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Jazz Drum Lesson: Learning ‘Elvin Triplets’ with Peter Erskine


As you continue to progress on the jazz drums, one of the most important performance elements on which to focus your efforts is the way you add variety to and embellish your playing patterns. Keeping your improvisations, grooves, and fills feeling fresh is a critical part of retaining the attention of your fellow musicians and listeners, and is an important strategy to make continuous improvements on the drum kit and level up your skills.


In this online drum lesson, two-time Grammy Award-winning drummer, member of iconic jazz-fusion groups Weather Report and Steps Ahead, and ArtistWorks master instructor, Peter Erskine, teaches one of his favorite triplet patterns, which he lovingly refers to as “Elvin Triplets” in honor of the late great jazz drummer Elvin Jones. Peter provides several variations on his original bass drum, snare, and floor tom-tom “Elvin Triplet” to illustrate how subtle adjustments to a relatively straightforward pattern can create immensely different grooves, feels, and dynamic variation.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play jazz drums from a master musician like Peter Erskine? Try some free online drum lessons now!


“I merrily went through much of my life playing these ‘Elvin Triplet’ patterns with the bass drum on the third tuplet, and a sticking pattern of right, left, foot,” Peter explains. “Eventually, I started exploring with variations on this pattern, and began alternating between right, left, foot, and left, right, foot. This created a completely new sound. It was a more dangerous, unpredictable, and fantastic feeling. This small adjustment made all the difference, and let me down a rabbit-hole of exploration.”


As you begin deconstructing these various “Elvin Triplet” patterns, try placing the bass drum on different tuplets. Try alternating your sticking pattern: begin with the left, then the right, then try alternating them in sequence. From there, explore the different drums and cymbals you can employ when playing the pattern. You’ll be surprised and pleased by the range of tones and feels you can produce by altering this one simple pattern.


“These patterns create a lot of kinetic energy,” Peter explains. “And, that’s something you always want to give the music. You want to keep the beat very grounded, but also indicate to your listeners that something cool, exciting, and new is about to happen.”


To learn more about different variations on the Elvin Jones-inspired triplet pattern and how to integrate them properly into your jazz drumming methods, dive into this online drum lesson from Peter Erskine:


Learning ‘Elvin Triplets’ with Peter Erskine:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play jazz drums? Through our comprehensive drum lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned drum master Peter Erskine, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Peter’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner drums to advanced performance techniques, improvisation methods, jazz standards, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as drummers and musicians.


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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Jazz Drum Lesson: How to Hold the Drumsticks with Peter Erskine

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