By the term “two-handed riding” we usually mean riding on two different parts of the drum set simultaneously. Usually, that implies riding distributed between the hi-hat and the ride cymbal – however, riding can also be executed on other cymbals, or even the floor tom, for instance.
Two-handed riding is rightfully considered the most advanced type of riding, as it requires a great level of rhythmical and physical independence and can make a sometimes overwhelming use of creativity.
While riding with two hands, your hands are in a so-called “open” position. That way, your access to the drum set becomes more direct and reaching the different parts becomes easier. Also, through the learning process you will quite probably learn a lot about rhythmical independence. Basically, you will learn that your right hand can not only play steady eighths and your left hand is not only meant to play the snare drum.
In order to deliver a smooth two-handed groove, you have to climb a stair of skills. You should not and you probably cannot start with an advanced two-handed rhythm, so I have compiled a list of basic steps you should follow in order to reach the phase where no two-handed rhythm is too complex anymore.
a.) Be able to play steady basic riding. In order to even think about starting to learn two-handed riding, you should first reach a level where you can ride both the hi-hat and the cymbal confidently.
b.) Learn two-handed sixteenth-notes on the hi-hat. Playing sixteenth notes on the hi-hat with your left hand will teach you that your left hand can not only be used for drum fills and hitting the snare drum.
c.) Understand open hands. Getting started, the first thing you should learn is playing basic beats with open hands. That is, switch your hands and play the snare with your right hand and the hi-hat with your left hand. If you have been playing with closed hands for a while this is going to be quite hard to learn – you will probably hit the snare at every eighth note in the beginning. Being patient pays off, using this basic exercise you can really boost your independence skills.
d.) Distribute the sixteenth notes from step b.) between the hi-hat and the ride. Now that you are familiar with both sixteenth note beats and open handed playing, you should move the sixteenths that you were playing with your left hand to the ride and play them with your right hand. The sixteenths previously played with your right hand will still be played on the hi-hat, however, with your left hand. You will also play the snare with your left hand.
No matter what are you playing on the drum set, a stable knowledge of drum rudiments is necessary. However, when you are familiar with two-handed riding already, you can forget about every teacher repeating how important rudiments are and actually start to apply and create marvelous grooves using them.
To get a taste of what advantages rudiments can bring to your two-handed grooves, replace the single stroke roll-based distribution of strokes between the ride and the hi-hat with something more interesting. For example, you could play double stroke rolls or paradiddles between the hi-hat and the ride.
Actually, two-handed riding does not have to refer to riding only two surfaces: if you can come up with a nice-sounding beat, you can even distribute your riding between, say, the hi-hat, the ride and the floor tom. The choices are really endless.
Drum Rudiment System gives you all the tools and tips you’ll ever need to improvise fills and rudiments for any given occasion. On top of that, you will also have great fun playing along to new beats and broadening your drumming “vocabulary”.