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Basic Drum Rudiments for Beginners

Master the fundamental drum strokes and level up your playing.

Last Updated: November 2023 | Article Details: 1489 words (7 – 9 minute read)

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So what exactly are drum rudiments and why are they important?

If you’ve been through our guide on how to play the drums, you know we’ve talked about proper playing technique. But now it’s time to move onto the basic building blocks of any drum groove – the rudiments.

These are the most fundamental movements in drumming you need to master.

There are more than just the 3 we’re mentioning here – there are actually 40 (and maybe more).

But with these 3 you’re able to play AMAZING drum patterns that will knock your socks off.

So don’t sleep on trying to achieve true mastery of these – practice them every single day.

Single Stroke Roll

This is the most basic type of “roll” you are going to do.

And we already described it above. A single stroke roll is just using a stick to hit the drum head once – in full, fluid motion.

If you need a refresher of how to do this, scroll up to the section about how to hit a drum head correctly. What’s being described there is basically a single stroke roll.

When you’re practicing this roll, use a metronome and try to hit the drum along with the click/beat. Start with one hand, and when you’ve got a fluid motion and good striking technique, move onto the other hand.

Man Holding Drum Sticks

After that practice using both hands to do single stroke rolls on the drum one after the other:

Right Hand -> Left Hand -> Right Hand -> Left Hand, etc.

Start slow, get proper technique, then speed it up. Here’s an exercise on the single stroke roll you can use.

The Flam

This is more of a drum striking technique, not exactly a rudiment. But it’s a great place to mention it so you can practice getting good at it.

A flam is a “quick double hit” of the drum head using both sticks/arms.

Each stick hits the drum only once, but not exactly at the same time. One stick hits the head slightly before the second stick.

To do a flam, simply hold both of your stick equal height above the snare drum. Now lower one of the sticks by about an inch, so that the sticks are now offset above the drum.

Now strike the drum head with both of your sticks – move them down towards the drum at the same time and speed/velocity. It should sound like a very quick “bap-bap.”

Try playing around with the amount you offset your sticks. The less the difference and height there is between the sticks, the tighter the flam will sound.

Practice this movement by playing flams using quarter notes and alternating hands.

Double Stroke Roll

This is exactly what it sounds like – you’re hitting the drum head with the stick twice in a row using the same hand.

The idea is to strike the drum once with the proper technique and then immediately strike it again with the same hand, using the fingers and flicking wrist to have a smooth and fluid motion each time.

This is why using the natural bounce of the drum head is so important. If you let the stick bounce back up after hitting it, it’s much easier to move the stick back down to hit the head again.

Try it out slowly – hit the drum head once, let the stick bounce naturally and then use your fingers and wrist to strike it again and bounce back naturally.

Try to keep the motion fluid and even, with a slight pause between each set of two hits. Don’t make the hits too close or far apart from each other, but don’t have every single hit even spaced either (that would just end up being a single stroke roll).

This is where having a metronome while practicing comes in handy. It allows you to keep things even and “on-beat.”

Again, start with your dominant hand (right or left) and do it relatively slowly: “hit-hit, pause, hit-hit, pause,” etc.

Start with one hand, and get good at it before moving to the other hand. Once you’re comfortable doing double strokes on both hands separately, do them together (one after the other). It should be like this:

Right-Right -> Left-Left -> Right-Right -> Left-Left, etc.

Try your best to use smooth, even and controlled motions. If you find yourself straining or tensing up, pause and shake it out before starting again.

The Paradiddle

Unfortunate name aside, this is one of the most fun things to do with a pair of drum sticks.

The paradiddle is also a great exercise to help improve your limb independence. But it can be extremely difficult for beginners to get down.

So take it super slow at first.

What you’re doing here is you’re striking the drum head once with each hand, and then twice with your starting hand.

Sound confusing? Think of it like this:

RIGHT Hand -> LEFT Hand -> RIGHT Hand -> RIGHT Hand —-> LEFT Hand -> RIGHT Hand -> LEFT Hand -> LEFT Hand

It’s almost like a combination of the single and double stroke rolls into one fluid and controlled motion.

“Single Stroke -> Single Stroke -> Double Stroke”

You can remember it like this: “Right, left, right right. Left, right, left left.”

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You’re using the same basic rolls that you’ve learned so far, so use that same technique you’re familiar with. It’s just this time, you’re doing the strikes in a special order.

Again, start slow and take it at turtle speed. This isn’t a race. You want to get good at moving the sticks fluidly with even pressure and total control.

When you first start practicing the paradiddle, it’s usually helpful to NOT use a metronome. That’s because it can be tricky for your brain to play that pattern over and over. So you want to get the coordination of it down before trying to do it at an even speed.

Here’s a couple tips that help make it more fluid:

  • Start with your sticks at a slightly uneven height from the drum head – the stick that hits the drum first should be closer to the head
  • Remember to always use the natural bounce of the stick to help keep your movement fluid
  • Don’t “bury the stick head” into the drum.
    • When one stick is starting the “double stroke roll” part of the paradiddle, consciously raise the other stick higher so it’s ready to play again.
  • Go TURTLE SPEED slow until you have the motion/movement down and fluid.

There are other rudiments that you’ll learn as you continue your drumming journey, but these are the fundamental ones you want to be sure you’ve mastered to start with.

Practice each of these every single day. As little as 5-10 minutes daily will improve your skill and technique by miles in a very short time.

If you need some additional exercises check these out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Drum Rudiments

They are the basic, fundamental building blocks of drum grooves. They’re the movement techniques you use to play the drums in a way that produces a specific type of sound. There are many different types of rudiments, but you don’t need to master them all to become a great drummer. Even focusing on the very basic ones can work wonders for your playing.

Are Drum Rudiments Important?

Yes, they are very important. They may seem basic or boring, but these are the fundamental moves you’ll be making in all your drumming. So really mastering your rudiments is an important part of improving your overall technique, style and ability to play.

How Many Drum Rudiments Are There?

There are 3 basic rudiments that beginners should focus on when first starting out. These are the single stroke roll, the double stroke roll and the paradiddle. These 3 alone can help improve your technique a lot. But there are many more. In fact there are 40 internationally recognized rudiments that you could learn and practice.

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    Final Thoughts

    These movements you just learned may seem simple, basic and maybe even boring.

    But seriously… DON’T SLEEP ON THIS! These are the most important stick movements you’ll learn as a drummer. They’ll let you play some insane grooves and mind boggling fills when you get good at them.

    And beyond just drum stick movements, you can use these same movements on your feet to practice your pedalling. The paradiddle, in particular, can help you improve your leg independence too.

    So take 5-10 minutes every day to practice the drums, including the rudiments and you’ll be shocked how quickly your overall drumming improves.

    If you really want to level up your drumming, I highly recommend you use a drum practice/training app like Melodics – you’ll improve your rhythm and groove whether you use electronic/acoustic drums or want to finger drum.

    Thanks for reading!


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    About The Author:

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.