Simon Phillips- Dave's Gone Skiing (Toto)

Simon Phillips is responsible for many iconic grooves. But this verse groove has to be in the top 10 at least if you ask me.

We're gonna concentrate on getting the entire groove step by step. So let's check out how we can learn to play this and get lots more out of this.


This is gonna be a series where we'll be exploring this great groove and this awesome riff.


The transcription is down below. First things first, the Preliminary Exercises.

Counting 9/8


In case you don't know already we'll first take a look at how to count this.

The simplest way to think of this 9/8 is a 4/4 (8/8) with an added 8th note. So instead of counting eigth 8th notes, you count one more to make it nine.

123456789123456789 etc.

Or from the quarter note perspective we count the whole 4/4 and add one 8th note. 

1&2&3&4&51&2&3&4&5 etc.




Do NOT count the & of beat 5 or you'll be counting ten 8th notes a.k.a. 5/4 instead of 9/8

9/8 in 16th notes

If you live in the USA you're probably used to counting 16th notes as 1e&a. So then this 9/8 will be:

1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a5e1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a5e etc.


My preferred way of counting these is more staccato:

1tnt2tnt3tnt4tnt5t1tnt2tnt3tnt4tnt5t etc.


But any of these will do just fine so pick your favorite. The most important thing about Odd Time Signatures is getting over the fact that they feel weird. No, it's not you, they feel weird initially. And that's why counting is imperative here.


Need more help? Just get access to all of the Odd Time Signatures material in the Premium Membership. You'll save an enormous amount of time, that's for sure.

The Free Drum Lesson


We'll divide this lesson into three segments:


1. Groove Exercises

2. Melody Exercises

3. Sticking Exercises

Groove Exercise 01 - 9/8 Basic Groove


First let's get the core of the groove happening.


Hi hat plays 8th notes

Snare on 2 and 5 instead of 2 and 4

Bass Drum on the 1 and one the 4th 16th note of beats 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Groove Exercise 02 - 4th Bar Accents Added


Now we'll make it a 4 bar groove.


In the 4th bar the bass drum now plays the 2nd 16th note of beats 3 and 4. The riff ends with a RL on snare drum to lead into the crash on beat 1 of bar 1.

Groove Exercise 03 - 16th Note Displacement Forward Added


Beat 1 of bar three gets displaced forward. This is often confusing. It is displaced forward because we're talking about time: it's played earlier so it's displaced forward (in time).


Play beat 5 with a Right Hand on the snare so the Left Hand can take over the crash on the .T of beat 5. The Right Hand can then continue to play 8th notes for now.

Groove Exercise 04 - Open Hi hats Added


Now we're gonna add the open hi hats. 


Play the open hi hats with the Right Hand. This means the Right Hand plays:


  1. 1.n.2.nt3.nt4.n.5. in bars 1, 2 and 3
  2. 1.n.2.n.3tn.4tn.5. in bar 4

Melody Exercise 01 (Ex 05) - Rhythmic Melody


Here's the rhythmic component of the melody which is played in unison by all instruments other than the drums. This is what Simon Phillips based his legendary groove on so we better internalize this really well.


You hear me count and sing the melody, you should do the same for practicing purposes. Don't be shy and don't care about whether your pitch is perfect. We don't have to be great singers, we just have to learn how to use our voice so we can learn to understand and feel druming, rhythm and music better.


Melody Exercise 01 - Counting 4-bar Rhythmic Melody





Melody Exercise 02 (Ex 06) - Dynamic Single Strokes


Let's play this using Single Strokes on the hi hat. Accents are notated as R or L. Unaccented notes are notated as r or l. Again, count and/or sing along to really internalize this deeply.


Counting 4-bar Rhythmic Melody





Sticking Exercise 01a - Displaced Accent


A few sticking exercises can be handy to get fluent with Simon Phillips' used vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.


The first one concentrates on using the stepped hi hat after the displaced accent. Counting is not difficult but imperative nonetheless. 1.nt2.nt.

Sticking Exercise 01b - Displaced Accent with Added Bass Drum


Now we'll add the bass drum on the .T.. of beat 2. 


Counting now becomes 1.nt2tnt

Sticking Exercise 02a - Displaced RH Open Hi hat + Bass Drum Accent


Here's a 4-note exercise to practice the open hi hat with bass drum unison on the ...t position.


Count so you know where you are at all times: 1tnt2tnt 

Sticking Exercise 02b - Double Stroke Sticking


Same exercise as 02a but this time we apply a Double Stroke Sticking. Simon utilizes this one in beat 


Count so you know where you are at all times: 1tnt2tnt

Sticking Exercise 02c - Combination Exercise


Combination of exercises 02a and 02b. Pretty difficult to execute cleanly this one..


Count so you know where you are at all times: 1tnt2tnt

Sticking Exercise 03 - Premutation of 2A


And finally here's a permutation of the same exercise because we need this one in bar 4 because of the displaced accents to .T..


Count so you know where you are at all times: 1tnt2tnt

That's it


There you have it. After doing these exercises and getting them up to speed you should be able to get this groove at the tempo of quarter note = 113 bpm.


If you become a member you can practice this along to the MIDI files so you can practice at your tempo of choice for as long as you need. This way so know if you get all of the exercises at a minimum of 113 bpm you are prepared to take on this groove.

Open Handed Playing - Simon Phillips style


Simon Phillips plays open handed most of the time. If you want to you can develop this, no problem. Simon has, and so has Billy Cobham before him and Carter Beauford and many more after him.


But for the love of all which is rhythm don't go setting up the drums like Simon Phillips does and practice your ass off just to see if this is starting to make more sense to you..


When starting out you should pick the one which feels best and makes the most sense to you. Period.


But if you have been playing or a while, with crossed hands, I suggest you come up with a very good reason for going open handed first, before you go invest lots of time to turn everything around.


If after some deliberation you can't find a practical benefit, I suggest you just do some open handed playing on a regular basis first.


If it only starts making more and more sense, then by all means, make the switch. But if it doesn't, GOOD, you've just saved yourself a lot of time AND you've practiced leading with your weaker side a little, which is always a good thing.


In these cases always, ALWAYS remember, Simon Philips is already here. And as brilliant as he is, we don't need another one just like him, we need you to be you.


If you would like to know more about any of these subjects or about anything about drumming, rhythm and music in general then click one of the buttons below and become a member.

Become a Skillz Premium Member


The picture above is from the 3D Drumming System book, which is in the Premium Membership. You can get both at a ridiculously low price.. FOR LIFE!


Just watch the 3D Drumming System presentation and imagine lots more online drum courses about topics such as Odd Time Signatures, Double Bass Drumming, Brazilian Drumming, a Check-Up Course to know exactly where your drumming is at and what you need to do to improve as quickly and as efficiently as possible and much more.


And if you don’t like it, just cancel within 30 days and you’ll get a 100% refund, no questions asked. Plus, you get to keep the books. That’s how confident I am that you will like it as much as my other students do.

Have some Simon Phillips Fun!


Thanks for watching, I hope you get a lot out of this. Fun and progress! If you liked the video and the blog post, I’d like you to take the time to like it and share it among your drummer friends. 

Here's Part 2 of this series about Dave's Gone Skiing

Share your views

So what do you think?

Do you love Simon's Groove here? Or would you prefer a different approach? Perhaps a little more basic, or a little less rocky, more 32nd note china splash fills and a dog barking in 11?

Tell us, cause WE WANNA KNOW!

About the Author

Bob Schillemans

Music and drumming have pretty much dominated my life for the last twenty five years. I enjoy every facet of it, and I intend to keep doing so for many more years to come.

Fan of music since 1981

Drummer since 1989

Teacher since 1993

Professional musician since 1996

Composer since 2002

Owner of Skillz Drum Academy since 2011

Author since 2014

Blogger since 2018