Lesson #2

Rock-n-Roll Industries Edition #13

Welcome to our 2nd lesson with "The Drum Corner"...brought to you by the fine folks at Rock-n-Roll Industries Magazine!  I am Sulli...your host...and I am extremely honored to have you with us today!  In our debut lesson, we covered some basic ideas to help build more confidence with your time keeping and endurance behind the kit and for this lesson...we are going to expand and work with a few kick drum/snare drum patterns to help in prioritizing your practice time with independence/endurance plus introducing two new sections..."Drum Fill of the Lesson" and "Practice Pad in 5"...a quick review of a selected drum fill and some rudimental ideas to be done on the practice pad on a daily basis.  Before I dive in, I would like to remind you to please give us some feedback on The Drum Corner.  Receiving your reviews, thoughts and ideas will only help us create a better experience for everyone tuning in!

While putting this particular lesson together, I took some time to reflect on what it is about music and drumming that inspires me.  Why put in the time to rehearse, write songs, record albums, tour, etc...  It's a full time job and in most cases does not offer full time pay or benefits.  Don't get me wrong...in the right setting, the rewards can be HIGH...while on the other end, the downside can be LOW.  Regardless, there is one thing that ties every musician together...passion.  It's passion that encourages someone to become a doctor, firefighter, police officer, accountant, athlete, etc...all of the same elements are present... and as I have heard many times before "Do what you love and you never work a day in your life"!  However, one aspect of our profession is a bit different than ANY other career or hobby in my opinion...as musicians, we connect with people in a way not possible by any other means.  Music moves the soul.  We connect with other musicians and listeners through exposing our heart and soul in song with hopes of a connection with theirs. 

Further exploring this idea, I must say that my favorite drummers and bands are those that I connected with on a level much more involved than just listening...these artist produced a product that resonated with me and impacted my life.  Something as little as a phrase in chorus...or the guitar melody...or better yet, the whole song.  Perhaps there is a song or album out there that tells "your story" of a particular time in your life?? 

I say all of this because I have always felt that drumming tells a story.  As drummers, we operate more than just a time keeper...we really do set the tone of a song...an album...a concert, etc.  When breaking that idea down further, our choice of drum patterns and grooves should be a statement...we are "speaking" to the audience and we want them to hear us and connect with what we are saying.  Drumming is a language...we create sentences all throughout a song or solo and in it's simplest form - drum fills start and end that sentence.  I have decided to start introducing 1 drum fill per lesson...the fills I am picking are those that I have used in the past...up to the present day.  Our fill for this lesson is one I call "Old Faithful".  A wonderful little ditty that is perfect to use when transitioning from a verse to a chorus, etc...and very effective when played at slower tempos - namely in a ballad type of vibe.

I encourage you to check out the accompanying video to explore these warm up routines, our "Drum Fill of the Lesson" and our "Practice Pad in 5" with me.  All musicians have a unique fingerprint they leave on their work...let's explore how you can create yours!



Lesson #3

Rock-n-Roll Industries Edition #14


Welcome to lesson #3 of The Drum Corner...brought to you buy the fine folks at Rock-n-Roll Industries Magazine!  I am Sulli...your host...and we are going to dig right in!
I have titled this lesson "The Power of the Ghost".  That's right - we are going to introduce ghost notes to your grooves!  We are taking this from the beginning so that as you progress in your playing you can introduce this technique with amazing results!

A "ghost note" is exactly what it states - a note played that is sometime heard and sometimes not heard...but they are always FELT!  A ghost note played properly will add a whole new dimension to your playing and it will increase the pocket you create on stage with your fellow bandmates.  As I have stated in the previous lessons/videos, I am a strong supporter of giving the space between the notes room to breath.  That freedom of space will open up the groove and add more personality.  However, there are times when filling up those spaces between the beats can make the groove move along and work nicely.  When first adding ghost notes to your playing, it's important to have a clear idea of what dynamics are and how they fit in your particular style of playing.  A simple definition would be a "Up Stroke" being a full-on hit and a "Tap Stroke" being a lighter hit.  Doesn't matter if you are hitting a drum, a cymbal or any other percussion instrument...it's either a light hit (Tap Stroke) or a harder hit (Up Stroke).  Another important, but basic, point to remember is a Tap Stroke has a smaller range of motion between the stick and drum and a Up Stroke will have a greater range of motion between the stick and drum when played.  A ghost note is the Tap Stroke that occurs between the Up Stroke.  I like thinking of ghost notes as notes that dance in and around the groove!
A quick reminder...when counting a 4/4 bar of drum music...the basic foundation looks like this (16th notes):

1 - E -  & -  A   /   2 - E - & - A   /   3 - E - & - A   /   4 - E - & - A

In a standard bar of 4/4 music, we have your kick on 1 and 3...your snare on 2 and 4...and the hi hat or ride cymbal doing 8th notes on top - essentially hitting on every note displayed.  This is what I referred to as "The Money Groove" in our first lesson...please refer to that video for a refresher (minus the ghost notes).  So, in this simple pattern, we add the ghost note on the "E" of 1, the "E" of 3 and then the "A" of 2 and "A" of 4.  Once you are comfortable with this, add another kick drum in on the "&" of 3.  Brightens the groove right up!!  As always, be sure to use a metronome when practicing...start at a slower tempo and increase as you become more comfortable!

Simply adding these four additional snare notes in a Tap Stroke format will immediately change the feel and sound of this simple groove, however - for this idea to truly come alive, you must have complete control over the lighter strokes versus the heavier strokes....again, dynamics.  Also, precision is key - executing precise ghost notes is essential.  Sloppy ghost notes will produce a sloppy groove! The cool thing about this exercise is that you can rearrange the groove in any combination you like.  I personally keep the snare on 2 and 4 but will move the kick drum around to different points and thus landing the ghost notes in more challenging spots.  I also like having the Up Strokes hit right in the middle of the snare head and the Tap Strokes hit more on the side or top of the snare head...this simple change will add another cool vibe! Please check out the accompanying video to see me work through some variations of this exercise - it's a great practice tool, a solid workout for the snare hand and will ultimately become a prized possession in your bag of tricks!

Our "Practice Pad in 5" this lesson is a rudiment that I work daily on the pad and will increase your single stroke roll in ways you didn't think possible...The Accented Triplet.  This pattern is performed one hand at a time in a triplet fashion and looks like this:

1 -  & -  A   /   2 - & - A   /   3 -  & - A  

A triplet is simply a pattern composed of 3 notes played in a 3/4 time signature.  To execute, the numbers (1, 2, 3) are accented with a heavier hit and the & and A are played with a lighter hit.  Start slow and build up to faster tempos.  I like to set a number of times per hand - say 20 complete patterns with each hand at a certain tempo...then increase the speed and do 15 complete patterns per hand and so on.  It's a great endurance builder, works the weaker hand, emphasizes dynamics and just overall produces more confidence in stick control!  Check out the video to see my daily practice pad routine utilizing this rudiment.

Finally, our "Drum Fill of the Lesson" is a really cool kick drum/snare drum pattern that I like to call "The Question and Answer".  In a standard bar of 4/4...the kick hits on "1" and "E"....the snare hits on "&" and "A".  Essentially, the kick drum speaks and the snare drum answers.  It's very effective when played properly and has a concussive effect.  I routinely use variations of this pattern so again,  please check out the video and see what the "The Question and Answer" is all about!

I sincerely appreciate everyone checking in on Lesson #3.  I had a blast putting this together and hope that you will have fun working on these ideas.  As always, we love hearing from you.  Email me at with any specific questions, thoughts, ideas, etc...and be sure to check out Rock n  Roll Industries on the web. Until next time...stay focused, work at it everyday and hit them hard!!


Lesson #4

Rock-n-Roll Industries Edition #15

Hey Gang!

Welcome to Lesson #4 of The Drum Corner presented to you by the awesome folks at Rock-n-Roll Industries Magazine!  I am Sulli - your host - and we have an action-packed lesson in store...I have titled this lesson "To Click or Not To Click".  The proverbial battle of whether to use a click track or not use a click track has been in place since the metronome was invented.  Absolute purist balk at the ide...but how modern popular music is composed and recorded proves it is of necessity (a topic to be covered in more depth in our next lesson)!  A lot to cover, so let's get going!

A click track (metronome) is defined as a device that produces regular, metrical clicks - set in a Beats Per Minute (BPM), or tempo.  So, when you see a piece of music set at 120 BPM...that simply translates into that work being performed at a tempo of 120 Beats Per Minute.  Simple definition - simple idea...but, this little device can potentially cause you days, weeks or months of agony if you are not versed on how to perform with it.  It is important to understand that we should PLAY WITH the click...and not PLAY TO the click. Understanding this can truly make your path of click track work either easy or hard.  Although the approach to either scenario is similar...the differences are massive and end results are noticeable on a grand scale!

My introduction to the click was back in 1999 as my group, Seventh Rize, was gearing up to record our debut album "Visceral Rock".  All of my work up to that point was without a click...a naturalistic approach you might say.  We built our own studio...utilizing ADAT machines (the rave at that time) and were working up songs, creating demos, etc.  Still no clicks introduced although I knew it was coming.  My internal clock has always been fairly solid...timing was of the upmost importance to me...so, I always made sure that the feel and timing outweighed any flash.  That being said...when our engineer first fed me a click through my headphones during a demo session...I was lost.  Anger and disappointment were just some of emotions I felt as I would begin recording a demo.  I might make it past the intro...a verse...then lose it during the chorus.  It just didn't make sense to me...I had good timing...watching and listening to videos of our live performances were proof positive...but I soon learned that was not good enough.  I was told by our producer that a click would be used for master recording and I had some woodshedding to do!  Just like any obstacle in my life...I attacked it head on.  I worked with a click daily...sometimes for hours...understanding how the metrical clicks and my drumming worked together.   Slowly, but surely, I noticed it became easier and easier to fall in line with the click and how it improved my playing, my time keeping when not using a click and how much tighter the group sounded! 

On any decent click track device, you should have the option to set the tempo and time signature (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, etc), set whether or not you want to hear quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and volumes of each.  Depending on the tempo and the style of song, I normally always have quarter notes (downbeat) with eighth notes over the top.  It helps keep the groove moving, in my opinion.  A good starting point would be to set the click at a comfortable tempo...have your quarter notes and eighth notes running...hit start and just dive in.  Initially, I would recommend playing the eighth notes on the hi-hat, 1 and 3 on the kick drum and 2 and 4 on the snare.  Essentially, the "Money Groove" I demonstrated in our first lesson.  At first, your drumming might sound more machine-like and less human...which is normal considering that at this stage you are playing TO the click.  Nothing wrong with this...it's a process...it takes time and plenty of rehearsal.  However, you will come to a point to where your internal clock and the external clock (click) will begin working together and you will be playing WITH the click.  Using dynamics within the groove while playing to the click will add an additional challenges!  As I have preached numerous times, the space between the hits are just as important as what is heard.  The click will help you appreciate and understand this fact.  The reason your groove might sound robotic at first is because you are not comfortable with the space between the hits...it's fairly easy to hit a drum on the click...it is much more difficult to manage the space between! 

Ultimately, to conquer this particular goal...you must put in the time and effort.  As you make progress in your work, you will be able to play right in front of the click, slightly behind the click and dead on the click...basically dancing all around it! Make it a priority in daily rehearsal to set aside time for click track work.  Trust me...down the road... your fellow musicians, engineers and producers will take note and appreciate that particular ability! Whether to use a click or not in a recording session or live gig may or may not be up to you.  It could be a job requirement...and if you are not prepared - someone else could get the call!

Our "Practice Pad in 5" for this lesson centers on the Double Stroke Roll.  A fun rudiment to play that will challenge you daily!  A perfected Double Stroke Roll sounds amazing and will have all those within hearing distance turning their heads in disbelief!  Essentially, a Double Stroke Roll is a composed of the sticking pattern of the Single Stroke Roll:


Unlike the Single Stroke Roll...the Double Stroke Roll adds an additional hit per hand with a controlled bounce (2nd hit) immediately after the initial hit.  So, 2 hits per hand, back and forth that simply keeps rolling.  Therefore, you have the following (upper case being the down hit - lower case being the bounce):

RIGHT right - LEFT left - RIGHT right - LEFT left 

At first, you might experience some jagged rolls, a missed bounce, etc.  Be patient and the more you work at controlling the bounce, the more fluid and smooth the double will sound.  This is a great warm-up exercise that can have your forearms burning!  It is also an awesome rudiment that can be used on the kit (snare, hi-hat, ride cymbal, etc) to spice things up!

Our Drum Fill of the Lesson is what I like to call "The Upbeat Smash".  When coming up with fill ideas, it's important to choose wisely...execute a fill that adds energy to that passage of the tune but yet does not get in the way.  In a bar of 4/4 music...eighth notes on the hi-hat or ride, 1 and 3 on the kick drum along with 2 and 4 on the snare.  We switch the snare hit to the "and" of beats 3 and 4 and the kick drum will add a hit on 4.  Add a cymbal crash to hit simultaneously with the off beat snare hit for more explosiveness.  A fun fill that is great to accent a vocal line, add excitement to a chorus or possibly help make a smooth transition to a 3rd part of a tune.        

Until next time...please check out the accompanying video on the official Rock-n-Roll Industries Magazine YouTube channel for more in-depth coverage of these topics.  We love your feedback...let us know what you think!! 

I urge you to challenge yourself, practice hard and have fun! 






In the Fall of 2014, Sulli was approached by Arthur Gonzalez (Mr. Creepy) about overseeing a new venture for Rock-n-Roll Industries Magazine -  The Drum Corner.  A section of the magazine dedicated to drums.  The basic idea being a new written lesson with each issue and an accompanying video released on the official Rock-n-Roll Industries YouTube channel.  Sulli loved the idea and it was decided that the NAMM 2015 would be the first installment!  The approach Sulli decided stems from a real "grassroots" perspective - starting from the very basic ideas of rock drumming and building from there.  Response has been fantastic and both Sulli and Rock-n-Roll Industries are excited about possible expansions to The Drum Corner - to include interviews, gear reviews, etc... 

Please scroll down to check in on the first few lessons and please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or ideas at thedrumcorner@gmail.com!

Lesson #1

Rock-n-Roll Industries Edition #12

Welcome to the debut edition of "The Drum Corner" I am Sulli - founding member/drummer for Seventh Rize. I have spent over 25 years in the music industry, working at various capacities and on all levels! I began drumming at the ripe young age of 5 after witnessing KISS during their "Dynasty" tour- n experience that changed my life. Massive obsession with music and drums from then on! By the age of 14 I was playing professionally on a regional basis and a few years later, began touring nationally. I have a career long endorsement with Sonor Drums, Aquarian Drumheads, Ahead Drumsticks and Sabian Cymbals. In addition to Seventh Rize, I have had the privilege to tour and record with a wide variety of artists - Texas Country Star "Aaron Watson", America's Got Talent Season 1 Winner "Terry Fator", Mark Slaughter of "Slaughter", Jeff LaBar of "Cinderella", Bruce Turgon of "Foreigner"...to name a few. To be a working musician, it's of the upmost importance to have your basic "tools" ready to go. A basic set of skills along with a strong work ethic will keep your co-workers happy, the listener moving and YOU drumming!! My plan for this series is to go back to the basics, but with a little twist and build from there. I practice what I preach and these very ideas and concepts that will be covered are in my regular rehearsal routine. Tried and true techniques that have helped build my career and will help strengthen yours!

This month's lesson is centered around what I would call "the money groove". A basic rock pattern that has been used more times than can be counted - but once mastered, it will improve your time keeping abilities, endurance and build a stronger foundation to build everything else upon. This exercise also illustrates another important element - the space within the groove! Drums are drums, what separates us apart is our individual soul, feel and passion for playing. As drummers, we are a very unique breed and what is produced through our playing is a combination of so many factors. This is why you can have 10 drummers all play this groove and each one of the them will "sound" slightly different from one another.

So, the basic pattern is in standard 4/4 time (4 beats per measure)broken down you have the hi hat doing eight notes hitting "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and", the kick drum will impact on "1" and "3" and finally the snare will nail it home on "2" and "4". Very basic, right? Well, now here is what I challenge you to do. In awareness of time keeping, get a click track - set it to a desired starting tempo say 120 beats per minute (bpm). Begin playing this pattern and only this pattern, no cymbal or tom hits AT ALL staying restricted to the 3 "voices" (kick, snare, hi hat). Repeat the pattern over and over for a minimum of 3 minutes to start, more advanced players jump it to 5 or 6 minutes. Once complete, rev up the tempo, possibly at 5 or 10 bpm intervals. Continue doing so until your get to a tempo that will only allow you a few minutes to play. Be sure to make either mental notes or physically write your progress down. That way you can reference back to what you accomplished on previous rehearsals and grow!

Some other ideas, accent the "1, 2, 3, 4" (downbeats) on the hi hat with a harder hit, keep the "and's" (upbeats) on the lighter side, play with the dynamics have fun! Explore keeping the hi hat closed tightly for half of the time and then loosen the hi hat slightly for the second half. Be sure that when the hi hat and snare and/or hi hat and kick hit together that it is nice and tight, don't slug your way through it. Regarding tempo...once you are done with the faster tempos slow it down - playing this groove at slower tempos can be a challenge!

Side note - when looking at the drum tab- the kick drum is the first space from the bottom, the snare is the third space from the bottom and the hi hat is on the top.

This "back to basics" approach will improve your overall confidence on the kit. Whatever your current rehearsal routine is composed of, at the moment keep it in place. Having these three elements in your "skill set" or "bag of tricks" will only make you a better musician. I want to thank you for your time and hope that you find this first lesson informative, it is my honor to be with you over the next year! I encourage you to reach out to me anytime with any questions or shoot me an update on your progress, as I would love to brag about you during the next lesson! In the coming issues, we will expand on this basic idea with additional patterns and how it impacts your ability to construct the "right" drum part when writing original material or when cramming to learn material for other artists gigs. Plus, we will throw in some really cool drum licks to spice it up!

Thanks again - make people move to the groove and Happy Drumming!!!