how to play ninelets
THE TENOR DRUMMER Intermediate How to Play Ninelets – The Easy Way

How to Play Ninelets – The Easy Way

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how to play ninelets

Did you just get some sheet music containing ninelets and have no idea how to play them? Never fear, in this post, I will break down how to play ninelets the easiest way possible!

In high school and in college, I don’t think I ever played a ninelet. It just wasn’t a very common subdivision back then. It wasn’t until I got to The Cavaliers in 2002, when I first saw them in the sheet music at the end of the opener.

At first, I had no idea how fast to play them. Since there were 9 notes over 2 counts, I knew that they were faster than 16th notes (8 over 2 counts) but not by much. This made me even more confused.

Then, I noticed something. Brett Kuhn had written two counts of triplets preceding the ninelets with drags on the right hand. Since I was focused on my right hand, I realized that it played three times during those two counts.


If I keep my right hand going at this same speed but play two left hand notes in between, I would get nine total notes! RLL-RLL-RLL

From there, I had the speed down and could then play the different stickings while keeping the notes even. Stick control stickings like RLL, RRL, LRR, LLR, RRR, LLL all work great with ninelets.

Go ahead and throw on your metronome and give it a shot. Play a bar of triplets, then another with all right hands accented, then go into RLL ninelets (six RLL’s over four counts).

Music students will probably give you a more thorough (and slightly confusing) explanation on how to play ninelets, but I feel that this is the EASIEST way to figure them out and get them going.

Now, let’s get drumming!

Since you’re here, why don’t we check out the actual lick that Mr. Kuhn wrote for the 2002 opener?

Like all tenor drumming music, start slow and on one drum until you get the sticking in your hands. Make sure that all notes are evenly spaced (you shouldn’t be able to “hear” the sticking) and ensure that the first note of each ninelet lines up with the metronome.

The around pattern isn’t terribly difficult, the voicing moves around the drums quite nicely. As always, start with small chunks and slowly add counts. Isolate and breakdown anything that trips you up. Most importantly, have fun with this one!

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