EXERCISE #9: “FLAM PRIMER”
This exercise works on the fundamentals behind playing single and alternating flams.
• This exercise is more effective for individuals to perfect than it is in the full drumline since the spacing of the grace note to the primary stroke is easier to hear in a one-to-one setting. Work through each part of the exercise slowly, mastering each technique before progressing to the next.
• In the first section of the exercise, the primary stroke is played as full height, relaxed rebound stroke (just like “8-8-16”). In the second measure, you’ll add the grace notes to complete the flam. Listen carefully to the spacing of each flam – you should hear a consistent “chut” sound, NOT “pop” or “fa-LAM”. The height and volume consistency of the grace note is also important. Be sure to play with a relaxed turn of the wrist, with enough velocity to create a full sound from the drum (avoid ‘dropping’ the stick with no wrist turn).
• The second section of the exercise starts with “accent-taps”, which employ the same techniques as that exercise. Full height, relaxed strokes on the accents, stop the stick & play an upstroke on the soft note. In the second measure, you will add the grace note to the primary strokes. Do not allow the added grace note change the consistency of the lead hand two height motion. You may want to play the grace notes on the rim so you listen for consistency of sound between 1st to 2nd measure.
• The third section of the exercise starts with “accent-taps”, which employ the same techniques as that exercise. Full height, relaxed strokes on the accents, stop the stick & play an upstroke on the soft note. In the second measure, the upstroke becomes the grace note of the flam with the primary stroke on the opposite hand. Play each primary stroke as controlled strokes (not as rebound strokes) since this will become the same technique on the opposite hand. Work on the transition between right and left hand lead – in this case, you WILL play a rebound on the last 8th note primary stroke.
• Assuming you can play the 3rd section of the exercise with consistency and correct spacing of the grace notes, the final section will simply be a matter of combining the hands to play alternating flams. Practice playing one hand on the rim (or on your leg) to see if you’re performing a consistent “accent-tap” throughout.
• Even though this exercise is created with the same 5 level tempos as the others, speed is NOT the goal. Practice with the slowest tempo play-along video or audio file until you develop consistent flams before speeding up!
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