Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed
A Manual For The Modern Drummer (Berklee series)  

Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer

A must have book for teachers and students interested in building a sound foundation for reading and rhythm in drumming.

I love this book! Why? Because it works. I was first introduced to this book by my own teacher and mentor, Chuck Silverman; I use it every day in both my teaching practice and my own personal practice. My students soon realize that a book that looks simple at first glance can offer a multitude of skill building exercise when applying creative ideas to it.

The book is broken down into two main sections, 1) "Note-Reading Rhythms/Exercises" which contains 12 lessons and with 16 bar, 20 bar, 40 bar or 48 bar exercises at the end of each lesson and, 2) "Syncopation" which contains two syncopation sets, nine exercise and five lessons:

Section One: "Note-Reading Rhythms/Exercises"

  1. Lesson One - playing quarter notes, quarter rests and half rests.
  2. Lesson Two - playing quarter notes, quarter rests and half rests in unison.
  3. Lesson Three - playing quarter notes, quarter rests and half independently.
  4. Lesson Four - playing eighth notes and quarter notes.
  5. Lesson Five - playing dotted eighth/sixteenth notes.
  6. Lesson Six - playing eighth-note triplets and quarter notes.
  7. Lesson Seven - playing eighth-note triplets, eighth notes and quarter notes.
  8. Lesson Eight - playing eighth-note triplets, and dotted eighth/sixteenth notes.
  9. Lesson Nine - playing sixteenth notes and quarter notes.
  10. Lesson Ten - playing sixteenth notes and eighth notes.
  11. Lesson Eleven - playing sixteenth notes and eighth notes.
  12. Lesson Twelve - playing eighth notes, eighth rests and quarter notes.

Section Two: "Syncopation"

  1. Syncopation set one.
  2. Syncopation set one.
  3. Exercise 0ne.
  4. Exercise Two.
  5. Exercise Three.
  6. Exercise Four.
  7. Exercise Five.
  8. Exercise Six.
  9. Exercise Seven.
  10. Exercise Eight.
  11. Exercise Nine.
  12. Lesson One - accented eighth notes.
  13. Lesson Two - accented dotted-eighth/sixteenth notes.
  14. Lesson Three - accented eighth-note triplets.
  15. Lesson Four - Triplets with mixed sticking.
  16. Lesson Five - Accented sixteenth notes.

Ted Reed's genius is that the book is written in simple progressive skill building exercises designed to increase note and rest recognition as well as rhythm recognition. What I think is an important aspect to "... Syncopation for the Modern Drummer" is that Ted added a bass drum line played on the count (quarter notes). In my opinion, this is essential when playing any single surface exercise on snare drum or drum pad. To help create timing and independence I recommend my students play both feet on the count (1, 2, 3, 4) and use a metronome at very practice session. I also recommend that my "beginner" students study the book first "as written" before we progress into more creative ways of using this book.

Speaking of creative ways to use the lesson exercises in "Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer" here are a few:

  • Use them as fills by playing each measure on a different drum
  • Play an ostinato* with the hands and left foot while the right foot plays written exercise.
  • Play an ostinato with the right hand and feet while the left hand plays written exercise.
  • Play a foot ostinato pattern while playing written exercise hand to hand (left hand plays small tom, right hand plays large tom).
  • Interpret eighth note exercise as triplets.
  • Play sixteenth note exercise as accents and rests as diddles.

I give this book 5 stars.

* A motif or phrase which is persistently repeated in the same musical voice.

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© Copyright 2009 - 2011 by Mark Pryor