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Book Review: The Couch Potato Drum Workout by Pete Sweeney

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The Couch Potato Drum Workout, by drumming expert Pete Sweeney and published by Alfred Music Publishing helps drummers build proper technique and skills from the comfort of their living rooms. However, do not let the ‘Couch Potato‘ title fool you, as this book begins at a novice level and ends on an advanced note.

At its core, the allure of playing drums resonates with many people because beat recognition (and the thrill of creating music) is a primal joy felt by most naturally. However, it takes time and discipline to rock like the best. Sweeney’s approach is laid back, but structured to prepare students for eventual drum set play. Beginners will also need a proper drum pad (drumsticks are a given) and should consider buying a metronome. One does not need to invest in anything pricey, but these basic tools are essential prerequisites for starting out. Drummers of all skill sets find practice pads useful because they are travel-friendly, relatively quiet, affordable, and fit easily on one’s lap without need for further set-up. A stand-alone snare can also work, but most formal music educators teach percussionists (young and old) on practice drum pads when starting out and this book is no exception. Better still, a metronome will take the guesswork out of the equation and help drummers keep a steady pace from simple workouts to the most complex.

The Couch Potato Drum Workout is straightforward and thorough, beginning with body posture, correct sticking (matched vs. traditional styles, open vs. closed hand positions), basic terminology and note values, and a notation key. Readers can expect to learn how to read basic sheet music, a skill many drummers may not know because they are fluent in creativity and tabs, but not heavy on music theory. Sweeney makes this process fun and offers amusing, but helpful workout strategies while watching television. His approach helps drummers apply their craft to the everyday, like following along with a commercial jingle, to marching band tactics, such as creating beats to urge on players during a kickoff.

Including a play-along CD or instructional DVD would improve this series, but overall this Drum Workout book is lighthearted, approachable, and rich in foundational content for only $9.99 from music retail stores or online at Amazon.com and alfred.com/drums. The Couch Potato Drum Workout is a comprehensive, must-have resource. Readers will learn a 4:4 single stroke roll and work their way up to 32nd triplets, inspiring beginners and experts alike with its depth.

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