One of the best resources for a serious drummer is a well stocked library of percussion literature. With so many titles available, it can sometimes be difficult to find books that are challenging, creative, and that teach the useful skills imperative to your growth as a musician. This is a list of five of the best percussion related books on the market.
The New Breed by Gary Chester
The New Breed is one of the best-selling books in modern drum set literature, and one that will benefit any drummer for years to come. It follows a unique approach involving “systems” – grooves or beats involving three limbs – and single line reading exercises. The idea of the book is for the drummer to pick a system to play while playing through the reading exercises with his free limb. This method simultaneously teaches groove, style, reading, and four-way independence. The skills that this book teaches are valuable to any drummer in any style of music.
Syncopation by Ted Reed
This book is the starting point for many beginning percussionists. Based on a very simple concept, the book was originally intended to teach essential music reading and sight-reading skills for snare drum. The book can also be adapted to the drum set, however, by using a system similar to the one used in The New Breed. Topics covered in this book include: quarter notes, sixteenth note patterns, eighth note triplets, tied notes, dynamics, and rolls. This book is a must own for any beginning percussionist, and is sure to offer challenges for many years.
Advanced Funk Studies by Rick Latham
Funk music remains one of the most popular musical styles for parties, and it is a very important style to learn for any serious drummer. One of the best introductions to this style of music is Rick Latham's Advanced Funk Studies. Contrary to what the title of the book may lead you to you believe, it starts at a relatively basic level with exercises that only use the hands. After a few chapters, exercises begin to add the feet, and the book introduces groove and fill studies, three and four-way independence, and syncopated patterns. Later on in the book, there is a section which has famous drum beats from classic recordings, so that the student can play along to popular songs in the funk genre. Ten funk solos make up the last chapter, each of which demonstrates many of the techniques covered earlier in the book. These solos are suitable for solo and ensemble competition as well as for high school and college drum set auditions.
Groove Essentials by Tommy Igoe
Groove essentials – written by Lion King drummer, Tommy Igoe – is the most recent book on this list, but is sure to become a classic. Tommy's philosophy toward learning drum set includes the idea that every drummer should function as a versatile musician, an idea that is at the core of Groove Essentials. The book includes a series of grooves in such varied styles as: rock, jazz, country, hip-hop, funk, Latin, Afro-Cuban, and world. The book also includes a CD containing at least one song for every groove, each with the drum track removed so that the student can play along. This book is essential for anyone serious about learning how to play drums with a band in different styles.
Creative Coordination for the Performing Drummer by Keith Copeland
Creative Coordination is like Groove Essentials in that it attempts to create a resourceful drummer by covering several different styles of music. It differs, however, in that it covers those topics in a much more comprehensive way. The book has several chapters, each covering a different style of music. Chapters include: rock, funk, slow jazz, up tempo jazz, samba, bossa nova, and others. For those that want to learn more about some of the most important styles for any working drummer, Creative Coordination is worth serious consideration.