get it!
This exercise can be daunting at first, so definitely learn it in 4/4 before attempting this version.  Just like in the Dawson exercise, once you get through the exercise once, go back through but with a full measure of eighth notes on each hand in each line.  Once you get through that, do it one more time with two measures of eighth notes on each hand. 

It is really important to do this exercise with a metronome, preferably with the metronome playing half notes.  This will mean that you will have to play every other measure with the metronome clicking on 2 and 4.  This is hard at first, but being able to feel the half-note pulse this way in 5/4 is a really excellent ear-strengthening exercise in and of itself!

The value of this exercise is to be able to move smoothly and fluidly through these rudiments, so don't try to fly through it at first.  Play it slowly and carefully (the Dawson book recommends starting around half note=60) and focus on transitions and staying relaxed.