Playing Technique 1

Course Number: MUS-144DLCredit Hours: 2

Course Description

The Playing Techniques 1 course is designed to address some very important initial techniques that involve learning about proper limb motion, balance, coordination, time and timing and sticking processes.  The course endeavors to show the beginner or novice drummer how to get started with technique and also addresses technical issues for the intermediate or more experienced player.  This step-by-step process will avoid developing bad habits, develop sticking vocabulary at the drum set and improve one’s overall comfort and sound production.

Ralph Humphrey

Ralph Humphrey is one of Los Angeles’ most demanded studio drummers, recording for TV, motion pictures, albums and jingles. His most recent projects include Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Charmed, Piglet’s Big Movie, Star Trek Enterprise, The Simpsons, ABC 50th Anniversary Special, Far From Heaven, Coca-Cola, and Ping golf clubs. His past touring and recording experience includes the Don Ellis Big Band, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Akiyoshi-Tabackin Big Band, Al Jarreau, Manhattan Transfer, Seals and Crofts and Free Flight. He can also be heard on album projects by Wayne Shorter, Tom Rainer, Mike Miller, Jeff Richman, The Outsidemen, and Babaghanoush, among many others.

Ralph is the author of the drum book Even in the Odds and contributes occasional articles to Modern DrummerMagazine.

See the Ralph Humphrey page at

Lesson 1

  1. The fulcrum and hand position
  2. Posture
  3. Developing the bounce stroke
  4. Motion philosophy and practice
  5. Limb motions and stroke production

Lesson 2

  1. Tap stroke development
  2. One hand 3-stroke rhythm
  3. Single stroke motion
  4. Double stroke motion (diddles)
  5. Balance
  6. Foot motion

Lesson 3

  1. Phrase development
  2. Foot ostinato patterns
  3. Upper limb motion
  4. More diddle strokes

Lesson 4

  1. Continue with phrase development
  2. More foot ostinato patterns
  3. Continue with roll development
  4. 16th-note hand to hand phrases
  5. Apply foot ostinatos

Lesson 5

  1. Introduce and apply Group 1 sticking in 4/4
  2. Apply foot ostinatos
  3. Introduce hand to hand phrases in 12/8
  4. Apply Group 1 sticking to phrases in 12/8
  5. Apply foot ostinatos
  6. Develop foot motion control

Hardware & Equipment Requirements:

You will need:

  • Acoustic 4-piece (or more) drumset (snare, bass, and at least two toms) with at least 1 crash, 1 ride, and hi-hats; electronic kits are acceptable
  • Sticks and brushes
  • Metronome (or metronome app)
  • Audio Technica ATR2100-USB microphone
  • Behringer Xenyx Q502USB Mixer
  • Webcam
  • Desktop or laptop PC or Mac with speakers, running the most up-to-date versions of Google Chrome or Firefox (see “Software Requirements” for more info)
  • Video/audio recording software, such as iMovie or Windows Live Movie Maker
  • Printer, so that you can print out music examples used in the course or an iPad or similar device
  • Isolation headphones, such as Vic Firth’s SIH1 Drummer’s Headphones or in-ear monitors
  • optional: CD/MP3 player (separate from computer) 

Software Requirements: