Technique Tuesday: 4-2-1 Patterns and the Grid

4-2-1 the grid 4 2 1

First off: the Grid. The triplet accent grid is a generic exercise that lots of drummers and drum lines refer to. This exercise is played with alternating sticking (RLRL, etc.) It’s just a skeleton really, so you could add in a few different rudiments (flams, for example) and play the same pattern. It really helps to play this with a metronome. (Check out for an easy, free metronome.)

Like any exercise, take this a chunk at a time. As you can see, the first line is all similar. The second and third are also. That’s because this is written in a 4-2-1 practice pattern. The first line spreads the pattern out so that each of the three differently accented triplets gets 4 beats, and the whole pattern is played once. The second line has each of the three triplets with 2 beats, and the pattern is repeated twice. Finally, the last line has each of the differently accented triplets with one beat, back to back. This last pattern is played four times. And, there you have the “4-2-1.”

In the first section, you play each part of the pattern for 4 beats, 1 time. Next each part is played for 2 beats, and all of that is played 2 times. Lastly, each piece gets 1 beat, and that pattern’s played 4 times.

There you have it: The Grid & 4-2-1 practice patterns. You can use the 4-2-1 pattern for tons of different things. It’s especially nice because it allows you to break down parts that might gives you trouble, and then slowly brings it together.

I’ll leave you all with a singles/diddles exercise, in 4-2-1 fashion.


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