In this lesson we are going to look at some of the less used subdivisions as well as the common ones to help us improve our timing and control on the instrument.
So this lesson is fairly straight forward. We are going to play a range of subdivisions from 1/4 notes through to 32nd notes against a left foot pulse. A simpler way of thinking about it is we will be adding one note per 1/4 note fragment each time. So, the first line there is one note per 1/4 click, then 2 on the second line, then 3 etc. all the way up to 32nd notes which are 8 per 1/4. This exercise should be played with a 1/4 note click and a good tempo range is somewhere in the 60-100. It all depends on where your 32nd notes sit at a super relaxed and importantly, accurate tempo.
Start off by playing each line for a long time (minutes not bars), until they feel effortless and really locked in. Once each part is fully warmed up, I like to start by going through them from top to bottom, slowly adding a note each time, then working my way back down the subdivisions in reverse. Please note that the odd subdivisions (3s, 5s and 7s) will flip sticking every beat just like basic hand to hand triplets. This can really help when it comes to the 5s and 7s as most people have less experience with these subdivisions. Feeling the lead hand flip flop can be a great way of locking in. If you really struggle to play the 5s and 7s along with a click you can use a 5 and 7 syllable phrase to help you lock in. Some that work for 5s are; “This is a group-ing”, “u-ni-ver-si-ty” and “I like to eat cake”, or you can just count to 5!. For 7s; “list-en to the ra-di-o” and “I like to eat fish and chips” both work and if you count to 7 make sure you just say “Sev” as seven is two syllable word. Obviously if you need to say these phrases to get the subdivision in time then you should probably playing at a much slower tempo until you can feel how they relate to the 1/4 note pulse.
Once you have all the subdivisions comfortably and you can go from the slowest to the fastest and back down again, try playing a bar of one subdivision and then jumping to another rate that isn’t consecutive. Such as going from 8th notes to quintuplets to triplets to 32nd notes etc. You will find that hopefully, just working through these subdivisions, you will be able to hear and feel when you start slipping out of time with the more standard and used subdivisions.