Using The Fill Practice Booklets

The 8th and 16th note fill practice booklets that appear on the beginner and pre-intermediate pages are each 20 pages in length. They feature 20 rock beats and 50 drum fills that are appropriate to the level they are on. They serve as a good review of the beats and fills the student has learnt at that level, while giving them more practice and reinforcing the beats and fills in their playing vocabulary.

Each page features one beat which is played against 10 different fills of various lengths. Each one is presented as 4 bar phrase (3 bars of groove + 1 bar with a fill) to get the student used to playing 4 bar phrases.

Beats 1 to 5 feature different sets of 10 fills. The fills will then repeat on the subsequent pages; Beat 1 share its fills with beats 6, 11, and 16; Beat 2 shares its fills with beats 7, 12 and 17 and so on. This repetition will hopefully allow the student to add these fills to their vocabulary and prepare them to play them from a variety of grooves.

The beats and fills remain the same across the booklets at each level, only the hi-hat pattern changes. This allows the students to get used to playing the same bass & snare patterns with different hi-hat patterns. It also allows them to appreciate how it feels playing drum fills from a groove with 1/4 notes on the hi-hat compared to a groove with 16th notes on the hi-hat. That can be a real curveball for some students.

I’ll briefly run through the first page in class with a student and then I assign these as homework tasks. I email the file to them as I don’t want to print out 20 pages for them, and most of them have a device they can view them on while practicing.

How much I give them to practice depends on the student. Some students will get a page a week. For some students I’ll ask them to do all the pages with the same fills – so pages 1, 6,11, and 16 the first week, then pages 2, 7, 12, and 17 the next week.

I’ll use these as warm ups at the start of the lesson or to fill time at the end of a lesson. I give the student the goal of playing straight down a page without stopping – playing each line twice – at a desired tempo.

While these booklets serve as a good review of each level, you don’t have to wait until they have finished each level. The beats get progressively harder as the booklet goes on. You can work through the earlier beats once the student has covered that type of beat via the worksheets. For example in the 8th Note Fill Practice 1 booklet, the first 7 grooves are based on the 8th Note Rock Beats 1 worksheet, grooves 8-10 are based on 8th Note Rock Beats 2, grooves 11-15 are based on 8th Note Rock Beats 3 and grooves 16-20 are syncopated grooves based on 8th Note Rock Beats 5.

Hopefully these booklets will help give your students a useful vocabulary and enable them to become versatile drummers that are comfortable playing a wide range of grooves and fills.