‘Sterling’ is a warm up exercise first used by the 2014 Blue Devils drumline. I used a transcription by Will Doick to learn the piece in its original form before adding some modifications. The stickings, rudimental passages and bucks are pretty basic stuff and won’t be a problem for players with solid hand technique and knowledge of the essential rudiments.
If you’re up for an added challenge once you can play Sterling as written at tempo, take a look at my adaptation…the transcription is included below. But before you do that, get comfortable playing the original version starting with either hand. Your first challenge starts there. Following is my version – the ‘Markified’ version – of Sterling.
120bpm (left-hand lead)
A little slower…100bpm
Here’s how my version differs from the original:
- The last sextuplet in measure 7 has been re-sticked so that the next series of sextuplets in measure 8 start with the left hand. ‘RLRLRR’ sticking has been substituted to switch the lead hand. ‘LRLRLL’ sticking at the end of measure 8 turns the lead hand back around. It’s pretty challenging to execute the diddles cleanly at the end of measures 7 & 8 so that they sound like the surrounding unaccented hand-to-hand strokes.
- The last grouping of 16th’s in measure 17 has been re-sticked so that the next series of 16th’s in measure 18 start with the left hand. ‘RLRR’ sticking has been substituted to switch the lead hand. ‘LRLL’ sticking at the end of measure 18 switches the lead hand back around. Obviously this is not difficult to execute, I just like to change the lead hand whenever possible to prevent right-hand dominance.
- If you followed my suggestion and are proficient at playing Sterling starting with your left hand, you may have found the single-stroke fives in measures 23 & 24 difficult to execute at tempo – I sure did. A switch of lead hand has been added starting on measure 24 to make sure those phrases continue to get played starting with the left. Ouch.
- Start slow. Increase the tempo by 5 beats per minute only when everything is executed cleanly and competently.
- Use your mirror to check your hands and stick heights.
- Stick heights are key. Try to keep your sticks as close to vertical as possible on the accented strokes, and 6 inches or less from the head on the unaccented hits.
- As with the original version of Sterling, strive for proficiency with the ‘Markfied’ version starting with either hand…I guar-on-tee you’ll find this challenging!
If you need help breaking down any of this material, I am available for in-person and online drum lessons.
Stay up-to-date on brand new online lessons and drumming videos! ‘Like’ my Drums & Drumming Facebook page at Mark Goodin Drums & Drumming