I remember of reading of a saxophone player ( can’t remember the name) who had the exact same thing, he brought with him a drum and practiced rhythms.
If this works for you, perfect.
On the other hand, if your point is to practice rhythm to apply this at the end on the saxophone than you probably should do this one hte saxophone rather than learning a new instrument. Think of it, you are only practicing your perception of rhythm but you have two hands operating in a completely different way on drums as the would on saxophone.
Perhaps the tablas would be closer to the the rhythm on saxophone? Still, different. Good Luck!
Drummer for 40+ years here. Ask any question you may have.
My daughter - who studies clarinet - has been learning (by her own suggestion, will, choice, idea) from an elementary book with me. She can read any rhythm that is presented to her at this point and beyond.
You don't really need to take it that far in most 'Book 1's' before you get into "drummy" sort of things, however (rolls, flams, ruffs, etc..) which are 'drum' specific patterns (though grace notes are across most/all instruments).
However, there are some books that don't have any of those at all. For example...
If you want to hone in on syncopated rhythms, there are great books for that such as: MODERN READING TEXT IN 4/4 (by Louie Bellson and Gil Breines), PROGRESSIVE STEPS TO SYNCOPATION FOR THE MODERN DRUMMER (by Ted Reed),
Odd Time Reading Text: For All Instruments (by Louis Bellson and Gil Breines)
More sixteenth driven material would be found in books such as: The New Breed: Systems for the Development of Your Own Creativity (Gary Chester) & The New Breed II: The Sequel: Independence, Inspiration, Innovation (Gary Chester). These have drum ostinatos in the front section of the book with many written pages of rhythms to apply them to. The rhythmic pages single line rhythms that can be applied to any instrument.
In High School Jazz Band we were all encouraged to know how to vamp chords on a keyboard and always were given rhythm instruments to use during practice, even when those were not to be used during a performance. Our director thought the claves held the keys to the kingdom. Everyone had to practice until they got that right, first thing. I do not recall anything about taking turns on the trap set. Chords for structure, rhythm for timing and swing. These helped a lot of us. Previous band instruction had not reached those aspects, so it was good step.
I think your hands, legs and voice is everything you need in order to exercise and internalize rhythm. And a metronome too.
Then, you have different approaches, books,....
And finally make specific sax exercises where you can work all those.
Time spent learning any instrument improves your skills on all instruments - not just rhythm either - pitch, dynamics, theory, arrangement skills - it's all tied together. IF I stumble across a new lick on the guitar or keys, I oftentimes catch myself using it on the sax and vice-versa.
Thanks everyone, I appreciate the helpful comments and will check out the books and videos mentioned. If nothing else, getting a drum pad and noodling around on it has made me listen more carefully to the drummers on the tunes I'm practicing. Heck, the drum pad has already paid for itself!
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