Okay, now as you read this, open up another browser window and go to YouTube. Type in “Lori Cotler” and play the first thing that comes up. Whatever it is doesn’t matter. She can sing faster than a lot of drummers can play, and that’s why you should know who she is… and can learn a lot more by visitind her homepage at http://www.loricotler.com

Lori Cotler’s rhythmic abilities with her voice are extraordinary. She sings the classic language of rhythm explored by South Indian drummers called “Konnakol.” There’s a website dedicated to it called http://www.konnakol.org that’s also a good place to visit. She should inspire all drummers to develop and explore their own use of syllables to improve their drumming speed and conception.

Over the years, I developed this sort of rhythmic syllable vocabulary, much like scat singing in jazz. Doing so helped me increase my speed considerably (along with practicing the rudiments like para-diddles, double para0diddles, and six-stroke rolls). Finding the right syllables means playing around with a lot of nonsense-sounding combinations, but whatever you come up will help strengthen the connection between your mind and your body.

Konnakol mimics the sound of classic Indian hand drums, and I like singing the sounds of the drums and cymbals for the same reason. This lets me hear, conceive and explore them much more precisely. When you hear those exact sounds in your mind, you can sit and practice drums in your head for hours. I sing this stuff while I’m driving through the hell of Los Angeles traffic to help pass the time, and then when I get behind the drum set, my brain has already been cranking for quite some time…

Now quite frankly, if anyone ever heard me singing this nonsense, it would likely be straight-jacket time. Such are the cultural constraints of my Western music upbringing. Regardless, I’m telling you, this stuff WORKS. Try it with the fastest thing you can play and see what happens. It works just as well for slow drumming as well, because it helps you focus and improve the strength of the commands you are sending to your body.

So, getting back to Lori Cotler… listen to the speed and precision of her executions. Whatever syllables you come up with, strive to take things to her level. You’ll be spiraling up into the stratosphere if you do.