on jazz drumming

What Books Do I Need For Jazz Drumming?

by Tim Lake

jazz drum books - on jazz drummingIf you don’t have a teacher to help you with learning jazz drumming, I suggest you seek out a good one in your local area, and if not try online lessons. That said you still need some resources to work from. There are a lot of great drum books out there, some of them I know, many of them I’ve yet to discover, but with the aim of trying to get maximum results from a minimum starting point, there are only really two drumming books you need to work get started with, and they are probably the most famous. Using these we can generate hundreds if not thousands of variations and exercises to apply to jazz drumming.

1.) Stick Control by G.L.Stone Buy

Stick Control - Essentials Jazz Drumming BookThis was voted the No.1 in a list of 25 Greatest Drum Books in Modern Drummer Magazine, it also highly recommended by drumming greats such as Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Jojo Mayer. It was originally published in 1935 by the exercises are so fundamental that it is still relevant today. At it’s most basic level Stick Control is about building your chops, the fundamental strength, endurance and speed, to play the drum kit. Personally I am not a massive follower of rudimental drumming, and thankfully Stick Control is less about rudiments, and as it says in the title, more about controling the sticks. Even just consistent focused practice on the first page will reap big rewards in your jazz drumming. These are exercises that I always teach to students as well as practice myself. You can find many ways to apply the exercises to comping, fills, and soloing, and I will give you some ideas to work on in future posts.

2.) Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed Buy

Syncopation for the Modern Drummer - Essentials Jazz Drumming BookFirst published in 1958, this is another classic that comes highly recommended by most drummers and drum educators; it was voted No.2 in that same Modern Drummer List of Greatest Drum Books mentioned above. The focus here is more on rhythmic development and syncopation - movements of the beat - and initially that’s what we will use if for. It will give you a great rhythmic base as well as help develop your reading skills, understanding of accent placement and dynamic control. You can start by working on the exercises on the snare drum but you will soon use it to develop your jazz drumming by building comping patterns, developing rolls, fills, solos and so on. In future posts I will give you some ways to develop the ideas in the book.

So applying an 80/20 to jazz drumming books, these two books will give you a lot of stuff to work on. However I will suggest two more books, and there are some others I use that I will recommend in the future.


The Art of Bop Drumming - Essentials Jazz Drumming BookIf you want to get a book that specifically deals with jazz drumming, then John Riley’s “The Art of Bop Drumming" Buy is the place to start. It covers a few more things including playing brushes and latin styles, that are difficult to get directly from the two books mentioned above.



Technique Patterns - Essentials Jazz Drumming Book Gary Chaffee’s Patterns series is a good addition to any drummer's library, but the one I would recommend to you is “Technique Patterns" Buy. This contains a number of exercises for working on technique, rhythmic development and sticking patterns, some of which can be covered with Stick Control but it is a useful introduction to some more advanced ideas.


There you go. These are the two essential books (+2) you need to get started with jazz drumming.

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