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Rudiments: A Progressive Approach
Rudiments: A Progressive Approach
What are the rudiments? Rudiments for snare drum are the words that create phrases in percussion language. There are many patterns in rudiments which occur regularly in musical pieces, and having a confident command of some of the basics will help your students in successful execution almost effortlessly. The rudiments are a series of single strokes, grace notes, rolls, and patterns. Please use the Percussive Arts Society's 40 Essential Rudiments page.
Below is my guide to introduce new percussionists to the order in which to learn them to aid in getting them started:
1) Single Stroke Roll
Mastering single strokes with even stroke heights is the most important rudiment for all percussionists.  This rudiment will be used on ALL instruments: Snare drum, bass drum, tympani, suspended cymbal, xylophone, bells, marimba, wood blocks and temple blocks... you name it!!  Every instrument requires single strokes!!
How to practice the Single Stroke Roll:  Begin slowly, with even and full strokes (beginning and ending in the same position). Start with large and relaxed strokes, then gradually get smaller and faster until it becomes tense, or if you feel a buzz.  If you start to buzz, slow down and relax.  Gaining speed in single strokes is very much like becoming a runner.  First you walk, then you run, then you sprint, then cool down.
Once some speed is gained, use a metronome to help you stay in time.  Playing 8th notes into 16th notes and back to 8th notes is a fantastic way of training the hands to get faster, using the metronome to push up the tempo gradually.
2) Single Paradiddle (RLRR LRLL)
In rudiments "diddle" means "double stroke". Begin slowly, evenly in both tempo and stroke heights.  First learn the pattern with even stroke heights, then add in the accent at the beginning of the rudiment. The diddle rudiments help players to gain dexterity and to help themselves out of sticking situations which may require a double stroke to land in an open position on tympani or mallets rather than using an ackward cross over sticking.
Common problem: Incorrect stickings. The solution: Say Stickings OUT LOUD.  Your body is very obedient.
3) Double Paradiddle (RLRLRR LRLRLL)
The double paradiddle should be learned without an accent, with an accent at the beginning of each group, or with two accents,
ex) R l R l r r, L r L r l l
Common problem: Playing the rhythm unevenly. The solution: Play along with a metronome on 8th notes.
4) Triple Paradiddle (LRLR LRLL RLRL RLRR)
This should be learned without accents, then with accents at the beginning of the first grouping, then three accents as follows:
L r L r L r l l, R l R l R l r r
5) Single Paradiddle-diddle (RLRRLL)  (LRLLRR)
This rudiment is helpful in developing rolls later on. Practice one hand at a time (RLRLRR, RLRLRR etc, then LRLRLL, LRLRLL) to gain speed, ensuring that the non-dominant hand also gets some practice.
6) Flam (lR rL)
The Flam is one of the most difficult rudiments to master. It requires the use of gravity, not force, in order to sound good!  Good mastery of single strokes at a low dynamic (p or pp) must be achieved before attempting the flam.  Begin with one wrist lifting the stick high (3 - 4 inches above the drum), the other stick low to the drum (1/2 inch to 1 inch).  Allow gravity to bring both sticks down, and you will have a good sounding flam.
Common issues:
Which stick is which? The big sticking is the name of the flam.  The grace note is not the name of the flam. lR is a Right flam, rL is a Left flam.
The pop.  When the top stick comes down too quickly because a student uses fingers or force to bring down the stick, or when the bottom stroke height and top stroke height become too close to the same height,  both sticks will hit the drum at the same time.
The Buh-duh.  This is when too much control is happening. Allowing gravity to bring the writsts down with sticks with a good height differential will solve the Buh-duh.  SLOW PRACTICE is the best answer to initially creating good sounding flams.  Too much too soon leads to bad habits.
7) Flam Accent (rLRL  lRLR)
The Flam Accent is so commonly used in music, it is essential!  It should be learned before the flam-tap as a common error is to use a flam-tap in place of alternating strokes. Flam Accent can be learned with a space between the two groups to help the student get proper stick heights between groupings before proceeding, then gradually take out the space or rest to create a sound like triplets.
Common issue:  Accidentally repeating a hand instead of alternating RLR LRL . Solution:  Slow practice saying the strokes out loud is a great help! Your brain is SMART.  Your body, not so smart. So tell it what to do and you will be amazed!
8) Multiple Stroke Roll (aka Buzz Roll)
First an understanding of how your hands and the stick work together is important.  Experiment with feeling how the stick bounces only at the fulcrum, then only at the fingers by squeezing up the back 3 fingers to the palm and releasing them to allow the stick to bounce.  Then bring back both the fulcrum AND back 3 fingers and allow the sticks to bounce together.  Next, alternate one stick, then the next, slightly over-lapping the end of one buzz and the beginning of the other.
Experiementing with the back three fingers will also show the student how important the fingers are.  Squeeze the fingers tightly and press down, you will hear a short buzz. Slightly loosen the fingers, a slightly longer buzz.  Relax the fingers a lot, many larger bounces will occur.  By adjusting the fingers at the back of the stick, the student will be able to control the buzz length and to increase speed by shortening the buzz length.
Once the multiple stroke roll is mastered, then learning the double stroke roll is encouraged.  This is one stroke from the wrist, followed by one bounce of the stick.
9) The 9-Stroke Roll RLRL R LRLR L
Playing rolls in time is so important.  Start early!  Most rolls when in 2/4 3/4 4/4 5/4 etc. time will be played with 16th notes followed by a single stroke to end the roll.  So the 9 stroke roll is four 16th notes which will be buzzed or played as doubles, followed by a single stroke.
Practice slowly with long buzzes when you begin, ensuring the last stroke is a full stroke (down-up). Gradually speed up the hands, paying attention to the fingers at the back which will need to pull up slightly to shorten the buzz when you get faster.
10) The 17- Stroke Roll RLRL RLRL R, LRLR LRLR L
11) The 5- Stroke Roll LRL RLR
12) Flam-a Cue
This rudiment is challenging in that the accent happens after the flam. It's all about stick height control.
Once the double stroke roll is mastered, then you may introduce the drag rudiments, including single drag, drag tap, and ratamacues.
The 40 Essential Rudiments
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