I've been drumming for about 25 years (mostly metal and punk) and lately, I've been leaning towards other styles of playing and I've noticed my stick control has been off more often that not (maybe age?) so that and the desire to learn other music styles is what prompted me to focus on learning stick control. I am working my way through Stick Control: For the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone and I need some advice as to how to work through the book. The only instructions in the book just says to practice each exercise 20 times with a metronome and upping the tempo. For those in the know, how do I know when it is time to move to the next page? or when to up the tempo? How many exercise should I work on first? Should I go through the whole book first at one tempo then go back around to the beginning and start with a faster tempo?

5 Answers 5


In addition to what others have said, I'd add the following:

  • up the tempo or move to the next exercise when the current one feels and sounds good (even on practice pad). The sticks should ring free and both should sound the same. Use matched sticks. Yes, "20 times" simply means repeat the exercise for a while in order to train the "muscle memory".

  • While playing, pay attention to how you hold the sticks, how they sound, how much rebound you get, and where to stop the stick (technically, which stroke to apply - full, down, tap, up) in order to prepare for the next stroke while exerting minimal (additional) effort.

  • you can, for example, play a set of exercises all at the same tempo and then increase the speed and go through them again, or you can play one exercise with a tempo increasing every n bars. There are some nice metronome mobile apps that can help with that. The whole point is the practice - the number of hours and the effort you put into it is what counts.

  • In general, try to practice more often, even if for a short time, rather than longer but less often.

I've been going through the book for over six months and am not even halfway through. This is not to discourage you but to say I'm having lots of fun and am working out the stickings until they feel completely natural at fast tempos and with both traditional and matched grip.

Even when I'm through, I'll probably be picking the random pages to continue practicing. The book has been a great help in working out the weak hand.

Have fun!

Edit: I've moved way past the middle point of the book by now. The book is great as a library of warm-up exercises and different stickings after one goes through it the first time. One drawback of this book is that there are no accents at all, and no dynamics. There are better books out there (like Kleine Trommel, for example) that can be used to progress in multiple areas at the same time (but this could also be an overkill if one is just starting up!).


George Lawerence Stones Stick Control book is a great book. Each of the exercises can not only be applied to the snare drum alone but also orchestrated over the whole. And just because the title says "Stick Control", doesn't mean that it can't be applied to the feet :-)

Practice each exercise at a variety of tempos - slow to fast. How fast you want to take the upper tempo is your choice. How quickly you want to step through the exercises is up to you - it's not a race, there's no right or wrong answer.

Playing each exercise at the tempo you've set 20 times without stopping and without error will build the muscle memory. If you make a mistake in bar 15 say, stop and start the count again.

For example: Ex 1, Pg 1. RLRL RLRL Bpm = 60; play 20 times Bpm = 80; play 20 times Bpm = 100; play 20 times Lets say at 60bpm you've played 20 bars no stops, no mistakes. Then you move on Lets say at 80bpm you've played 20 bars no stops, no mistakes. Then you move on Lets say at 100bpm you've played 12 bars and ooops its not right, then restart at bar 1.

Also, keep a practice diary so you can keep track of your progress through the exercises and the bpms. Remember, its not a race.

Hope that helps!!

Have fun


I agree with everything said so far. I am a marching snare alumnist AND a set player. This book is one of my favorite books to practice with as my stick control really stinks. This book is really helping me to learn to control my sticking and, believe it or not, I am beginning to hear certain rythums that really sound great on a set. My suggestion is that you can move to the next exercise (and the next page by default) when you can play the current exercise at your preferred speed comfortably and pretty much without thinking too much about the sticking. This is how I used to learn the sheet music for the marching shows.

FIRST worry about the indicated sticking.....the speed will begin to show itself NATURALLY. The name of the book says it all! 😊 SECOND don't be afraid to play anything at a slow tempo for awhile....let the rythums start to show themselves as you increase the tempo. LASTLY experiment. Try different feels as you play the exercises. You will begin to notice that certain exercises start to sound really good in a different "environment".

Example. Page 5 exercise 6 played as a shuffle beat rather than an 8th note roundabout on the set.

Hope this, as well as, everything else that's been said helps you out. Good drumming!

[email protected] (if you'd like to correspond with me)

BTW, the practice log idea really works.


In my hurry to actually play music, I skipped playing a practice pad, and have been faking drums successfully for 20 years. Gotta love Rock for making that possible. I have recently recommited to learning the fundamentals, starting with the correct grip, and striking motion to take full advantage of rebound. amazing, but progress is slower than anyone with a job, kids, etc would prefer. RE repeating any exercise 20 times, that seems unrealistic. try "extreme hands makeover" for good explanation of proper grip, and a very boiled down approach to developing better stick control.


I just started working through this book, and I'm already seeing improvement. I use Tempo Advanced for iOS, which you can program to increase in tempo as you play. I start at 60 bpm, and increase by 5 bpm every 2 bars (or however long each exercise is). I top out at 160, then it takes me back down to 60, again in increments of 5 bpm. This allows me to practice each exercise the set number of times (20 times going up, another 20 going down), at several tempos, without stopping.

As a side note, I practice on a pillow (something that Dennis Chambers suggested), which helps me strengthen the muscles used in my stroke.

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