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Recently picked up a pair of sticks for the first time? This is the perfect lesson for you. Pat Petrillo is going to go over one of the most important things you should learn as a beginner drummer: subdividing the beat.

Sound confusing? Don’t worry – it’s not! We’re going to learn how to play quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes with a couple different sticking patterns. For the first three exercises, we’ll be playing the single stroke roll. Let’s begin!

Exercise #1 (0:35)

Let’s start with quarter notes! This is the most basic subdivision in all of music. If you’ve ever tapped your foot to music you were listening to, chances are you were playing quarter notes! Set your metronome to 60 beats per minute. This means we’ll be playing one stroke every second. We count these simply as “one, two, three, four”, then repeat.

Exercise #2 (0:58)

Next up are eighth notes! This is a doubled subdivision from quarter notes. Instead of playing 4 notes per bar, we’re now playing 8! Simply add an extra note in between each quarter note. Count them out as “one-and-two-and..”, etc.

Exercise #3 (1:13)

And finally, sixteenth notes. Again, you’re simply doubling the amount of notes you played in the previous exercise. The most common way to count these would be “one-e-and-ah-two..”, and so on.

Exercise #4 (1:35)

For this exercise we’ll still be playing 16th notes, but instead of playing a single stroke roll, let’s try the double stroke roll! Remember to allow the stick to rebound and relax your grip.

Exercise #5 (2:00)

And finally, the right-left-left sticking pattern. This may be tricky to begin with, but it will “click” once you’ve played through it a handful of times. If you can play through this exercise comfortably as a beginner player, you’re well on your way to learning more advanced sticking combinations.

The final challenge is to put it all together! Try playing through all five exercises with a metronome (start with 60 BPM). Good luck!

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