Recently, I did a workshop at the Long Island High School for the Arts on hi hat independence. I discovered that the subject was foreign for many drummers. Simple exercises challenged the most coordinated players to maintain their balance while drumming.
The Drumming System has lots of exercises to develop this skill. They start out simple, with putting the the hi hat on 2 and 4, then quarter notes, then on the “ands”. As you begin to master these exercises, hi hat foot splashes are eventually added in.
For myself, developing hi hat independence was no easy task. I vividly remember feeling like I was about to lose my balance. While in high school, I studied drums with Chet Doboe. Chet is the founder of the Hip Pickles Drum Band and the author of some amazing drum books. I was fortunate to be able to have him as a teacher.
His books, such as The Basics of Rock Drumming and The Rock Drumming Workbook, really helped me develop a strong sense of independence. He emphasized that I practice along with a metronome and stay relaxed. I remember thinking, “How can I be relaxed when every limb is doing something different?”
Chet’s books are currently out of print. If you can find one of his books, keep it and work out of it.
The New Breed is a book that goes very deep into overall independence. I find this book to be incredibly difficult, but it always improves my coordination. A highlight of this book is that you have to actually sing what each limb is doing.
For those of you beginning to explore the concept of hi hat independence, I highly recommend the Drumming System.