Peter Erskine Warm-Up

Peter Erskine Warm-up

Looking for a fun warm-up exercise for the drums? Well, here’s the Peter Erskine warm-up! You can watch Erskine chatting about it and download the sheet music below. 

I came across this warm-up popularised by Peter Erskine whilst looking at old drum videos on YouTube. I say ‘popularised’ rather than ‘written’, because Erskine was taught it by the late Professor George Gaber, who was his drum tutor at Indiana University in 1966.  Gaber is described by the Percussive Arts Society as being “one of the most knowledgeable and influential people in the world of percussion… [having]… worked with Stravinsky, Milhaud, Bartok and Hindemith.” Lucky ol’ Peter for having him as a tutor.

Peter Erskine, incase you don’t know, is a jazz drummer. He famously played with Weather Report throughout the 70s and 80s, and has also performed alongside artists such as Al Di Meola, Kenny Wheeler and John Abercombie to name but a few.  He has several books out which I can highly recommend, including one about drum fills. In 1992, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.

Peter Erskine Warm-Up Playing Tips

I’ve taught this warm-up exercise to a few students, all of whom enjoyed the challenge, although I’m not sure it became part of their practise routines. I wish it was part of mine, but I always go straight to paradiddles…

I’ve notated it below for anyone who’d like to try it for themselves, or give to one of their students to try. The most challenging aspect is accurately counting the diminishing bar lengths. As you progress through the exercise, it feels like it’s getting quicker. Of course, the tempo is fixed but the bars are getting shorter. An especially tricky bit occurs when you get to the start of the fourth line and have to count 2, 1, 2. Anyway, I hope you have as much fun (!) as Erskine does with the Peter Erskine Warm-up exercise.

Peter Erskine Warm-up

And finally...

I hope you’ve found this learning resource useful. Let me know how you get on. Do you have a warm-up exercise that you’d recommend to others? Comment below…

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