DCI 2021 – blue stars
technique program

Exercise 1: “Several Camps”

When you first strap on a drum, it’s a good idea to get the blood flowing and the muscles warmed up. This exercise starts with a buzz roll version of the standard “Three Camps”, played with a relaxed fulcrum pressure, pressing the stick into the head for each stroke. Next, add a slight accent pattern to the buzzed inner beats to create just a little more velocity to the stroke. Finally, you’ll move to full legato strokes to a nice stretch, then begin playing some accent/tap – first with a relaxed controlled stroke (and higher than normal inner beats), then with a basic accent/tap stroke style. Some interesting interplay between the voices and quick dynamic changes help to lock in the ensemble head space. Note the recap of “Three Camps” accent pattern at the end!

Since it’s not really necessary to slow down the Three Camps ‘buzz roll’ sections, we isolated the Legato/Accent, Tap section for you (Letter C), slowing it down to 60% and 80% before playing the full exercise at 100% tempo again.

Have fun playing along with the 2021 Blue Stars drumline!

Download the “Several Camps” battery score, courtesy of Sean Knuth HERE

Exercise 2: “DOUBLE BEAT”

If you’ve been drumming for any length of time, you probably know that having control over doubles (including double wrist strokes, double rebound strokes and double bounces) is incredibly important for almost ALL of the rep that you’ll play. This double beat exercise starts with large motion, double strokes (using a full turn of the wrists, with fingers added to help the quality of the 2nd stroke), then moves to triple strokes (in the tenors) and accent/tap height control of lower end doubles (in the snares). Next, you’ll need to control the rebound and wrist motion with alternating double strokes in the triplet meter, along with dynamic changes.

The second part of the exercise alternates between single, double and triple strokes to create some rhythmic-accuracy and ensemble challenges, then moves into control of accent/tap heights. The interplay between the voices makes this a fun full ensemble experience – PLUS there’s added section solos on top of the rhythmic ostinatos. The exercise finishes with paradiddles and controlled triple stroke dynamic challenges.

Download the “DOUBLE BEAT” sheet music, courtesy of Sean Knuth

Exercise 3: “PIDS”

Another important part of your rudimental and technique training is being able to knock out paradiddles, paradiddle-diddles and RLL/RRL combinations. Height variations with doubles and single accents, with low-end control on the double strokes creates a challenge for both tempo control and quality.

Download the “PIDS” sheet music, courtesy of Sean Knuth

Exercise 4A: “STICK CONTROL”

This exercise is a variation of Murray Gusseck’s Stick Control Exercise (which is a combination of a few Stone’s Stick Control patterns), made popular in the DCI community back in the early 2000’s with the Santa Clara Vanguard. Obviously, the difficulty here is first being able to play all the sticking patterns without mistakes (duh) and keeping a VERY consistent sound from right to left, no matter the sticking combination.

The tenor line has an especially difficult task throughout with two main variations – first moving around the drums with the single, double & triple strokes – then with the insanity of adding cross-sticking literally everywhere. Who says it’s more fun to be a snare drummer?

In the Blue Stars warmup program, after playing this Stick Control exercise a few times, they go directly into the “Blue Flams” exercise.  Since we wanted to isolate each exercise separately, we’ll cut it at the end of this one.

Download the “STICK CONTROL” sheet music, courtesy of Sean Knuth

Exercise 4B: “BLUE FLAMS”

Not sure what we can say about this exercise other than you’ll need a pretty solid approach to ALL of your flam rudiments to be able to play it! Sure, it starts out easy enough – control over accent/taps, moving into Flam Accents & Flam Taps at Letter A. But then it jumps into a ‘few’ more difficult rudiments: Flam Drags, Patta-FlaFlas, Cheeses, Flam Fives, and, well, you get the idea.

This one might take a minute, so be patient. We recommend downloading the score, isolating each measure (or beat) with a metronome at a VERY slow tempo and maintaining a relaxed approach as you work it up.  Come back when you think you’ve got it to play along with the Blue Stars, then record yourself to see if you have what it takes.

Oh, and they play this exercise at the end of Stick Control during their warmup sequence, so we had to start with a jump cut from the metronome count off.  We figured it was better to isolate this exercise than to combine them, so we hope you don’t mind the little video stutter.

Download the “BLUE FLAMS” sheet music, courtesy of Sean Knuth

Exercise 5: “TRIPLET ROLLS”

Triplet rolls. We daresay you can’t be in a contemporary marching percussion section if you can’t play triple drag and roll patterns and control extreme dynamic contrasts between forte-piano accent/tap heights and the fun of locking your feet into the interplay between the sticking patterns. This exercise also tosses in some added fun of timing duple 8th note / triplet tap roll patterns (be careful: it’s not easy to play the first note of the rolls in the correct place) and isolating a seven stroke roll off the left hand at pianissimo. Now THAT’S got to be fun to do in the lot in front of a bunch of video cameras!

Download the “TRIPLET ROLLS” sheet music, courtesy of Sean Knuth


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