Master Studies: Exercises for the Development of Control and Technique

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Joe Morello

General Info

Year: 1986
Edition: 1st Edition
Publisher: Modern Drummer Publications Inc.
Cost: Book Cost - $13.45   |   Supplemental Books - $0.00


This book will help the hands develop accents and apply the different pressures for rolls, single strokes, and double strokes. It’s not written chronologically, so the musician can skip around to different studies. This workbook is not written for technique, but to make the percussionist more comfortable in his or her abilities. It’s full of different stickings and patterns to work on that move the accents or diddles around to different notes. This can be played on a snare drum, but it is also suggested to move to the drum set as well.


Chapter I: Accent Studies
Chapter II: Buzz Roll Studies
Chapter III: Stroke Combination Studies
Chapter IV: Control Studies
Chapter V: Fill-in Studies
Chapter VI: Ostinato Studies
Chapter VII: Flam Studies


I think this book is helpful, but also repetitive. He does help the musician practice and become a better snare drummer, but I feel it is more for those on drumline trying to work on speed and cleanliness.
Rating: II
Review by Ashley Feist

Organization: A dedication precedes the Table of Contents, which lists an introduction, preface, and then studies of the accent, buzz roll, stroke combination, control, fill-in, ostinato, and flam. Most playing examples provided in each subsection range from a single measure to four measures, having the student repeat nearly all of them as their practice. The last few pages of the book contain two full pages of a biography about the author and a list of books distributed by Hal Leonard.

Content: The order in which the techniques are presented could be shifted a bit, with the control and stroke combinations being introduced before the buzz roll. The inclusion of the “Table of Time” is a great aspect of this book, as I have used it as a warm-up countless times in my practice as a college student as it develops the student’s concept of note value and counting in conjunction with a variety of metronome settings and tempos. The ‘fill-in’ section does not cover drum fills but works on filling in rhythms with both hands and playing the rest of the rhythms with a single hand.

Uses: Given how much attention is given to stick control and the mention of George Stone quite a bit during that section, I would say this book would be used by percussionists focusing on drum set or as a developmental book for drum set. With how few descriptions there are for the fundamentals and rudiments included, I would say this book could be used by high school and college level students.

Rating: By leaving out grip and playing positions, I believe this book was written with drum set players in mind, with several references to drum set variations and endurance, and the author’s mention of wanting to rewrite Stick Control by George Stone, his mentor, which is popularly used by drum set players. Fundamentals are bypassed in this book, with a focus on playing examples and developing relaxation in the reader’s playing technique. Though this book may be centered around drum set use, I feel focus on stick control and relaxation could be applicable in orchestral settings, despite the student needing a previous understanding of fundamentals to be able to play the examples properly in this book. 4/5. User: Hondogracias


Additional Study Materials

Books for Percussion by this Author

Morello, Joe. Master Studies: Exercises for the Development of Control and Technique. Fairfield, NJ: Modern Drummer Publications Inc., 1986.
Morello, Joe. Master Studies II: More Exercises for the Development of Control and Technique. Fairfield, NJ: Modern Drummer Publications Inc., 2006.
Morello, Joe. New Directions in Rhythm: Studies in 3/4 and 5/4 Jazz. Chicago IL.: Jomor, 1963.

Additional Resources