Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Best books - Chop Busters by Ron Fink

OK, the title is a little goofy- a lot goofy- but this is an excellent, fun book of snare drum exercises written by North Texas State University instructor Ron Fink to "uncover weakness in basic technique" and to "develop a) coordination of finger, wrist and forearm motions, b) sticking accuracy, c) speed, d) dynamics, and e) rhythmic recognition." They're organized by meter (2/4, 6/8, 3/4, 4/4, 2/2, and 12/8) and target tempo, and do not follow the usual mathematically logical sequence, running each idea well into the ground before proceeding to the next one. Exercises are not strictly rudiment based- they primarily deal with singles, doubles, accents, paradiddle variations, rolls, four stroke ruffs, and dynamics. Notably there are very few flam exercises.

There are a number of things I really like about this book. Any single page covers a number of issues, making it good for warming up, or for just giving yourself a break from some of the more mind-numbing technique books (cough *STICK CONTROL*). While challenging, you never get a sense that you are being asked to do something pointlessly difficult- the goal always seems to be to develop practical facility. There is a clear musical intelligence at work in writing and selecting exercises. It has something like the feel of a professional manual, focusing on vocabulary that will be useful in the field, rather than technique in the abstract.

And the price- it's 48 pages long and costs $4.50. A great value. Very fun and very nice to have around.

Get Chop Busters from Steve Weiss Music.

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