Transitions – Rock


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137 learners taking this course

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Transitions 101 was written to help students negotiate “transitions” between time playing and fill patterns in a rock style. Everything is time keeping, so the ability to flow evenly from a time functioning pattern to rhythms played around the drums is an important skill to develop. The following classes and material approach the subject from a rock perspective. This is not a rock history course and is designed to give you all the tools and vocabulary you need to play contemporary rock (& country) styles. There are 5 long lessons in this course, a work book with tips and concepts and 5 play along songs with charts. The course book is 60 pages long and has 180 exercises with audio. It is written at 2 levels and should be practiced in 2 and 4 bar phrases.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. understand various rock drumming concepts, approaches, and techniques for playing effectively and with consistency in a rock style.
  2. identify why some grooves sound and feel the way they do and the ability to embellish and move smoothly in and out of fills.
  3. orchestrate effective grooves and fills around the drum set, such as basic eighth-note patterns, more complex sixteenth-note patterns and syncopated rock grooves with ghost notes.


  • Lesson 1  – Basic 8th note rock grooves and syncopated fills. Introduction to the Flam rudiment and how to execute it properly. Song assignment; “Big Reptiles”
  • Lesson 2 – Continuation of the flammed rock fill and introduction of alternate back beats. Regular time, half time, double time and the Motown groove examples and practice exercise. Introduction to ghost notes and syncopated 16th note fills. Song assignment; “Valley Rock”
  • Lesson 3 – Continuation Of 16th note syncopated grooves and fills. Song assignment; “Not for Me to Say”
  • Lesson 4 – Continuation Of 16th note syncopated grooves and fills. Introduction to triplets,  Song assignment; “Fire & Ice”
  • Lesson 5  – Continuation Of 16th note syncopated grooves and fills. Song assignment; “Potato”



Reading & Syncopation Course or equivalent knowledge and/or two years of playing experience. You should have an understanding of note values, coordination studies, and basic time keeping. Some live performance experience would be a plus but is not necessary.

Required Textbooks

Transitions 101 course workbook (included)

General Requirements

Watch the video tutorial explaining how to record your drum assignments.

Assignments in this course will require you to use a webcam to record yourself performing along with backing tracks.

In order to record your performances with backing tracks successfully, you will need one of these options a computer, microphone, webcam, webcam recording software, and speakers.

acoustic or electronic drum kit, drumsticks

microphone (unless you are using an electronic drum kit/drum brain for assignments), such as a Shure SM57, or Shure SM58, and mic stand.

CD/MP3 player (separate from computer) and mixer optional—for those using electronic drum kits: CD/MP3 player (separate from computer) and drum brain optional:

isolation headphones

printer, so that you can print out music examples used in the course

Software Requirements


Web browser: Firefox 3.0 or higher, Internet Explorer 7 or higher


Web browser: Firefox 3.0 or higher, Safari 3.0 or higher

Acrobat Reader: current version

System Requirements


Windows XP, Vista, or higher Intel Pentium or higher 1 GB RAM 500 MB hard drive space recommended w/sound card


OS X 10.5 or higher Intel Mac 1 GB RAM 500 MB hard drive space recommended


A Short History of Rock Music

Rock music originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the UK and the US. It has roots in 1940s’ and 1950s’ rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical sources.

Musically, rock has centered around the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with bass guitar and drums. Typically, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature utilizing a verse-chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse and common musical characteristics are difficult to define. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romance but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political in emphasis.

By the late 1960s, referred to as the “golden age” or “classic rock” period, a number of distinct rock music sub-genres had emerged, including hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, and jazz-rock fusion, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock influenced by the counter-cultural psychedelic scene. New genres that emerged from this scene included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements; glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style; and the diverse and enduring major sub-genre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume, power, and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock both intensified and reacted against some of these trends to produce a raw, energetic form of music characterized by overt political and social critiques. Punk was an influence into the 1980s on the subsequent development of other sub-genres, including new wave, post-punk and eventually the alternative rock movement. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break through into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. Further fusion sub-genres have since emerged, including pop punk, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock’s history, including the garage rock/post-punk and synthpop revivals at the beginning of the new millennium.

Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major sub-cultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the visually distinctive goth and emo subcultures. Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.