More About The ‘Infinite Coordination’ Program

 

Here are some frequently asked questions about this training program.  
Why the ‘coordination notation’, and what is it?
Is this system suitable for beginners? Professional drummers?
What is the best order in which to practice this material?
Why are the coordination boxes black in “Layering Rhythms”?
Why and how did you come up with these materials?
Are more books being written for the Infinite Coordination Series?


Why the ‘coordination notation’, and what is it?

Answer: There is a post specifically on the notation here.

Basically, coordination notation is a language to represent the actions of your limbs. It works very well for its intended purpose- which is to make learning efficient, easy, and even fun, when the material challenges your coordination skills. These books would not be possible (or effective) without it.
This notation is based on a box that visually represents the four limbs you use for drumming.

Is this system suitable for beginners? Professional drummers?

Answer: Yes!  All skill levels, truthfully. These books include a range of exercises from very easy for beginners, to very difficult for professional drummers, and everything in between.

This material has a very simple way of communicating drumming actions. The material itself is not inherently over the heads of younger students. Show a groove written in standard notation to a seven-year-old, and they will probably have difficulty deciphering each note – but when shown coordination boxes and linear coordination boxes, young students understand the material quickly and are able to practice useful coordination moves from the beginning of their drumming career!

Besides, in my experience young students ENJOY using coordination boxes, especially the ‘arrow-boxes’, and ask for them regularly in lessons! Overall, there is a large variety of exercises in these books which is suitable for beginning drum students.

As for professional drummers, there could be no better resource for bridging the gap between technical mastery and creative mastery…

When a drummer is committed to their craft, and to building an overall drumming ability that can perform expressively, effective technical ability is a necessary step – not an end goal. These books provide tools for mastering physical skills to a great degree, so one can efficiently FINISH the work on the technical side of drumming, and move on to be consumed by the ART FORM of drumming and music.  There is no point in struggling to accomplish what should be easy and strategic, in the ‘sport’ category of drum skills… it’s not that hard to develop blistering speed or other technically proficient abilities!

Musicality is what impacts an audience by far the most.  My plan in creating these books was to give every drummer tools for strategically tackling the ‘sport’ side of drumming, with the intention of eventually raising the overall musicality in the world.

 

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What is the best order in which to practice this material?

Answer:
A good rough guideline is to go from the easier to the more challenging. In Volume I, that means start at the beginning of the book. In Volume II, try starting with the first grooves in each time signature for layering purposes.

In general, the best way to practice material in these books is to work on your skills one at a time.  This material can be used flexibly; it is designed more as a whole ‘field’ of resources than as a specific path. A good initial method is to start with a sample of each book and each section, trying a few exercises to see what they are like.  Then use the materials in any order you want, according to the level of challenge you want.

 

Why are the coordination boxes black in “Layering Rhythms”?

Answer: In case you are curious why the notation is black in “Layering Rhythms”, it is because the graphics on the pages of rhythm need to interact with the transparent ‘groove cards’ in a certain way – I needed the square dots below the rhythms to indicate a space when black.

When I tried my original idea, which was to have the black square dots show up in a light-colored box, I realized that it made postitioning the transparent card difficult. In that situation it was necessary to have incredibly precise positioning in order for the dots to show through the right area of the card. So with black coordination boxes, the spaces are black and the notes are white, and there is some margin for flexibility when positioning a card over a page.

 

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Why and how did you come up with these materials?

Answer: Why?  Because I’m a drum instructor, and I like to design and improve things.  There was no clear way I could find to improve coordination, no books with a great strategy for it that everybody was raving about in the drumming community.  Meanwhile, exercises and materials I was putting together for my students had promise and potential.  At one point I noticed I was well on my way to having a professional book completed, so I decided to finish it.  (and it became two books.) That’s the ‘why’.

As far as ‘how’, the first seed was born in lessons, when I was helping a student with coordination difficulties.  I found myself narrating which limbs should hit for each note- “left hand and left foot and right hand” to describe one sixteenth note, and there was a full measure ahead- it was WAAAAY too much talking.  
drum lessons 6868So i drew the first coordination notation, which was a stick figure with its arms and legs flying out, and circled limbs to show the student which ones to use.  From then on I left out the stick figures and replaced them with a box created in Microsoft Paint…

Then i got really carried away- I pulled out a notebook and sketched all the possibilities- to determine how many of these figures there could be, then how many transitions between 2 of them were possible, then how many sequences of 3 (different) boxes there were.. (the answers by the way being 16, 240, and 3360, if you count the box with nothing in it as a legitimate character.  Otherwise, the answers are 15, 210, and 2730).

I figured.. since these transitions can be used to describe all existing drumming.. if i can master all 2730 three-box sequences and be REALLY comfortable with them even at high speed, i won’t be likely to find any coordination challenges anywhere!

Great!  That’s Just Fabulously Awesome!

Out of determination I soon realized how to reduce that number of exercises.   If a three-part sequence is repeated multiple times, then it covers not just the sequence A-B-C, but also the permutations B-C-A and C-A-B.  So I wouldn’t need 2730 seperate exercises, only 910.  Furthermore, I decided I would be willing to read each exercise backwards as well, so I would only need to print half of the 910.. which is 455.  This is the magic number I started with.  I remember the MOMENT when I arrived at it, it was powerful and I knew it.  455 exercises is managable for human digestion, at least over time.. so I got on microsoft Paint and created ‘em all, and printed ‘em all out and got right to work.

As i cracked my knuckles and started playing the ULTIMATE COORDINATION EXERCISES, I discovered that there were still too many exercises, and they needed organization. Some exercises only had one dot in each box, and others had at least one dot in the same place in all 3 boxes.

So I started with that original foundation and worked the material to be a) ideal, b) user friendly, c) fun, and d) effective.  It took about 4 years to go from the original brainstorm to self-publishing!

 

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Are more books being written for the Infinite Coordination Series?

Answer: Yes, one more, and it’s halfway done.  It’s called “Layering Rhythms II: Odd Time Coordination”, and I’ll try to get to it ASAP (in the next couple years).  The original “Layering Rhythms” covers rhythms that are 3, 4, 6, and 8 counts in length… so it was logical to fill in the 5, 7, and 9 count-length rhythms, so between the two books, the layering system will have the full span of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 counts covered. What a dream! Watch for this book in the future.

More ideally though, I will implement plans to turn this entire training program into software/apps… and that way I can expand it in the process.
 

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