3 Concepts to Develop Solo Ideas with Stick Control for Drummers

Stick Control is a book written by the great late George Lawrence Stone. It was published in 1935 and became one of the most acclaimed books in the drumming community.

Stick Control is, for many, the most important document written up to date which approaches the technique and coordination of our hands.

At a simple glance, Stick Control is a collection of stickings (hand combinations) and rudiments, organized in a very efficient fashion.

It starts out with simple rudiments such as single strokes, doubles strokes, and gradually mixes them up with other rudiments like flams and rolls in creatives ways, which helps any drummer/percussionist who practices them.

As it is, this book is an invaluable piece of information, and a must for any beginning, intermediate and even advanced drummer.

However, it is so well written and organized that it allows any creative drummer to come up with their own takes on how to practice all of these exercises.

In this lesson, I’ll be sharing with you some of the concepts I apply in my routine to get a bit more than just hand technique out of this fascinating book.

All these exercises are going to be applied to the first three pages of the book. However, some of these exercises can be used on much of the rest of it. 

1. Hand/Foot Combination

There are many ways in which we can incorporate our feet into these series of exercises. The basic ones would be just adding your left foot on every quarter note, up beats, half notes or even whole notes.

However, there are more ways in which we can take advantage of these hand exercises and throw our feet in there so a hand exercise becomes a full drumset coordination one, which can lead to beautiful linear phrases that can be used for soloing.

A) Substituting one hard for one foot:

For this exercise, we are going to take exercise 1 in the book and replace the left hand and play the right foot instead. Remember, we could also do the other way around, substitute the right hand for the right foot. Also, we can use the left foot on the hi-hat as well.

Ex. 1

All the ideas in this lesson are going to be demonstrated on the first three exercises from the book. However, as I said before, these concepts can be used through the entire book.

Ex. 2

Ex. 3

As you can see, all we did was take the left hand out, and play a right foot instead. You can do the same with the right hand, and also add the left foot to the mix.

B) Adding Foot strokes in between the patterns:

For this idea, we are going to add one or two foot-strokes in the middle of the bar. in other words, we’ll break the bar in two equal parts and add one or two foot-strokes in there.

Ex. 4

As you can see, I kept the original pattern and just added one foot-stroke in the middle, making it a five-stroke pattern. These are great exercises for a more complex and polyrhythmic phrasing.

Ex. 5

Ex. 6

Now let’s do the same, but add two strokes in between, making it a six notes phrase.

Ex. 7

Ex. 8

Ex. 9

Also, practice these exercises in 4/4. It will create an over-the-barline phrase or polyrhythmic phrasing, which can be very useful when soloing.

Make sure you count out loud, so you keep your place in the bar and form.

2. Orchestration

All of these exercises are designed for the snare drum, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can spread these cool patterns around the set. Here are a few ideas to do so:

Right hand: it can move to the floor tom, ride cymbal, snare drums, hi-hat.
Left hand: it can move to rack tom, snare drum, hi-hat, crash cymbal.

You can choose to play each hand on a different sound source, or you can break up the pattern and move one of your hands in between two or more sources, which can create interesting and intricate phrases.

Ex. 10


Again, here I’m taking Exercise 1 from the book and playing my right hand on the floor tom while moving my left hand between the snare, hi-hat and rack tom.

Ex. 11


On Ex. 11, I’m splitting the doubles in between two sources, right-hand goes from the snare to the floor tom, and left-hand goes from rack tom to the snare.

Then, right-hand goes from ride cymbal to snare and left-hand from the crash cymbal to the snare, adding that kick drum every time I hit the cymbals.

Ex. 12


Here, again just breaking the paradiddle up between floor tom, snare, rack tom, and hi-hat.

Also, we can combine this concept with the previous one and come up with an impressive number of ideas.

Ex. 13


Ex. 14

Remember to practice all these exercises in 4/4.

 3. Shifting Rates

If you open the book, you’ll see that most of the exercises in the first few pages are mostly 8th notes, 8th notes triplets, and 16th notes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can change the rate of those exercises and come up with creative phrases.

Ex. 15

As you may notice, I took Exercise #3 from the book and played 8th notes triplets instead of regular 8th notes.

We could add the foot as well.

Ex. 16


Now, I’m playing the doubles with the foot added, but in 8th note triplets.

Let’s do the same but now with 16th notes.

Ex. 17


And now let’s do 16th note triplets.

Ex. 18


Also, you can apply the orchestration system above and come up with your own phrases. The possibilities are limitless.

Hope this lesson helps to expand your vocabulary and fuel your creativity.

As always, please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts on the comment section below, or you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook, and share your ideas with me.

See you in the next one.

30 Stepsto Better Jazz Playing

3 COMMENTS

  1. A few days ago I added RLLR LRRL to my drum practice. I had to slow it way down and concentrate to keep it going in sync to the metronome. By the next day I combined it with previously drilled RLRR LRLL and RRLR LLRL consciously switching from one to another. Then I worked the same 3 patterns around the set which is another challenge in itself. Playing those patterns between the ride and snare threw me off at first because of the sound even though the hand movements were exactly the same. I found that to be a curiosity. The RLLR LRRL between ride and snare actually sounds good to me making useful!

    I noticed last night when working these patterns my attention drifted off and I had gravitated to another pattern without losing the time. It had happened subconsciously without effort or will. Either I was moving to the path of least resistance (the least practiced pattern) or, my subconscious was controlling the patterns in a way to accommodate my sense of phrasing. In other words, the need to switch the pattern so I landed on the crash with my right hand at the right time without calculation, counting or any other conscious thought. Maybe some of both? I'll have to pay more attention to this.
    Anyhow, this book is the best. I'm looking forward to applying these patterns between my feet and hands.

  2. I bought Stick Control last year and applied just three exercises first on the snare paying attention to muscle tension creeping in. When it did, I slowed the metronome down until I played relaxed. I noticed a remarkable improvement in just a few weeks. Now I’m working in double stroke triplets and working what I know around the set. Great satisfaction for a guy not trying to be a drummer. I’m doing it to improve my over all musician ship. I always play to either a click or a music loop and ……..slow!

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