As a drummer there are many skills to practice, but resoundingly when we asked professional drummers what the most important skill to shed on was in beginning, the answer was coordination. Being able to have all four of your limbs operating separately is an attribute that sets an amazing drummer apart from all of the others. On recommendation from some of our favorite drummers, we've pulled together two of the best sources of instructional sheet music that will get you on your way to attaining the four-limb coordination.
"4-Way Coordination: A Method Book for the Development of Complete Independence on the Drum Set" by Marvin Dahlgreen & Elliot Fine" (Recommended by Chris Dave)
"Four-Way Coordination has been around for a long time. It’s a technique and a mental concept for getting all four of your ligaments to act separate and as a unit at the same time. With that, you can play drums and the percussion parts at the same time. You figure out ways of doing it so that you can sound like a complete sample of something. You are able to add more sounds to your style as opposed to being limited to just four sounds.Anyone that messes with it — the first couple of days you just want to burn the book and pick another instrument. Then once you slowly start cracking it open, you start seeing this is something you really have to practice. You can’t just do it by looking." - Chris Dave (Drumhedz, D'Angelo, Adele, Robert Glasper Experiment)
"The Jazz Drummer’s Workshop: Advanced Concepts for Musical Development" (Recommended by Mark Whitfield Jr.)
"That has a bunch of great comping exercises where you’re interchanging between the left-hand, right-foot, and left-foot while keeping the ride cymbal pattern the entire time consistently. It goes between eight-notes-triplets, sixteenth-note-triplets, and all of that. If you can’t do that and still make it swing, you know you have something to work on. At least in this day and age, people want that intensity — something that’s going to give them a little undercurrent while you’re still swinging. I think that’s what really helps." - Mark Whitfield Jr.
*Though delving into exercises with a bunch of sheet music may seem mundane at first, it is indeed necessary to master such a developed skill. As you've heard from Chris and Mark, this isn't a skill that can just be read and understood. Don't just stare at the sheet music, take it into the practice room and commit the time to developing the coordination that will set you apart in the realm of drummers.