Building great habits from the very beginning.
Our series of Special Feature Videos are supplemental to the drum set lessons, and cover important aspects of technique. We frequently reference them in our video lessons, and leave it to you to dive in when you feel relaxed and ready. From how to hold your drum sticks and sit comfortably, to playing the bass drum pedal and fun stick tricks - it's all in these series of bonus videos.
“After reading reviews about a ton of different websites, it seemed obvious from the feedback that Drum Ambition was the right one for me. I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED! The course is incredibly well structured, and Simon explains everything in a clear manner. I love the way that he believes that playing and learning the drums should be fun, so he ensures that you are given an opportunity to play basic rhythms from an early stage, and then carefully integrates a range of skills into these rhythms.”
Matt - Drum Ambition Subscriber in Australia.
Want to dive deeper? Here's a full run down of our Special Feature Videos.
PART 1 - GRIP, BASS DRUM TECHNIQUE, POSTURE AND POSITIONING.
We answer some common questions on how to hold your sticks, how to use the bass drum pedal, maintaining good posture, and how to position your drums. This Special Feature shows you a practical grip to use to start your drumming adventure, two popular bass drum techniques, tips for maintaining good posture to keep healthy and be efficient on the drum set, and we answer some very common questions on the positioning of your set up. As always, Simon walks you step by step through the process, in easy, manageable segments.
PART 2 - DEVELOPING FINGER CONTROL.
Simon explains the relationship between fingers and stick control, pointing out common challenges for beginner drummers, and opportunities to improve this vital area of technique. It is highly recommended that you view the grip section in the accompanying Special Feature Video before applying the tips you see in this video.
PART 3 - STICK TRICKS AND SHOWMANSHIP.
Showmanship definitely has it's place in drumming, and in this video, we show you how to spin your drum sticks. Simon also references drummers that tastefully blend showmanship with the most important task of all - being a musical, solid drummer. His examples are Rich Redmond (Jason Aldean) and the late, great John Blackwell Jr (Price, Justin Timberlake). Have fun, and enjoy the challenge!
PART 4 - AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TRADITIONAL GRIP.
Simon demonstrates the "Traditional Grip", including an explanation of the evolution of this technique, practical application, and some pointers on how to practice. In the introduction, some prominent drummers are mentioned that are considered Masters of the traditional grip. For your reference, these include Thomas Lang, Steve Smith, Keith Carlock and Cindy Blackman. Check out some YouTube footage of these great drummers - they take this approach to the next level!
PART 5 - THE CORE FOUR RUDIMENTS - SINGLE STROKES.
Drum set rudiments are a series of sticking patterns that build control on the drum set, and help fine-tune your technique. They can also be used creatively in fills and grooves, and help make us a musical drummer. In this video, Simon takes you through the single stroke, including tips on practicing, developing technique, working with a metronome, and some realistic goals and expectations.
PART 6 - THE CORE FOUR RUDIMENTS - DOUBLE STROKES, SLOW.
Continuing our theme on the "core-four" rudiments, we introduce you to one of the most versatile rudiments on the drums set; the double stroke. You can add so much musicality to your drum fills and grooves by learning and applying these strokes. There are two types of double strokes: picked doubles, and bounced doubles. This video covers the picked double, which is essential to fine tune the technique at slower tempos. Remember, a good fast double stroke does not happen unless the foundation has been set - this video addresses that very foundation.
PART 7 - THE CORE FOUR RUDIMENTS - DOUBLE STROKES, FAST.
This episode covers the bounced double, which is the key to faster double strokes, and ultimately, a double stroke roll. In order to get the most out of this video, you will have already familiarized yourself with the picked double, the single stroke, and finger control videos. Have fun!
PART 8 - THE CORE FOUR RUDIMENTS - FLAMS.
The flam is a great rudiment to embellish your drum fills, and is also a great stick control exercise. In this video, Simon shows you how to develop the technique to play smooth, balanced, and effective flams. As always, we discuss technique, practice and application. In the commentary, we refer to "dynamic strokes" and these are further discussed at length in Module 1, Lesson 20.
PART 9 - THE CORE FOUR RUDIMENTS - DRAGS.
In the final installment of our "core four" rudiment series, Simon discusses the rudimental drag. Find out how combining a single stroke with a double stroke can give you some impressive results! Since this rudiment requires a good understanding of the slow and fast double strokes, we recommend that you take a moment to view Part 6 (slow, picked double strokes) and Part 7 (faster, bounced double strokes).
PART 10 - PARADIDDLE POWER.
The rudimental Paradiddle is a great opportunity to refine your technique, while giving you some very interesting groove and fill ideas at the same time. Since this rudiment is made up of single strokes and double strokes, it is recommended that you view the previous videos on these topics to give you the best preparation. The Paradiddle sticking is R L R R L R L L. Have fun, and don't forget to reach out if you need help!
PART 11 - FLAM ACCENTS.
Continuing our theme of "the best of the rest", Simon introduces you to the rudimental Flam Accent. This triplet based rudiment combines flams with single strokes to give you a somewhat tricky, but totally fun sticking exercise. As with all rudiments, this can be adapted to drum fills, and since this video is shot in Simon's teaching studio at Studio West, you can see first hand how this might work on the drum set! Have fun, and reach out if you need any help.
PART 12 - ASSEMBLING A YAMAHA STAGE CUSTOM BIRCH DRUM SET FROM THE BOX.
We teamed up with our good friends at Yamaha Drums to bring you this video on drum set assembly. Using a beautiful Yamaha Stage Custom Birch as our example, we show you the key moments in assembling a drum set directly from the box. From unboxing to identifying parts, assembling toms, fitting hi-hat clutches and basic tuning - we deliver the key information in a quick and easy 14 minute video. If you require guidance on positioning your new drum set, please refer to this additional video.
PART 13 - WHY IS READING MUSIC NOTATION IMPORTANT?
Understanding basic music notation will make your learning experience much more productive, and set you up for longer term success. Drum Ambition has been designed for both students that want to learn music notation, and equally for those who do not. With that said, Simon is a huge advocate for learning basic music theory, because in his opinion, it makes the experience better, quicker, and more comprehensive. It is highly recommended that you watch all 10 Music Notation videos.
PART 14 - ARE THE DRUM SET RUDIMENTS IMPORTANT?
Conventional drumming wisdom will tell you that mastering the drum set rudiments is an essential step in becoming a solid and proficient drummer. But how does this view relate to beginner and hobbyist drummers who mostly want to focus on drum beats, fills, and playing along to music? Simon discusses the merits of applying the core-four rudiments, how they will eventually embellish your drumming, and why you shouldn't lose sleep over them in the early days of your drumming adventure. Be sure to check out our Special Feature Videos on the Core-Four Rudiments.
PART 15 - SHOULD DRUMMING BE PAINFUL?
Most drumming related aches and pains are a result of bad technique. The good news is that attention to grip, posture, bass drum technique and drum set ergonomics can help you stay healthy! In conjunction with this video blog, we strongly recommend that you watch Special Feature Video Part 1, which covers all of the above areas of development in detail.
PART 16 - HOW DO I TUNE MY DRUMS?
Tuning drums is a skill that can take a long time to develop, and it really is a case of trial and error, experiments and tinkering. In fact, there are many books and DVDs dedicated to this subject alone. We recommend checking out the DVD "Drum Tuning" by Bob Gatzen. In the meantime, our Special Feature Video on assembling a Yamaha Stage Custom drum set will give you some good fundamentals, and there are a few tips in this video blog that should make the process a little less taxing.
PART 17 - HOW MUCH SHOULD I PRACTICE?
Did you know that 5-10 minutes of focused practice per day can give you some great results over time? We all lead busy lives, and finding time to practice, and understanding what to practice, can be a source of frustration. In this video, Simon discusses the difference between focused practice time and "noodling", and why both can be equally important. Small, manageable, and fun practice sessions are the key to success for busy people!
PART 18 - IS EAR PROTECTION IMPORTANT?
Whether you are playing acoustic or electronic drums; being mindful of the volume, and taking the appropriate precautions to protect your hearing is highly recommended. Simon shares some insight on what causes hearing damage, the longer term effects, and the importance of paying attention to this factor when learning the drums.
PART 19 - WHICH DRUM STICKS SHOULD I USE?
The drum stick classification system can be a little confusing to hobbyist drummers. Finding out which drum sticks suit you best is a matter of experimentation, but understanding the basics in terms of weight, composition, tips and brands can help point you in the right direction. In this video blog, Simon discusses the most common stick types, and what sets them apart. They are the 5A, 5B, 7A, and 2B. The 5A is considered the "average" weight, and is always a good starting point.
PART 20 - SHOULD DRUM STICKS BREAK?
Aside from natural wear and tear, the most common cause of breaking drum sticks is a simple gap in technique. How you hold your sticks, how tight you grip them, and how hard you hit can affect their lifespan. With the average cost of a good pair of sticks being around $15, accidentally breaking them can become expensive. In this video blog, Simon discusses how being aware of technique can prolong the life of your favorite pair of sticks. Be sure to watch the Special Feature Video Part 1, which focuses on Grip.
PART 21 - WHAT IS A CLICK TRACK?
A click track is essentially a metronome that plays a role in developing good time keeping, and also has uses in studio recording and live production. In this video blog, Simon examines the practical use of the click track in each of these areas, and discusses why developing good time keeping is the Number One priority for all drummers.
PART 22 - WHAT IS STICKING?
The key to drum set control is understanding and implementing sticking concepts. In this video blog, Simon explains how sticking concepts can lead to better control on the drum set, including creative drum fill orchestrations, musicality, dynamics, and of course, speed. If you aspire to play fluently, confidently and musically on the drum set - this video blog is a must watch!
PART 23 - HOW DO I DRUM FASTER?
We all want to play fast beats and fills, and play along to uptempo songs, but the reality is that speed is just a byproduct of control. In order to build speed, we have to practice slowly and more precisely, with gradual, incremental advances as and when we feel completely comfortable. In this video blog, Simon discusses the hobbyist drummer's obsession with speed, and why it is essential to manage your expectations, and build a strong foundation.
PART 24 - HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN THE DRUMS?
How long it takes to learn the drums depends very much on your personal goals. If your goal is to play basic beats and fills, and play along with slow to mid-tempo songs, then just 5-10 minutes of focused practice per day will get you there after a few weeks of playing. Like any musical instrument, you get out what you put in, and your practice time, and the quality of practice will ultimately lead to the fulfillment of your individual goals.
PART 25 - THE ULTIMATE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR BEGINNER DRUMMERS.
We hope that this series of Special Feature Videos has helped answer many of your questions. You may also like to know that Simon has taken his 20 years of teaching experience, and published a book called The Ultimate Survival Guide for Beginner Drummers. In this short video, he talks about the thought behind the book, and the benefits for beginner and hobbyist drummers. The book is available on Kindle, and you can get more details here.