Beginner's Course

What you’ll learn in this lesson:

  • How we can orchestrate using clockwise motion around the drums to create more interesting drum fills
  • An effective way of improving our mobility on the drums
  • How your drum fills and grooves can fit together to create interesting drum parts


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What exactly is orchestration?

Whenever we play drums, we make a choice about which sound (or sounds) to play on each count. This is called orchestration and if we make this choice wisely, then what we play will sound good and have meaning. Obviously, in order to play anything we must be orchestrating it (in other words playing it on something), but in these lessons we will take a structured approach orchestrating our sixteenth-note drum fills, learning six different variations.

In order to orchestrate our drum fill effectively, we will need to be able to move around the drums quickly and accurately. Our ability to do this is called mobility and these exercises will also help us develop this.

How can we use orchestration to create interesting drum fills?

We will start with the fill that you learned in Lesson 7 and as you might expect, we are going to orchestrate it by playing it around the different drums. For now, we will always start on the snare drum and move around the toms in a specific sequence, playing four notes on each drum.

As with the coordination exercises in the previous lessons, in addition to the musical notation, each pattern is represented on a grid. The count is written across the top and the sticking is written across the bottom. In between, the snare, high-tom, mid-tom and floor tom are represented graphically so that you can easily see which part of the kit is being played on which count, as well as which hand it should be played with.

Here we go…

Step 1

As we’ve said, in this exercise we play four notes on the snare drum, followed by four notes on the high-tom, followed by four notes on the mid-tom, finishing with four notes on the floor-tom. This is described as clockwise motion.



Step 2

Once you’re comfortable playing repeatedly, it’s time to play it in context by combining it with a groove. We do this by simply ‘plugging it in’ to the pattern from Step 5 of Lesson 6. And remember, if you mastered Lesson 3 you’ve basically done this already. The difference is that the drum fill is no longer played on just the snare drum – it’s now orchestrated around the whole kit!


Excellent work! Keep practicing this until you are very comfortable with it. Then move onto the next lesson where we’ll develop this drum fill further.