A Manual for the Modern Drummer

"Buy Now" to view and securely purchase the available paperback / digital editions at our publishing partner Hal Leonard LLC.
featured New Arrivals
  • Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
  • Format: Book
  • Pages: 96
  • Dimensions: 9x12
  • ISBN: 9780876391822
  • SKU: 50449560
  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017

Related Online Courses & Programs

Specialist Drums Certificate Program

Successful modern drummers are versatile, creative players with a keen sense of touch, dynamics, and coordination. Focusing on rock, funk, and R&B settings, this program will advance your skills in these areas, starting with the basics of musicianship and technique and concluding with forays into advanced improvisation. Whether you aim for a smooth “in the pocket” sound like John “Jabo” Starks of the J.B.’s or a rough rock sound like Jose Pasillas of Incubus, you'll further your development as an excellent and expressive drummer who can effectively bring multiple styles to the table.

Drum Set Fundamentals

Improve your overall coordination, touch, and dynamics, and gain a solid foundation in drum set performance and musicianship.

Music Theory and Composition 3

The third of a four-semester curriculum, in Music Composition and Theory 3 you’ll explore everything from the rhythmic elements of Jamaican and Cuban music to the connection between South American guitar music and Bach. This course is designed to take you from a strong review of Music Theory and Composition 1 & 2 topics, including major key, minor key, blues, modal interchange, secondary dominants, approach notes, non-harmonic tones, voice leading, guide tone lines, hybrid chords, bass and drum grooves, and traditional harmony concepts. The course will then move into extended dominants, related II chords, substitute dominant chords, Neapolitan and augmented sixth chords, diminished seventh chords, modal minor, and a thorough look at modulation.

Learn jazz drums from one of the classic texts of jazz drumming! Now in its second edition. Alan Dawson created the Percussion Department at Berklee, and he influenced generations of drummers. This book, originally published in 1962, presents some of his seminal thoughts about drumming technique—particularly about timing, the importance of the ride cymbal and hi-hat, and extensive exercises for independence and for integration of hands and feet. At the heart of it is the music: the jazz beats that Dawson considered essential, during the height of the jazz band/dance band era.

DownBeat magazine editor Don DeMicheal provides several articles about jazz styles and history, plus a series of insights about the soloing styles of some of the jazz greats: Chick Webb, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Jaki Byard, and others.

This is source material, from two of the jazz-era’s most insightful champions of the drum set. It includes a foreword by Yoron Israel, a former student of Alan Dawson, and now assistant chair of Berklee’s Percussion Department.

You will learn to:

  • Develop your sense of time and jazz feel
  • Master jazz rhythms and meter
  • Play with greater independence and expressive nuance
  • Perform essential beats, such the shuffle, tango, lame duck, conga, samba, merengue, and many others
  • Develop your soloing ability, through examining the work of several great jazz drummers, and then through a unique and extensive series of “stimulation” exercises

Alan Dawson was a legendary drummer and educator at Berklee College of Music, and he taught drums for over forty years. He performed and/or recorded with many jazz greats, including Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, Booker Ervin, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, and others.

Don DeMicheal was a drummer, jazz journalist, and the editor of DownBeat magazine from 1960 to 1967.

“Alan Dawson was more than a great drum teacher; he was a mentor to me and many others. We learned impeccable technique and coordination from his methods, and also learned how to be a better human being by is example. I still teach variations on what Alan taught me (examples found in this book), as they are still the most solid foundation of how to learn to play the instrument that I have come across—something that all drummers, no matter what style they prefer, can learn from immensely.”

—Terri Lyne Carrington, Multi-GRAMMY Award Winning Musician; BGJI Zildjian Chair in Performance, Berklee College of Music

“Even though I wasn’t preparing to be a drummer, I was honored to have the legendary Alan Dawson as my teacher for one year when I first arrived at Berklee. Not only was he the number one player in town, he also was the most charismatic teacher I ever studied with. The man really knew how to play the drums, and the number of successful drummers who came up under his guidance would make a list as long as your arm.”

Gary Burton, Multi-GRAMMY Award Winning Musician

“This is a legendary volume created by two masters of jazz. Alan Dawson’s contribution to jazz drumming and education are unmatched. But so, too, are Don DeMichael’s contributions to jazz journalism. While DeMichael, as a drummer and vibraphonist, tended to lean toward the more traditional in his playing, DeMichael, the journalist, championed discussion and debate with and about the most progressive artists of his time—from John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and Eric Dolphy to Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman. The result of this pairing is an amazingly well-written and durable method book by two artists rock-solid in the tradition of jazz drumming, but who kept ears wide open.”

—Frank Alkyer, Publisher, DownBeat

“Studying with Alan Dawson was a life-changing experience. Utilizing organized systems of co-ordination and sticking patterns, Alan had a great way of making drummers into musicians. Today, his teaching concepts have become one of the pillars in the methodologies of teaching jazz fundamentals.

This book provides a step-by-step approach for building a solid jazz foundation. It is an ideal companion book to Berklee Jazz Drums, serving as a backdrop for studies found there. A Method for the Modern Drummer also gives an excellent historical perspective to the evolution of jazz drummers and drumming in the first half of the 20th Century.”

Casey Scheuerell, Professor of Percussion, Berklee College of Music

“I was first discovered the mastery of Alan Dawson in the mid 1980s listening to saxophonist Al Cohn recordings. The drumming was incredible, and crisp, and swinging and genius. Then, I studied John Ramsay, and he introduced me to a tremendous amount of Alan’s materials. Finally, I studied with Alan Dawson myself. Alan changed my Jazz drumming life into a music life. I also learned how to teach and develop educational systems based on his philosophies. I still practice and teach Alan’s systems. It is my foundation to this day.”

Henrique De Almeida, Associate Professor of Percussion, Berklee College of Music

“My years studying with Alan were the most important years of my musical life. He was the best teacher anyone could ever have. I will never forget his studies, and of course his playing.”

—Bob Gullotti, Professor of Percussion, Berklee College of Music





Alan Dawson

George Alan Dawson (1929 to 1996) was born on July 14, 1929 in Marietta, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child…

Don DeMicheal

Don DeMicheal (1928 to 1982) was a drummer and music journalist. While he is probably best known as a writer…