Who Has (and Hasn't) Worked Their Way through Stick Control?

Old Drummer

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After someone mentioned Stick Control on another thread, I remembered my drum teacher holding that book up years ago and saying in effect, "If you think what you're doing now is tough, this book is next!"

Well, "next" never came, and I'm not sure why. I don't remember quitting drum lessons, but after awhile I just no longer took them. My teacher and I remained close. I worked part-time in the music store where his studio was and filled in for him teaching his students when he needed time off. I even took over from him as drummer after he quit one band and joined another. But the lessons stopped before I started in on Stick Control.

My guess is that my teacher had never worked his way through the exercises in that book and realized that he was in no position to teach them. He was a decent weekend warrior drummer, but not a great drummer. He knew enough to know that mastering Stick Control was the next step, but not enough to insist on trying to guide me through it.

Anyway, today (over 50 years later) I finally looked at Stick Control. It's available online in pdf. My impression was that the first few pages aren't that daunting. In fact, I can pretty much sightread them. I also immediately understood their rationale. It's to mix up sticking patterns in order to get drummers comfortable playing things every which way. This is a good idea.

But after the first few pages I found myself thinking, WTF? Not only can't I sightread many of the later exercises, I also have to pause and try to figure out exactly what they entail before even trying them slowly. Anyone who has worked their way through the entire book must have phenomenal hands.

Then of course there's an addendum suggesting ways to transfer the exercises to drum set playing by mixing up feet and hands too. Anyone who has done much of that must be a phenomenal drum set player.

So I'm curious: How many of you have worked your way through all the exercises vs. how many have either skipped them all or only mastered some of them? I'd guess that conservatory graduates have done them all while a few weekend warriors haven't bothered with any of them, but I don't know so I'm asking.

Also, for those of you who have either dabbled in or mastered the exercises, I'm curious to know how helpful you think they are. It's obvious to me that they can't hurt, but I have to wonder if there's much payoff from mastering complex mixtures of 16th notes and triplets with different sticking patterns and oddly interspersed rests. Surely these don't come up in the real world very often, but maybe some drummers use them.

I'm just wondering about a next level I never rose to, as well as contemplating calling up the pdf and actually practicing some of those exercises myself.
 

Tornado

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After someone mentioned Stick Control on another thread, I remembered my drum teacher holding that book up years ago and saying in effect, "If you think what you're doing now is tough, this book is next!"

Well, "next" never came, and I'm not sure why. I don't remember quitting drum lessons, but after awhile I just no longer took them. My teacher and I remained close. I worked part-time in the music store where his studio was and filled in for him teaching his students when he needed time off. I even took over from him as drummer after he quit one band and joined another. But the lessons stopped before I started in on Stick Control.

My guess is that my teacher had never worked his way through the exercises in that book and realized that he was in no position to teach them. He was a decent weekend warrior drummer, but not a great drummer. He knew enough to know that mastering Stick Control was the next step, but not enough to insist on trying to guide me through it.

Anyway, today (over 50 years later) I finally looked at Stick Control. It's available online in pdf. My impression was that the first few pages aren't that daunting. In fact, I can pretty much sightread them. I also immediately understood their rationale. It's to mix up sticking patterns in order to get drummers comfortable playing things every which way. This is a good idea.

But after the first few pages I found myself thinking, WTF? Not only can't I sightread many of the later exercises, I also have to pause and try to figure out exactly what they entail before even trying them slowly. Anyone who has worked their way through the entire book must have phenomenal hands.

Then of course there's an addendum suggesting ways to transfer the exercises to drum set playing by mixing up feet and hands too. Anyone who has done much of that must be a phenomenal drum set player.

So I'm curious: How many of you have worked your way through all the exercises vs. how many have either skipped them all or only mastered some of them? I'd guess that conservatory graduates have done them all while a few weekend warriors haven't bothered with any of them, but I don't know so I'm asking.

Also, for those of you who have either dabbled in or mastered the exercises, I'm curious to know how helpful you think they are. It's obvious to me that they can't hurt, but I have to wonder if there's much payoff from mastering complex mixtures of 16th notes and triplets with different sticking patterns and oddly interspersed rests. Surely these don't come up in the real world very often, but maybe some drummers use them.

I'm just wondering about a next level I never rose to, as well as contemplating calling up the pdf and actually practicing some of those exercises myself.

I did a lot of these, but looking at the PDF online, I surely didn't get to the back of the book. There's probably better ways to work on some of this stuff once you get to about the halfway point. By then, you kind of have it. I think most people go into Wilcoxon and Pratt well before finishing this book. Not that there isn't value in it. These short phrases are easy to work on with limited time. In that light, there's little reason to not have gone through it all after having played for years since you could just do one every day or week and master it.
 

kdgrissom

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I still use it regularly because there are niche exercises that I am compelled to be comfortable with and rock solid consistency is my personal check against getting sloppy. "Fine tuning" if you will. I know I didn't get through the whole book when taking lessons, but I did power through it on my own later. My first copy disintegrated decades ago, so I believe I am on my 3rd copy now.
 

Frank Godiva

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There was an app called stickcontrol for IOS that would generate random exercises from the book with a metronome. Don't see it in the App Store any longer.
 

Ian S

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I've found it extremely useful after a prolonged break from the drums and needed to go back "in shape".
I was away from drumming for several years and came back to it around 3 years ago, and after jamming with some work buddies off and on for a couple years, about a year ago I went on eBay and bought Stick Control and it has been a huge help, first just getting me back to where I had been 12 years ago, and then soon sailing right past that mark.

I have not worked through even the first quarter of this book and it does seem like overkill, maybe. I'm not sure, but maybe, maybe about 500 exercises in there? I don't like to go through a lot at once though. I usually pick one exercise and stay at it a while, just zone out on it, sort of meditating.

I'd like to finish the book but I don't want to rush through it.
 

jb78

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A few months ago I purchased a copy - probably my third time doing that, but the difference is this time I’m actually working through it.
 

Pounder

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I found the book fairly interesting but was very limited in scope. It was the fact that it is split up into all the short exercises. The purpose of that is to imprint the sticking and rhythmic combinations. But the book is mostly even runs of notes, rather than syncopation or rudiments. Therefore it could be of much use only as a part of a larger overall regimen. That being said I haven't dusted this book off in a very long time; and I think I'll make an attempt at re-activating some of my practice with it.
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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Too many pages.
There is a second page?!?!?! o_O

Which exercises give you trouble? Do you feel comfortable switching between 16ths and 8th note triplets?
Most of the book consists of pretty simple rhythms but there are some harder / more exotic ones like the 6/8 rolls (mixing triplets and quintuplets if you think in 2/4 instead of 6/8).
 

Matched Gripper

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After someone mentioned Stick Control on another thread, I remembered my drum teacher holding that book up years ago and saying in effect, "If you think what you're doing now is tough, this book is next!"

Well, "next" never came, and I'm not sure why. I don't remember quitting drum lessons, but after awhile I just no longer took them. My teacher and I remained close. I worked part-time in the music store where his studio was and filled in for him teaching his students when he needed time off. I even took over from him as drummer after he quit one band and joined another. But the lessons stopped before I started in on Stick Control.

My guess is that my teacher had never worked his way through the exercises in that book and realized that he was in no position to teach them. He was a decent weekend warrior drummer, but not a great drummer. He knew enough to know that mastering Stick Control was the next step, but not enough to insist on trying to guide me through it.

Anyway, today (over 50 years later) I finally looked at Stick Control. It's available online in pdf. My impression was that the first few pages aren't that daunting. In fact, I can pretty much sightread them. I also immediately understood their rationale. It's to mix up sticking patterns in order to get drummers comfortable playing things every which way. This is a good idea.

But after the first few pages I found myself thinking, WTF? Not only can't I sightread many of the later exercises, I also have to pause and try to figure out exactly what they entail before even trying them slowly. Anyone who has worked their way through the entire book must have phenomenal hands.

Then of course there's an addendum suggesting ways to transfer the exercises to drum set playing by mixing up feet and hands too. Anyone who has done much of that must be a phenomenal drum set player.

So I'm curious: How many of you have worked your way through all the exercises vs. how many have either skipped them all or only mastered some of them? I'd guess that conservatory graduates have done them all while a few weekend warriors haven't bothered with any of them, but I don't know so I'm asking.

Also, for those of you who have either dabbled in or mastered the exercises, I'm curious to know how helpful you think they are. It's obvious to me that they can't hurt, but I have to wonder if there's much payoff from mastering complex mixtures of 16th notes and triplets with different sticking patterns and oddly interspersed rests. Surely these don't come up in the real world very often, but maybe some drummers use them.

I'm just wondering about a next level I never rose to, as well as contemplating calling up the pdf and actually practicing some of those exercises myself.
FYI, sight reading is reading/playing music that you haven't seen before. It's a skill unto itself. Stick Control isn't really sight reading. It is just a method of progressive sticking exercises. But, you do have to have some reading skill to play through the book.

If I may ask, whick exercises are giving you trouble? Maybe I can help.
 

JDA

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I've worked thru it enough to know........there's 5 and 7 poly rhythms (and beyond...) in the back.. (under Short Roll Progressions)
dudes. the book was written in 1935. That's just awesome

page 44 11&12
 
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KevinD

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Stick Control was one of several books I worked through with my first teacher, I never went through the whole book. At various times my teacher would have me work through certain sections.

As an example of that, he had me work through the pages where they have all the different paradiddle permutations. Then when I was comfortable with that he had me apply certain ones to the drum set... once I started to get that down he showed me a bunch of Steve Gadd transcriptions which utilized many of the same permutations. He wanted me to see the link between the source material and what could be done with it.
I guess that is why that book is still considered a go to resource today.
 

paulwells73

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I also work on the first three pages (and mostly just the third page.) I currently play through it around 212bpm, so I set a metronome to 106bpm and play through the page with the click on beats 2&4, repeating each exercise 4 or 8 times. The hardest part is seamlessly switching to the next exercise without any hiccups. I strive for every note to sound exactly the same - it should almost sound like you’re playing a steady stream of 8th notes with one hand - no change in sound, dynamic, or timing between the various stickings. I also make sure to run through it at a super soft dynamic, with the sticks no more than one inch off of the pad or drum. If I’m playing it on the kit, I’ll feather quarter notes on the bass drum and play 2&4 on the hihat with the left foot.
 


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