Teaching Tips

Guide To Teaching The Pre-Intermediate Syllabus

After completing the beginner syllabus, your students should be confident in their ability to play basic beats and fills and have knowledge of basic rudiments.

The DrumLessonResources pre-intermediate syllabus focuses on 16th notes and 8th note triplets  applying them to rudiments, beats, and fills. Tied Notes & Dotted 8th notes are also dealt with on the reading side.


We start of with a continuation of reading 16th note rhythms from the beginner level. Here the study is the 16th note rest. This allows for more complex rhythms to be played and the focus is on playing all the notes landing on ‘e’ and ‘a’ precisely.

Dotted 8th notes are very common so we get familiar with them here. The concept of tied notes is also dealt with before we explore 8th note triplets in detail. Eighth note triplets are also contrasted with 8th notes and 16th notes to get the student confident switching between these common subdivisions – make them count the rhythms out loud against a metronome, it really helps!

All exercises are still played with strictly alternating sticking starting with either the left or the right hand. Students should be able to play all exercises starting with either hand.

Once your students are confident with the hand patterns and can play the exercises securely against a metronome, extend the exercises by having the student add the following foot patterns.

  • Quarter notes on the bass drum.
  • Quarter notes on the hi-hat foot.
  • Quarter notes between bass and hi-hat: Bass on 1&3, Hi-Hat on 2&4.

Rudiments / Technique

Hopefully your students have developed a good basic technique already. Now it’s time to speed things up. Singles, doubles and paradiddles are presented again, but this time as 16th notes. Double strokes also get their own focus. This is the time to introduce the student to your preferred double stroke technique – push-pull, open-close etc… Use the Doubles exercise page to focus on double stroke technique.

Sticking patterns are extended to 2 bar patterns and Accents are introduced. If your students can play flams in a controlled manner, then accent patterns shouldn’t be too difficult. Again get the students to focus on stick height and producing two distinct sound levels. To start with ignore the foot pattern, add it in once the student can produce consistently good sounding accents. Extend the exercise by having them put the accents on the toms. Make sure they can start with either hand.

Once you’ve started studying triplets you can introduce the paradiddle-diddle and double paradiddle. Both presented here as 8th note triplets.

Finally the drag can be introduced once a good double stroke has been achieved. You may also wish to show the buzzed version of the drag.


For the four main hi-hat variations we’ve been working on, this level is all about adding 16th note snare and bass drum. I normally proceed with the eighth note hi-hat variations first, followed by the quarter notes and then the sixteenth notes.

It can be hard to get the bass and snare precise when playing quarter note hi-hat patterns. Other than making my students practice slowly with an 8th or 16th note metronome & counting; I also get them to play the beat using an 8th note hi-hat pattern then get them to change to the quarter note pattern without altering the bass or snare. It often works as the student already has a feel for where the bass or snare should be. Have them play 4 or 8 bars with the eighth note hi-hat and then 4 or 8 bars with the quarter note hi-hat without stopping.

Two handed 16th notes here require special treatment due to the co-ordination issues of hitting a bass drum and a left handed hi-hat at the same time. Also moving the left hand to the snare from the hi-hat can cause problems. Go slow! Count! Metronome!

Half time and double time feels are also introduced. Fairly easy concepts to understand, play them a few songs to demonstrate the idea. The chorus of Enter Sandman by Metallica is good for Half Time feel. Since you’ve been gone and Burning heart – both in our song library – also feature half time sections. Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City has a great double time feel ending.

Eighth note triplet rock beats are introduced at this level. After starting your students on this, challenge them to find a song with 8th note triplet rock beats. It’s important that they can pick it out on their own. Eighth note triplet rock beats 1 contains all the basic beats you’d need for a slow blues jam. The grooves on Eighth note triplet rock beats 2 are more challenging and are to help the students get more comfortable with triplets.


Here we’re focusing on developing sixteenth note and eighth note triplet fills. Sixteenth note fills 3 focuses on tricky but useful patterns with broken sixteenth note patterns. Get the students to follow the stickings closely as they aid in playing the exercises in a flowing manner.

Sixteenth note fills 4 and 5 add the bass drum to make the fills sound more sophisticated and powerful. Working on getting two clean powerful bass drum strokes from a single pedal is necessary here – see essential exercises for help with that and for an exercise to help integrate the bass drum with the hands.

Sixteenth note fills 6 & 7 add crash cymbals to the drum fill mix to add energy to the fills.

Sixteenth note fills 8 uses flams to add texture to the fills and to make certain notes sound bigger.

Eighth note triplet fills are presented much like the earlier eighth note fills. Demonstrate to your students how playing eighth or sixteenth note fills with eighth note triplet rock beats sounds weird, but playing eighth note triplet fills with eighth note rock beats sounds really cool.

Groove fills are also presented again, but this time with a focus on sixteenth notes.

Essential Exercises

These are support exercises designed to focus on specific areas that often cause trouble or to help build facility on the kit. Often I will use these as warm-up exercises at the start of the lesson.

16th note accuracy – To help students get comfortable playing on each 16th note partial.

16th note bass drum substitutions – To help integrate the hands and bass drum.

16th note bass drum doubles – to help develop a powerful double bass stroke on the single bass drum.

Triplet Trouble – to help familiarize the student with all parts of the 8th note triplet by moving tom tom hits through eighth note triplets.

Eighth note triplet bass drum substitutions – aka Bonham Triplets. Presents all combinations of 2 snare hits and 1 bass drum in eighth triplet form. Get your students working on those classic rock triplet licks now!

16th note fill durations – to help students start a 16th note fill on any ‘e’ or ‘a’ in the bar. Once the student can play them correctly on the snare drum, get them to move their hands around the kit and create their own fills.