The following lesson is dedicated to Billy "Stix" Nicks, who was my private drum instructor for around five years from the time I was 13 years old.

Billy advocated a rudimental approach and would often have me learn short pieces such as the ones found in John S. Pratt's 14 Modern Contest Solos for Snare Drum. One of the those pieces, "My Friend Norman," was one of my favorites. I wrote this to honor Billy and his teaching style and the positive effect that he has had on my life.

NOTE: Billy is also a character in my illustrated children's book, Nobody Sounds Like You: Devan Plays the Drums, and was the inspiration behind the story. All of the component parts in the following rudimental piece combine skills covered in my book, Drumcraft (Cherry Lane).

My Friend Billy may look a little intimidating, so here are few helpful tips:

  • Strip away the flams, rolls, and accents, and first learn the basic rhythmic structure.
  • First play the piece at a slow tempo. Gradually increase until you get to a marching tempo of around 120 bpm.
  • Focus on the transitions between measures or between beats.

The piece contains the following rudiments:

1. Five-Stroke Roll

2. Six-Stroke Roll

3. Seven-Stroke Roll

4. Nine-Stroke Roll

5. 13-Stroke Roll

6. Paradiddle

7. Double Paradiddle

8. Paradiddle-diddle

9. Triple Paradiddle

10. Flam

11. Flam Tap

12. Flam Accent

13. Flamadiddle

14. Pataflafla

Rudiment Hunt — Search throughout My Friend Billy to locate each one of the rudiments listed above.

Extra Challenge — Play My Friend Billy along with quarter notes on the bass drum or with a two-foot ostinato walking or hopping pattern.