Subdivide and Conquer

Subdivision-Based Rhythm Instruction for Individuals and Instrumental or Vocal Ensembles plus A Method for Snare Drum.

Subdivide and Conquer, by Robert W. Miller with Ryan Bloom, is a subdivision-based rhythm instruction method. It can be used in private lessons for any instrument and voice; for ensemble instruction with bands, choirs, orchestras, and other ensembles; and as a beginning snare drum book. Distinctive features include:

  • When used with bands and orchestras, it provides the option of synchronous or asynchronous basic snare drum technique instruction.
  • It can be used as a stand-alone subdivision-based beginning snare drum method book.
  • It provides a narrative that can be used by instructors to teach concepts, and students to learn or review them.
  • Development of an internal sense of beat is emphasized.
  • Practice techniques are discussed and reinforced.
  • Efficient and effective exercises and explanations, judiciously used subdivision counting syllables with foot-tapping arrow indications, and audio examples, are provided in recognition of the limited time most ensemble and private teachers have to instruct their students.
  • Its text, efficiency, and ability to be used simultaneously with wind, string, percussion, and keyboard instruments can be helpful for virtual-learning environments.

Typical rhythm development and snare drum methods use counting syllables to label notes, instead of to measure note lengths in a systematic way as with a subdivision-based approach. To illustrate the difference, with most methods a measure in 3/4 consisting of 4 sixteenth notes followed by 2 quarter notes have the sixteenth notes counted “1e&a” and the quarter notes counted “2, 3” (often leading to students playing the quarter notes as if they were eighth notes). Subdivide and Conquer would have the sixteenth notes counted “1e&a” and instead have the quarter notes counted “2e&a3e&a,” thus using the syllables to measure the lengths of the notes instead of just labeling them.

Subdivide and Conquer can help conquer rhythmic guesswork and imitation, and liberate accuracy and independence.

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  • Robert W Miller
  • Ryan Bloom


  • Drums

Skill Level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
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