The "2346": A Warm Up You Can Count On

The importance of warming up before a rehearsal or performance cannot be overstated. If a drum corps is not warmed up properly it can mean the difference between success and failure on the field. So, which warm ups should you use? All lead drummers have a few good warm ups in their repertoire and the most effective exercises share some common characteristics.

A good warm up should always:
  • be easy to understand
  • provide a challenge to "engage the brain"
  • address a fundamental aspect of playing
  • place an emphasis on unison playing
  • promote concentration and focus
  • give your hands a workout

One of my favourite warm ups is the "2346". I designed the "2346" to improve a drum corps' sense of time and subdividing skills. The ability to subdivide improves the timing and "feel" of the corps and the sticking changes in variation #2 and #3 promote increased focus and concentration leading to a more productive rehearsal. In pipe band drumming the skill of subdivision is of utmost importance as our scores require us to switch subdivisions multiple times in each line of music.

The "2346" Variation 1: Single Strokes

Most pipe band drummers learn this basic subdividing exercise in their first year of playing so it should already be familiar to most of you. Always remember to practice each line separately before attempting to move from one line to the next.  Once all individual lines are solid try playing the exercise straight through. Practice with the metronome until all subdivisions are played correctly and the warm up can be played convincingly from start to finish. The arrows above each note grouping indicate where the metronome should "click". Begin with the metronome at 60 bpm and increase by 10s until you reach 120 bpm. Follow these same tempo guidelines for all three variations. If you or your drum corps gets stuck at a certain tempo, reduce tempo by 20 bpm and make sure performance of the exercise is accurate before moving on. It is of paramount importance that these exercises be performed CORRECTLY at each tempo before increasing speed.

The "2346" Variation #2: Double Strokes

Now here's where things start to get interesting. Variation #2 is rhythmically identical to variation #1 but, because you're now using doubles, it will feel much different. It is interesting how difficult the second and fourth lines become as doubles are played over triplets and sextuplets. As in variation #1, practice each line individually before putting them all together.

The "2346" Variation #3: Paradiddles

The final variation of "2346" should provide most drum corps with a solid challenge. Playing a four note paradiddle over triplets and sextuplets will give many drummers a headache. Personally I enjoy this variation the most because I find it so challenging. A good amount of practice will be required to maintain the correct subdivision while keeping your hand to hand paradiddles intact. To facilitate unison and help the exercise groove better, place a slight accent at the beginning of each paradiddle.

If you have a favourite warm up that you'd like to share with the community, please email it along with any notes/explanations and I'll include it in a future blog post. Sharing our knowledge helps us all! Enjoy the "2346" and happy drumming!