A Slightly Different Approach
In Hi Hat Control Part One, we took a very common eighth note rock pattern and moved the hi hat openings around to every possible eighth note placement. Efficient and instructive. This time, the approach is to begin with the idea that the most common place rock and pop drummers put the hi hat open sound is on the “and” of beat four. Since that placement is so common in popular music, it makes sense to gain facility with putting an open sound there. So, with that in mind, we vary the beats, but keep the open sound in that one place for the majority of the twenty exercises included on the worksheet.
By the way, why don’t you open up the worksheet and print it out now by clicking on the following link: Hi Hat Control Part Two
By the end of the worksheet, we start to change things up a bunch, just to keep it interesting.
The Closed Note
Note that the left foot closes the hi hat on the eighth note following the open sound (notice the “x” below the bottom line of the staff), and that note does not include an additional right hand on the hi hat. Your right hand (we’re assuming everyone is righty) does not strike the hi hat at the same time that your foot closes it. This may not be agreed upon in general, but I have played this way for a long time, and I prefer this method because it sounds better to me. This is part of what makes opening and closing the hi hat tricky for beginners. This notation is a bit different from what you may have seen in hi hat exercises, and that is the only reason I point this out. The hi hat open sound is indicated by a circle above the hi hat note, as is common in drum notation.
It’s OK to “lean into it,” BUT…
I also think that the hi hat opening sound will sound better when it is created with a bit of an accent….when you use a bit of force. So, lean into it a little, use the shank of the stick and give it a real stroke. “Dinky” strokes using the bead of the stick will probably not sound as good. Get a good teacher to help you evaluate how you’re doing, because these nuances are difficult to evaluate on your own at first. I find that although I am advocating using some force on the open note, the playing of the hi hat is one of the most mis-understood aspects of rock drumming. Too many beginning drummers play the hi hat way too loud relative to the other voices on the kit.
Recently, a student asked me to help her work on opening and closing the hi hat during beats so she could start incorporating the “shhhh” sound into her grooves. The attached sheet, “Hi Hat Control, Part 1,” is the set of exercises I came up with for her. The sheet is available for download by clicking on the following link: Hi Hat Control Part One
Here are a few things to note about my approach to this topic for rock drumming beginners.
Efficiency: this topic, like many others in drumming and in music, could be an endless sea of exercises and practice. I wanted to make this worksheet as useful as possible (that is one of the BANG! credos…..we practice “Useful technique” and “Useful Independence”). Therefore the sheet begins with what I think is the most common of simple eighth note rock beats. From there, we simply look at the eight possible places to open the hi hat and apply them to that specific beat. It is NOT exhaustive, however, I think it is extremely useful as a beginning for learning to use the hi hat in rock music.
The Closed Note: I have always believed that since the foot causes a “chick” sound to be heard when it closes the hi hat, it is unnecessary to strike the hi hat with the cymbal hand simultaneously when that note is played by the foot. Further, it sounds sloppy to strike the hi hat with the hand while closing it with the foot. You’ll notice that the exercises here reflect that philosophy. I only point this out because these exercises look different than much of the other work by other authors on this topic. Many times, in other drumming literature, the hi hat foot, and its role in creating the open sound are ignored in the notation and I wanted to correct that …..I think it is an oversight.
For any teachers: please feel free to use this to help your students.
Alright….enough ramblings for one night….have at it!