Opening the Hi-Hat

Opening the hi-hat within a groove can create a different feel. The hi-hat can also be used to accentuate punches in a song by simply opening up the hats at the appropriate times.  It can also be used within a fill.  There are two things to think about when opening the hi-hat.  You will need to think about when the foot needs to come up with the pedal in order to open the hats and when the foot needs to press the pedal down in order to cut off the ringing.  You should practice the hi-hat part by itself first to get a feel.  If you are playing a standard set-up, right hand on hi-hat and left foot on hi-hat, you will need to practice the left foot and the right hand together.  Following is a basic hi-hat pattern with the hi-hat opening on the “&” of 3 and closing on count 4.  The “o” is where you open the hi-hat and the arc ends on the note where you should close the hi-hat.

Now lets add the snare and bass drum to make our first groove.




Following are a few more basic drum set grooves with the hi-hat opening on different counts within the measure.










As you play through these grooves you will notice how much of a difference opening the hi-hat can make in the feel and sound of a groove.  Experiment with opening the hi-hat on different counts of the measure as well as with different bass drum patterns using eight notes, sixteenth notes, and a combination of both.  Don’t forget you can also play sixteenth notes on the hi-hat while opening it.  The options and combinations are endless!

Meg Thomas

* Chicago Music Guide is an Amazon Affiliate. Please help support Chicago Music Guide by purchasing from Amazon through our affiliate link. Thank you very much for your support!

Meg Thomas Bio
Meg Thomas Headshot B-W 3.5MBDrummer and percussionist Meg Thomas has performed in musical realms that range from rock to calypso, avant-garde to spoken word, Latin-jazz to punk, and dance ensembles to percussion ensembles. Her drum and percussion set-ups range from the traditional ideas to unique set-ups that incorporate a vast range of percussion instruments. She received her degree in Music from Millikin University and she founded and runs the Chicago Women’s Drumming Group. Meg is a Vic Firth Private Drum and Percussion Teacher and teaches lessons out of her studio in Chicago. She plays recording sessions, performs with an array of bands and ensembles, and has toured the U.S. and Europe. Meg won a Drummie in Drum! Magazine’s 2010 Drummie Awards as runner-up “Rising Star Percussionist,” was named “Musician of the Month” for January 2013 by the Chicago Music Guide, and is endorsed by Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Evans Drumheads, LP Percussion, PureSound Percussion, and Humes & Berg Cases.

Visit Meg’s website: