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Latin Drumset Exercises

Clave/Hi-Hat with
Bomba/Bass Drum

Watching good Latin players is marvelous yet frustrating. Once, at an Alex Acuna clinic I attended, someone noticed he was playing the clave pattern on the hi-hat (with his foot). In his reply he said that it was the way he could keep track of the beat - he was just tapping his foot to the beat. I wondered how I could learn to do that while improvising; of course the answer is to practice. But how?

The next two pages are beginning exercises designed to make the feet feel comfortable playing the 2-3 clave pattern with the hi-hat and the Latin bass pattern. The hands on the first page use a quarter-note pattern in the right hand (on a bell or cymbal) while the left hand plays simple rhythms. The second page uses the same foot pattern but the hands play linear patterns based on the same simple paradiddle inversions that drummers have used for years.

Practice these patterns as slowly as necessary to master the coordination, remember you are programming little computer chips in your brain that will eventually result in an "automatic pilot" clave pattern.

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