​Kurtis Koch Book Reviews

Free downloadable music for solos & ensembles 

Drum Sessions Book One by Peter O’Gorman KJOS Pub. Co.

Just like there are many available beginning band methods, so are there many beginning drum set books.  I’ve been using this book since it first came out in 1989 and it guides the beginning drum set player, and their band director, into the necessary skills for drum set basics, fills, and chart reading.  The older books have a CD, but the newer ones have the digital downloads that are available from KJOS.

The book starts out with a diagram of the parts of the drum set, snare drum, and how drums produce sound.  Remember any of this from percussion methods class?  Next is how to set-up the drums and adjustments.  Grip is discussed and pictures are included.  The one comment I will make about the section on traditional grip is the picture of the left hand.  I play traditional and this picture needs some adjustment.

Pages 6-10 work on stroke, playing time, music reading, drum set notation, and playing rhythms on just the snare drum.  Good snare drum technique helps in developing drum set skills, just like buzzing on a brass mouthpiece is for embouchure strength.  Snare drum grip is the embouchure for drummers.

Page 12 demonstrates (with pictures) the cymbal, how to place a stick on the cymbal, and hi-hat performance.  Page 13 has exercises using the cymbal skills and an actual play-along exercise with a band.  The tunes that are used are played twice.  The first time is with drums, the second time without the drummer.  
I always encouraged a student to “air drum” with the band the first time.  
All of the tunes in the book are fun and motivating.  

Page 20 discusses the use of tom toms.  There is notation for sets with three toms and for sets that use only two toms.  This page gives clear ideas for how to perform fills.  Page 21 has a play-along tune that uses some of the tom fills on page 20.

Page 24 introduces, with a picture, the crash cymbal.  Mr. O’Gorman describes how to strike the crash cymbal.

Page 26 introduces the bass drum foot pedal.  There are two pictures that show the heel down technique and heel up technique.  I would suggest that a beginner learn the heel down technique first because it’s easier for a beginner to control.

As the book progresses, the tunes get busier, so make sure the student works slowly and practices the exercises until they feel comfortable.  Steady time playing is more important now than speed.

Page 37 demonstrates the correct way to perform a cross stick.  I first learned this technique from the great jazz trumpet player, Clark Terry.  A well-placed cross stick can sometimes anchor the time keeping.

Page 44 introduces the hi-hat.  The rocking technique or heel toe style and ball of foot technique are shown.   It’s a matter of personal preference.

Lastly, on the back cover, drum set tuning is described.  Yes, it’s important to tune drums, AND change drumheads.  It’s like changing reeds: things wear out.