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Practice blog: stopping your hi-hat from running away!

posted 31 Aug 2014, 12:16 by Chris Morris

Apologies for the lateness of this week's practice blog. Dundee Drum Academy has had a busy week with nine new pupils who weren't here this time last week! Welcome to you all! My other excuse is that despite having written out this week's blog early on in the week, I just kept forgetting to post it when I had my computer on. Oops  (Double blog for next week?).

For this week's blog, we're going to focus on a specific part of playing drum kit beats that some of you have been having trouble with. There's been a bit of co-ordination difficulty between the hi-hat and the rest of the drum kit this week, so I'm dedicating this blog to explaining the problem, and how you can fix it.

Let's start with a simple drum kit beat, imagine one where all the bass drums and snare drums are played at the same time at the hi-hat. When you play this type of beat, some of you will find that your hi-hat starts to drift away and actually play a little bit faster (or slower in rarer cases) than the bass drum and snare drum. I think the main reason for this is that you're not thinking about the part as a whole, but rather you are thinking about the bass drum and snare drum and sort of forgetting about the hi-hat.

Remember, the hi-hat is the most important part!

I quoted Tommy Igoe in last week's blog, so I wanted to avoid doing so again, but he explains how important the hi-hat is when he calls it the “connective tissue”. It connects everything together in lots of different styles. Not many of you have had the chance yet to look at a Soca beat, but that's a perfect example of how the hi-hat connects everything together. But it should be the same in rock, shuffle and sixteenth rhythms, blues, and many other styles of music.

So, if you're finding that your hi-hat is indeed drifting away from the rest of the drums, re-think the way you're approaching the music. Focus on the hi-hat part and make sure that each drum arrives with the hi-hat, not in front of it or behind it.

Of course, that can become much more difficult when we look at more complicated beats, where the drums are syncopated, and coming in-between the hi-hats. But what you should do is find the drums that do come in time, and focus on playing them with the hi-hat. For example, there should be two distinct snare drums on beats two and four. Get them right in time with the hi-hat and the rest should hopefully follow.

Above all, if you really are struggling with this, then take my usual advice that you're probably really sick of hearing. Relax, and slow down. Once you've managed it at a slower pace, then you can speed up, as long as you don't forget about focusing on getting those bass and snares drums bang in time with you hi-hat.

(no pun intended).

Another fantastic week from all of you Dundee Drum Academy pupils though, and I'd just like to take this opportunity to welcome the large amount of new pupils who arrived this week. You all did tremendously well in your first lessons. See you again for another one soon!