Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer

(60 customer reviews)


SKU: 0882847953 Category:

Publisher ‏ : ‎

Alfred Music; 32042nd edition (December 1, 1996)

Language ‏ : ‎


Paperback ‏ : ‎

64 pages

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎


ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎


Item Weight ‏ : ‎

9.8 ounces


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Best Sellers Rank:

#47 in Music Instruction & Study (Books)

Customer Reviews:

1,949 ratings

60 reviews for Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer

  1. Million Dollar Legs

    Excellent blueprint, here are some tips…

    This is not a “so you want to rock” book you find at the music store chain, this is to drumming what sanding and joinery is to a woodworker. Anybody that calls themselves a drummer has this hurdle to climb, a must for a serious drummer. My 1st teacher gave me this and “Stick Control” in the 1981 when I started taking drum lessons. I wasn’t sure why I was learning to swing when the trend was rock, but I soon found myself deconstructing every song into these patterns. This book is written in jazz notation, meaning that it does not include the ride cymbal and hi-hat patterns in every bar. You should be able to play all of these patterns with a swing ride (dotted eight note) and the hit-hat on 2 and four. It sounds easy, but playing straight 8th or 16th notes on the left hand while swinging in triplet time on the right can really be frustrating. Make sure to reverse your hands after you’ve mastered your dominant technique, this breaks the limb dependance. My teacher told me that I should be relaxed enough to be able to play all of these patterns and recite the gettysburg address at the same time. This book unravels rhythm in a way that has been duplicated, but never matched over the years.

    34 people found this helpful

  2. Andy

    A Classic Drum Book

    This book is a must for any serious drummer. It was written a long time ago but has stood the test of time.

  3. Drum 247

    Ted Reed – Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer [Paperback]

    Great Book.MANY MANY Professional SESSION drummers have worked out of this book, and teach from it as well.Page 38This page most session guys know by heart. Just take a lesson from one and ask them about it. Theyll play it off of the top of their head.OK – why is this book great?First: It very much gives you Jazz phrasing / rhythms in a nut shell. These rhythmic figures are very Jazz language based / representative. There are MANY ways to use these rhythms – you need a GOOD teacher to show you how. There is so much to apply this to, it just goes on and on.Buy this book and The Drummer’s Complete Vocabulary As Taught by Alan Dawson. Alans book goes into detail on the MANY ways to use Ted Reeds syncopation.Ask any professional Jazz drummer, and theyll say the same (OR MAYBE) they WONT until YOU PAY THEM FOR A PRIVATE LESSON. Well, now you know for free. Go knock yourself out and woodshed. When it pays off thank me for this of luck, have fun with it.

    8 people found this helpful

  4. GaryT

    One of the best

    I started using this book when I first took lessons about 45 years ago and after 2 years of lessons I got tired of reading and just wanted to play by ear which I have done on and off ever since. About a year or so ago I decided to start learning how to read again and started taking lessons to do so. We use a variety of different books and when I am having trouble playing something I find that I will constantly come back to this book to practice the exercises that pertain to the problems I am having. I probably refer back to this book more than any other book I have and I think it is great for any level of skill or ability that you have. I regret not keeping up on reading like I should have years ago but it’s never too late to continue to learn and I highly recommend this book to anyone just beginning or who has been playing for years. It’s only 8 bucks!

    5 people found this helpful

  5. BI Developer

    I bought this copy of the book as a gift to a friend who is interested in percussion playing and he is getting great use out of

    My first copy of this book dates back to 1978. I’ve been playing drums for 36 years and still find this book helpful. The book contains the basics, but it is incredibly versitile and limited only by your imagination. One can take the patterns and split them up between different limbs. The book can be used as snare drums parts over a jazz feel beat. You can take some of the patterns and play them on the bell of the cymbal while playing a samba beat. You can use the patterns as drum fills at varying speeds, drums and styles. I reccomend this book to both the beginner and expert drum players. I bought this copy of the book as a gift to a friend who is interested in percussion playing and he is getting great use out of the book.

    9 people found this helpful

  6. Albert B


    The thing I love about good drumming instructional books is they never go obsolete and are always adaptable to different systems and methods of teaching. For example one can play through the book using Moeller strokes or orchestrate the exercises around the kit to make the manual endlessly helpful.

    4 people found this helpful

  7. FRP


    A classic book for drummers.

  8. john lester

    An essential addition to the drummer’s “biblical” cannon.

    Reed’s Syncopation is an endlessly challenging method book. It teaches control of time, feel and dynamics. It is especially useful for drummers who can use the various syncopated figures to play “against” ostinato rhythms.Other musicians can also benefit from the contents of this text. Although percussion notation (e.g. snare drum note heads in the “c”space) is used throughout the book, any player can adapt the figures to their own instrument, e.g. interpreting the rhythms as progressions within a scale or mode.Another aspect of this book is its suitability for all levels of players. Beginners will appreciate its “progressive” difficulty (easy to challenging) and more advanced players will see endless possibilities for rhythmic adventures.Beginners should use this book with a competent teacher, as it is easy to imagine that there is not much going on with each example.Highly recommended.

    7 people found this helpful

  9. Laureene Jackson

    One very important thing to note is that no book can take the place of a good teacher. The book even states this

    Yes. This book on syncopation has helped me understand beats and measures.Understanding beats and measures helps with timing. One very importantthing to note is that no book can take the place of a good teacher. Thebook even states this. I am currently taking lessons with a good teacher.The book, teacher, and practice all go together. The book has lessonsand practice sections which the teacher and I go over together.

  10. Amazon Customer


    Must have book for anyone serious about mastering their rhythm skills. Originally created for drummers but applicable to many instruments. I use it for guitar playing. Challenge yourself and better your playing.

    6 people found this helpful

  11. Bike Man Nick

    I bought a 27 inch Wohan China Cymbal specially for this book this is another book with Alfred on the cover like on most of his

    With this book I can use different styles of music with the drums using most of the rudiments with all the parts of the drum set!! I bought a 27 inch Wohan China Cymbal specially for this book this is another book with Alfred on the cover like on most of his previous books!!!

  12. David S.

    Must buy

    Must buy for new drummers

  13. Amazon Customer

    Stay with it! Your sound will improve

    I would imagine once I’m intermixing this with the Stick Control I’ll be well on my way to getting some quality gigs

  14. Austin Taylor

    Recommended to me by my music professor at school

    Recommended to me by my music professor at school. Not only for snare drum, this can apply for almost any percussive instrument! On drum set, try playing the melody rhythms with the right hand, then left foot, then right foot, etc. Vary your practice with these rhythms

  15. StopThink

    For any musician who wants to be ON or IN …

    For any musician who wants to be ON or IN BETWEEN the exercises apply to any instrument not just drum, find a drummer friend to do those with iand it could turn into e a hell of a learning session

  16. Chris D

    The Best Place To Begin Drumming

    A best selling book for 50 years. Excellent.

  17. fmnjr


    This book is eminently adaptable to all music styles. It’s a must-have.

  18. J. E. Meyer

    All music students could benefit from this book.

    I am currently using this book to teach my son basic drumming with a roland practice pad. It has been a fantastic help.This book would be helpful to any beginning student learning to read music, not just drummers, since it so clearly breaks down rhythmic notation. The exercise progressions make a lot of sense, and there are quarter note guides that align the drum notes relative to the downbeat, which is very helpful for learning syncopation.

    3 people found this helpful

  19. Peter

    Study for every drummer

    I learned about this book through story about Bill Stewart saying that he used this book among others. This study book is really a step by step method to teach your brain syncopation. If one knows the introductory drills you only do the excercises at end of chapter. Great book. Methodical and a road map for teachers!

    One person found this helpful

  20. PR Ed

    Bought it for the second time

    I was out of the musicians world for about 35 years. I am making a come back and bought this book again. It develops your mind into recognizing patterns of syncopation so when you encounter them, its just as a if you were reading a novel. Very effective!

  21. LariosOnBass

    A great book of rhythm and syncopation for all musicians

    This book is great study for all musicians. It developed progressively and becomes more complicated. As an educator of over 35 years I have always used this along with other supplemental materials to assist my students in understanding rhythm and syncopation.

  22. mrlordmoldybutt

    Highly recommend

    Very important book for a beginner drummer to play through. I used this early on in my learning and it helped me big time in my drum set abilities especially with limb independence.

  23. Alex

    Libro Batería Drum

    Excelente, estaba soñando con tener ese libro y al fin lo pude obtener. Muchas gracias, incomparable calidad la versión mas costosa aunque no tanto.

  24. Carlos A. Jiménez R.

    Thank you


  25. Raymond Bruce


    This is my second go round, used this book years ago when I was a beginner. So glad I’m using it again. There are so many ways to apply these exercises. Great for developing independence, phrasing, and all around drumming skills. Ted Reed did such an intelligent job here; he gave us an incredible learning tool.

    4 people found this helpful

  26. Charlie Stella

    The best, not 2nd best …

    or maybe I’m being unfair … but I first used Syncopation back when I first took drum lessons (1965 or so) … and I remembered many of the instruction beats to the point where I entered my 4th or 5th childhood at age 52 and bought the book again (and there they were — 1 e & a, etc.). Between this and […] (nate brown, instructor), relearning to read and getting my chops back was a breeze (and nostalgic).If you’re thinking about drumming, you gotta have this … which is rated the 2nd best all-time book behind “stick control” … I never used stick control but will probably take a look-see down the road.

    One person found this helpful

  27. H.C. Joiner

    At first I didn’t get it.

    At first I didn’t understand how to use this book. Just glancing at the pages, I was like “why would anybody write a book like that? And why would anyone buy it?” Then a friend showed me how to use it – and later I immersed myself in the subculture of YouTube drummers who have developed endless ways to mash up these exercises. No drummer should be without this one.

    One person found this helpful

  28. Jacob Sosa

    Excellent book.

    I got this for a drum studio class that am taking Arizona State University and so far my reading has been challenged. I personally would recommend this book if you plan to get into big band chart reading and sight reading. There are very helpful written charts that are most commonly seen in big band music and excellent exercises that you can use for left hand comping in swing music. Its a hard book to learn but this is going to jump your reading big time. Take your time with book, don’t rush through it. There are simple steps to take when approaching this book. So have fun and keep swinging. 🙂

    2 people found this helpful

  29. Amy

    Important book for a percussionist

    I’m still not done with the book haha. I have a long way to go

  30. Eric Whelpley

    This was about the 50th copy of this book that …

    This was about the 50th copy of this book that I bought for one of my drum students. Anyone who wants to learn to play the drums should have a copy of this book. I learned to play using this book and I have been using it to teach others to play for twenty years.

    4 people found this helpful

  31. Joey The Squash

    Learn This and You Will be Great

    The book shows snare and bass drum notes. I practiced those notes while playing the basic jazz swing pattern on the hi-hat and ride and it really helped me increase the independence of each limb. It also significantly improved my left hand control. Buy this book and practice it! You will not be sorry.

    19 people found this helpful

  32. TFJol

    My instructor recommended this book and “Stick Control for the Snare Drummer”

    My instructor recommended this book and “Stick Control for the Snare Drummer”. These two books are fantastic. I would highly recommend these two books. They have helped me progress in learning to play the drums and for preparing for my weekly sessions with my instructor.

  33. Amazon Customer

    Good book

    Good book.

  34. Derek

    Excellent, straightforward book on basic drum rhythms and note …

    Excellent, straightforward book on basic drum rhythms and note emphasis.An excellent book for all levels. Sometimes it’s forgotten that a drummers main purpose is to keep rythm, everything past there is important, but rhythm is its foundation. Reed’s book is perfect to set to a metronome and solidify your internal rhythm in context with a large amount of common drum patterns Ii.e. (eighths, triplets, sixteenths, etc.)Syncopation is an essential book to add to any drummers library. Five stars, highly recommend.

    3 people found this helpful

  35. Loren Vinal

    Love it

    Has helped me become a good drummer with these exercises.

  36. Todd Strong

    Get syncopated!

    The word syncopation is often misunderstood and misused. This book is a great addition to Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone in developing right/ left coordination with accents. Work it work it work it. You’ll be glad you did. I had both these books in my formative years and I revisit them to keep loose and precise. I’m convinced both of these books helped with developing my chops and ability to recognize patterns which made learning songs much faster and easier. Get it, work it!

    One person found this helpful

  37. Flipp


    Upon receiving this book, it was in mint condition and the packaging was of good quality as well. I bought this book because as a musician, I know you can’t get far without really knowing your scales and theory just like you probably won’t be good at, really, ANY genre without knowing about syncopation. Although the title is directed towards drummers, anyone who plays ANY instrument should invest in this book. It will not only help you as a performer, but also in terms of personal expression and comprehension.

    One person found this helpful

  38. Amazon Customer


    This one is truly a classic. There are so many ways to variate the excercises, I think it’s very tough to run out of new ideas with this book!

  39. Tammy Treit

    Great skill development for drummers of all levels.

    As an advanced beginner on the drum kit this book has helped tremendously in improving the basic coordination between my hands and feet.I started with the book 4-Way Coordination to try to get my limbs to work with each other. 4-Way Coordination is great but, at least for me, hard! Syncopation is more at my level. I work through both and recommend both.

    One person found this helpful

  40. graphicfunk

    A favorite old wine!

    This book deals with syncopation and it starts with the basics to prepare you for the complex. This is a medicine you must take and master to play effectively. To some, some of these exercises may prove very challenging. However, you are determine to succeed because you have no choice. You want to be your best. It is elementary. It is needed to give breath to your performance. Again, a favorite well aged wine!

    One person found this helpful

  41. Donald

    Great for a new percussionist or seasoned professional

    This book and “Stick Control” are the backbone of rudiment books for percussionists. It is no less than essential that this book be used to learn or tune-up one’s understanding of accenting unexpected notes in percussion play. All of my comments in “Stick Control” apply here. Get this book and after you are have completed your first pass through this book there is no way you wont be a better drummer as a result of your work. Isn’t that what it all about.

    5 people found this helpful

  42. arcee

    A classic

    Bought this for my grandson who is making the most of it. Same book I studied 40 years ago in music school. A classic indeed.

  43. sheryl rzeplinski

    Very useful and well organized drum exercise book!

    It was great to order from amazon, as the order arrived in just days, and the book did not disappoint. It is organized in a progression of lessons which grow incrementally more challenging. Each lesson is perfectly planned to enhance your muscle memory for playing as well as giving you an excllent study in note values and rhythms. I do recommend this book for all beginning drummers (and beyond).

    One person found this helpful

  44. Patrick W.

    A Great Product!

    This is an awesome lesson book. If you’re looking to work on becoming more fluid and accurate behind the kit, then this book is a must! It’s filled with hours upon hours of exercises, especially if you take your time and really work on mastering each and every exercise as you go along.Don’t hesitate to buy this if you’re interested in it!

    2 people found this helpful

  45. Jamie Pajan


    I used this 25 years ago, and it’s still the best tool for budding musicians. Using with my own students now.

  46. SteveJ

    A Classic!

    This is one of the most useful books available for studying drums.It is filled with practical rhythms that can be used over and overin different ways. The possibilities are truly endless. These “routines”are not explained in the book, but most drum teachers are (or should be)familiar with the concept. If you own only one drum book, this should bethe one! This book can also be used for rhythmic study on any instrument.

    One person found this helpful

  47. Amazon Customer

    As a serious drummer’s Bible, this title is necessary.

    As a serious drummer’s Bible, this title is necessary.

  48. Paul Martino

    pretty worn out

    I had the original book , pretty worn out ,so I decided to get this new one. It’s a great drum book .

  49. Jerry G.

    It’s a classic for a reason. The lessons learned …

    It’s a classic for a reason. The lessons learned on the practice pad apply to making beats in a digital environment too. (i.e. Ableton live)

  50. Griselda&Geovanny

    Great book. Worth price.

    Great book. Good for a new learner developing their skills and also and experienced drummer. Would recommend to anyone

  51. Ray Ranstrom

    Great rhythm practice guide.

    This is a really good guide for a percussionist. Very thorough.

  52. Amazon CustomerAmazon Customer

    El artículo está en excelentes condiciones llegó rapido, Gracias

  53. Northern Jacana

    Great book, blurry copy

    Reminds me of over-xeroxed pages. On p. 54 –59 I had to whiteout the unnecessary ‘3’ over the repeated triplets due to continual confusion with the accent marks. That was a lot of work. Should give it 3 stars but it really is a great book. Wish Alfred would clean up the copy.

    One person found this helpful

  54. Mettawa Man

    Learning to count for guitar

    Yes, this book will help you if you have trouble counting in music. I use my left hand tapping on my left knee for the 1,2,3,4 and my right hand doing the more challenging rhythms. Starts off easy and then increases. The cover is a brave and wonderful example of simplicity and don’t change if it’s not broke. Fun

    One person found this helpful

  55. Dlo62

    Love it!!

    This book was recommended to me by a Percusionist from Puerto Rico, it’s really a good method to learn syncopation notes

  56. Walter G. Lock

    Not Just for Drummers!!!

    It’s a shame really that this book is titled “for the modern drummer”.Any musician that plays different rhythmic patterns (which is pretty much all of them) will benefit greatly from this book. All the lines are in 4/4 time with steady quarter notes shown marking the “beat”. So the exercises really consist of all the patterns shown on the top.It’s a simple enough concept, but he had the good sense to write it all out for the rest of us. All your basic patterns: quarter notes, dotted eighths, 16th’s, 16’s mixed with 8’s and all varied in order and with different rests so they come on different beats each time. As you progress through the book, the lines get more complicated and intricate until you get to the syncopated section.I remember this book from when I was a drummer in high school almost 30 years ago. Now I play rhythm guitar, and am looking to get away from the “standard” strumming patterns and get more creative. This book will help me do that. It will also help immensely with learning and playing leads and solos. It really doesn’t matter if you play drums, guitar, sax, keyboard, bass, or mandolin this book will help teach you to recognize and play rhythms – and that is a key part of sight-reading.I guess the TL:DR version would be: If you play a musical instrument, get this book. It will be the some of the best use of money and time you’ll ever spend.

    7 people found this helpful

  57. Casey

    Essential for anyone trying to learn drums

    Excellent book for anyone trying to learn drums. Great exercises and ideas that really develop when you can work with a teacher to help flesh out ideas and give you creative patterns to incorporate into your drumming from these exercises. Make sure to google around and get ideas and not to just read the book as is if you are self learning.

  58. Saskia Seattle

    Excellent book – interesting rhythms for beginners and intermediate players who read music

    I am surprised to see comments about how this book isn’t for beginners. I’m very much a beginner (have only been playing a few months) and have loved it. There are a couple of things in here that are too hard for my current level, but don’t we all want to stretch? It has a decent range from very easy to quite a bit harder and plenty for the beginner. I wouldn’t buy it as a first drum book – but I did in fact buy it as my second. And, it’s great. t love that it challenges me and that there are things I will have to come back to when I become more knowledgeable. Additionally, the rhythms are more interesting and not as straight forward as most books that are appropriate for beginners. That’s a big plus in my book and it makes me want to practice more and longer. I agree that some of the handwritten notes are a little sloppy and inconsistent. This may sound weird, but I find that charming and an additional challenge. And, it adds to the beauty. It’s like the difference between hearing a live drummer and a drum machine.

    7 people found this helpful

  59. yor


    helpful , Begins with simple exercises and progresses to more complex techniques, very structured and clear

  60. Ahmad Aizad Mohamed Fauzi

    So good i just had to review it!

    If only i had found out about this book sooner! As a drum teacher for the past 12 years, i can easily say Syncopation by Ted Reed is the best most effective book to get beginners started with learning to read rhythms. Some of my students who at first had zero reading ability managed to sight read quarter notes all the way through different 16th note rhythms by the end of class, identifying all the different rests along the way while keeping a steady kick pulse underneath. All this thanks to how systematically the exercises are written out, getting more challenging as you progress through the pages. One step at a time, slowly but surely.Not just for beginner or intermediate drummers; i come back to this book just to brush up on my sight reading every once in awhile, or i’d pick some of the exercises out and use it as double pedal exercises or independence stuff like left foot clave, right/left hand ostinatos etc. A thousand different ways to use this wonderful book!

    2 people found this helpful

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